Known for its corporate security software, Computer Associates (CA) is making a move to bring its antivirus technology to individuals and small businesses. EZ Antivirus offers a solid defense against viruses and worms, whatever their source, and its low cost, $19.95, makes it even more attractive. Unfortunately, its technical support is costly and available only during limited hours, and we wish it could intercept e-mail viruses before they reach an e-mail in-box--a must-have feature available in Norton AntiVirus 2002. Choose EZ Antivirus if you're on a budget. Known for its corporate security software, Computer Associates (CA) is making a move to bring its antivirus technology to individuals and small businesses. EZ Antivirus offers a solid defense against viruses and worms, whatever their source, and its low cost, $19.95, makes it even more attractive. Unfortunately, its technical support is costly and available only during limited hours, and we wish it could intercept e-mail viruses before they reach an e-mail in-box--a must-have feature available in Norton AntiVirus 2002. Choose EZ Antivirus if you're on a budget.
Just download and run
Installation and operation is easy. EZ Antivirus software is available for download from the CA site with a 60-day free trial. We downloaded and installed the software without any trouble. Once you install the software, an icon in your system tray prompts you to automatically download and install the latest virus definitions via the Internet, which you should do to be up-to-date. After the free trial, the software costs $19.95 and includes one year of virus updates. It costs $9.95 per year thereafter--a price comparable to the competition's.
Double-clicking the EZ Antivirus desktop icon launches a straightforward, Explorer-style interface that makes it easy to check a specific directory or file for viruses. You can also initiate a full disk scan or use the helpful Options Wizard to provide step-by-step advice on changing the program's settings. Unlike most antivirus programs, which let you schedule a specific day and time for a complete scan of your hard drive, EZ Antivirus does only a progressive scan, scanning a different group of files each time your system starts up, not a complete scan. By default, it scans 100 files, but considering the thousands of files found on most systems, we suggest you set this to a higher number to cover the whole drive quickly. You can, of course, use Windows Scheduler (in the Windows Control Panel) to initiate successive scans at specific times, but it would've been nice if CA had built this functionality into the software.
EZ Antivirus monitors e-mail attachments and keeps you from executing or saving attachments that contain viruses. For instance, when we tried to save an e-mail attachment infected with the BadTrans virus, a warning popped up to keep us from doing so. However, EZ Antivirus doesn't check incoming or outgoing e-mail for viruses, so we were able to forward a BadTrans attachment we received (but hadn't opened) to someone else without even receiving a warning. Also, EZ Antivirus can't remove viruses from e-mail, so you're forced to delete the infected e-mail manually--an annoying task when your mailbox is flooded with messages from an overactive worm.
For few extra bucks, you can buy a second layer of e-mail protection. Available separately for $19.95, EZ DeskShield monitors suspicious e-mail activities and stops suspect e-mail attachments from executing, even if they haven't yet been added to the virus definitions. The add-on is not necessary to run EZ Antivirus and still does not make this app as aggressive as Norton AntiVirus at stopping e-mail viruses. We don't think you should have to pay more; this e-mail protection should have been included in the antivirus package.
In our CNET Labs' tests, EZ Antivirus performed as well as its competitors. It found viruses in the boot sector and in files on floppies, an Outlook-specific worm, and a modified version of the I Love You virus. However, it did miss a virus simulated in main memory as well as a malicious scrap object embedded within a DOC file. This performance is comparable to that of the other antivirus products we have tested.
We found the Windows Help file included with the software a bit terse, but the extensive help on the CA site answered many of our questions. Alas, CA doesn't offer free phone support with the software; you must purchase it for $49.95 per incident or $99.95 for three incidents. Even with that hefty fee, support is available daily only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. CA does offer free e-mail support, but with a promised turnaround time of a poky 72 hours.
EZ Antivirus provides good protection against a wide range of virus threats for an unbeatable price. But with e-mail viruses such as SirCam and BadTrans reaching epidemic proportions, we prefer a more aggressive approach that checks incoming and outgoing mail, like that found in Norton AntiVirus 2002.