To install Vexira, simply download the 4MB file from Central Command's Web site, launch the setup applet, register, and within a few minutes, you're done.
Vexira's simple icon-and-menu-based interface may lack panache, but it's thoughtfully designed and easy to navigate. For example, to scan a file or folder, simply open the Windows Explorer-like tree of your system's folders and files, then check the box beside the desired file or folder.
If you're short on drive space, you'll appreciate Vexira's tiny footprint: just 8MB. This is considerably less than the 25MB to 30MB used by McAfee, Norton, or PC-cillin. The trade-off, of course, is fewer features.
Vexira resides in system memory and scans files and folders whenever they are accessed. It also integrates with Windows Explorer, allowing you to right-click and choose "Scan for viruses with Vexira Antivirus" from a drop-down menu. The Scheduler feature lets you set unattended scans for off-peak hours, but it lacks helpful wizards to guide you through the setup process.
By default, Vexira inspects a comprehensive set of archival formats, including Zip, Pklite, Cab, and many others. However, some of Vexira's other default settings are atypical. For instance, when Vexira finds malicious code, a pop-up message asks whether to delete, repair, or perform some other action. Most other antivirus programs do this automatically without asking permission. According to Central Command, other antivirus programs sometimes misidentify viruses. By notifying the user, Vexira avoids inadvertently damaging or deleting a legitimate file. Users can automate the process via Vexira's configuration tools.
Vexira lacks some of the features of its pricier peers. It has no program wizards to guide novices, nor does it include the integrated firewall found in McAfee and PC-cillin. Neither does Vexira provide real-time scanning of inbound and outbound e-mail messages. It will, however, scan e-mail attachments whenever you open them.
While we cannot, unfortunately, provide objective data on how effectively Vexira performs, we can tell you how efficiently it performs. First, the good news: in CNET Labs' tests, Vexira had no impact whatsoever on system performance, which is truly astonishing. Now, the bad: Vexira's scanning speed is dramatically slower than that of any antivirus software product we've tested.
To measure Vexira's impact on system performance, CNET Labs used BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. The Internet-content-creation portion of SysMark measures a desktop's performance running off-the-shelf applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. (We did not run the Office Productivity portion of the benchmark because it incorporates McAfee VirusScan 5.13.)
Our test system was a Compaq Evo W4000 running Windows XP Professional with an Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz processor and 512MB of DDR RAM. With Vexira running, our test system scored an incredible 100, which means the program didn't affect overall system performance one iota. By comparison, PC-cillin scored a 98, a 2 percent reduction; McAfee tied F-Secure and EZ Antivirus at 97, a 3 percent reduction; Norton AntiVirus 2003 scored a 95, a 5 percent reduction; and Panda scored 81, a noticeable 19 percent slowdown. (An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software running.) Unfortunately, in a test of scanning speed, Vexira placed dead last, averaging 4.1 minutes to scan a 1GB directory. By comparison, EZ Antivirus, the champ in this category, performed the same task in only 1.1 minutes.
To determine whether an antivirus product effectively blocks viruses, we rely on "--="" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evirusbtn%2Ecom%2Fvb100%2Farchives%2Fproducts%2Exml">Virus Bulletin's tests with live viruses. However, Vexira has never been tested by Virus Bulletin, nor has it been certified by the independent antivirus testing laboratories at "--="" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Echeck%2Dmark%2Ecom%2Fcheckmark%2Fproducts%2Ehtml">West Coast Checkmark, "--="" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eicsalabs%2Ecom%2Fhtml%2Fcommunities%2Fantivirus%2Fcertification%2Fcertprod%2Eshtml">ICSA Labs, or "--="" rel="nofollow">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eav%2Dtest%2Eorg%2Fdown%2Fspecial%2F2002%2D07%5Fmarket%2Den%2Exls">AV-test.org. Therefore, we are unable to report on Vexira's accuracy in finding viruses in the wild.
To Central Command's credit, however, its response to any virus outbreak has invariably been swift and accurate. We may infer from the company's responsiveness that Vexira is updated vigilantly; we just can't prove it independently.
Unlike industry leaders Symantec and McAfee, Central Command offers free phone support to its customers. According to the company, wait times range from four to six minutes, and our own tech-support calls bear that out. One caveat: the individual support call is a toll connection. Corporate customers (businesses of 25 or more users) enjoy a toll-free number.
E-mail support is available via the Central Command Web site, and the company promises to respond within 72 hours. In our tests, response times were less than 7 hours. Vexira's Help section is well written and provides a great deal of background on specific viruses, worms, and other digital menaces.
Despite the comprehensive support, Vexira's annual $29.95 license renewal fee is still too high. By comparison, EZ Antivirus's yearly fee is only $12.95, while McAfee and Norton each charge about $10.