[Contest] VIPRE Antivirus 2012 [Forum Exclusive]

VIPRE (Virus Intrusion Protection Remediation Engine) is an antivirus program developed by GFI Software (formerly known as Sunbelt Software) and has been spreading and growing rapidly around the IT security market since 2008. Despite still being relatively new in the competitive field of security software, VIPRE AntiVirus have already featured in Virus Bulletin and scored very high in RAP index and also have achieved a VB100 award. VIPRE is available for public in two versions, which are VIPRE Antivirus 2012 and VIPRE Internet Security 2012. VIPRE Antivirus 2012 doesn’t come with firewall, antispam and webfilter. VIPRE’s tagline as claimed by the company – VIPRE Antivirus is the fastest antivirus software on the planet that won’t slow down your computer – has been proven by many of their users where VIPRE delivers on its promise better than any of its competitors by providing a light-running antivirus while still providing top-notch PC protection. I took the latest version of VIPRE Antivirus 2012 for a test ride and it did a good job protecting my system from malware attack. The installer file is 27.90 MB in size and the download link will only available once you’ve submitted your email to them.
The installation process is simple and straightforward. VIPRE asks for an activation key (VIPRE will install as a trial if you skip this) and will download the very latest components and antivirus signatures which may take few minutes or a few hours depending on your internet connection speed. The first thing I noticed was that installation takes longer than the previous version but nevertheless, this is a good way to make sure I have the latest protection against the ever growing challenge of modern malwares. Like many of its competitors, VIPRE Antivirus 2012 prompts me to restart my computer at the end of the installation process in order to ensure my computer is fully protected by installing all the vital components and drivers properly.

Next, once you’ve rebooted your computer you will see the new user interface, which is pretty nice and clean with large and clear icons and buttons, as well as lucid and sensible panels and layouts. A splash screen will pop out every time you start up the program and there is no option to turn it off which can be a little annoying if you’re in hurry. If you’ve used VIPRE before, you will be able to tell that the new interface is mostly a rehash and upgraded GUI of the previous version which make things a lot easier for those who have used VIPRE before but if you haven’t, and you’re used using other antivirus software, you will probably find VIPRE isn’t as appealing and attractive as what you’re used to.
The big green check mark buttons on the left layout indicate that the components are working properly, while the red x buttons shows that the components are either disabled or inactive. The basic status information such as scans, protection level and updates on the main panel gives quick and easy access to all the VIPRE’s main features. The total number of blocked threats and subscription information can be seen on the right panel. VIPRE’s system tray icon has been slightly modified compared with the previous version, if you hover your mouse arrow over the icons a hover text will appear, showing the current status of VIPRE. VIPRE will also display messages notifying you of the status of scans and updates, as well as the most recent Definitions version and when it was downloaded. You can also right-click on the system tray icon to open or shutdown VIPRE, check for updates, enable/disable Active Protection, run/abort/pause/resume a scan, as well as select to show/hide the balloon notifications.

There are three major menus on the top panel where settings of each category and offline help files can be reached. Now moving to the main tabs, which include overview of current status, scan, manage and tools. The way it’s designed makes it easy for beginner and novice users to perform the most basic and common tasks. The main tabs lead down to a comprehensive set of controls to change or tweak the settings for each of the main categories. There are options to do three different types of scan, such as quick scan, deep scan and custom scan. The scan options button opens up a whole new window that’s separate from the main interface that includes basic settings for scanning like scan inside of archives, cookies, registry, rootkits, as well as the option to select either automatic or manual actions for detected threat during both scheduled and manual scans. The same design goes with updates, active protection and power settings. Besides, VIPRE provides offline definition update on their official website for those who are having slow and unstable internet connection problems.

Malware Blocking & Removal

VIPRE Antivirus 2012 showed no bugs during my testing and the performance was quite good. With active protection enabled, VIPRE was able to stop and block most of the malware samples without any false positive issues. A total of 40 old and new malware samples were tested and Hitman Pro, Emsisoft Anti-Malware, Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware managed to pick up 2 samples that VIPRE missed. I have tried to extract archived files containing old and new malwares which it instantly blocks. A small window will pop up right under the system tray showing related information regarding the blocked files. The blocked threats were moved immediately to the quarantine. There is no option to quarantine, delete or clean the threat samples. Besides detecting all of the known viruses and malware types I’ve tested with, VIPRE was also able to detect and block about 95% of zero-day threats with its real-time active protection. The new and upgraded engine in VIPRE Antivirus 2012 has proven consistency and reliability over the past few months.

The quick scans VIPRE antivirus performed were lightning fast, however the deeps scans were pretty slow compared to most other antivirus software I’ve tested before. A full, deep scan of my standard clean test system took about 48 minutes, a little bit longer than most of its competitors while a full default scan of my 80GB test partition took over 30 minutes. A little disappointment for a security program who claims to be the fastest antivirus software on the planet. Even though VIPRE did quite good in my testing, it didn’t, however, in proactive and reactive detection tests carried by various other test labs. AV-Test reported that with the total score of 13/18, overall, VIPRE managed to put its position very close to average score across its most recently tested 25 AV products in late 2011. VIPRE was able to get 5/6 in both Protection and Usability, but dropped to 3/6 on repair. Quite a few programs drop off in this area, which measures the ability to clean an infected PC, rather than to prevent infection in the first place. Overall virus, spyware, and malware protection is much better than I’ve seen in most any antivirus software such as McAfee, Panda, Trend Micro and AVG.

