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2016
Best

Antivirus Software for Windows Vista Reviews

reviews & comparisons

Best Antivirus Software for Windows Vista

Why Do Windows Vista Users Need Antivirus Software?

With security as its primary focus, Windows Vista was released in November of 2006 in response to security vulnerabilities of Microsoft XP and its predecessors. Malicious elements, determined to further undermine security, responded in kind, and malware became a stealthy, formidable threat to computer systems at about the same time as the release of Windows Vista. So despite Microsoft's best efforts to independently safeguard against external threats, it became necessary to rely on third-party antivirus software to combat malware and other malicious threats that would follow. Today antivirus software is as important as ever and has become multifaceted in the level of security it provides.

Learn about specific antivirus products, Vista's basic security and related topics in our articles on antivirus software for Windows Vista. For an in-depth analysis of antivirus software across all Windows formats and to read reviews of the best antivirus software, visit our antivirus software reviews site.

Why Buy Third-Party Antivirus Software?

While Windows Vista has been replaced by several Windows iterations since it was first introduced, there are still plenty of Vista users who want to know their options when it comes to computer security. When Vista was released, it came with its own built-in antispyware program called Windows Defender. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft upgraded Windows Defender with improved, more extensive antivirus features. Windows 10 went a step further, building Windows Defender into the operating system itself. So you may rightfully wonder if third-party antivirus software is still necessary. The answer is, more so than ever. But the question then is, why is it necessary? It comes down to performance.

While it is nice to have a built-in antivirus program for your Windows software, it doesn't quite give you the comprehensive protection you need to guard against malicious hidden forces in the cyberworld. When tested by AV-Test, the respected independent antivirus software test lab, Microsoft's in-house antivirus program didn't score high points. Some of the programs that performed well across the board in AV-Test's regimen were Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Norton. These antivirus programs regularly make it to the top of our antivirus lists at Top Ten Reviews because of their consistently high levels of protection. Other programs that consistently perform well for AV-Test are F-Secure and Avast.

AV-Test puts each antivirus through rigorous testing in three key areas: protection, performance and usability. Specifically, AV-Test monitors each program's ability to guard against malware infections (protection), how much the program slows down your computer (performance), and how accurately it detects real threats while avoiding false detections (usability). The best antivirus software consistently gets near-perfect or perfect scores in each category.

Types of Security Threats Antivirus Programs Protect Against

Cyber threats have evolved in sophistication since Windows Vista first came on the market, but the best antivirus software protects your Windows Vista PC against all types of malware and other threats, whether they are brand-new or have been around for years. Here are some types of malware that are potential threats to your computer.

Worms
These malicious programs are designed to replicate themselves quickly with the intent to spread to other computers, often through a computer network. While they may not always be designed to intentionally impair computer systems, they do harm by consuming bandwidth, at the very least. Most worms are designed to spread as quickly as possible and are capable of creating backdoor security vulnerabilities, deleting files or even sending files via email.

Trojan Horses
Like the wooden horse in the Greek myth, Trojans present themselves as useful, interesting or routine programs to trick you into downloading and executing them to cause data loss, theft and sometimes total-system harm.

Spyware
This software is designed to gather information about you without your knowledge. This information can be sent to another party without your consent and sometimes even take control of your computer. Spyware is capable of collecting any type of data, including your internet history and banking information. Some forms of spyware can install additional software or change your internet or browser settings, which ranges from a mere annoyance to a problem that can take days to fix.

Ransomware
This incarnation of malware infects your computer with the intention of restricting your access to your computer system, perhaps preventing you from surfing the internet or accessing the hard drive, and then demanding a payment to the malware creators. It often tries to imitate the look of genuine, trusted software to trick you into buying a solution. For example, it may tell you your user license for a particular application has expired and you need to repurchase the license. Some of the trickiest ransomware creators have acquired millions of dollars from unsuspecting users.

Rootkits
Rootkits are stealthy malware that give you privileged access to your computer as it hides out, attempting to gain administrative access to your computer, not letting you know it is in your system. This type of malware is generally difficult to detect and remove because it tries to thoroughly embed itself into your computer's system.

Malware is not limited to these five examples, but this gives you a sense of how malicious malware can be. Fortunately, antivirus software is designed to combat these threats by preventing them from entering your system and quarantining and removing any malware that does get through. The best way to protect yourself from malware is to update your computer system when prompted and to purchase third-party antivirus software that protects your computer 24/7.

