Utility software

Intego VirusBarrier X4

Intego’s VirusBarrier X4 may be pricier than its competition, but it’s worth it. For starters, it’s extremely easy to use. Installation is a couple of mouse clicks and a restart; after the NetUpdate program updates your virus definitions, you’re ready to go. And its interface is a model of OS X integration: It gives you a contextual menu in the Finder, a Dashboard widget to monitor the progress of scans, and it integrates nicely with iCal.

VBX4 is also the fastest scanner I tested, by far. It took just two minutes to scan a 900MB folder, and only 13 minutes to scan a 13GB folder filled with applications—about a quarter of the time Norton AntiVirus (   ) took. After the first scan, VBX4’s Turbo mode makes subsequent scans much faster—it only needs to scan modified files.

And after that first scan, you can forget about VBX4: It works in the background, watching all file activity for signs of trouble. In my testing, this background monitoring had no noticeable impact on my daily use of a PowerBook G4. According to Activity Monitor, its processes used essentially no CPU power, with only occasional, temporary spikes when a file was scanned. You can also schedule scans, scan files and folders via drag and drop, view logs, and create extra-secure (as well as insecure) zones via VBX4’s interface.

VirusBarrier also knows what it’s looking for: It caught everything we threw at it, including Word and Excel macro viruses, with the exception of a couple of Windows viruses. VBX4 offers daily, weekly, or monthly virus definition updates. After installation, make sure you run NetUpdate immediately to check for any updates to the program or its definitions. I only wish it provided some information about the malware it finds; Norton AntiVirus offers much more extensive reporting.

I experienced only one minor quirk during testing. During one scan, VBX4’s interface locked me out (I couldn’t set Preferences); I was able to access those same features through a Menubar icon.

Macworld’s buying advice

Intego’s VirusBarrier X4 will do a great job of protecting your machine from malware and Trojans. While it’s the most expensive antivirus app I tested, it’s also the fastest and easy to use—making Mac protection practically painless.

[Macworld Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs MacOSXHints.com.]

Though the VirusBarrier interface is far from standard, it works quite well.

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