VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware from Sunbelt Software . September 2008 . Vol. 14 No. 9

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles.

VIPRE or Viper?

Sunbelt Software says VIPRE is an acronym for Virus Intrusion Protection Remediation Engine. But Viper is also a species of venomous snakes with hinged fangs efficiently designed to flip forward and lock when the snake opens its jaws to attack its prey.

Though the name is an acronym, it's an appropriate choice. In comparison, VIPRE is also efficiently designed to attack its Malware prey, lurking in the background ready to strike and remove threats from our computers. Malware Because of malicious software, new companies emerged to fight the threats and protect our computers.

Malware are programs, usually designed by scheming individuals with criminal intent to disrupt your computer and steal sensitive information, like social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information. You can pick up these invasive programs just by visiting a Website or from E-mails, and you’ll never know it happened until it’s too late. Some programs, like Trogans, can take financial information and e-mail it to the perpetrators anywhere in the world. You may find fraudulent charges on one of your credit cards, if the number is somewhere in your computer, or worse, your identity could be stolen if your social security number was taken. A less severe outcome would be Malware that displays messages on your computer that can’t be removed, trying to sell you a program to repair the problem. These programs usually disable other programs used to fix problems. Once they get in, they often duplicate their files making it more difficult to find and remove. And these insidious creations can lurk in your computer (places like system restore) and pop up when you least expect, even weeks later. Frequently, the only fix is to reformat your hard drive and reinstall the operating system. You’ll lose all your data and programs, and have to start over. Backing up often is the only way to protect your data. But reformatting and reinstalling all your programs is inconvenient and time consuming, and much worse if you haven’t backed up recently, or at all.

VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware from Sunbelt Software

By Howard Berenbon

The Internet is a great resource, but can be a dangerous place for you and your IBM compatible computer because of the proliferation of virus programs and spyware, also known as Malware.  Fortunately, tools are available to protect us from this malicious software. In fact, a whole new industry has been created just to deal with all the software threats to our machines, offering programs to clean and protect our computers.  Recently, a new security program called VIPRE was released from Sunbelt Software, makers of the excellent anti-spyware program, CounterSpy, reviewed here in December 2007. VIPRE is unique because it incorporates both anti-virus and anti-spyware functions, and in one sweep it covers everything that can possibly be damaging to your computer.  Also, they claim they use less resources with VIRPE, and your computer's performance won't degrade. Performance problems often happen when you’re running just one of these security programs in the background.  All the programs I’ve used, set to protect you while you're working, in real time, have had noticeable delays.  It depends on how many programs you're running and what they're doing, as well as the speed of your machine and the amount of RAM installed. Old computers with slower processors will have more delays than the new faster machines.  VIRPRE, on the other hand, claims to fix that problem, and uses less resources while running in the background.  And if it works as claimed, that would be a breakthrough!


VIPRE is available as a 64 MB Internet downdoad, and installs on your PC in about 5 minutes.  If you already have CounterSpy installed, you’ll then be upgrading to VIRPE.  You can also try it free for 15 days, and later purchase a license key to activate it for one year.  A single user license is $29.95 and a Home Site License, covering all your computers, is just $49.95 for 365 days use.  And if you consider you’re getting two programs in one, it’s really a bargain, especially the Home Site License covering all your computers.  Once you enter the key, you’re ready to go.

After rebooting, you’ll enter into setup where you'll load the latest risk definitions, enable Active Protection (monitors your computer to prevent infections) and Email protection.  You can also share Malware information with the ThreadNet Community anonymously by enabling that feature.  It recommended that you enable Active Protection so you’re protected while working on the computer.   If not enabled, you’ll need to run a scan manually, or have it set to scan at a certain time. Also, I noticed the risk definitions loaded much faster than CounterSpy, and that was a needed improvement. CounterSpy updates were slow, and the delay was a problem.

When I first tried to enable Active Protection, it advised to deactivate or remove other security programs that were currently running because they could conflict, so I did.  But, you may want to add back one other security program later, because it’s best not to rely on just a single program for complete protection.  A second program may find a risk that the first had missed.

VIPRE’s main menu, their Overview, allows access to your scan status, enable or disable your Active Protection (monitors to prevent infections), Email Protection and Updates, displays the worldwide threat level (low to severe) and shows your risk detection status from previous scans.  Also available from that screen is the Scan, Manage and Tools pages.  If you click on Scan, you can activate either a Quick Scan or Deep Scan.  And from the Tools menu you have access to their Security File Eraser, History Cleaner and the PC Explorer tool that allows you to view hidden settings.  Over at the Manage page, you can view history reports, files quarantined, risks that are blocked, view risks that you allow and schedule automated scans.

The Test

The functions are very similar to CounterSpy, so I knew what to expect.  My first scan was the Quick Scan, which scans the high risk areas of your computer, and that went very fast, about 3 minutes, much faster then any program I’ve used, including CounterSpy.   Nothing was found, but I expected that because I scanned earlier that day with CounterSpy as well as Spyware Doctor (PC Tools).  Then I clicked on Deep Scan to scan every inch of my computer, which took 109 minutes, and again, much faster than any security program I had previously used.   Also, it’s important to remember that most programs scan for either viruses or spyware, not both, and the 109 minutes was very fast considering it covered both types of Malware.  Of course, it didn’t find a thing.  Then I installed VIPRE on a second computer, which is older, and was cleaned of viruses and spyware that morning. While doing a Quick Scan (about 8 minutes), it found a serious Trojan Adware.XpAntivirus.AJ, in a .tmp file, with a high risk.  I immediately removed it and initiated a  Deep Scan.  It was late, so I ran it over night, and in the morning the computer was clear. I was surprised that it took only 134 minutes, just a little over two hours to scan.  Normally, that computer takes at least 5 hours to scan using CounterSpy or Spyware Doctor.  I’ve also used the antivirus program Avast!, and its active scan can slow the computer to a crawl.  So far, VIPRE runs very fast. Note, that scan times will vary depending on the number of files on your hard drive and the speed of your computer.

For a whole day, both computers have been running with only VIPRE with Active Protection enabled.  I found no noticeable performance degradation in my newer computer while running several programs including Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe PhotoShop, and both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.  But, this afternoon, I was loading Intuit’s QuickBooks Professional into the older machine and it took 3 times longer than normal.  So, I did find one problem.  Though, once loaded it functioned fine.  But, there’s a fix, because I can tell VIPRE to allow the program to run without scanning QuickBooks folder. Problem solved!  Other than QuickBooks, everything appeared to run without any performance problems. There have been some slight delays at times, but not very noticeable. So, for me, I found VIPRE’s claims to be valid.

VIPRE proved itself and I highly recommend it.  Once installed, you have all the features to find and destroy spyware and virusues, and it runs in the background to protect you from being infected.  But more importantly, it doesn’t bog down your computer while it’s working, something I’ve had to put up with for the sake of computer security.  Now, my computers can functional normally.  Slow performance had been a major problem when running many of the anti-spyware and anti-virus programs I’ve tested.  A big thanks to Sunbelt Software for a job well done!

VIPRE is available in a single annual license for $29.95 and a Home Site License (for all computers in your house) at just $49.95, a real bargain for what it does.  And they offer a 15-day free trial, so it’s worth a try.

Sunbelt Software
33 N. Garden Ave., Suite 1200
Clearwater, FL 33755
Phone: 727-562-5199