Kaspersky Antivirus Review


When thinking about an antivirus solution for your computer, an important criteria is how well the program can protect your system and your data. From this point of view, you definitely can't go wrong with Kaspersky. It offers top-of-the-line security features, as well as a large selection of special tools, for dealing with other issues, besides viruses and malware. About 400 million users from around the world can vouch for the program's powerful and accurate detection capabilities, so you can be sure that you won't choose a second-rate antivirus, with a foggy reputation.

Originally created in 1989, by Eugene Kaspersky, the program was a response to the infamous Cascade Virus, that was widespread in the 1980s. It only had about 40 virus definitions back then and it was distributed among friends, rather than published on the market. In the early to mid 90s, Kaspersky worked on the AntiViral Toolkit Pro (AVP) software for KAMI, but left the company and formed Kaspersky Lab in 1997, headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Following a trademarking issue in the US, AVP was re-branded to what is now known as Kaspersky Anti-Virus.

Packages and features

Like most security solutions out there, Kaspersky has split its product into several packages, to address the needs of different user categories. If you want basic protection, you will have to pay less than someone who wants advanced anti-spam features, for example. Also, the price is quite flexible for each package, because you can choose how many devices you want to protect and for how long.

  • Kaspersky Anti-Virus

  • If you don't need anything else than a bare-bone protection system, then Kaspersky Anti-Virus is for you. It offers very little, compared to the other packages. It only works on Windows and you can get a license for one, three, five or ten PCs, for a period of one, two or three years.

    • Antivirus protection

      Although it barely comes with any special features, Kaspersky Anti-Virus offers the same powerful virus scanning engine as all other products. You can expect fast and accurate detection capabilities, as well as a low impact on your system's performance.

    • Website reputation monitoring

      Besides fighting against viruses on your computer, the program can also warn you if you are about to connect to a website that has a bad reputation. Whenever you see an offer on a website, that is difficult to pass up, you will be able to tell if it's legitimate or a scam, intended to steal your money or your personal information.

    • Gamer mode

      If you like to spend your time dealing head-shots or rushing your enemy's base in video games, you can turn on Kaspersky's gamer mode, so that you may enjoy your games without any interruptions. If you lose at a game, you won't be able to blame it on pop-ups from the antivirus.

  • Kaspersky Internet Security

  • This package is probably the most popular pick for a wide range of user categories. For a mid-range solution, it offers a surprisingly large amount of bonus features. Add the fact that it can be used on three, five or ten PCs, Macs or Android platforms and you have an excellent solution for single users, who use multiple devices, large families or small companies.

    • Parental Controls

      Children tend to stay more time on a computer than they should and they can be exposed to content that is not good for their age. Kaspersky's parental controls allow you to set automatic rules, to restrict your children to a limited daily or weekly time on a computer and you can also force them to take short breaks. What's more, you can set up filters, based on US ESRB and EU PEGI ratings, to make sure the kids won't be able to access adult or violent content when you are not around.

    • Anti-Spam

      If your mailbox is littered with spam, you can turn on Kaspersky's Anti-spam feature, to prevent them from reaching your inbox again. You can choose between low, recommended and high filtering. Sticking with the recommended settings is the best way to ensure that you won't receive any more annoying ads or offers, without marking legitimate messages as spam by mistake.

    • Safe Money

      Kaspersky comes with a browser plug-in, dedicated to secure online bank transactions. Everybody feels a bit nervous when inputting their credit card details on a website and for good reason. However, if you make your online transactions with Safe Money turned on, you can stay relaxed, because your credit card information will stay safe from various forms of spyware, including screen-capturing programs and keyloggers. The best part is that Kaspersky automatically detects when you access a banking website and offers to turn this feature on automatically.

    • Two-way firewall

      Firewall configurations can be confusing for inexperienced users. If you are not sure whether a process you've never heard of should be allowed through the firewall, you can let Kaspersky make the important decisions for you. This way, you can prevent hackers from attacking your system and applications from sending out privileged data, without having to do any guess work regarding application names or IP addresses.

    • Virtual keyboard

      It may seem like a simple feature, but the built-in virtual keyboard enables you to input sensitive information, without any spyware-related risks. If you fear that something could be capturing everything you type on the keyboard, you can use the virtual keyboard to simply go around this threat.

