Consumer Reports rates free PC security software as Best Buy

Makeshift suite beats pricey apps from Eset, McAfee, Symantec and others

Consumer Reports magazine slapped its Best Buy logo on a trio of free security programs for Windows PCs, saying that they offer the "best combination of performance and price" and are a smarter pick than suites from companies like Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc.

The publication's June issue rated 11 commercial security suites, including high-profile products like Norton Internet Security (Symantec), Internet Security (McAfee) and Smart Security (Eset LLC). Each package was tested against both actual exploits active on the Web as well as others that were modified to represent "threats too new to have been discovered," said the magazine.

Eset's Smart Security led the list with a score of 72 out of a possible 100, with McAfee's and Symantec's suites in second and tied for third, respectively, with 71 and 70 points. (Microsoft's Live OneCare, which will be discontinued June 30, tied Norton with 70.)

The commercial software reviewed by the consumer magazine ranged in price from $40 to $90, with second-year-and-later renewal fees between $40 and $70 annually.

But Consumer Reports's top honors went to a free three-pack of Avira's AntiVir antivirus program, Microsoft's Windows Defender antispyware software and the Spamfighter antispam program.

"These free programs offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended," said Consumer Reports in giving the trio its "CR Best Buy" for the category. "[They] could be combined to create a makeshift suite."

PC Tools' Internet Security, a $60 program, came in last of the 11 commercial programs with a score of 47 out of 100.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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