GFI has recently released version 4 of Vipre Antivirus. For those of you who may not know, Sunbelt (the original Vipre publisher) was sold to GFI not too long ago. GFI has a lot of experience in enterprise security programs and therefore can leverage their security expertise into their consumer versions. Vipre Antivirus 4 offers fast scanning, low resource usage, rootkit protection, suspicious process detection, system explorers, scan customization, and a real time shield. Vipre Antivirus is certified by all major antivirus testing organizations including, VB100, WestCoast Labs, AV-Test, ICSA Labs, and more. Therefore, expect excellent detection against evolving threats.
The installation of Vipre Antivirus 4 was relatively seamless. The download was only 15 megabytes in size. This is definitely on the smaller side when compared with other free antivirus. The installer detects conflicting security software and helps one uninstall it if necessary (another nice feature). The only problem is that the installer requires a system restart which is generally being phased out among competitors. Once the restart completed the program automatically started an automatic update to download the latest antivirus definitions.
Vipre Antivirus 4 offers three different scanning options, the quick, deep, and custom scan options. All of the scans can be conveniently customized via the settings menu. A user can mix and match scanners to enable rootkit detection, scan inside of archives, run in the background, and scan the registry etc. There is also an option to scan USB drive once they are plugged in. Vipre first starts by scanning all .dll’s on the test system or active processes. The scanner then moves onto scanning files at an impressive rate. In fact, according to Windows Resource Monitor, Vipre averaged 5 to 7 megabytes per second during scanning which is faster than most free antivirus. Vipre detected one false positive (Hot Spot Shield) and no active viruses on the test system. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that the estimated time til competition was ever updated during a scan. Quarantine items can also be set to delete after a certain amount of time (useful).
In addition to fast virus scanning, Vipre Antivirus offers additional features. This is the first time I have seen a scheduled scan option, in which if missed, performs a quick scan in its place. This remedies a problem with users who sporadically shutdown their computers and often miss scheduled scans. The active protection allows one to customize how unknown and potentially unsafe programs are whitelisted or blacklisted. Risk Monitors can be customized if .ini files are installed, host names and group policies are modified, and if windows logon security is tampered with. Depending on a users situation these monitors can be enabled or disabled. There are also some nice power management features in which Vipre can wake a computer from sleep during a scheduled scan and can also conserve power in a Laptop Mode. Vipre Antivirus also supplies a comprehensive amount of Tools including a secure file eraser, history cleaner, and a PC explorer. The PC Explorer looks at startup, winsock lsp, shell execute hooks etc. and classifies them as safe, suspicious or hazardous. One can then whitelist any entry that was detected. Finally, there is a email scanner with Thunderbird support and antiphishing protection.
Given all these features and fast scanning, one may conclude that Vipre Antivirus has high resource usage. However, even during scanning the program is only using about 10 megabytes of RAM and 5 to 10 percent CPU power (5 megabytes while idle). The RAM usage is below most free antivirus tested. Concurrent program use was only mildly affected by Vipre. Therefore, the low resource usage actually lives up to the company’s claim.
A few things for improvement could be a new streamlined interface without the clutter on the main screen. Also, since GFI is the new parent company it wouldn’t hurt to remove the Sunbelt logos from the about menus and splash screen.