Types of Security Software for Your PC

There are generally three recognized tiers of virus protection: antivirus software, internet security suites and premium security suites. Antivirus software is the lowest tier and is regarded as entry-level viral protection. Internet security suites, the next tier of protection, offer more functionality with further protections, such as firewalls and antispam tools. The top tier of virus protection is premium security suites, which are comprehensive tools to protect your system from the most aggressive malware with a variety of measures and protections. Each tier of PC virus protection lends itself to different users in different situations.

Antivirus Software
Antivirus software has fewer features than antivirus suites or premium security suites. It can block or remove spyware, worms, rootkits and other malware types. It can also scan incoming email for potential threats, automatically clean or quarantine infected files, and create bootable rescue disks to restore your system in the event of a crash, to name a few of its abilities.

Internet Security Suites
Internet security suites generally contain all of the tools found in entry-level antispyware, such as antimalware, PC tune-up utilities, safe online banking and shopping, secure browsing, vulnerability scanning, and privacy protection. However, these suites include features that add more levels of security, such as an alternate firewall from the one included with the Windows operating system. Many suites also offer social network protection to detect threats that enter through your online social presence. Additionally, these antivirus suites include parental controls to limit where your children go while on the internet, which can protect your computer system and, more importantly, your children.

Premium Security Suites
Premium security suites offer even more protection than internet security suites. Premium suites include all of the features found in internet suites and add extra layers of protection in the form of file shredders, online backup, system tune-up utilities and password managers. In other words, these suites tend to be the best of the best in terms of protection, offering an entire arsenal of defenses and protection against malware.

G Data is a program that offers all three tiers of protection, including a software package for basic antivirus protection, an internet security suite and a total security package for more comprehensive protection. Each one is optimized to run with any Windows system from XP and Vista to Windows 10.

Once you determine which level of security your system requires, be sure to consider the software developer's customer support before making a final decision. Look for a program that offers 24/7 access to support through email, phone or live chat. Regular, easy access to support ensures that you can get the help you need, whether you have a simple question or your entire computer system crashes and you need immediate help. Make sure the software has numerous means of technical support, especially for Windows Vista, since this program is no longer commonly used.

Best Antivirus for Windows Vista

The main goal behind the creation of Windows Vista was to improve the security of the Windows operating system after criticisms of its predecessor's security vulnerabilities. Despite the security improvements developed specifically for Vista, advanced malware was created to break or circumnavigate the security systems in place.

Even though Microsoft designed Vista with the intent to make it inherently secure, third-party antispyware software is the best measure against attack from malware. The best antivirus for Windows Vista gives you the assurance that your system is protected from potential threats. However, finding the right Vista antivirus program can be tricky. Consider the following criteria when choosing a Windows Vista antivirus program to keep your system safe.

Performance
All Windows Vista security programs are capable of detecting different types of malware, including basic viruses and aggressive rootkits. The main difference between these products is not if they can find and remove malware, but how well they detect these threats. AV-Test, an independent antivirus test lab, takes the best antivirus software programs on the market and evaluates them based on rigorous tests of their ability to detect both brand-new and older malware. So while you're looking for the best Vista antivirus software, check out the performance scores of each program to make sure it is capable of catching brand-new threats as well as established malware. The best software consistently scores 99 or 100 percent in protection, so pay special attention to programs that score in that range. Along with our top products, when it comes to performance, Panda and Trend Micro consistently perform above average in AV-Test's evaluations.

Features
All the antivirus software for Windows Vista we reviewed offers email protection, automatically cleans infected files, scans instant messages and quarantines dangerous files so they can't spread to other files. However, only some of these programs can create bootable rescue disks that allow you to recover an infected computer system, which is incredibly helpful. Additionally, not every program protects against attacks via USB storage devices or has antiphishing securities in place. Look for programs that meet all of your needs before making your final decision.

When looking for antivirus software, consider how impactful the program is on the host operating system. The top antivirus programs have little impact on system performance, meaning you can visit webpages, download files, use different applications and so on with only minor performance interference from the antimalware program. Most programs slow down your system by a few seconds, which isn't terrible but is still noticeable. But you'll want to find a program that has below-average slowdown time. Avira is one of the programs that has all of the features we look for, including some uncommon ones like ransomware protection.

Even with enhanced security in place with Windows Vista, antivirus software allows you to rest easy. This software can give you all the protection you need. As new malware appears every day, antivirus software for Windows Vista will help you stay on top it and guard your system against constant, ever-changing threats.