capsule review

PC Tools Internet Security 2010: Spare but Good

At a Glance
  • PC Tools Internet Security 2010

    PCWorld Rating

    PC Tools Internet Security 2010 is greatly improved over last year’s version, with better traditional malware detection augmenting its strong behavioral protection, but it lacks some features common in...

PC Tools Internet Security 2010 ($50 for three users as of 3/30/2009) ranks fourth in our 2010 roundup of security suites. It is a good bare-bones suite with strong malware detection, and is a big improvement over previous versions, but it lacks the parental controls and online backup features of comparable suites. The interface has very little change from last year, but it's very user friendly. PC Tools gears its interface for the average consumer--it's easy to just set the suite up and forget it. The main screen is quite straightforward to navigate as well. More advanced users, however, may find the simple interface constraining.

PC Tools, now owned by Symantec, detected and disabled all active infections on our test PC. It also removed 60 percent of the active malware. Ideally a suite would be able to remove all traces of an infection, but none of the products we tested did; PC Tools, though, fared better in this regard than most of the suites we reviewed.

In rootkit detection (finding stealth malware that is used to hide other infections), PC Tools produced fairly strong scores; it detected all inactive and active rootkit samples, and removed 87 percent of samples. That's a strong showing, but some products we tested removed all samples.

We also tested the ability of the PC Tools suite to protect against unknown threats based just on how they behave. It scored a respectable 93 percent in detecting, blocking, and removing unknown malware in the AV-test.org trials. By comparison, only big sister Norton Internet Security 2010 scored a perfect 100 percent in so-called zero-day defense. This is a good test to judge how well antivirus software can stop brand-new malware threats.

In addition, the suite did a reasonable job at traditional signature-based malware detection, catching 96 percent of samples. (The top performer in this test found 99.9 percent of samples.)

The PC Tools suite doesn't include parental controls or online backup features, but the company told us last year that such capabilities "cater to a small [percentage] of the market and unnecessarily bloat a product."

The suite had little impact on our test PC's boot time. Our test machine took 43.1 seconds to boot, roughtly 3.5 seconds faster than the average startup time for the suites we tested.

In lab tests, PC Tools did slow app launch times and software installation, though it was about average compared with other suites in our other tests. In day-to-day use, I noticed very little impact. The suite's on-access scanner (which scans files when they're opened or saved to disk) was the fastest we tested, scanning 4.5GB of data in 2 minutes, 51 seconds. On the other hand, its on-demand scanner (the manual system scanner) was by far the slowest we tested.

Despite a relatively thin set of features, PC Tools Internet Security 2010 is a very strong performer overall. If you're looking for an effective, easy-to-use suite, PC Tools' newest offering is well worth your consideration.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    PC Tools Internet Security 2010 is greatly improved over last year’s version, with better traditional malware detection augmenting its strong behavioral protection, but it lacks some features common in competing suites.

    Pros

    • Free tech support
    • Good core security protection

    Cons

    • Lacks some features common in other suites
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