    • VPN

      Whenever you connect to a website, your IP address will be logged somewhere, along with other details. If you don't feel comfortable letting other people know when you have connected to a website, Kaspersky's VPN will redirect your Internet traffic, so you will appear with a different IP address. As a bonus benefit, you can circumvent regional restrictions, so you will be able to access that website that's not available in your country.

    • Webcam protection

      This is definitely a feature that everyone will appreciate. The software can prevent unauthorized applications from using your webcam. No one likes having a camera pointed at them, especially if there is no way of telling if it's recording or not, but Kaspersky's webcam protection can eliminate the feeling that you are being watched.

  • Kaspersky Total Security

  • Aimed at users who need additional protection for their personal data, Kaspersky Total Security is a complete solution for professional and regular users alike. You can get a license for three, five or ten devices. The price is slightly higher, but you get more than what the previous packages have to offer.

    • Backup software

      There are countless ways to lose important data, from virus attacks to hard drive failure. To prepare for such situations, the included backup software can help you create spare copies of any files you deem important, so if they ever get corrupted or accidentally deleted, you will be able to get them back quickly and easily. Also, thanks to the scheduling options, you won't have to run backup jobs yourself, because the software will do it for you automatically.

    • File shredder

      Deleted files can be restored with specialized applications and your important documents are no exception. However, if you erase the files with Kaspersky's shredding tool, you can make sure the information is gone forever and it will never fall in the wrong hands.

    • File encryption

      You can lock and password-protect files that you don't want others to open. Your documents, project files or any other data can be encrypted with the latest algorithms, making it impossible for anyone to read them, regardless of how hard they try.

    • Password manager

      Kaspersky Total Security's password manager is an excellent solution if you keep forgetting your passwords. Even if you have long and complex passwords, you can write them down in an encrypted database and retrieve them when you need to sign into your accounts. You only need to remember one password, to keep all your login credentials safe.

    • System optimizer

      The software can remove temporary files, clear browser caches and deal away with other unnecessary bits of data that are clogging up your hard drive and affecting your computer's speed. Clicking one or two buttons is all the effort you need to put in, to improve your system's performance by a noticeable margin.

    • Online storage

      If you find Kaspersky's backup utility useful, you will also appreciate the fact that it provides you with free secure cloud storage. You can choose to store your backups in the cloud or use the space to store the data you want to access from work, while on the road or from any other location in the world.

Installation and setup

The time it takes to install Kaspersky may vary, depending hardware configuration, but you can expect to complete the process in about five or six minutes. There is no need to install any special tools or drivers, but you will want to make sure you don't have any other 3d party antivirus programs installed on your computer. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about Windows Defender, the operating system's base protection system, because it won't interfere with Kaspersky.

A wizard will guide you through the installation process with step-by-step instructions, which are not too hard to follow. Before you start installing the program's main components, you can choose to opt into Kaspersky's malware sample collection program, if you want to let other users know about the zero-day threats you encounter.

Once the program is up and running, it will run an initial virus scan, which can take close to two hours to complete, though the software does warn you about this beforehand. Also, you will want to pay attention to the results list, because you won't be able to target individual files, if anything is detected after the first scan. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about similar times in future scans and if you didn't delete anything after the initial scan, you can run a new one much faster and deal away with the threats.

User Experience

Kaspersky uses a lightly colored user interface, with well organized menus and easy-to-master controls. If you need to know about the current state of your protection system or if there is anything that requires your attention, you can get this information directly on the main dashboard. Furthermore, if you want to run a scan or use one of the program's main features, you can just click one of the options on the same dashboard.

The features that are available in your current package can be displayed in a list, in the general settings menu, where you can turn them on or off at a moment's notice, with only one click. If the software detects a threat on your computer, while you are doing something, a pop-up will show up, in the lower-right corner of the screen, with options for deleting the threat, skipping or adding it to an exclusions list, if you know the file is safe. You will see similar notifications if something is found while you surf the web or whenever something bad is about to attack your computer.

Threat notifications are highly visible, so you won't miss them if you run into any dangers. However, if you feel that they are getting in your way, especially when it's time for some relaxation, you can switch the program to gaming mode. This way, you will be able to compete against your friends in online games without any interruptions, but you will also appreciate this feature when watching a movie or concentrating on important tasks.

