After using five Internet security suites, I might as well write a blog about them. This is not a comprehensive test. I don’t do any tests about how well the software detected viruses, spam, malware, etc. I concentrate on how well the software works from a user point of view.
So here we go…
Panda Internet Security
I didn’t like Panda. The feature that I liked the least was when Panda tells the user that an unknown program is requesting a connection to the Internet and asking for user input to allow or disallow the connection. Panda does this quite often to the point that it is annoying. I don’t recall a setting to turn this feature off. My dad tries to ignore it.
Another thing that I didn’t like is that it made XP go to a crawl. Later, I learned that there was a setting that I had to change to make XP go faster. When I changed the setting, the XP performance did improve. Since I migrated out of XP, this “feature” is no longer relevant.
I haven’t used Panda recently, so I don’t know if Panda still relies on user input to allow or disallow a connection.
There is one good thing that I liked about Panda and it is its Panda Cloud Cleaner. It is not part of the Internet Security Suite, but it is free and you can download it to your computer. It is a free virus scan for your computer. You can create a bootable USB and it will scan your hard drives for viruses. Pretty good.
McAfee Total Internet Security 2014
I had couple of issues with McAfee. One thing I did not like about McAfee is the anti-spam plug-in for Thunderbird. It made Thunderbird go to a crawl. Even with the anti-spam turned off, Thunderbird was still too slow. I had to uninstall McAfee to get Thunderbird to work normally.
The other thing is that McAfee doesn’t work Glary Utilities. Glary Utilities does a registry fix that makes McAfee display an ‘IDispatch error’. In the support forums, McAfee acknowledges this problem with Glary Utilities and mentions of a fix. But when I clicked on the link for the fix, there was either no web page or no information in the web page. My guess is that the fix is to reinstall McAfee. There was no repair option for McAfee.
Now the one thing I liked about McAfee is that it has a Network Monitoring Tool. This tools regularly scans the local network of all the connected computers. It keeps track of the computers connecting to the network. When I saw the list of connected devices, I found that there was one device I had no idea what it was. I figured that some intruder penetrated my WIFI network. So I boosted my Wi-Fi security settings and changed my passphrase on the router. The tool is a good thing.
There was one time I installed McAfee to my desktop and it crippled my OS. After rebooting my computer, I couldn’t reinstall McAfee. I couldn’t uninstall it either. So I restored my OS to a previous state using Acronis. I tried installing McAfee again and this time it worked.
AVG Internet Security 2014
One thing that I thought was pretty good is the Anti-Spam feature for Outlook. It is pretty good. I have tried Kaspersky and McAfee, and AVG is pretty good. It was able to pick off spam that Kaspersky and McAfee wasn’t picking off. The Anti-Spam feature has the ability to link to RBLs similar to Spamassassin. However, the feature is so advanced that there is no documentation on how to use it.
Now, if you use online email like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook.com, the AVG Anti-Spam is sort of useless. But if you use an offline reader like Outlook to read you email, the AVG Anti-Spam maybe worth it. I host web sites and a number of email accounts and I use Spamassassin to filter out spam. Since I use Spamassassin, I sort of don’t need AVG Anti-Spam. On a positive note, there is one spam that slipped through Spamassassin but was blocked by AVG Anti-Spam.
Speaking about anti-spam, Thunderbird comes with a pretty good anti-spam feature. I think it is better than Kaspersky and McAfee. However, I think AVG Anti-spam is better.
There is one problem I had with AVG. One time I disabled AVG wondering if AVG was blocking a particular Internet connection. Later, after checking out the Internet connection, I forgot all about AVG. Days later, when I was going to start a full system scan, I noticed that AVG was still disabled. AVG didn’t notify me that my computer was unprotected in those days. I am not totally sure, but Bitdefender and Kaspersky would have probably notified me that my system is unprotected.
The thing about disabling AVG was that I didn’t see an option to temporarily disable AVG for a few minutes. On Kaspersky, it asks how long to temporarily disable Kaspersky. After the minutes expire, Kaspersky turns back on. I didn’t see that option on AVG. It just showed disable. I find a lack of a notification disturbing.
The full system scan is relatively quick.
Kaspersky Internet Security
I like Kaspersky. There is one thing unique to Kaspersky. It not only scans a file for a virus but it also calculates a hash value of the file and compares it the hash value on record in the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN). So let’s say you download a file from some web site. Kaspersky will calculate the hash value and look it up in KSN. If the file has existed before and is being used by a number of Kaspersky end-users with no viruses, then Kaspersky will let the executable run. But if the file is so new that it has little or no record of it in the KSN community, then it will warn you. The file may have no known viruses but Kaspersky is not sure that it is totally safe.
Now Kaspersky has some issues. One is its plugins especially for Firefox 30. When Firefox 30 was released, Kaspersky didn’t have compatible plugins for it for a number of weeks. So I switched to Chrome for a while. Then later, the Kaspersky plugins for Chrome didn’t work either. I ended up downloading and using Site Advisor from McAfee instead. Site Advisor is free and it works on both Firefox and Chrome.
Later, I found out that Kaspersky released its 2015 version. I didn’t get an email from Kaspersky about the new release. So I installed it and the Firefox and Chrome plug-ins worked.
I had to disable the Anti-Banner feature.
The anti-spam feature slowed down Outlook, so I disabled plugin. Also, it missed almost every spam mail.
Bitdefender Internet Security
Bitdefender is pretty good. The only reason I don’t use it is that it blocks WebDav connections to my web site. I couldn’t find a setting to unblock the WebDav port. Other than that, it is pretty good. (If you don’t manage web sites, WebDav is not important to you.)
The GUI on the 2014 version was a bit strange. The GUI in the 2015 version is a bit better. Like Kasperksy, I was not notified that the 2015 version was released. I learned about the new release by noticing a Bitdefender advertisement about the new 2015 version.
There you have it – my experience with the Internet security suites. Like Kaspersky and Bitdefender. I use them both. The disable protection feature on AVG was a bit disturbing. I haven’t tried Panda for quite a while, so I am not sure if it has improved or not. Since I use Thunderbird and Glary Utilities, I am not planning to use McAfee.