AV-Comparatives, an independent testing lab that regularly assesses antivirus software, has released a new report outlining how over a dozen popular AV programs fared in real-world testing.
The real-world protection test is one of several evaluations that AV-Comparatives runs throughout the year. In May, for example, the company published a report on performance data, and in the months prior it took a look at overall malware protection, false alarms, and so forth.
They all matter to an extent, though the real-world protection test is one of the more robust of the bunch, in terms of fully utilizing an AV program. For this particular round of testing, AV-Comparatives enables all protection features a product offers to prevent infection, rather than focusing on, say, just heuristic file scanning.
"A suite can step in at any stage of the process—accessing the URL, downloading the file, formation of the file on the local hard drive, file access and file execution—to protect the PC. This means that the test achieves the most realistic way of determining how well the security product protects the PC. Because all of a suite’s components can be used to protect the PC, it is possible for a product to score well in the test by having e.g. very good behavioral protection, but a weak URL blocker," AV-Comparatives explains.
So, how did the programs fare? Three of our 'best antivirus for PC gaming' picks earned an Advanced+ badge from AV-Comparatives, the highest it offers. Those include Bitdefender (our top choice), Avira, and Kaspersky. Our only pick that didn't make the cut is Webroot, which AV-Comparatives did not include in its roundup.
Whether you feel the need to install and run a third-party AV suite, free or paid, is another topic. In case you're wondering, Microsoft's Defender program earned an Advanced award, the equivalent of a silver medal. It blocked 99.8 percent of the malware AV-Comparatives pinged it with, which is good enough for an Advanced+ award, but slipped a peg because of a higher number of false positives than the top-performing programs.
Check out the full report to dive deeper into how the tested AV programs performed, along with AV-Comparatives' testing methodology.