6. G Data AntiVirus 2014
£29.95 (1 PC, 1 year); £74.95 (3 PCs, 2 years)
If you're looking for a lightweight security package then G Data AntiVirus 2014 may disappoint, at least initially. The trial download is a chunky 338MB; the interface is cluttered, and relatively complex; downloading the first updates for both engines took a while, and our system performance was notably reduced as all this happened.
Don't let these hassles put you off, though. G Data doesn't always get great results from the independent testing labs (it typically doesn't make the top 5 at AV-Comparatives), but some rate the engine highly (AV-Test, VB100), and it worked well for us.
Performance is reasonable, too, once the setup process is complete. G Data AntiVirus 2014 isn't the most lightweight of packages, but it's unlikely to have any significant effect on your system speed. And even if there are any issues, a convenient "Optimise" setting will tweak the program to improve speeds (Settings > General > Security/performance).
The feature set is a little mixed; there's not the same browsing protection you'll see elsewhere, but you do get a tool to control your startup programs. This isn't anything too sophisticated − it's essentially a less powerful variation of the freeware Startup Delayer − but it's easy to use, and can help improve boot performance.
G Data AntiVirus isn't the leader it used to be, then, but the program delivers a good level of protection, and if you're a fan of the company then it's still worth a look.
7. Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2014
£29.99 (1 PC, 1 year); £69.99 (3 PCs, 2 years)
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2014 is a likeable product, easy to use, with a clean and simple interface that ensures all of its key functions (Scan, Updates, Reports, Quarantine) are available at a click.
The program is also very configurable. You can set up separate schedules for full and quick scans; you're able to run scans from a different user account; scans may be optionally launched when your system is idle, and the program can back off if you're using other applications, reducing or eliminating any performance problems.
You get plenty of extras. Browsing protection displays an icon next to your search engine results, helping you spot malicious sites before you click. A vulnerability scan highlights risky Windows and browser settings, while further tools clean your recent PC and internet history, detect and repair Windows issues, and create a rescue disk to help remove particularly stubborn infections.
Best of all, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2014 is just very good at its job. Kaspersky's technology scores highly with all the independent testing labs, the company won AV-Comparatives "Product of the Year" for 2013, and 2014 looks like it could be even better.
8. AVG AntiVirus 2014
£29.99 1 PC 1 year
Launch AVG AntiVirus 2014 and you'll be presented with an appealing, Windows 8-like interface, groups of flat buttons providing speedy access to the program's various features. It looks great and works well.
Assessing the program's effectiveness is more difficult. The independent testing labs can't quite decide (AV-Comparatives results aren't so good, AV Test rates it higher), although they'll typically place it in the top 10 for most tests. Our own view is that it offers marginally above-average protection, but there are better tools around.
What you do get with AVG is a vast array of tweaks and configuration options. There are a huge number of ways to customise your scans, when they can run and how the program behaves, excellent news if you like to tune your antivirus package, for performance, compatibility, or anything else.
There's plenty to like here, then, but the main problem for AVG is that it gives a basic version of its product away for free. And this makes it its own biggest competitor, because even if you like AVG, there's probably not quite enough in this version to justify the extra cost.