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PCLive.com offered as free Internet security suite

SecurityCoverage hopes to undercut Symantec and McAfee by offering free antivirus, firewall, and antispyware protection.

PCLive.com, a service offered by SecurityCoverage Inc., is attempting to upstage security giants Symantec and McAfee by offering a complete suite of security tools for your desktop--for free. Included within the basic PCLive Security package is a firewall, the open source ClamAV antivirus product, antispyware, a pop-up blocker, plus system cleaner (removes old temp files). PCLive will also check for the latest Microsoft Windows updates that haven't yet been applied to your PC. For a mere $4.95 a month, PCLive Premium Security includes all the basic PCLive Security along with Web content filtering, parental controls, disk maintenance and 24-7 live technical support. SecurityCoverage also offers users of their free PCLive service instant 24-7 technical support for a flat fee of $49.95 per session.

How does it work? OK. The ClamAV product is designed for UNIX and Linux systems. It hasn't been independently tested by Windows-based antivirus testing labs. Also we found that PCLive runs three active processes on your desktop. A couple of times, for no apparent reason, the PCLMonitorService process consumed up to 53 percent of our system resources, considerably slowing our test PC.

Our biggest complaint is a lack of detail on what's going on under the hood, such as a listing of what temp files, viruses, and spyware were removed. Upon installation, PCLive scanned and removed viruses and spyware from our test PC--without telling us what it removed. While there is an e-mail report of what the product has done on your PC, we'd like a little input on what's done on our computer. Same thing happened with an announcement that several hundred temp files had been removed. Not that we want to see every temp file, but we'd like to know in advance and approve any actions.

There are five tabs: Status, Security Scans, Settings, Forum support, and Upgrade. Opening the PCLive settings page is frustrating. There is no contextual Help, no Help file at all, meaning, it's hard to figure out what the setting options you have. Under firewall settings we checked "stealth mode." Other than getting a pop-up explaining that we might not be able to visit certain sites, there was no additional information on what "stealth mode" might or might not do. If you do tweak any of the PCLive settings, you can either save and you can close the app, but you can't intuitively get back to the main interface page.

Back on the Status tab, after choosing to update all the components, PCLive continued to show that we weren't fully updated. A second update proved successful, but that was a lucky guess on our part.

Should you decide to remove PCLive, there is an uninstall option on the All Programs menu. After a reboot, we found no traces of PCLive remaining on our test system.