Apple / Mac Antivirus Software


Since we began the site in 2006 the marketshare of the Mac / OS X has grown steadily. 

In terms of both competition and reducing the amount of homogeneity in the computing ecosystem. This is a good thing.

In contrast, if every computer in the world were the same, it would be easier to find "The Flaw," that will make everything grind to a halt. Increase diversity (i.e. reducing homogeneity) means it's harder to find one flaw that affects everyone. 

In a round about way, you could even say the success of the Mac and OSX actually makes PC's safer.

Which leads us to:

What's the Best Mac Antivirus Software?

Even though we've been testing PC antivirus software for nearly ten years and we have an embarrassingly large database of viruses, rootkits, bootkits, trojans, worms, adware, keyloggers, spyware, and every other kind of malware imaginable, for a long time it has been primarily for the PC.

That doesn't mean the need hasn't been there (or that our readers haven't been asking for it for some time now.)

So, without further ado, here's our first list of best Apple / Mac OS X antivirus software.


Norton Antivirus vs McAfee AntiVirus 2012: Head-to-Head Comparison

With a lot of the things we as consumers buy--especially things we buy rarely--we narrow the field down from a huge list of options to the two or three things we're most serious about buying.

And since most of us renew our antivirus software for somewhere between one and three years, it's no different. Easily the most common of these narrowed down head-to-head comparisons in the world of virus protection is Norton vs McAfee.

The two questions all of us ask at a time like when we're comparing two things are:

  1. What's better?
  2. If the more expensive is better, it worth it?

So, let's take a look at these two heavyweights and get this question answered!

Norton Antivirus 2012 vs.
Mcafee AntiVirus Plus 2012

Winner: Norton McAfee

Norton Antivirus 2012


McAfee AntiVirus 2012

Virus & Spyware Protection

Prevention / Real-time Protection
Consistently scores among the top programs in our tests at preventing new virus infections. Earned an "excellent" rating against "zero day" threats in each of our 2012 tests. Does quite well against most new viruses and earns a "very good" rating in this part of our tests; however, it comes at a huge performance cost that sometimes makes using the web painfully slow.

Manual Virus Scanning & Removal
Did nearly as well at detecting and removing viruses on our test PCs as it did at preventing them from getting there in the first place. Another "excellent" rating. Mysteriously, McAfee outright missed about 50% of the viruses we tested with, and some of those that it did find, it had a tough time removing.

Spyware Protection
Not as impressive against spyware/adware as it is against viruses, but it still earns a "Good" rating in our tests both for preventing infection and successful removal. Not good, not bad against spyware, truly "Average." It did, however, do better at stopping spyware from getting in than it did at removing it.
Verdict Category Winner: Norton
Installation, Usability & Tech Support

The best installer of 2012.

If we had a rating for "Outstanding," it would earn it. Instead, its 100% score earns it an "Excellent" rating in our scoring grid.
The complete opposite of Norton's installer. Account setup required, very large, slow installer has to be manually downloaded onto each PC you install the software onto.

Too many hoops to jump through. Really a terrible experience from start to finish. Rating: "Poor"

User Interface
Black interface takes some getting used to, but it's aesthetically pleasing and mostly easy to use. Some screens feel a bit bolted on. Overall it's fast and works well. At the risk of sounding overly harsh, this is a flawed interface by most any measure. Its tiny main window (and huge top label section) forces everything to be done in a window about 2" x 3".

Some features require multiple scroll bars to work. Needs a complete redesign.

Tech Support
While many help beyond basic installation and upgrades is a "Premium" service (i.e. they charge you for it), the Norton support (long complained about by consumers) has gotten much better. Just don't expect to talk to them for free if you need help. Like Norton, McAfee charges for most everything beyond help with basic installation and upgrades.

Overall, a "Good" experience; expect the basic techs to stick to a script, even if your needs aren't on their script.
Verdict Category Winner: Norton
Overall Value
Norton Antivirus 2012


McAfee AntiVirus 2012


Money Back Guarantee
60 Days (The longest available.)

30 Days (Industry average.)
Verdict Overall Winner: Norton


Ask the Experts: What's the best antivirus software for our small office?

This weekend we heard from Judy, office manager for a small doctor's office, who wrote in asking,
Hey guys,

"I'm on your mailing list, so I get your coupon deals when they come out. I saw one recently where almost everything was on sale. I didn't need a deal then, but I need one now (haha) and I don't know what to get. I'm office manager for a doctor's office.

"There are three physicians in the practice and a couple of nurses and lab techs, a billing person, plus me. About 9 people full-time.

"As if I don't have enough to do already (hahah), they asked me to research and upgrade the antivirus software we have now since ours that came on the computers when I bought them is about to expire.

"It was probably pretty dumb, but I didn't know any better and got all the computers at Best Buy since there's one really close to our office. At least it was easy.

"Wow. Sorry for so much detail. I'm totally dreading doing all this research. I'm so not a 'tech person.'

