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Evaluating Anti-virus Software for Ease of Use

by Lee Hudspeth

Here's a listing of all the articles in my Evaluating Anti-virus Software for Ease of Use series, in alphabetical order.

Here's a link to one of my articles that in turn provides links to all the articles we've published to date (through TNPC #4.25, December 13, 2001, inclusive) covering virus-related topics:
The Naked PC's Virus-Related Article Links

Here's a a table showing how the products I've reviewed so far compare on these categories. For detailed information on the various categories for a specific product, click the product's link in the "Read the details in TNPC issue" row. The products are listed in alphabetical order.

Range: very easy, easy, average, difficult, very difficult

Ease of Use Category Grisoft AVG 6.0 Pro Norton AntiVirus 2002 Panda Antivirus 6.0 Platinum Trend Micro PC-cillin 2000
Read the details in TNPC issue 5.03 (TK) 4.24, 4.25 4.25 5.01
Installation time? 1 hour 22 minutes 3 hours 30 minutes 2 hours 25 minutes 1 hour 10 minutes
Easy to automatically register on-line during installation? Very easy Failed Not possible Very easy
Easy to automatically connect for updates? Very easy Difficult Difficult Easy
Easy to contact technical support about bugs? Very difficult Average Average(1) Average
How long for technical support to reply to email (hours)? 138 8 22 Did not test yet
Easy to contact technical support about subscription problems? n/a(2) Very difficult Unknown n/a(3)
Is the CD bootable into a set of recovery tools? No Yes No No
Easy to configure overall? Average Easy Average Average
How easy is it to view the package's virus list? Difficult (UI: Start, Programs, AVG 6.0 Anti-Virus System, AVG 6.0 for Windows, Help, Virus Info) Average (UI: Reports, Virus List, View Report) Very easy (UI: click the "Virus List" button) Easy (UI: Virus Info, Virus list)
How does it handle the EICAR standard anti-virus test file? Passes all Passes all Passes all Passes all
ICSA Labs certified? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scans Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2000 (and higher) documents before they are opened by the host Office application?(4) Yes Yes No No
Suggested retail price $39.95 (download only) $49.95 (CD),
$49.95 (download)
$59.00 (CD),
$29.95 (download)
$39.99 (CD),
$29.95 (download)
One-year virus update subscription renewal fee free for life of product $9.95 $29.95 $14.95
Where to buy the product Click here Click here Click here Click here
Version tested 6.0.320 8.00.58 6.25.00 7.61


(1) In the Panda article I wrote, "My test phone call to Panda's non-toll-free technical support phone on a weekday mid-morning resulted in a 20 minute wait that could have gone longer, but I didn't hang around to find out." I also wrote, "I'm waiting to receive an email response on an inquiry I posted just before this issue went to press; so this is an open item." I got an email response in 22 hours, so I have changed my assessment from "Unknown" to "Average".

(2) Grisoft AVG virus definition and engine updates are free for the life of the product, thus there's no subscription process.

(3) Trend Micro doesn't offer a subscription upgrade, instead, the firm relies on its product's one-year revision cycle and a competitively priced product upgrade price ($14.95).

(4) Office 2000 and XP/2002 include a virus scanner API (application programming interface) that allows an anti-virus program to check a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document before it is actually opened by the host Office application. Here are the steps to check whether your anti-virus program supports Office's virus scanner API: in the Office application select Tools, Macro, Security, click the "Security Level" tab and look at the text in the lower left corner of the dialog. If the anti-virus program does not support this API then the text reads, "No virus scanner installed." If it supports this API then the text reads, "Virus scanner(s) installed." Click here to read the Microsoft white paper "MS Office 2000 Macro Security."

You can reach Lee Hudspeth at:

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