It takes guts to introduce a brand-new antivirus solution in a crowded market, but Sunbelt Software, known best for its award-winning CounterSpy, is doing just that by creating its own antivirus engine from the ground up. Arriving late has advantages, however. Traditional antivirus engines have been slow to adapt to emerging threats; to bridge the best of traditional AV with new cutting-edge thinking, Sunbelt Software hired veteran antivirus expert Joe Wells for about one year to help design a "hybrid" antivirus antispyware engine. While we await the first test results of the final product, Sunbelt has released a public beta.
The installation takes a few minutes and does not require a reboot. A wizard asks a few predictable questions including the following topics: Internet and proxy settings, automatic updates (default is every two hours), active protection setting (high, medium, low), joining the Sunbelt threat community to report new threats, scan schedule (default is 1 a.m.), adding Vipre to Windows Security Center (default), and disabling Windows Defender (default), activating and registering for technical support (name and e-mail).
The Vipre interface is one of the cleanest we've seen on an antivirus product. It's intuitive and easy to use. Your system status is displayed along the left-hand window, while the right side displays current worldwide threats and the latest local scan results for your machine. Four tabs across the top take you to the overview page, scan, manage, and tools.
Short of final code and formal testing, we cannot say how Vipre performs relative to other antivirus products on the market. But in informal testing, the product feels fast and uses few system resources.
We liked the fact Vipre didn't try to convince us that benign Internet cookies were a threat.
Most antivirus applications let you change between Quick and Deep System, but not many do so on a micro level. Better, Vipre allows you to customize how files are treated during scans.
What we like is that Vipre packs a lot of extras, extras that other antivirus products should have but often do not. In addition to antivirus and antispyware protection, there are several useful tools.
Vipre includes a secure file eraser that writes 1s and 0s over deleted files.
The Vipre History tool goes beyond just what's in your Internet browser cache.
Sunbelt Software says it will continue to develop CounterSpy as a standalone antispyware product. Vipre will be available later this year and is expected to cost a reasonable $29.95 for a single user, and $39.95 for a three-user license.