Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Eset’s Nod32 2.7: Best Antivirus Product of 2007

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

A number of people criticized my selection last year of F-Secure’s Anti-Virus 2006 as the Best Antivirus Product of 2006 for Windows. And now I’m going to have to eat crow, because in 2007, those people are right.

Eset’s Nod32 2.5 came in second last year, despite the fact that I had several criticisms of it. My assessment last year was based on a series of factors. But the most important criterion was that the utility run without bogging down the system and, basically, do no harm to your computer. Of course, catching the bad stuff was very important too.

Even though F-Secure’s 2006 product skirted the primary requirement pretty finely, the user interface and the included anti-spyware module combined, in my mind, to make it a great value. What’s more, F-Secure took me through a real-world test — one that I didn’t plan — with flying colors. (Nod32 got other people through the exact same real-world test, by the way.)

But F-Secure has an Achilles’ heel. It doesn’t play nicely with other security apps. It has a tendency to create a mess if other security products are present — even if they’re not running. It has a tendency to pop up dialogs informing you that it can’t install unless you uninstall this or that specific program. This was something I came across with F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006 only when I purposely installed it while AVG was running. And the process of uninstalling AVG worked so well in my test, that I felt comfortable recommending F-Secure.


Mixed Impressions on Outpost 4 Software Firewall

Monday, November 6th, 2006

According to, Agnitum Outpost 4.0’s leak-test functionality is designed to block a very broad range of leak tests. In its fully aggressive mode, Outpost 4.0 may make your life a living hell with repetitive prompts. It’s nice to know, however, that you can ratchet up the protective power any time, even if you wind up turning down to one of Outpost’s more permissive modes (as I did).

I installed Outpost Pro 4 on a machine running F-Secure Anti-Virus 2006. In other words, I tempted fate, since both products contain anti-spyware and F-Secure is noted for its strong tendency toward incompatibility. I disabled Outpost’s anti-spyware scan during installation, but the anti-spyware module came up running by default post installation. It is possible to fully disable it at that point.

With F-Secure running alongside Outpost 4, I quickly ran into difficulties. It worked fine for a while, but on subsequent reboots I found that Outpost froze or that my Internet connection died. I was also unable to make my VPN connection work, even though I directed Outpost to give it full rein.

Eventually I was forced to remove Outpost in order to get any work done. I’m currently setting up a test machine that will provide a cleaner environment for Outpost to give it a proper test. This first two-hour experiment was a little unfair.

I can draw some conclusions from installing and using Outpost even for that short period of time. Outpost 4 may well be the most powerful and comprehensive personal firewall I’ve examined. This product is loaded with good features. The graphical log file, which also allows you to make settings changes, is absolutely superb. The level of fine control is perfection.

On the other hand, the networking control features are less clear-cut than I’d like. And for my simple tastes, Agnitum has packs way too many extra modules into this package. I don’t want anti-spyware in my firewall. I also don’t want content filtering, ad blocking, Internet-based sharing of my settings, attachment quarantine, or DNS caching. I would be quite interested in “Outpost 4 Lite,” if such a thing existed, consisting of the firewall, application controls, intrusion detection, leak protection, and network monitoring.

So, bottom line, I will continue to test Outpost 4 to give it a fair shake. And if you’re looking for a top-notch firewall with a lot of bells and whistles, this is almost certainly it.

But I’m crossing it off the list of lightweight firewalls that are under consideration for my ongoing series: “Looking for the Right Software Firewall” because it it’s so much more than the simple firewall I’m looking for.

Kicking Off a Software Firewall Comparo

Friday, September 8th, 2006

Over the last month I’ve received a ton of email from readers asking me to help them pick firewall software to go along with F-Secure. I had intended to kick off a software firewall comparison review anyway, so I just got started a little earlier. My very preliminary research has *not* resulted in any sort of formal firewall pick by me as yet.

My considered advice on this subject is to start by choosing a hardware firewall of some sort, and then layer in a software firewall on every machine. This combination maximizes your protection and also provides you the most flexibility and convenience.

Firewall routers for home use are not expensive. Most are available in 1, 4, or 8-port switch combinations, with the 4-port models selling for as little as $25 with rebates. The average price is in the $50 range.