Category: Anti-virus utility
Name of tool: myCIO.com Virus Scan ASAP
Company name: Network Associates, Inc.
Price: 15-day free trial, then for as few as two computers begins at $50/desktop/year, with quantity user discounts
Windows platforms supported: 95, 98, NT (running SP 4 or better) and 2000
Quick description: A browser-based anti-virus scanner that loads a minimal amount of software on each desktop. The desktop component works with an Internet-based service to keep viruses from infecting your PC.
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool
Anti-virus scanning is all done via a browser, there is no software to download and install (see Cons). The product can manually scan your computer or scan it automatically upon boot time. It also automatically checks for updates to its virus pattern recognition files and will install them.
Simplicity is this product's main virtue. There is virtually little for any user to do to operate this product.
Having minimal controls is also a drawback. If something goes wrong, Virus Scan ASAP may be hard to troubleshoot, and you might have to reinstall it to fix any problems.
I've been a loyal user of Symantec/Norton Anti-Virus software for several years. That is, until lately, when I switched to myCIO.com's Anti-Virus ASAP product. Why did I switch? Several reasons. First off, I got tired of doing the updates on each of my desktops. Anti-virus software is a long-term commitment, not just a passing fancy. You need to regularly update your software to include protection for the latest virus patterns, since the bad guys are regularly creating new and more destructive viruses. Second, if you run a small network, you can't easily do these updates: you either have to walk around to every machine and make sure they happen as scheduled or else install a special, dedicated machine to act as an update server. Neither is a very attractive proposition. Finally, the anti-virus software from Norton is very closely tied to the operating system version. If you upgrade from 98 to 2000, as I did, you first have to uninstall the A-V software before you do the upgrade.
Wouldn't it be nice, I thought, if I could find an anti-virus managed service provider to get around these issues? That's where myCIO comes in. The service, which is run by Network Associates, owners of the McAfee A-V software line, makes use of the Internet to handle updates, keep track of reports, and do all the dirty work involved in keeping your desktops virus free. And the cost is very reasonable: less than $50 per desktop per year. MyCIO actually offers two managed services: Virus Scan (discussed here) and Virus Screen, focused on email protection.
One of the biggest differences between myCIO and Norton is in the desktop control of the scanning process. With Norton, you have a full- blown Windows application, with lots of controls and buttons to push to accomplish different tasks. With myCIO's Virus Scan, you have a small desktray icon, and you can't do much beyond continuously monitoring your disk for viruses. For example, Norton can schedule weekly scans of your entire desktop's hard disk. With Virus Scan, you have to do these manually and they seem to take longer. With Norton, you also have more control over the types of files you scan and what files you don't.
Not everything is peachy with this software. I first installed it as part of a promotion with my SonicWall firewall. Sonic has a nifty feature which blocks Internet access such as web browsing and email from your network until you have installed myCIO's A-V scanner on each desktop. However, I had problems getting this to work and ended up disabling the access feature on my firewall, although the A-V myCIO scanner still works fine on each of my desktops. If you do have trouble with Virus Scan, your only recourse is to first remove the software and then re-install it. Network Associates should have something better here.
If you have a network of 10-100 desktops, then consider Virus Scan from myCIO. It simplifies virus scanning and protection at a very reasonable cost, and eliminates the many headaches that come with desktop management for anti-virus protection.
**** = Very cool, very useful
*** = Hey, not bad. One notch below very cool
** = A tad shaky to install and use but has some value.
* = Don't waste your time. Minimal real value.
David Strom is president of his own consulting firm in Port Washington, NY. He has tested hundreds of computer products over the past two decades working as a computer journalist, consultant and corporate IT manager. Since 1995, he has written a weekly series of essays on web technologies and marketing called Web Informant. You can send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.