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F-Secure Anti-Virus Personal Edition review:

F-Secure Anti-Virus Personal Edition

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The Good Robust virus detection; searches for viruses within compressed archives; simple interface.

The Bad Doesn't let you schedule virus scans; won't remove viruses from e-mail before they reach your in-box; expensive.

The Bottom Line F-Secure Anti-Virus offers excellent virus protection, but we still prefer the key features found in McAfee VirusScan 7.0.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

With antivirus apps, there's always a fine line between elegant simplicity and a frustrating lack of features. F-Secure Anti-Virus Personal Edition tends toward the latter, offering a robust virus-detection engine but lacking the e-mail interception and scheduling features required to make this an outstanding virus-killing product. We like the ease and tough protection we found in McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003 better. With antivirus apps, there's always a fine line between elegant simplicity and a frustrating lack of features. F-Secure Anti-Virus Personal Edition tends toward the latter, offering a robust virus-detection engine but lacking the e-mail interception and scheduling features required to make this an outstanding virus-killing product. We like the ease and tough protection we found in McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003 better.

OK but not great
F-Secure installs smoothly and automatically updates virus definitions from its Web site. The installation puts two icons in your system tray. Right-clicking one lets you scan a disk or a folder or set the program options. When you place your cursor over the other, it just tells you whether real-time virus monitoring is enabled. The company says a future version of the software will add some functionality to this icon; we suggest that the two be combined, simplifying matters and conserving desktop real estate.

When F-Secure encounters a virus, it launches a step-by-step wizard to guide you through disinfection or virus deletion. This method is much more civilized than the heart-stopping warning screens found in many other antivirus applications. Though F-Secure's interface makes it simple to initiate a scan, the software doesn't include a tool for scheduling scans at a specific time. Nor does it offer any tools for intercepting viruses before they reach your in-box, as Norton AntiVirus 2002 does. Though the real-time scanner will keep an e-mailed virus from executing, you'll still need to delete the offending message yourself.

When confronted with a system infected with the Gibe worm in our tests, F-Secure's real-time monitoring immediately recognized and stopped the worm running in system memory. However, it left the worm on the hard drive and also left entries in the Registry that run the worm on start-up. The software removed the worm files when we manually initiated a drive scan, but F-Secure should automatically disinfect the system once it detects a virus. In addition, the manual scan didn't remove the worm's entries from the Registry.

Pricey
Unfortunately, F-Secure's lack of polish doesn't come with a reduced price tag. The software costs $80 for a year's worth of software upgrades and lifetime virus definition updates. That price includes phone support from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, as well as e-mail support. For $60, the software's home edition includes a firewall utility, as does McAfee VirusScan 7.0, but you get virus definition updates for one year only and no support by phone, just via e-mail.

After a few more iterations, F-Secure will surely evolve into a world-class antivirus utility. As it stands now, it doesn't offer the features--such as scheduled scanning and e-mail virus interception--that we require. We recommend Norton AntiVirus 2002 or Norman Virus Control 5.0, which, though it isn't perfect, has excellent virus detection and customizable scan scheduling.

Read CNET Labs' test results

Take me back to the roundup

F-Secure Anti-Virus lets you choose how to deal with viruses when they're detected: rename, disinfect, delete, or just report them.

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