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CA eTrust EZ Antivirus 7.1 is a reliable virus fighter that costs a few dollars less than industry-leading McAfee VirusScan 2006 and Norton AntiVirus 2006. We particularly like its new interface, which is vastly better than that of its ugly, hard-to-navigate predecessor. In CNET Labs tests, EZ Antivirus's scan speed was second only to PC-cillin Internet Security 2006's, although it proved a laggard in the iTunes 6 and Sorenson Squeeze 4 deep-scanning tests (see CNET 2006 antivirus performance test results page). But unlike its competitors, eTrust won't detect and remove spyware, a serious omission given that spyware is a serious threat to home and business users. eTrust EZ Antivirus 7.1 is best for users who already have firewall and spyware protection and who simply want a no-frills virus buster that won't cripple system performance.
EZ Antivirus's new face-lift is its best feature. The cryptic icons and old-fashioned, Explorer-style folder tree of version 6 are gone. Version 7.1 offers a sleek, tab-and-button UI that makes it easy to schedule scans, manage file updates, and tackle other basics. The large, clickable buttons are clearly marked--Scan My Computer, Schedule Update--and make it a breeze to change settings without first browsing the manual. One minor gripe: version 7.1 comes with a security center dashboard screen designed for use with the eTrust Internet Security Suite, which includes firewall, antispam, and spyware protection. The security center is unnecessary, however, for EZ Antivirus, and serves only as a reminder that other eTrust security tools aren't purchased or installed.
Aside from the new look, the internal workings of CA eTrust EZ Antivirus haven't changed much. eTrust still offers excellent real-time protection against viruses, Trojans, and worms. You can schedule regular, unattended scans, too. Or course, these features are standard fare for antivirus software, and we'd like to see eTrust's features beefed up a bit going forward. For instance, EZ Antivirus scans only inbound e-mail, whereas its competitors scan both inbound and outbound messages. (Outbound scanning is useful for blocking worms in outgoing messages.) Spyware detection is essential, too--and a firewall.
eTrust's support offerings are comprehensive and include Web (Netscape and Internet Explorer only; no Firefox support), e-mail, chat, and phone assistance. The first three options are free and are your best bet; unfortunately, phone help is the most expensive we've seen at $49.95 per incident. Our experiences with online chat were favorable. Wait times were a couple of minutes, tops, and the technical-support reps seemed up-to-speed on the features within eTrust EZ Antivirus 7.1.