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BullGuard Internet Security 8: No bull, this is good

Come and check out the scariest-sounding anti-virus software on the market -- it's almost everything you could ever need from a digital prophylactic

There would have to be something seriously wrong with us if we willingly discussed infections -- digital or other. But virus protection is something we all need, and what better way to protect ourselves than to use the scariest-sounding anti-virus software on the planet?

BullGuard Internet Security 8 launched recently, and immediately appealed to us as it combines anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, spam filter, online backup and technical support. That's almost everything you could ever need from a digital prophylactic -- for £44.95 a year.

Old-school file sharers should remember BullGuard -- it was built into the Kazaa P2P client to help minimise the chances of downloading and using infected files, and worked pretty well, mainly because BullGuard uses scanning technology from BitDefender.

It still suffers the same foibles as most anti-virus products -- such as those annoying pop-ups asking if you want to give your applications access to the Internet -- but the user interface is easy to use, and you can have instant messenger chats with BullGuard's tech-heads, who'll take remote control of your PC and fix any hassles if necessary.

Aside from the live assistance, the most interesting aspect of the software is the online backup module. You get 5GB of storage space for backing up your most precious files, and you can access that data from any Internet-enabled PC. The online drive is automatically mapped to Windows Explorer so you can drag and drop as normal, or set scheduled backups for specific files and folders. Users can upgrade the standard 5GB backup for £5 per additional GB, but we wouldn't bother -- standard external hard drives are as cheap as 5GB per £1.

The biggest hole in the software is the lack of a proper anti-phishing module. Yes, the spam filter can detect phishing emails in clients such as Microsoft Outlook, but it's redundant if you use Web mail. Click a Gmail link purporting to be from your bank, and BullGuard won't do a thing to warn you against divulging credit card or banking details.

Should you bother with BullGuard 8? Yes, and no. Uber-geeks needn't bother -- particularly if you know how to avoid viruses in the first place, and can comfortably correct the slip-ups you get while using free anti-virus products. But for the rest of us, BullGuard provides that extra peace of mind, security and support you don't get from some of its rivals. Just be wary of phishing. -Rory Reid