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Antivirus reviews 2008 (part 2)

This is part 7 in my Optimizing Broadband|Windows|Firefox series and part 2 of my take on this year's antivirus software. Covers NAV, McAfee and Trend Micro.[Antivirus software reviews: jump to Norton Antivirus 2008 review | McAfee VirusScan Plus with SiteAdvisor 2008 review |
Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware review
| part 1 | part 3 | Anti-spyware reviews | Firewall reviews | this is part of a series on optimizing broadband, Windows and Firefox: here's
the intro page with the table of contents.]

Note: I no longer update this page. For an updated and easily navigable version, check out AV Scan.

This brings us to the biggies, and Norton is probably the biggest antivirus brand that's out there, so let's start with that.

Norton Antivirus
Symantec product page | top

Symantec has this habit of coming up with minor variations of Norton every year: they're more or less the same, or only rarely significantly improved (some say v2007 was a leap ahead). Norton can be a real pain at times: some of its updates have reportedly been chaotic (a bit like Windows in that department, eh), and from my experience, it's poor at catching viruses; the excellent/good reviews it keeps getting every year is perhaps due to Symantec's aggressive marketing policies than anything else. I've used Norton longer than any other software (yes, any kind of software). The current version is 2008, but its update servers are, still, slow; and since its the bestselling antivirus in the world, all the hackers seem to be intent on exploiting its weaknesses. Moreover, its uninstallation process is (and has always been) terrible: it just won't remove all the files, so you have to do that manually. And, it's more RAM-hungry than many of the newbies that do the job much better.
Summary: grossly overrated antivirus, poor detection rate, uninstallation process doesn't remove files.
Price: $39.99 (1 user)

McAfee VirusScan Plus

McAfee product page | top

McAfee could certainly have boasted at one point of time for having bested Norton in popularity rankings. We used to think it was the most 'solid' antivirus program out there, and we were right back then. But excessive RAM congestion has always been McAfee's prime dislikeable feature. Even today if you're running McAfee on an average PC, you'll surely notice an overall performance drop in your desktop experience. Most other antivirus software have improved greatly, and McAfee can't really claim it's the best or hardest on viruses anymore -- probably in any department. The interface badly needs a sensibility implant (you'll get cautioned if you don't have McAfee Internet Security or Parental Control on). Perhaps the company needs such an implant too: how else would you explain failing to cash on the very useful and popular SiteAdvisor tool? And of course, SiteAdvisor alone can't be enough to hope users will stick around with the antivirus. Among the improvements, McAfee scans links while you're chatting away on AOL or Yahoo IM (though it doesn't support the latest versions till date). Funny: McAfee won't scan your computer upon installation, but once installed will proclaim you're protected.
Summary: good detection rate, can scan links within some IMs; the big daddy of RAM hogs, clumsy interface.
Price: $39.99 (1 user)

Trend Micro AntiVirus plus AntiSpyware

Trend Micro product page | top

You might not think of PC-Cillin as one of the antivirus superweights, but a few years back TrendMicro had certainly won the hearts of many with its flagship product. Today the name has changed (it's ugly and longish), but it's still fast, and installs like a breeze. Updating is easy -- but the update server seemed slow. I remember trying everything I could sometime last year to clean my PC of a worm infection. PC-Cillin found it, but couldn't fix or delete it. In other words, the virus seemed to take over PC-Cillin in a snap, because after that PC-Cillin couldn't even find it! I didn't have the same virus on my computer, so I couldn't check how v2008 fared against it. In general, Trend Micro products have a history of failing to detect old viruses; even macro and boot viruses. The latest version has got a facelift, can scan links while chatting within AOL and Yahoo IMs (supports latest versions), seems faster, and certainly nails malware better. Independent reviewers haven't really shown much interest in reviewing Trend Micro yet, so you can't find any data on the internet. In other words, there's no statistical evidence that this antivirus performs better than another. From my experience, it feels like a much-improved piece of software.
Summary: good detection rate, can scan links within some IMs, good interface, fast; lack of performance data
Price: $39.95 (1 user)

Next: what's the best antivirus out there? (part 3: freebies and conclusion)

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