Trend Micro's PC-cillin 2002 impresses even as it disappoints. Its low price (around $40), thoughtful user interface, and extra features make it an attractive choice for the home user looking for antivirus and firewall protection. However, its mediocre performance in our lab tests keeps it from earning our strong recommendation. For comparable protection, we recommend McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003, along with the free, stripped-down version of ZoneAlarm 3.0. Trend Micro's PC-cillin 2002 impresses even as it disappoints. Its low price (around $40), thoughtful user interface, and extra features make it an attractive choice for the home user looking for antivirus and firewall protection. However, its mediocre performance in our lab tests keeps it from earning our strong recommendation. For comparable protection, we recommend McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003, along with the free, stripped-down version of ZoneAlarm 3.0.
Clean, easy-to-navigate interface
Before installation, PC-cillin's setup program quickly checks your system for viruses. Once it's installed, you'll find a single icon in the system tray, which you double-click to launch the PC-cillin main console. This single, clean interface provides access to all of the software's functions and settings. It's much easier to navigate than many antivirus programs we've tested, including Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Pro 4.0 and NOD32, which require you to juggle multiple, confusing interfaces. PC-cillin also makes it simple to schedule scans of specific folders or hard drives, something not every antivirus product does.
Mixed results on virus protection
However, we found PC-cillin's antivirus protection rather shallow. While the program found most viruses in our battery of CNET Labs tests, it failed to catch a copy of the I Love You virus when we modified its file size. This suggests that PC-cillin cannot adequately detect new strains of existing viruses before the software's virus definitions have been updated.
To test PC-cillin's virus-cleaning capabilities, we infected a system with the Gibe worm and enabled the antivirus protection. Although the real-time antivirus scanning recognized the worm running in main memory, it failed to stop it or to delete the files. We then ran a complete scan of the hard drive, which removed some of the virus's support files but left the two main virus programs intact with a notification that they could not be removed. We were forced to use Explorer to go to the Windows directory, find the virus executables, and manually delete them in order stop the virus.
In addition to the virus protection, PC-cillin's software-based firewall protects against Internet intruders. Its Site Filter function further restricts access to certain Web pages, although we're not sure how this feature would be useful, since the user must manually specify the offending Web pages. In general, firewalls bundled with antivirus products tend not to be as robust as standalone firewalls such as ZoneAlarm Pro 3.0 or BlackIce PC Protection 3.5.
Knowledgeable but unhelpful support
PC-cillin claims to be able to delete viruses from incoming POP3 e-mail before they ever reach your in-box. However, we weren't able to get this feature to work, even after our phone call to tech support (available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT) and a search of the extensive troubleshooting information on the company's Web site. The support staff had heard of the issue but couldn't find a workaround or a fix for it.
Priced at $39.95, PC-cillin 2002 includes a year's worth of antivirus signature updates, making it one of the best values in antivirus software. Despite the glitches we encountered, it's still worthy of consideration. For a dependable, all-around antivirus package, though, we continue to recommend Norton AntiVirus 2002, our Editors' Choice, along with the free version of Zone Alarm 2.6.