Friday, October 07, 2005

Anti-Virus Software Comparison

Over the years, I've worked with many different anti-virus software products for the Microsoft platform. Most corporate customers used Symantec, but I always felt it placed too much of a drag on the system. Eventually, I decided that McAfee VirusScan was the better product. I purchased Version 6, when loaded Windows XP, and was happy with it for several years.

A few months again, my update subscription ran out, and I was disappointed to find that McAfee would not support Version 6 any longer. Like a good consumer, I dutifully marched to CompUSA, and bought version 9. I was immediately disappointed. To make a long story short, McAfee had chosen to use Active-X as the engine to fetch virus signature updates. This presents two problems:

First, Active-X requires Microsoft Internet Explorer, but my default browser was Firefox. Thus, the update utility would launch the browser to check for updates, but the process failed becuase the browser was not IE. I used tech support chat, but they insisted that I had no choice but to use IE as my default browser.

Second, Active-X is the mechanism that the majority of Spyware uses to get onto a Windows system. Thus, the anti-virus program was opening a vulnerability. McAfee tech support said I shouldn't worry about spyware, as they had a seperate product that I could purchase guard against that threat.

The good news: McAfee offered a money back guarantee. When I called to exercise that option, they escalated my issue to Tier 2 Tech Support. Eventually, they conceded that Version 9 was a product for the mass market, rather than people truly interested in security.

Anti-Virus Software Comparison: McAfee vs Trend Micro

So, what was I to do? I needed an alternative. I chose to try Trend Micro PC-cillin Antivirus 11. One really big issue: Trend Micro was $39 with a $20 rebate, whereas McAfee was $59 with a $20 rebate. Thus, it was 50% cheaper. Of course, if it didn't work, then cheaper was meaningless.

After loading Trend Micro, I was very quickly, very impressed with the product. Not only did it have no problem with Firefox, but it recognized and operated seemlessly with my Mozilla and Thunderbird e-mail programs. McAfee would only support Outlook variants.

Furthermore, Trend Micro's basic package claims protection from Spyware, as well. McAfee required a second product. This now made Trend Micro 68% cheaper. Another neat feature: Last night there was an indictor that a new virus had been discovered, with a warning that I should update. I initiated a manual update, only to find the system had already downloaded the new signature file.

As far as I'm concerned, the Trend Micro is a vastly superior product to the McAfee product.

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