NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2009
PC Tools Offers Free Antivirus Software
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

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In the eight years I have been writing this weekly column, I have repeatedly espoused the mandatory need for having good antivirus software installed as a part of the necessary security cordon around the computer. With tight economic times, many computer users have been forced to cut back on expenses, and one way of doing that is to use some of the free but very good security utilities available. In past columns, I have written about excellent but free security utilities such as antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall, anti-spam, and browser protection software. Among the most widely used of the free security utilities are the very popular AVG Free Antivirus, Zone Alarm firewall, Spybot Search and Destroy, the Comodo suite of security products, and many others, all of which can provide some reasonable degree of real time protection from malware threats.

PC Tools is a respected computer security software provider headquartered in Australia, and with offices in the US, the UK, Ireland, and the Ukraine. Its commercial anti-spyware utility is considered by many as among the best, and I have been using the PC Tools ThreatFire (free version) security add-on (http://www.threatfire.com) as a second level of security running on top of my existing security suite. For several years, PC Tools has also been publishing both free and commercial versions of its antivirus software, which has quietly been racking up awards and recognition from the media. PC Tools Antivirus 5 for Windows has been building up a large and loyal group of users, and is now breaking into the mainstream in the U.S. as a significant competitor in the crowded field of antivirus purveyors. The most recent version available, as I type this, is version, released on February 3. The download size is 29 megs, and runs well on Windows Vista (32 bit), XP, and Windows 2000, and can be downloaded from http://www.pctools.com/free-antivirus.

The free version of PC Tools Antivirus is feature rich, and provides adequate protection from viruses, worms, and Trojans. PC Tools Antivirus uses a proprietary technology it calls IntelliGuard to provide real time protection from many of the malware threats that can wreak havoc on an unprotected computer. Once a credible new threat is detected in the wild, the staff of PC Tools quickly adds the digital signature to its database, which is quickly available to the user, as the program automatically checks online for the frequent updates protecting from the latest threats. The IntelliGuard feature also allows for rapid and thorough scanning of files on the computer to detect and neutralize any virus threats that may be found. Internationally, PC Tools has created an online community, representing its millions of users, where support for the free version is provided online at http://www.pctools.com/forum. The real-time protection offered by PC Tools Antivirus’ free edition protects the host computer as the user is working on the computer, is web surfing, or playing online games. Once a threat is detected, it will be quarantined, disinfected, or destroyed as appropriate. All of this protection is available for free, with, “No catches, limitations or time-limits.”

It is obvious that PC Tools hopes that a user of its free antivirus software will upgrade to the paid commercial version ($30), as well as some of the other commercial products sold by PC Tools. While the free version of PC Tools Antivirus 5 for Windows is feature rich and provides all of the protection of its commercial brother, it does lack the high speed updates, dedicated 24/7 support, and telephone support offered by the commercial version. It is up to the user to determine if these additional features are worth the price.

While PC Tools Antivirus may not be well known here in the U.S., it has garnered a lot of attention in the media, and has earned numerous accolades. Among the most significant awards won include ICSA Labs Antivirus certification, the VB 100 award for detecting 100% of the viruses in a controlled industry test procedure, the “Editors’ Pick” Award from Major Geeks, and Westcoast Labs Checkmark Certification for both virus detection and disinfection. This recognition from industry acknowledged organizations should give the user a reasonable sense of security, provided the product is properly installed, configured, and updated. In addition to antivirus software, PC Tools also publishes over a dozen other software utilities (http://www.pctools.com/consumer/products), including anti-spyware, registry cleaners, anti-spam, hard drive maintenance, and a free firewall. If the PC Tools Antivirus free edition is combined with the free firewall and the “Starter Edition” of the PC Tools Anti-Spyware, a credible but still free suite of protection software can be created. By adding PC Tools’ free ThreatFire utility, which will run on top of the antivirus software, an extremely secure computing platform can be created.

PC Tools Antivirus 5 for Windows free edition would be a worthwhile utility for anyone who needs a good quality but free antivirus utility. In our contemporary economic environment, saving our personal capital for more important needs may be necessary.

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