Combined Antivirus and Anti-Spyware Protection from Ashampoo

very good
key review info
application features
  • Integrates two engines of renowned software producers to offer advanced protection all sorts of malware
  • (12 more, see all...)

Antivirus industry has undergone massive development in the past year as new security solutions emerged on the market and new standards have been set in terms of scan speed, system resources used or detection accuracy. Security software developers made available some pretty good choices for home use protection. Microsoft came up with its Security Essentials; Panda released Cloud Antivirus, Lavasoft recently issued new versions for Ad-Aware, Acronis entered this game also with its latterly launched security suite, while other developers improved on their consecrated products.

Ashampoo also made some changes and offers its users a unified security instrument designed to deliver protection against all sorts of malware at the same time supplying the tools to increase the security of your data and turn the infection risk down to a minimum. Ashampoo Anti-Malware is the successor the company’s AntiSpyware and Antivirus solutions and comes at a price of $39.99 (but knowing the aggressive marketing and the plethora of discounts offered, it is likely to get it at a more decent price).

The application’s intuitive interface makes it easy to find your way among all the features, tools and options included, although a larger menu bar would have improved both looks as well as functionality. Taking a look under the first tab, you will see the current status of the protection offered by Ashampoo Anti-Malware. In order to function properly, the application has to have all of its modules (automatic signature updates, on-access scanner, the monitors for startup entries, Winsoxk LSPs, Internet Explorer’s BHOs and Windows hosts file) up and running, otherwise it shows the red alert status notifying that full protection is not instilled.

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Overview area of the program is a key section because it allows you to initiate scans and complete the database with the latest signatures. Also, it features information on the data of the last update or computer scan and number of scans run and amount of infections found and removed.

Unlike a traditional antivirus product which generally features three scan modes, Ashampoo Anti-malware’s capabilities are extremely flexible. These include verification of the entire system or inspection of specific sections and elements, such as system areas, loaded applications, and registry database or browser cookies. User-custom scans are part of the options as well. Some of these jobs can be started under Overview section of the main screen, while others are hosted by Scan tab.

Any sort of scan can be stopped at any time by the user and the program will behave accordingly. Yet, there is no pause and resume option, so you either let the software complete the task or you postpone it for a different time.

We put the program against a small batch of the most diversified malware in order to test its detection and elimination rate. The results were pretty encouraging as the engine recorded 92.9% with 10,251 samples detected out of the total of 11,024 in less than 10 minutes. The service did not strain the CPU more than 50% during the procedure and the RAM used was around 130MB. But add to these the resources required by the actual application to run properly and the total CPU usage will amount to over 70% during the scan.

Although the database it dealt with did not contain quite the latest in malware threats, it does make for good comparison of the detection and elimination rate. The system used during the test was equipped with a Dual Core CPU and 3GB of RAM, quite average specs for the present standards.

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When eliminating all detected malware, Ashampoo Anti-Malware does not delete the threats immediately, but sends them to Quarantine from where you can restore them. Multiple selection holding down SHIFT or CTRL key is supported, so you can easily pick out the items to be removed completely from the system.

Ashampoo Anti-Malware has been developed with the average user in mind, so working with it is easy, regardless of your computer skills. It is designed for home use, so being so straightforward is a big advantage. However, it seems that there are still some fixes to be done in order to work smooth under harsher conditions which include a larger pool of malware to deal with.

In our case, the application crashed when depositing the huge amounts of threats to quarantine, but it also took a while when having to scan a single archive sheltering a backdoor sample. On the other hand, it was quick to alert us that malware was about to enter the system, providing the possibility to block the action, block and move the file to quarantine, allow it or permit it and whitelist the entry for future reference.

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In order to avoid wasting effort unnecessarily by manually starting specific jobs with a specific frequency, the developer integrated a task scheduling function. The supported scan types you can define to be run automatically with a certain frequency include full system check, verification of system areas, of all local hard drives, user-defined check or controlling a folder of your choice.

Controlling the level of security in Ashampoo Anti-Malware is as easy as enabling which security modules should function from the context menu of the system tray icon. This is also the place to configure real-time protection: file access monitor, network access monitor or create a list with items that should be granted access.

The settings for the scan engine to be used (antivirus, anti-spyware or both) as well as the file formats that should be verified are available in the configuration panel of the application. That’s where you can enable checking of archives or enabling behavioral analysis to detect unknown threats.

