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Virus-Protection Programs

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Today's viruses are more destructive than ever. They don't just damage your system; they use e-mail and file-sharing to spread to the systems of your friends and coworkers. The latest versions of antivirus programs from Intego and Symantec-VirusBarrier 1.5.1 and Norton AntiVirus (NAV) 7.0, respectively-promise to protect you from these persistent pests. VirusBarrier is less expensive and easier to use, while NAV is more complex but detects a wider range of problems.

The two programs have some basic features in common: fast batch scans of your entire hard disk, automatic detection of viruslike behavior in programs, and downloading of the latest virus definitions. They have different philosophies, however. VirusBarrier has a minimalist interface with very few options, and the program is relatively nonintrusive when it detects possible infections-it uses voice messages to announce most events, such as the deletion of a virus. NAV has a complex interface with dozens of options, and it can be interruptive, with an on-screen alert box that appears whenever the program encounters suspicious activity.

Creature Features

VirusBarrier's simple interface leaves little for you to do-it's configured to watch your system for suspicious activity and check all downloaded and copied files. Its Turbo mode lets you manually scan only the files that have changed since the last full scan, and contextual menus and drag-and-drop capabilities let you scan individual files and folders easily. VirusBarrier's log shows you the results of the most recent scan.

Out of the box, NAV performs similarly to VirusBarrier, but NAV has dozens of configurable options that let you choose to protect only parts of your hard disk (for improved performance) and control individual protection features, such as floppy-disk and downloaded-file scans. NAV can detect viruses in received e-mail and in programs (such as the AOL installer) that attempt to put items in your Startup Items folder; VirusBarrier failed to detect either of these events. NAV also permanently logs all activity, lets you schedule scans and virus-definition updates, and includes a bootable CD.

Time-Released Medication: With Norton AntiVirus 7.0-which lets you schedule downloads of new virus definitions-your protection is always up-to-date.
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