If you're looking for a robust feature set from your security suite, and you're looking for an affordable price, you could do worse than Trend Micro's 2010 Internet Security and Internet Security Pro. However, this basic version offers the bare minimum of protection, even with decent performance benchmarks. This is problematic because the feature set is Trend Micro strength, but to get it you've got to pay for the Pro version.
Trend Micro claims that boot times are 20 percent faster, that the programs use 40 percent less RAM, that the download itself is 25 percent smaller, and that the quick scan on Windows Vista and Windows XP is 20 percent faster.
The Trend Micro installation process is about as smooth and pain-free as one can expect for a program that will have such deep hooks into your system. It will detect and ask for approval to remove other antivirus programs that are installed on your machine, but it doesn't require a reboot after it's done--something most of its competitors do.
One thing that Trend Micro fails to do effectively is call out its behavioral engine. There is a box you can check at installation to opt out of the behavioral program, but there's no detailed or clear explanation of what it is or what it does. On the one hand, the technology that allows the publisher to leverage supposedly anonymous data from its customers to catch surreptitiously-running threats faster isn't brand new. It's been around for a few years, although this year more security suites are adopting it. On the other hand, companies like Trend Micro must consider whether users will panic if it is mentioned clearly and then disable their computers from contributing data to the cloud.
As long as the data is truly kept anonymous, then it can be an exceptional tool for preventing malware. But in Trend Micro's installation process, it looks like nothing more than another box and line item to read before installing, and perhaps could benefit from a more detailed explanation.
A customized installation process is available for users who wish to configure program location and tweak components. Trend Micro will also run a virus check once it's done installing, and will automatically update its definition files.
Interface and features
Trend Micro's 2010 interface has been further refined from the previous year's version, with less dead space and more emphasis on both your security status and ease of access to security tools. The program launches into its Overview tab, which highlights your security status with a large colored icon: green for protected, and red for unprotected. Below that, there are links to your protection status, your license information, and a security report.
Each of these links drills down to essential information, exposing them in an elegant and uncluttered manner on the main page. The Protection Status link opens a window that details the status of your virus definition files, updates, firewall, unauthorized change prevention, spam filter, parental controls, and data theft prevention. Each of these has a green "on" or red "off" status icon, with a hidden explanation of each that can be exposed by clicking on it. Unfortunately, there's no way to get from the list to the deeper actual controls for each--it's simply for toggling the status.
Also on the Overview tab are two buttons, one for activating a scan and one for manually updating your definition files. The scan button defaults to a Quick Scan, although it has a drop-down menu on the right side that lets you choose a Full Scan or a Custom Scan. Scanning opens the scan window, which details which threats it's looking for, which files it's scanning, live results, and options to run in the background or shut down the computer after the scan is finished. Depending on how you set up the program, it will either automatically fix any threats found or ask for your input. If you choose to autofix, it will still show you a window after the scan is complete, detailing what action was taken, and the threat links to more detailed information on Trend Micro's site.
The Virus and Spyware Controls tab offers four drop-down menus. The first checks for real-time viruses and spyware when you download files, leveraging the aforementioned behavioral heuristics. It can be toggled with an on/off button, and it offers a configuration menu with a secondary, advanced features window, and a whitelist/blacklist link that also allows for cookie control. Despite what sounds like a confusing series of submenus, in practice it was easy to navigate.
The Prevent Unauthorized Changes drop-down menu offers more granular control of installations. This is where you would manage program that Trend Micro doesn't recognize, with the same on/off toggle and links to settings and exceptions. The next tab is for configuring scheduled scans and custom scans. It's frustrating that such a key feature is buried deep in the interface, especially since most users are still wary of holes in real-time protection. This scheduler only controls scan schedules; it doesn't offer update scheduling. There's another scheduler for that, in another part of the program. Below the scheduler is the Quarantine, which helpfully categorizes the quarantined files as viruses, spyware, and Trojans.
The Other Settings tab offers more information on your Trend Micro subscription, Automatic Updates and a definition file scheduler, toggling the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, which controls the behavioral information your computer submits, security warning pop-up controls, password protection to keep Trend Micro from being used by others, and logs access. The interface scheme, with a drop-down simple sentence explaining what a feature does and links to dig down for more settings, sort of backfires here. Most of the options in this tab only contain one settings link, meaning that what should take one click takes two.
Frustratingly, the update scheduler can't be set to check for updates more often than once an hour.