Editors' note: On March 5, 2008, CNET revised its antispyware review ratings to emphasize a product's ability to remove spyware. The new ratings are based on the following formula: Installation (20 percent), Features (20 percent), Performance (50 percent), and Support (10 percent). In most cases a product's rating went down, expanding the range between highest and lowest rated.
CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 holds the middle ground, neither improving nor declining with this year's offering. The code is leaner, resulting in faster scans; however, there are too few features here to warrant much excitement. Also, this is the only antivirus product we tested that attempted to download a third-party toolbar during installation. And we are puzzled why a major security company like CA doesn't provide more technical support for its consumer products. If you're looking for economy, choose BitDefender Antivirus 2008. If you're looking the best antivirus product for 2008, we recommend Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2008, our Editors' Choice.
CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 includes three PC licenses at $49.95. By comparison, BitDefender Antivirus offers its three-user license for $29.95. Kaspersky offers its single license at $49.95, and charges $59.95 for its three-user license. CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 runs on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista, while Norton AntiVirus 2008 only works on XP and Vista.
There is a very good reason not to blow through the installation of CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 without reading each screen carefully. One thing we always hate to find is the Yahoo toolbar hiding within any installation, and it's lurking here. By all means, uncheck the box asking you to install it along with CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008. Worse, Yahoo also asks permission to make it your search engine by default. We prefer the freedom to choose our own search engines, thank you. CA is the only antivirus vendor we reviewed that included third-party piggyback applications within its install.
Also, we were unable to continue with our CA installation without registering. Other antivirus vendors allow you to skip registration or, in the case with Symantec, click Next three times to continue. Not with CA. Although the information collected is negligible, given the Yahoo toolbar lurking in the installer package, we didn't like handing over any additional information.
Should you want to remove CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008, there is no All Programs option to uninstall. You will need to use Windows Add/Remove Software. In doing so, a CA uninstall wizard will then ask if you want to remove the antivirus, the antispyware, or both from your machine. After reboot, we found no traces of CA products on our machine.
However, if you installed the Yahoo toolbar or made it your default search engine, you'll need to remove these separately. Removing CA alone will not change the status of these Yahoo applications.
CA uses a consistent interface for all its offerings. While we like this, we don't like the confusing up-sell that goes along with this implementation. For example, after finding out that you don't have a firewall, instead of offering to turn on the free Windows Firewall, CA takes you to a Web page that talks about why you should upgrade and install the CA Firewall. The page is dry, no graphics, no sales pitch, but might cause people to think that it's an FAQ page. It's not.
With CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008, that's what you get; no firewall, no antiphishing tools, no extras.
Within the antivirus protection, the scans are faster than last year. The features touted in marketing materials--real-time scanning, advanced heuristic scanning, and automatic e-mail scanning--are standard and do not stand out from the competition.
Same with the antispyware protection. CA, which bought PestPatrol many years ago, now includes more information about the specific spyware found on your machine rather than requiring you to click to a Web site for more information. Again, none of the features--real-time protection, automatic updates, and custom scans--are standard and do not stand out from the competition.
CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 stays in the middle of the pack, sometimes trending toward the lower, faster end of the middle in our test results. On our iTunes test, CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 took the longest, at 273 seconds to complete. In our Microsoft Office test, CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 completed the fastest, at 1,191 seconds. In a test scanning a single folder with compressed and media files, CA scored 187 seconds, again, toward the faster end of our middle group. And in terms of boot speed, CA was in the middle at 36 seconds. To find out how we test antivirus software, see CNET Labs' How we test: Antivirus software page.
In terms of whether or not CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 will protect your PC, CNET uses results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 was not included in the latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, for on-demand scans and retrospective/proactive tests. CA Anti-Virus Plus CA Anti-Spyware 2008 was included in the latest test results from CheckVir.com and earned a Standard rating, which means it was tested on finding but not removing viruses.
For antispyware protection, check back in November for these results.
Once again, we were disappointed by CA's lack of technical support shown for its products. The built-in help file is light on details, and there is no manual. There is no online chat service nor online forums. In fact, finding the online technical support for this product is not easy (the CA Web site is primarily designed for corporate customers, not consumers). The online FAQ (once found) contains information for the 2007 version, not the current 2008 edition. And if you want to talk to someone about the product, that costs $19.95 per incident, although live telephone tech support is available 24-7.
Call us crabby, but CA still isn't up to speed with the competition on its consumer antivirus and antispyware offerings and thus not yet up to our standards. CA is known for its enterprise security and has over the years tried to break into the consumer market with limited success. This year's offering is a solid base, but that's it. In the future, we'd really like to see CA challenge Trend Micro, McAfee, and Symantec. We know CA has the corporate security tools, so how about bringing some of them down to the consumer level?