If you take a bit of time to see how the program works and what it has to offer, you can make it even less intrusive. Like with all other similar products, updates are performed automatically and you can also schedule automatic scans and backups, so you will be able to use your computer normally, without any distractions, while the program does everything for you in the background.

Scanning and detection

Besides scanning files and matching them with known virus signatures, Kaspersky's detection capabilities are reinforced by other security mechanisms, to ensure that no threats will get passed your defenses, even if they haven't been classified yet. The program will detect and remove viruses, malware, spyware or ransomware, even when you are not actively scanning. Furthermore, its heuristic monitoring system can protect your system and your files from zero-day threats. If you download and run an unknown application, with undetected malicious code, your system and your data will remain safe, because the program will react to any suspicious activity, coming from that application.

  • Multiple scanning modes

    The most basic way to make sure there are no viruses on your computer is to run a scan. A quick scan is a good option if you are in a hurry, because the program will only look in common locations, where malware is known to hide. Though it takes longer to complete, a full scan is a better choice if you want to look for more complex viruses. You can also perform custom scans, if you want to check specific folders on the hard drive, without scanning the entire system. Additionally, you can schedule these types of scans to run automatically, so you don't have to bother running them manually on a regular basis.

    The program detects viruses by comparing files to known malware signatures, which is why it is important to keep the database updated. What's more, Kaspersky has a signatures collection program, through which users can submit new virus signatures for analysis. You can opt out of this program if you want to, but if you stay, you will be able to help over 400 million users prepare for new and undocumented threats.

  • Real-time protection

    While the program is working in the background, it will automatically scan the files, applications or emails you open, to make sure they don't have any pieces of malicious code, which could spread through your system and affect your personal files. You can work or play on your computer without any worries. If you download or launch something dangerous by mistake, you will receive warnings right away, as well as options for dealing with the threat.

    The program's real-time protection capabilities are strengthened considerably by the Trusted Application mode, which you can turn on at a moment's notice. While most antiviruses allow applications to run on your system and block detected threats, Kaspersky will block everything by default and allow only trusted applications to run. You don't have to worry about marking each of your applications as safe, because most of them are probably already whitelisted.

  • System Watcher

    Kaspersky does an excellent job against zero-day threats, thanks to its System Watcher. This heuristic monitoring system can detect signs of suspicious activity on your computer and it will react immediately, to prevent a malware attack. If a piece of malware is not classified in the signatures database, it could reach your computer, through a lesser-known application, without being detected, and do anything, from corrupting system-critical files to stealing your credit card information when you type it. However, this is exactly what the System Monitor was created for.

    The System Watcher monitors your computer constantly, as the name might suggest, and it backs up important files automatically. As a result, if any of your files have been damaged or encrypted by ransomware, Kaspersky will undo the damage they might have caused, before being detected and eliminated. Even if your files are affected by ransomware, you will be able to get them back immediately, without having to pay anyone to decrypt them.

  • Vulnerability scanner

    Prevention and preparation are the best defenses against viruses and hackers. This is why Kaspersky can scan your system for gaps that can be exploited by ill-intended people. You can find out if there are any critical security updates missing and plug the gaps right away, with a single click.

    If you have Kaspersky Internet Security or Total Security, you don't even need to launch the update tool. The program will monitor for outdated security measures and update them automatically, in the background, without bothering you. There is barely anything you have to do, to ensure your system's protection.

System Performance

Minimum system requirements:

CPU: 1 GHz or faster, Intel Pentium or equivalent
RAM: 1GB (32-bit) / 2GB (64-bit)
Disk space: 480 MB

Kaspersky works without any compatibility issues on Windows XP and all later editions, up to Windows 10. Its hardware requirements are not high, but having some extra resources to spare is always better. If you intend to use a Mac version, you can install it on OS X El Capitan (10.11), Sierra (10.12) and High Sierra (10.13).

Mobile device users can find Kaspersky for Android 2.3 or higher. Additionally you can find Kaspersky Safe Browser and Kaspersky Password Manager for iOS 9 or later and Kaspersky Safe Browser for Windows Phone 8.

You won't feel your computer slowing down while Kaspersky is working passively in the background. What's more, the program's scanning threshold can be switched between low, recommended and high, so you have another option for freeing up some resources, besides the gaming mode.

