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Round-Up of the Best Internet Security Software of 2011:



In the antivirus world, "Internet Security" is the default name for any application that attempts to entice users to pay more money for the promise of added protection. The 2011 crop of Internet Security products offers features ranging from identity protection to parental controls. AntivirusWare.com reviewed each new offering to determine which ones were worth the additional dosh.

Our Internet Security rankings for 2011 were based on the following factors:
  • Performance, as measured using our own independent, in-depth antivirus performance analysis. We rated antivirus applications according to a variety of factors, including memory usage, initial and subsequent scan speeds, impact on file conversion time, and system startup speeds, among others.
  • Features and Ease of use.
  • Support options, including inline help, help manual quality, and availability of live support options.
  • A round-up of ratings and awards from independent antivirus testing laboratories.

Performance



When it comes to the total impact each application has on your system's performance, the clear winner was Norton. Its 9.5/10 performance rating reflects its low memory use, its minimal impact on both system start-up times and file conversion speeds, its fast initial scan speed, and its quick subsequent application launch time. ESET and Avira took the second and third slots. ESET was an all-around champ in a majority of our performance metrics, while Avira was boosted by its initial scan speed and small application footprint.

The stinker award in this category goes to eScan. It managed a 3/10 by scoring dead last in certain key metrics, including both initial and subsequent virus scanning speed. BitDefender and Webroot's latest releases also suffered from poor general performance.

See our Internet Security Performance page for the full list of test results for all products.

Features and Ease of Use



When it came to providing customers the most bang for their buck, no one could touch Avast!. This company's star is rising globally, and for good reason: their products offer innovative and valuable features. Avast! Internet Security 6.0 added the AutoSandbox feature to limit the damage done by potentially malicious applications. And their new WebRep browser plug-in assigns safety ratings to Web sites using a combination of anti-virus reporting and user rankings. Kaspersky came in second place thanks to such features as Safe Run, Safe Surf, Geo Filter, and Virtual Keyboard. Kaspersky also receives kudos for its excellent Parental Controls implementation. Meanwhile, McAfee managed to come in third thanks to Shredder (a permanent deletion utility), SiteAdvisor, and My Network.

Most companies offered enough new technology to make the price differential between their Antivirus and Internet Security applications seem worthwhile. Sadly, a couple products made us wonder whether the companies responsible held their customer's intelligence in low esteem. Avira finished last thanks to its inelegant, clumsy UI, and its lack of working advanced features. (We never did figure out how to use Parental Controls.) Trend Micro only included two major features, Parental Controls and Data Theft; we decided this was hardly worth the $70 price tag.

Help & Support



AVG and Norton tied for first place in the customer support department. While AVG made a poor showing in this category in our AntiVirus round-up, it redeemed itself with stellar documentation and decent (if not excellent) online support options for its Internet Security package. Norton garnered a great score due to its excellent in-line assistance and great help manual.

At the other end, G Data and Avira tied for the bottom slot. Both companies lost out due to their cryptic interface text and poorly written documentation.

Conclusion



Norton Internet Security 2011, Avast! Internet Security 6.0, and Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 draw our top accolades for 2011. That makes Norton and Avast! this year's solid winners in both the AntiVirus and Internet Security categories. As of this writing, Avast! is the best bang for the buck, with its Internet Security package retailing for under $40 US. However, we could recommend any of these three packages without reservation.

Buyer Beware, however, when it comes to our bottom three: Webroot Internet Security Essentials 2011, eScan Internet Security Suite 11, and especially Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2011. Trend Micro continued its recent downward slide by scoring below average in all of our major rankings.

Ratings Round-Up


Features
Virus Scanner
Performance
Help & Support
Norton Internet Security 2011
11/15
4/5
9.5/10
4/5
Avast! Internet Security 6.0
13.5/15
3/5
7.5/10
3.5/5
Kaspersky Internet Security 2011
13/15
4/5
6.5/10
3/5
ESET Smart Security v4.2
8/15
5/5
9/10
2.5/5
G Data Internet Security 2011
9.5/15
4.5/5
5.5/10
2/5
BitDefender Internet Security 2011
11/15
4/5
3.5/10
3/5
AVG Internet Security 2011
8.5/15
4/5
6.5/10
4/5
Avira Premium Security Suite v10.0
4.5/15
4/5
8/10
2/5
McAfee Internet Security 2011
12/15
2/5
5.5/10
3/5
Webroot Internet Security Essentials 2011
10.5/15
2/5
4/10
3/5
eScan Internet Security Suite 11
9.5/15
2/5
3/10
2.5/5
Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2011
5.5/15
2.5/5
5/10
3.5/5

Note: For our review of antivirus engine effectiveness and accuracy, see our 2011 AntiVirus Round-Up.

Article last updated July 19, 2011.







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