PC Tools iAntivirus
Free virus protection for your Intel-based Mac
By Ko Maruyama
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.