Antivirus Comparison

by Anand Lal Shimpi on November 24, 1997 7:03 PM EST
For almost as long as there have been computers, there have been viruses. Today, there are tens of thousands of viruses in existence, with new ones being created each day. In retaliation, several software companies have created anti-virus packages with ingenious techniques for protecting against even the most complex and cunning viruses. Here we have two of the market leaders: Dr. Solomon's AntiVirus Toolkit and Norton AntiVirus 2.0.

Norton AntiVirus 2.0
Norton AntiVirus 2.0 is a great AntiVirus package. Almost every aspect of every component is configurable, yet it is still quite user-friendly and very easy to use. Norton walks you through everything from updating your data file to repairing a virus. The resident virus protection, called Auto-Protect, is virtually impenetrable. In addition to scanning accessed files for known viruses it is able to look for virus-like activities and take user-configurable action when encountered. The file scanner is also very configurable, and very powerful. It also has methods for finding unknown and polymorphic viruses. Norton also comes with a scheduler, with which you can schedule periodic scans of the hard drive. Unfortunately, this great configurablity and flexiblity comes at a price: Auto-Protect takes up 2.11 MB in memory, almost twice as much as Dr Solomon's equivalent. In addition, the scheduler takes 2.05 MB, and the file scanner is somewhat slower than Dr. Solomon's.

Dr. Solomon's AntiVirus Toolkit v7.72
Dr. Solomon's AntiVirus Toolkit has always been an excellent package. This version is no exception. The virus scanning and protection are very powerful, and very easy on the system: WinGuard, the resident virus shield, takes up a mere 1.4 MB in memory, and the event scheduler only takes up 690 KB. However, many aspects of the scanning and protection are not configurable, and it lacks in several functions that could really make life much easier. It does have a few notable unique features though: the scheduler has the ability to make some complex schedule properties. It can be set up to scan only one time at a specific date, or periodically between two dates. Also, FindVirus, the file scanner, can scan not only into numerous types of archives, but also into archives nested within archives. WinGuard can scan files that are being written to the disk. These features combined add a new level of security when dealing with internet downloads and files copied from foreign sources.

Features Comparison Table

Norton AntiVirus 2.0 Dr. Solomon's AVTK
AntiVirus Package Features
Price $70 MSRP $85 MSRP
Auto Update Yes No
Recovery Disk Yes Yes
Number of virus signatures to date 7,700+ 12,000+
Unknown virus detection Yes Yes
File Scan Features
Scan inside archives Yes Yes
Scan inside nested archives No Yes
Scan boot records Yes Yes
Scan memory Yes Yes
Log options Yes Yes
TSR Features
Scan all files Yes Yes
Scan on writes Yes(limited) Yes
Clean automatically Yes Yes
Stop access on virus Yes No
Configurable File Type List Yes No
Detect boot sector writes Yes No
Detect low-level formats Yes No
Performance Comparison
Memory Usage: Event Scheduler 2.05 MB 690 MB
Memory Usage: TSR Protection 2.11 MB 1.40 MB
Scan Time: 861.833 KB 103 seconds 90 seconds

Final Decision

Although both Norton AntiVirus and Dr. Solomon's AntiVirus Toolkit are excellent anti-virus packages, Dr. Solomon's left me wanting just a little more. Its interface was a little bit hard to use, and I missed some functions like single file scanning and automatically updating the data files. Although Dr. Solomon's has released a version called Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus which addresses some of these problems, they cut out several other features such as the very useful scheduler. Norton AntiVirus costs less, is more user-friendly and more configurable than Dr. Solomon's. Although the performance is not as good as that of the AVTK, Norton appeals to me as the better buy between of the two.

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