Boot Time & Resource Usage
GFI claims that VIPRE is the fastest antivirus and won’t slow down your PC, and in this case VIPRE managed to prove it: VIPRE had one of the fastest manual quick scan speeds among the products I tested. Besides, VIPRE is one of the lightest antivirus programs I’ve used before, in terms of CPU and memory usage. No noticeable impact on windows startup and shutdown time was observed. Of course there is a short boot delay differences between non-protected and protected system, but with up-to-date hardware resulting in better performance, this issue should be put aside as there is no negligible impact on most modern system nowadays. Startup time for my clean test system without any security product installed was 42 seconds while VIPRE lengthened my test system’s boot time to 50 seconds, significantly less than any other antivirus software. Most people spend a lot more time on Facebook, watching videos and working with files than rebooting the PC, so VIPRE’s impact on startup time won’t make a big difference.

The resource usage for VIPRE Antivirus 2012 was relatively low compared with the previous versions, with memory usage steadily increased up to 35% when running idle, between 3 to 40 MB of RAM while the CPU usage never went above 1%. VIPRE is indeed one of the lightest antivirus software I have ever used that takes up a minimum amount of memory and CPU while running silently in background. There is no significant impact on Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office or any applications startup time as well. Besides, I didn’t notice any system drag when playing games either in fullscreen or in windowed mode. During a deep, manual ‘on-demand’ scan, VIPRE’s resource usage was also considerably good. CPU consumption during a full scan peaked around 60%, while memory usage rarely peaked at 68%. Moreover, VIPRE Antivirus 2012 didn’t show any memory leak when running idle or during scanning and I found the software lighter while it’s not scanning. But there is a major problem with sudden increasing of CPU usage when the “Check files when they are opened or copied” box on Active Protection settings is checked. My system slowed to a crawl and CPU usage constantly peaked at 100% when I tried to open any folder with unsigned executable files in it. It took about 15 minutes for me to be able to do almost anything with the file (delete/move/copy/rename) and most of the time I didn’t even notice that Vipre was scanning the file, and if I did realize there’s nothing I can do to stop it from scanning, because I’m sure that the file is 100% safe. Luckily I found out that by using Process Explorer I can eventually kill Windows Explorer and the computer will work normally, so I’m not even sure whether this has anything to do either with VIPRE itself or Windows Explorer.

Extra Features
Besides than automatic updates, VIPRE Antivirus 2012 comes with two extra tools which are Secure Files Eraser, History Cleaner and PC Explorer. VIPRE’s PC explorer works as a task manager, with advanced and detailed information on what is running on your computer. This extra tool allows you to explore and view settings on your computer that are usually hidden, and add specific programs to your Always Allowed list, which will be excluded from scanning. Those system processes and applications are divided by 4 indicators, which are safe, unknown, suspicious and hazardous. PC Explorer is a perfect tool for those who are regularly need to keep track on what is running on their PC, and it sure do come in handy when troubleshooting any problems you may be having.
History Cleaner and Secure Files Eraser on the other hand, offers you a privacy tool to permanently remove browsing, search histories or any type of files from your system. Internet browser cookies, internet and application histories, temporary files, and searches are good examples of sensitive information recorded by your system and with History Cleaner, VIPRE secures your privacy from unauthorized access. When you delete a file it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s deleted. Instead, the system simply deletes the internal references or shortcuts to such files and leaves the actual data on disk until it gets overwritten by new files. So, even long after a file is gone from your system, the actual file is still there which means anyone with basic recovery tools and access to your PC is able to restore such files. With Secure File Eraser, VIPRE can permanently delete any files for real by using standardized procedures and several methods of deletion which guarantee the data can never be recovered. There is an option to enable Secure File Eraser, by checking “Add the “Erase files…” option to your Windows Explorer right-click menu” box. After that, right click any file or folder you want to delete with the Secure File Eraser, and VIPRE Antivirus 2012 will delete the file forever, so no hackers or malicious programs can ever see your sensitive, private and personal data.

I was impressed in terms of the balancing act with the perfect combination of antivirus and anti-spyware is managing to be light-running while still providing full protection, right from start to finish. In other words, I can simply put GFI VIPRE Antivirus 2012 as a light, basic purpose antivirus software, combining top-notch protection and blazing-fast scanning speed with low resource usage into a well-designed, easy to use security product. It does everything antivirus software is supposed to do: It detects, it blocks and it cleans. GFI VIPRE Antivirus 2012 may lack some extra features offered by most of its competitors like sandbox, gaming mode and parental control, but its superb performance, protection and usability makes up for in those missing areas.
The one particular part I was a bit disappointed was with the graphical user interface. That being said, it’s not as attractive and appealing as most competitors. Nevertheless, reliability and consistency provided by VIPRE is far more important than its looks, so it’s actually hard to criticize, even if it may not have the creativity the competitor designers have these days. Besides, GFI’s customer and technical support continue to be the best of any security company I tested with live chat and 100% free phone support for any issue ranging from installation problems to complete virus removal. It’s clear to see that GFI seem to go out on a limb to help and solve problems in order to keep their customers happy, considering that not all of its competitors even offer phone support. I haven’t seen this user-friendly level of customer technical support from any other antivirus company, much less any other tech company.I am glad to see such a strong new competitor like VIPRE Antivirus 2012 enter the field with such solid antivirus software. If you’re looking for a solid, stand-alone antivirus software this year, VIPRE Antivirus 2012 is an easy choice. I’m sure you will like its clean interface and simple configuration, but powerful antivirus and antispyware combo.

Reviewed by Roti

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