Sunday, December 17

Review of firewall and security software

Greetings again. Here’s a very raw and very brief review that I sent a friend on firewall and security software. I finally had had enough with Norton, and several weeks ago decided to try out some other software that I had heard of. Granted, this overview might not meet the qualities and standards for CNET or a computer magazine, but here it is anyway. Who knows, this might help someone else in the same circumstance. I’ll place links to the various software packages at the end. Enjoy.

Sure thing. Here are some additional thoughts based on what I've seen over the past few days. I've installed and uninstalled several different programs to see how well they would work and how I liked them. Granted, I didn't use the program for very long, since I was curious how the others looked and stacked up, but here's some initial impressions, along with my choice.

F-Secure. Having only read the review and with no other prior experience, I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to get much of the information about the product's security controls, such as virus protection, firewall status, antispam status, etc. On the down side, much of the information was in list views. This was good since it was accessible to me. What I couldn't figure out was how to get in and make changes to preferences or settings for doing different things, like handling viruses, setting firewall levels, and so forth. For what it does, it looked like a great product, but the inability to change the preferences or settings lost a few points in my book.

Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare. Out of the programs I tested, this was by far the cheapest. If obtained from Microsoft it is $49.95, if obtained from Costco, it is $32.99, or through January 1, there's an additional $20 discount. Going into my evaluations, I figured that this might be the one I would go for since it was good on the pocketbook. As with F-Secure, OneCare was very accessible. It tended to use web page like environments, where you could tab between various links for different things, like antivirus, firewall, computer maintenance, and so forth. The settings were accessible in a dialog box, which was better than F-Secure, from my limited testing. Over all, I really liked this product, and if I was not looking for something with spam filtering, then OneCare might very well have been the one I would have gone with. However, since I can get around 150 or 200, or more, spam emails a day, I was really looking for something to filter those messages, or at least identify them. A friend told me that there very well might be a spam filter in OneCare somewhere (she initially got me interested in it since she uses it), however she didn't know where it was or how it could be accessed. There are times you can find some nifty features in products, software, or websites if you only dig around a little. Anyway, if not for the lack of spam filtering, I would have gone with OneCare. It also has a sweet of computer maintenance features to it, that will clean up, defrag, and otherwise maintain your hard drive about once a month. Though this isn't a must have for me, it was definitely cool to see in a product.

AVG Internet Security. This was the last program I tried. The interface is very accessible, presenting most things in a dialog box format but it also has a menu bar. The installation and initial configuration were very accessible too, keeping the same dialog box approach. AVG has everything I'm looking for, including virus protection, a firewall, regular system scans for viruses and updating itself automatically, and spam filtering. It also can detect and remove spyware in addition to viruses. I found this last nugget particularly interesting. I'll still run Add-Aware or Spybot regularly to keep my computer covered and free of spyware, but its interesting to see that included in a product. All of this is very accessible. There's a spot in AVG, called the control center I believe, where everything is presented in a list, and if you hit the applications key on an item, it brings up a context sensitive menu with specific options relating to that item. I'm only a couple of days into the trial for AVG, but it looks like it wins the battle of the security software. AVG is the most expensive among the programs I tried, priced at about $70, but then again, so was Norton's Net Security. And besides, one could argue that you get what you pay for.

I should say again that I'm probably not the best reviewer of software there is, and I probably didn't evaluate long enough to make me credible. However, I was concerned with accessibility and making sure the packages had what I was looking for. The one thing that Norton's Antispam had that I absolutely loved was that it put an item in the applications menu called Norton Antispam. If there was ever a message that was identified as spam and wasn't, or vise versa, I could go into that Antispam item on the application key, and correct Norton's mistake. None of these products had anything like this. However, after creating some specific filters from the AVG identification of messages that were spam or had a virus, all of my spam and virus messages go into their own folder now. This was a major thing for me in my search, since its disheartening to open your Inbox after a day or two of not checking it, and to know that 85% of the messages in the inbox itself are spam. I'd rather all those messages go into a separate folder.

Addition: Incidentally, I'm still using AVG's Internet Security since I first wrote this review, and I still love it as much as when I wrote the review. I was poking around in its Control Center this morning, and found that it had isolated over 400 viruses in its Virus Vault, and several pieces of spyware in a similar storage area. I never looked to see how many viruses Norton had isolated, mainly because it was too daunting and complicated. The fact that AVG is still working just as hard during a trial as if I had already bought the program is a great sign. Before I leave for the Christmas break, I'm going to go ahead and get that package.

Finally, all of the products I checked out have trial periods. For AVG and F-Secure, its 30 days, but for Windows Live OneCare, its 90 days. Incidentally, Microsoft has decided to put AVG's free antivirus solution in the upcoming Windows Vista release, if that tells you anything.

Here are links to the software mentioned in this review:

Windows Live OneCare
AVG Internet Security

No comments:

Post a Comment