Antivirus software providers and performance

March 20 2015 By Posted in Expertise

This month, we looked at antivirus software delivered online, a business segment where the Czech Republic has two well-known champions. We found a very mature market with still some surprises…


How do AVG & Avast perform versus other global competitors?

The antivirus software industry is a favourite sector in the Czech Republic and Slovakia with no less than 3 of the 5 worldwide leaders: AVG, Avast and ESET. This is a business segment where providing a fast and reliable software distribution is a must! Indeed, the two most critical user interactions are performed online. The first is when a prospect is downloading a free version of the product in order to test it. The second is when customers depend on their almost daily download to stay protected from internet threats.

We tested 24/7 over a month the speed and availability of downloads from 5 antivirus vendors: Avast, AVG, Eset, Mac Afee and Symantec. For all participants, we selected in the download section one reference file (patch, signature, etc) of a relatively large size (around 4 MB). The download test was then automated every hour from all major European countries (Germany, France, the UK, …) accounting for 14 000 tests per antivirus vendor.


Download speed & reliability

The first finding from our study is that overall every company provides a reliable service. On average, files are delivered properly in 99,7% of the cases. This figure reaches actually 99,8% for most benchmarked companies. AVG tops the list with an excellent 99,9%. There is no real surprise there but simply a confirmation that reliable download is a bare minimum when you sell software online.


Anti Virus providers


As a user, the next thing you want apart from actually getting the update file on your PC, is to get it fast and not to wait more than necessary. On this criteria, results from all benchmarks are again pretty similar. This is a much more unexpected result … but there is a good reason for this.

Looking at the technical layers of the various download sections yields interesting information: 4 out of the 5 tested companies are relying on a third party (so called Content Delivery Network or “CDN”) to provide the software to their customers. It means that software vendors actually copy the antivirus files in every country locally on the CDN own servers. This guarantees that every time a user is downloading software, he benefits from a local (national) delivery of the requested file whatever the country he is in.


Does CDN technology live up to its promises?

Actually it does, with an ultra fast time of 1 s to load a 4 MB file. With all 4 vendors using exactly the same CDN provider, the most surprising is finally that there are still differences: During the month of study, Mac Afee turned to be 20% faster than the others! One explanation might be the bigger size of the sample file vs other players.


There is one exception to the use of CDN though, and this is ESET. The Slovakia based software vendor has taken a different path from competition: He chose to deliver its content directly from its own datacentres. The study test results seem to indicate that this strategy does not provide the best user experience: Compared to the other tested solutions, the availability is lower (99,1%) and response times is also 5 times longer … These are still honourable results: A user will get his 4 MB file in 6 s. But this is undoubtedly very far away from the others.


While the IT industry is all talking about Cloud solutions and while every software vendor has turned its delivery model to Software as a Service, this antivirus industry benchmark confirms that cloud technologies are mature and that they can effectively support businesses to deliver online content europeanwide. This also shows that using CDN technologies still provides a competitive advantage by ensuring better and faster service to the user.


Sources: ip-label Datametrie Monitoring Data – January 2015 – 5 antivirus Download websites – European test agents


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