The program's uninspired interface features an old-fashioned file tree and tiny, indecipherable icons that mimic the aesthetic splendor of Windows File Manager circa 1995; it is unchanged from version 6.1. That's bad news for novices who want to schedule unattended scans; change the default action on infected files, for example, clean or delete; and so on. Yes, there's a handy Options Wizard that steps you through these basic configuration tasks, but you'll need to comb the menu bar first to find it.
One nice addition to EZ Antivirus 2005 is a taskbar tray icon that flashes when the program notices antivirus detection problems, such as when a virus attempts to disable your antivirus protection. To access more details about a given problem, right-click the flashing icon to trigger a pop-up dialog box. In our tests, the icon flashed often, warning us of a problem with the AutoDownload feature, which retrieves updated signature and program files. The problem later resolved itself, although we never discovered what caused it.Version 2005 of Computer Associates eTrust EZ Antivirus is only a minor upgrade from EZ Antivirus 6.1. One of the most compelling new features is the program's ability to scan incoming messages and their attachments in popular POP3 e-mail clients, including Eudora, Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, Netscape Mail, Pegasus, and others. But unlike Norton AntiVirus 2004 and other leading virus fighters, EZ Antivirus doesn't scan outbound e-mail, which is a helpful security tool for blocking worms embedded in outgoing messages.
EZ Antivirus 2005's real-time scanner takes a more aggressive approach to virus protection than previous versions. In version 6.1, the scanner warned you when it detected an infected file, then it quarantined and renamed the file. EZ Antivirus now cleans the file and any Registry entries that might have been affected.
Another noteworthy upgrade concerns compressed files. EZ Antivirus now scans CAB and MIME file formats, in additional to a dozen or so other archival file formats, including the ubiquitous ZIP format. Version 2005 doesn't include a firewall, but then neither do Norton and McAfee VirusScan 8.0, both of which cost about $20 more than EZ Antivirus. And while Windows XP SP2 will enable the Microsoft Firewall, it doesn't provide both inbound and outbound protection--you'll still need a third-party firewall. To find both firewall and antivirus protection in one package, try Computer Associates EZ Armor, Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2004, or ZoneAlarm with Antivirus.In CNET Labs tests, EZ Antivirus 2005 caused less system performance drag than McAfee VirusScan, Norton AntiVirus, or Trend Micro PC-cillin. However, PC-cillin remains the speed champ, scanning our 1.3GB hard drive faster than any antivirus software product we've tested.
To measure EZ Antivirus 2005's impact on system performance, CNET Labs used BAPCo's SysMark 2002, 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 P4 2.4GHz processor and 512MB DDR RAM. With EZ Antivirus 2005 running, our test system scored a remarkable 100--with no reduction in overall system speed. By comparison, McAfee scored a 97, or a 3 percent decrease; Norton AntiVirus 2003 scored a 95, a 5 percent reduction. (An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software running.) In a test of scanning speed, EZ Antivirus 2005 took an average of 2.6 minutes to scan a 1.3GB directory, but that couldn't match speed-demon PC-cillin, which averaged 2.4 minutes.
|SysMark 2002 Internet-content-creation score||Normalized score||Percent degradation||Average boot time (sec)||Scan 1.3GB directory, average scan time (min)|
|Computer Associates EZ Antivirus 2005||233||100||0||47||2.56|
|McAfee VirusScan 8.0||234||101||n/a||48.38||4.75|
|F-Secure Anti-Virus 2003 for Windows||218||93||93||63||6.64|
|Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2004||223||96||4||52.72||3.59|
|Zone Labs ZoneAlarm with Antivirus||221||99||7||55.6||2.44|
|Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2004||227||97||6||45||2.48|
To determine whether EZ Antivirus effectively blocks viruses, we gauged its performance in tests conducted by independent antivirus laboratories. In Virus Bulletin's tests with live viruses, EZ Antivirus earned the coveted VB 100 percent rating 70 percent of the time in the last 10 Windows tests--a good showing, certainly, but not on a par with Norton AntiVirus, which earned the title on 10 of its last 10 tests.
For more details on how we test antivirus apps, see CNET Labs site.Like its competitors, Computer Associates provides free e-mail support for its EZ Antivirus 2005 product, but it charges for phone help. In our tests, e-mail queries were answered relatively quickly--typically within 3 hours in an industry where a 24-hour turnaround is standard. The replies were polite and helpful, too. For instance, our problem with the flashing EZ Antivirus icon (in the taskbar tray) was attributed to a temporary problem with the vendor's AutoDownload server. (The problem eventually resolved itself.) Online help is good, too. The Ask Sammy query box lets you type in natural-language questions, such as "What's the Bagle virus?," and get a quick list of knowledge-base documents on a given topic.
Phone support, however, is expensive: $49.95 for one tech issue, $99.95 for three issues, and $149.95 for five. Then again, these rates are comparable to those of Computer Associates' leading antivirus contenders, including McAfee, Symantec, and ZoneAlarm. Trend Micro, which provides a year of free phone support, is the lone exception here.