Security Advisor

Top Windows XP Antivirus Software Tested -- And They Still Work

The test sent many security software offerings through a gauntlet to measure protection, useability and performance. Three received a perfect score of 30.

For those that are still operating the unsupported Windows XP, there's good news. While Microsoft may be done helping to keep your system safe, third-party antivirus software are pulling in some overtime to make sure your systems are still protected from online threats.

In an independent analysis of over 20 antivirus protection offerings by AV-Test, the security firm has found that many of the big names are still doing an adequate job protecting connected XP systems. And, in a few cases, some products are doing a perfect job.

First, let's run down AV-Test's methodology. The firm scores software on three criteria: protection, performance, and usability. Each section can score a maximum of six points and a perfect test would result in a score of 18.

For the protection portion, software is loaded up onto a clean machine and AV-Test throws a malware cocktail made of zero-day malware attacks, classic known attacks and dangerous Web sites are visited. Even though it's been more than three months since support for XP has ended, 13 of the tested software were able to block everything thrown at them and scored a perfect six. This includes popular products like Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, McAfee Internet Security 2014, Norton Internet Security 2014 and F-Secure Internet Security 2014.

Not all fared so well. Microsoft's free Security Essentials 4.5 only scored half a point and was the lowest scoring of the batch. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise as Microsoft announced at the beginning of the year that it would no longer support the antivirus software once XP support ended in April.

In the next round of testing, which focused on performance, clean systems with the antivirus software installed completed 13 real-world computing tasks, including downloading files from the Internet, installing programs and running Microsoft Office, to see if the security software affected the speed and performance of the machines. Again, there were some that scored a perfect six, including Panda Cloud Antivirus Free 3.0. Microsoft's Security Essentials once again held up the rear with a score of three.

The final test measured usability by rating the distractions caused by warning messages appearing due to false positives and how often safe applications were flagged as malicious. All tested software performed well for this round, with the lowest score being awarded to Comodo Internet Security Premium 7.0 for a score of four.

Overall, AV-Test's latest round of analysis shows that if you still want to keep your XP system, security vendors will continue to support you without the help of Microsoft. And some are forming a lot better than others. Panda's Cloud Antivirus Free 3.0, Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 and Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 all scored a perfect 30 in what looks to be AV-Test's last round of testing for Windows XP.

For those with XP machines connected to the Internet, how has your system held up since the end of official security support in April? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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