"Thanks for the help!!!

Merry Christmas,
"P.S. I've got a small budget. Anything I don't spend on antivirus software I get to use to upgrade my tired printer, so I need cheap and good.

Here's my reply:

Hi Judy,

We've gotten a lot of good questions the past few days; this is a great one. Thanks.

For starters, forget about going to a store like Best Buy--or even Office Max--to renew your antivirus software. The retail stores sell home versions of the antivirus software. What you need is business or enterprise antivirus software.

(I can already hear some readers grumbling about my answer, but just keep reading, everything will be clear in a second.)

Fundamentally, home and enterprise antivirus software are exactly the same. They prevent, detect, and removes viruses (and other malware.) Fine.

The big difference is with business antivirus software you get centralized management, which you don't with home antivirus software1.

Here's the deal: when you're managing the antivirus software now, you have to walk from one computer to the next, asking the users if you can interrupt them and use their PC for a few minutes. Bleh. It's a pain in the neck.

With business antivirus software, you do everything from one place: your PC.

From your own desktop you can remotely manage the antivirus software on every PC on your network.

Got a malware issue popping up on one of the lab techs PCs? You won't have to wait for them to tell you about it--you'll see it in the central management console on your computer.

The next biggest thing about business antivirus software is some manufacturers offer different support options for businesses than they do the average home user.

You may be able to get things like 24x7x365 support, priority phone queuing, and so on.

"Sounds great," you're saying, "Now how much does all this cost?! Think of my poor printer!"

No sweat... most antivirus software for businesses is comparable in price to their home/consumer versions. What's the catch? All the A/V companies require a minimum of five users for you to qualify for their business version.

With nine users in your office, you easily qualify for business antivirus software.

So, how do you get it?

Easy. Contact us. We're available by phone, too, (1-800-297-5134) which is usually faster and easier for something like this.

In a couple of minutes we'll figure out your needs and what's the best enterprise antivirus software for your office--and get you prices.

Oh, and in case you the thought crossed your mind, most antivirus software for business is almost as easy to setup as home software. There's usually a step or two more, but that's it.

And if you do get stuck, because it's enterprise-class software, you'll most likely be getting a different level of support than you're used to, so someone will help you with any snags you hit.

Chances are it'll go just fine though. You'll probably have more issues un-boxing and setting up that new printer you've been oogling. ;-)

1 BitDefender Antivirus and BitDefender Internet Security home versions also include central management for up to five PCs. It really makes things easier for a multi-PC home, but it's not intended for use in a business.


Ask the Experts: How does your Antivirus Software Testing Compare with Other Sites?

Wes writes,
Do you read reviews on other websites? Can you comment on your review technique vs. some other sites?

"Some sites appear to be more thorough in their reviews than others. I'm having a hard time deciding, given the very different ratings between your site and others I'm looking at.

"For example, you rate Vipre #1, another site puts it at #12 and a third site doesn't even mention it!


Grandma taught me when it comes to speaking about others, if you don't have something nice to say, you don't have anything to say.

Kidding aside, I can't speak too much about the testing methodology that the other sites use; I can tell you ours is better.

We have a repository of 500,000+ viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, bootkits, keyloggers, spyware, adware, and every other type of malware under the sun. We test the software from soup to nuts and run it on: workstations/desktops, laptops, netbooks, and virtual machines.

Whereas a lot of other sites (not naming names, just stating fact) might test on one, or maybe two machines and/or may use a handful of viruses, we test with a huge sub-set of the 500,000 (and growing) sample set. Then, thanks to some special insight we get from our own email honeypots, we even test with fresh phishing and malicious websites when conducting the realtime part of our tests.

Beyond that, the biggest difference I can say between "us" and "them" is that our approach starts with a basic premise: break the software.

The virus writers are trying to, so why shouldn't we?

In contrast, the other sites aren't really ever doing that. Look closely at the some of the other reviews. When there aren't any "cons" is a list of "cons," someone is getting conned.

I'll let you be the judge of whether or not reviews like these sound (even remotely) unbiased.

Now, have a look at our VIPRE and VIPRE Internet Security review.

We come out guns blazing with the downsides to VIPRE, and it's our Editor's Choice! The thing is: It's not perfect, no software is. And, we're honest about that in our review of it just like we are in all of our reviews.

Aside from that, the next thing I question in some other sites testings is the small sample size of the malware they use in testing.

Then, how easy is it to get relative comparative data from other sources about two products side-by-side?

In contrast, we have several ways, not the least of which are these two:

As for VIPRE being our top pick this year, if you read our reviews, aside from excellent detection and removal, you'll see the shining star of VIPRE is their tech support.

I've personally been back and forth with another company for a week now just to get them to honor Black Friday special pricing for some customers. First their links don't work. When the links work, they have a U.K. based sale support phone number on those web pages. When that's fixed, the coupons don't work. Oh, and that phone number is just for sales support, it's not actual tech support!

Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying experiences like this are representative of support from this other company, I'm not. I'm just saying that in our various calls, chats, and emails to GFI for support with VIPRE Antivirus and VIPRE Internet Security, our experience is consistently good, and we don't get the runaround.

And the same goes for the (large) group of antivirus software users who we regularly survey. We ask them about their experience with their antivirus software and the companies behind them. Their answers give us the real scoop on what's happening between customers and each of the companies, and we take this into account in our reviews.

The bottom line?

We give assessments and ratings with candor. We're honest. We look at the big picture. We get real-world feedback from consumers. And we actually test the crap out of the software with real viruses, real worms, real trojans, and so on.


Antivirus Software Comparison Pages Revised

A quick post to begin the week: we just posted revised antivirus software head-to-head comparisons. Have a look here:

Antivirus Software Comparison

The consensus: they're easier to read and faster to get information from.

Got questions or comments feel free to post, or as always, contact us via our email form.


Sluggish System? Your Antivirus Software is Probably to Blame

While many consumers are starting to realize the importance of antivirus software, many are unaware of the significant differences in performance from one antivirus program to another.

Why is this so important?

Realizing that many consumers just go with whatever is pre-installed on their system when they get it or with whatever their ISP installs/recommends, it seemed important to question the rationale behind that.

Often, the security application that has been installed is chosen for one reason: money.

Understanding the relationship between the PC manufacturers and ISPs and the antivirus vendors is an easy one: the AV makers often pay to have their software installed (if not, they often let the manufacturers install it for free.) Huh?

The reason is, the A/V makers realize that many, if not most, consumers will renew their antivirus subscription when it expires, thus while they may have to "pay" for their antivirus software when they get their computer, they do buy the renewal subscription.

And, once they're in there, they have a revenue stream from you.

Sluggish System?

So, you're cruising around with your PC for a while--maybe even a year or more, when it just doesn't feel as fast as it once did.

All those files and pictures and videos you've created and viewed over the many moons you've had your computer are stored somewhere, often they live in your Temporary Internet Files directory.

Over time, as these files accumulate in the various places of your hard drive, your antivirus software has to work harder and harder to keep up.

What happens next is where it gets ugly.

You get fed up with it slowing things down and disable it, "just to get some stuff done."

The problem is the software stays off for a while--sometimes for a long while, maybe even forever.

Now that antivirus subscription you just renewed is totally, completely, utterly useless.

Real Antivirus Solutions

What this boils down to is that choosing your antivirus software, and not just taking the easy route, is critical.

This is part of the reason we rate VIPRE antivirus so highly: it's highly efficient and uses very few CPU, RAM, and system resources to keep your computer safe and virus-free.

We're not the only ones saying this, either. I just came across a VIPRE review from August 2008 on ZDNet's Hardware 2.0 blog by the much-respected Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

The lowdown:
"Security software can have a shocking effect on performance, and can take a new system and make it feel like one that’s a few years old.

I’m pleased to see that Sunbelt Software’s claim that VIPRE doesn’t hog system resources and doesn’t slow down a PC isn’t just marketing hyperbole but is actually true."

(N.B. emphasis mine)

Adrian's images, originally located here ZDNet (archived now at our site), really tell the story about VIPRE well. (Visit ZDNet for complete details.)

In his review, he compares system performance with:
Take a look at the below images and judge for yourself...

Original source: http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/av_shootout_system01.png

Original source: http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/av_shootout_system02.png

Original source: http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/av_shootout_system03.png

It's good to see we're not alone in leading antivirus review sites singing VIPRE's praises, they're well-deserved.


This Year's Resolution: Get Antivirus Software

A good reminder came by way of a Montreal Gazette article on antivirus software, one of the fine newspapers published by our Neighbors to the North: "Okay, okay, this year, I’ll get anti-virus software.' Say it and mean it."

Marc Saltzman, who penned the piece, brings up a great point: since buying a new PC (given the state of the economy for many people) is perhaps not a priority, protecting the one you have should be.

He talks about five of the six things we urge everyone to do. Here's our list (in order):

  1. Run antivirus software
  2. Run antispyware
  3. Keep your OS and the software you run updated
  4. Perform backups
  5. Defragment your hard drive

The only thing missing:

Run firewall software.

The default one built into Windows doesn't count. It stinks. In overall importance, we'd put firewall software at the top of the list tied for first for number 1 with antivirus software.

While you're running through this checklist yourself, take a look at our new antivirus reviews for 2012. You'll see the "best antivirus software" on our list for 2012, and it has built-in antispyware and offers an optional firewall software, too, in the VIPRE Internet security version.

With our coupons you can have a complete PC security solution and be out the door for under $30, and you'll be three steps closer to keeping the bad guys out and protecting your computer.

Bear this in mind, too, the most important thing on your computer probably isn't the computer itself. It's the data.

And even if by some strange chance you put zero value on the data on your computer, there's still the cost--both in time spent and actual cash spent--to get your computer fixed if it gets infected.