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Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 02/16/09

PC Tools iAntivirus

Free virus protection for your Intel-based Mac

By Ko Maruyama

For years the Mac community has boasted that we were not susceptible to viruses, or malicious bugs of any kind. However, since the rise in popularity of the Mac OS, the recently new ability to run Windows on your Mac hardware, and the allure of  "it can't be done", Mac users have become the target of new attacks. Fortunately, PC Tools has  launched a new antivirus/antispyware  tool, appropriately called iAntiVirus.

As a Mac user for several years, I've seen many different types of antivirus software. Sooner or later, I usually decide that I don't need it anymore and disable or uninstall it; mainly because it's constant protection had degraded my performance. The beauty of the new software from PC Tools  is that  the scheduling of  file scanning is easy to set up, and more importantly very fast to complete.  While it runs in the background, searching for potential threats on incoming data, it doesn't unduly tax the system.

One reason it might be so nimble on the Mac is that iAntiVirus  was created specifically for us Mac users. It seeks to find those threats that match Mac only definitions.  (While you could run Windows OS on your Intel-based Mac, you would want to run an antivirus application that contains all of those hundreds of thousands of definitions for  Windows OS attacks.) Fortunately,  virus writers haven't created much of a catalog for Mac antivirus software. Although iAntiVirus  is currently  sleek because  it doesn't rely on  a crushing number of  virus definitions,  the software has a smart update which refreshes its list of possible bugs.

Attacks against the  Mac OS by malware  authors is increasing daily. Within the two weeks that I've checked the site, a number of threat definitions have been added to the PC Tools list of candidates.

A more detailed breakdown of potential threats takes longer, but even while running Photoshop and After Effects, iAntiVirus checked nearly 1M files in about 1.5 hours.  I never noticed it was running.

Why is the software free? Of course one of the first questions people ask when they see software like this is:  "is it any good if it's free?" Ultimately, it is really the service behind the software that costs money. And, if you're going to use it  to protect your business, you want all the benefits  and support that the small registration price offers. For the rest of us, the home users, PC Tools  maintains a product blog/forum that covers user to user support. This is a feature I haven't even entertained as a possibility, or necessity, because the  software is really quite easy to use.

Formatted much like any other Mac application, iAntiVirus  requires very little set up. After installation, the software performs a scan to detect any infections, and then quarantines those (if any) so that you can determine whether or not they should be deleted. The beauty of this quarantine system is that  if the software delivers a false positive, you can change the detection engine's  settings if desired.

Although my  Mac laptop remains blissfully unaware of any virus attacks, removing infected files from a quarantine list is as simple as pressing a button in the software's review function.

I know there are a lot of  Mac PowerPC users still around;  I am one. Unfortunately, this software will require an Intel-based Mac running OSX 10.5  or later.   I am certain that this is the last year Mac PowerPC hardware will be professionally attractive. With the new Mac Pro right around the corner, and a brand-new operating system from Apple promised in the near future,  even seasoned Mac users will need to be vigilant against the inevitable attacks that will come  as well.

While PC Tools  is a company dedicated primarily to the research and development of tools for the Windows OS, they are also working on new software that will not only run under the Mac OS, but in some cases does not depend on the Microsoft OS to perform.   You can visit their works in progress posted on  the PC Tools website under LABS.

The software is free  for home use, and only  $29.95 for business use. With the ever-growing popularity of the Mac, especially among those 'switchers' who do not want to be bothered with the maintenance and attention that Windows OS requires, PC Tools' iAntiVirus is a must-have utility.   You can find more at www.PCTools.com.
Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.

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