ClamWin Free Antivirus stands out from other free
antivirus software because it’s open-source, with no
proprietary or commercial aspects. But in the essential task of
blocking malware, it doesn’t get the job done.
ClamWin doesn’t provide real-time protection, and it won’t check
files as you open them or have them written to your hard drive; its
scans are on-demand only, which means they kick off when you
schedule them or specifically tell the program to run one.
If its scans were effective, ClamWin would be a worthwhile pick
as an extra security layer to catch files that your regular
antivirus utility might have missed. Unfortunately, it missed
almost half of the Trojan horses, password stealers, and other
baddies in AV-Test.org’s zoo of malware samples, an ignominious
performance matched only by PC
Tools Antivirus. Against malware made to steal online-banking
passwords, it was nearly impotent, missing more than two-thirds of
such samples. In proactive tests meant to find how well a program
can detect new malware, it did better, nabbing roughly one-third of
the samples while using two-week-old signature files (top performer
AntiVir Personal caught just over half). But that still wasn’t
a satisfactory result by any means.
Its six false positives were more than the amount from any other
antivirus software save for Comodo
Internet Security (which had an astonishing 62). It was the
second-slowest app in on-access scanning–only PC Tools Antivirus
had slower scan times–and it put up the worst numbers for
disinfection, detecting only six out of ten infections and cleaning
only five. In a rare shining performance, it identified all ten
active rootkits (stealth malware designed to hide other
infections). In contrast, however, it did the worst job of removing
those rootkits, cleaning up just four.
The app’s basic interface lists your hard drives and allows for
scheduling regular scans, but you’ll need to schedule a separate
scan for each drive. ClamWin also adds a right-click Explorer
option to scan a specific file, but such scans are notably slow,
and by default it only reports discovered malware; to get an option
to clean it, you must change the settings to quarantine or delete
Although running an extra on-demand scan can be good as backup
for your regular antivirus application, ClamWin’s poor detection
rate means that you are better off running an online scan from a
commercial software maker, such as BitDefender or F-Secure, and avoiding this open-source project.