Effective Malware Blocking
Panda scored very well in my hands-on malware blocking test. When I opened a folder containing my current malware sample collection, it didn't do anything immediately. That's because Panda waits for a significant event like file creation or modification; it doesn't scan just because a process accessed the file. When I copies the collection to another folder, Panda got to work, quickly wiping out 86 percent of the samples.
It also caught some of the remaining samples when I launched them. Overall, it detected 89 percent of the samples and earned 8.8 points, the same as Kaspersky. Among products tested with this same collection, Trend Micro has the best scores, with 93 percent detection and 9.1 points.
Results from tests with my previous malware collection aren't directly comparable, of course, but you have to appreciate what Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (2015) did with that bunch. It detected 100 percent of the samples and earned a perfect 10 points.
My malicious URL blocking test doesn't rely on a pre-set collection of samples. Rather, I take the very newest list of malicious URLs supplied by MRG-Effitas and attempt to download real-world malware samples. The antivirus gets credit for blocking access to the URL or for wiping out the file during or immediately after the download. I keep at this test until I have results for 100 very new malicious URLs.
As I proceeded with the test, Panda's stats stayed remarkably consistent. It blocked about half of the URLs by preventing all access by the browser, and it wiped out about half of the remaining samples during the download process, often before I had even clicked Save. With 73 percent protection, it's tied with Webroot in this test. Trend Micro holds the top score, with 88 percent protection, and McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2015 is close behind with 85 percent.
Still a Winner
In my own hands-on testing, Panda Free Antivirus tied with rockstar Kaspersky in malware blocking, and it beat Kaspersky in the malicious URL blocking test. Its phishing protection didn't shine, but antiphishing isn't this tool's primary mission. That's not too bad for a free product.
You can still get even better protection if you're willing to pay for it. But Panda, our Editor's Choice for free antivirus, outperforms all but the best of its commercial competition.