Though the program's background activities don't have sever effects on performance, active virus scans are something you will notice. You can expect a performance drop of around 30%, when doing a full scan, but you will still have enough free resources for non-demanding tasks. While there are faster programs out there, there are also much slower ones, which puts Kaspersky right in the middle.

On the other hand, it takes somewhere around 30 minutes to complete the first on-demand full scan, which is considerably faster than the average of 45 minutes you get from other programs. What's more, future scans will settle down to about 8 minutes, so while you will notice a slight performance hit when running a full scan, you won't have to wait for too long until you can use the full power of your processor again.

Support and Customer Service

From sales or installation-related issues to virus-detection problems, you can rely on Kaspersky's Consumer Support services to help you solve the problems you may run into. Business hours may vary, depending on your country, but in all cases, it is open from early in the morning until late at night.

You can contact the support team directly, over the phone or live web chat. What's more, in most countries, users receive support in their native language. If you live outside the supported countries, you can only submit a ticket, at any hour of the day, and expect to receive a response by email in a timely manner.

Before you contact a tech expert, you can have a look over the rich knowledge base on Kaspersky's website. It includes expert advice on configuring the program, instructions for performing common tasks, as well as an online scanner, for verifying the reputation of files and URLs. Additionally, you can leave a question in the forums, where millions of users can help you find a solution to your problem.

Kaspersky also offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked money back guarantee. If you don't like how the program works, how it looks or if you simply change your mind about your purchase, you can ask for a refund, without having to give any kind of explanations.

Value for the Money

Kaspersky has a lot to offer, in terms of privacy and security. It can fend off viruses, malware, spam, ransomware and other threats, it can prevent hacker attacks, protect your webcam and more. It's mid-range package offers a good amount of bonus features, which are normally found in the top tiers of other antivirus products, so there is certainly a good deal to be made here. Furthermore, the attractive offer is solidified by the product line's near-spotless track record.

Over the past few years, Kaspersky had always maintained its position among the best-scoring antivirus products in various tests, conducted by reputable independent testers. It earned numerous "Top Product" badges from AV-TEST, after correctly identifying most, if not all, known malware and zero-day threats the German company threw at it.

Kaspersky is also the proud recipient of "Advanced +" ratings, as well as multiple "Outstanding Security Product" awards, due to its near-100% scores in the AV-Comparatives evaluations. The best part is that its high detection rate is not the result of overzealousness. Kaspersky is one of the products with the fewest false positives, so you won't see your favorite applications being shut down and quarantined all of a sudden, because it got mistakenly flagged as a threat.

Unlike other security companies, Kaspersky is quite clear on what packages and features it has to offer and they let you choose how many computers you want to protect. It doesn't matter if you are a single user, who plays games all day, or a professional, working with client documents, because the same virus detection capabilities will be available to you, regardless of what packages you opt for, so you only need to think about what bonus features you want.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus

Offering very little besides a basic protection system, Kaspersky Anti-Virus is a good choice if you have just heard that not using an antivirus program is a bad idea and want to remedy the situation. This basic package provides protection against the latest threats, to one or up to ten PCs, so you can get it for yourself or the entire family.

Kaspersky Internet Security

This package hits the "sweet spot" when it comes to protection. The price difference is not that significant, especially if you take all the bonus features into account. The Safe Money browser plugin, virtual keyboard and VPN allow you to make online purchases, without worrying that your credit card details might end up in the hands of scammers. Also, the advanced parental controls and the fact that Kaspersky Internet Security can be used on multiple PCs, Macs or mobile devices, make it an excellent solution if you have children.

Kaspersky Total Security

If you want complete protection for your system and your personal information, then you should look no further than Kaspersky Total Security. Besides fending off viruses and hackers, like with Internet Security, you can also protect your sensitive documents or other important files, by encrypting them, storing them in the cloud or destroying the information forever. Though a small or medium-sized household can definitely benefit from these extra features, professionals will enjoy them even more, since they can avoid embarrassing situations, like losing company data or a client's documents.

Final Verdict

There are many things to consider when looking for an antivirus, but Kaspersky seems to have found an excellent balance between protection, features and price. Its powerful and accurate detection capabilities, certified by near-perfect scores from independent testers, a mid-range package that has a lot to offer for a reasonable price, as well as its modest impact on a system's performance, certainly make this product difficult to pass up.

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