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As far as the suite of tools bundled in, it consists in a file shredder, hosts file checker, startup manger, rootkit detector which checks the system for invisible processes and files, an Internet cleaner, an ASD scanner, a process manager and an LSP viewer. All of them are quite useful for a savvy user as they can help protect your data or reveal threats disguised as legitimate items.

File Wiper provides three algorithms to choose from for sanitizing your data: Standard (3 passes) which is the fastest; US Department of Defense 5220.22-M which runs 7 passes and is the most comfortable compromise between speed and efficiency; and the Gutmann algorithm, the most effective standard that takes the longest to finish (35 passes).

You can simply drop your files or folder straight in the application and initiate the destruction method. You can stop the process any time, but the data that has already been destroyed has little to no chances of being recovered.

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The startup manager included in the toolkit (named Startup Tuner) comes complete with all the necessary functions. It allows you to disable, remove the entries or edit them. You can also use it to add new items to the startup list. It is simple and efficient, with no unnecessary options around.

To ensure that no processes are surreptitiously running on your system, the tool chest of Ashampoo Anti-Malware includes a rootkit detector. It is an extremely simple application built to bring to surface any items that are hiding from view. The settings governing the program consist simply in choosing which drives should be verified for hidden data.

The Internet Cleaner present among the tools is designed to eliminate all browser cache data, cookies and history files. Under the Settings menu of the application, you can choose what sort of files should be displayed for each supported browser after the scan completes. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera are the browsers supported and for each of them there is a custom list of objects the application can search for.

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A special section in the Settings screen of the Internet Cleaner lets you create a list with websites whose cookies you want to exclude from the search. Unfortunate enough, in our case this list could not be enlarged because adding new entries to the default ones did not work. On the other hand, removing them was unhindered by any misfortunate event.

Considering that Alternate Data Streams can be attached to files and directories and pose some infection risk, Ashampoo Anti-Malware provides an instrument to verify these and allow you to remove them, if necessary. The ADS scanner will detect suspicious files with hidden data streams as well as offer details on known ADS.

The process manager available in the toolbox is nothing fancy, integrating only the most useful functions. Thus, besides showing you the list with all currently running processes, but also sorting options to view those required by the system, services and the processes started by the user.

Changing the CPU priority is also possible, just like terminating its activity. The set of details of a selected item includes ID, folder of residence, and in some cases name of the developer and version. More importantly for the less techie users is the fact that there is a brief description for most of the listed items, making their identification easier.

A second tab in this application shows the usage of system resources. CPU, RAM and page file are the ones monitored and besides the graphs that show usage chart, there are also real-time values for each of them.

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The ease of use given by the intuitive interface of Ashampoo Anti-Malware guarantees that the product can be used safely by beginner users, while the high detection and elimination rate of the engine ensures that it is a product worthy of computer savvy users. Both its structure as well as poor behavior when faced with huge amounts of malware show that it is designed for home use where the army of malware is smaller in number.

It did well in our tests, scoring a 92.9% rate of success in detecting and eliminating threats and the real-time guard did prevent malware from being downloaded or activated on our test system. The price may be an issue, but it is very likely that Ashampoo registered users benefit from discount offers for the product.


The Good

Ashampoo Anti-Malware provides a nice and easy to use interface which does not hold any complicated functions or options. The multitude of scan types allows you to verify specific system areas whenever suspicions rise.

The bunch of tools included in the program, although not advanced and complex, make for important elements of protection. They allow you to securely delete sensitive information and prevent it from being recovered or access to running processes and elements that start with Windows; they also offer the possibility to check certain areas of the system that are generally neglected by other anti-malware products.

Setting up what it should monitor and general behavior of the application requires no experience because of the easy-to-understand options.

The Bad

We experienced some issues with the application as sometimes it became unresponsive or refused to complete a scan started from Windows Explorer’s context menu. It also had trouble depositing huge amounts of malware to quarantine and it crashed. The listing of the items in Quarantine was marked by delay whenever it held large numbers of malware.

The Truth

The application still has some setbacks preventing it from functioning flawlessly. However, the version number could represent an excuse for all these issues.

Ashampoo Anti-Malware is a security tool that addresses less computer savvy home users that need an easy-to-handle application ready to alert whenever an intrusion is detected and care only for removing threats from the computer (there is no file disinfection option). Also, it can be used to check for threats among the currently running processes as well as place prone to becoming infested.

However, on Windows 7 there are some issues with starting a scan from the context menu of a file or folder. During our tests, few were the cases when the operation completed as most of the time it would linger on an item beyond our expectations.

Also, if detected malware is abundant, it may give you trouble when sending it to quarantine or when trying to view the items isolated there.
user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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