Antivirus in Your Pocket

very good
key review info
application features
  • Unpacking support
  • (3 more, see all...)

Not so long ago the first memory stick emerged on the market. Its timid size soon exploded from MB to GB. All forms and shapes are available now, from the classic stick aspect to non-conformist builds taking the forms of footballs, action figures or even porn-stars. Imagination is the only limit to giving a body to this piece of technology.

Stretching technology a bit further gave us the U3 smart drive. A kind of portable mini HDD that can run specially designed softwares directly from it. All it needs is a computer. In fact it needs its registry. No need to worry, everything a U3 smart drive writes to the registry will be erased when ejected.

No matter how flexible, portable and nifty-looking this little contraption is, it is subject to all sort of malware too. It allows you to install portable software on it, so the security companies hurried up and released their antiviruses for the portable storage device. Some of them even struck a deal with the manufacturer and included their software in the retail price.

Avast! anti-virus is among my favorite softwares as it offers a good protection and knows how to deal with the nasties found on my drives and takes no prisoners. Recently they have released a version of their protection application specially designed to be installed on U3 smart drives.

The "small" version of avast! is just as powerful as its desktop correspondent. There is no adware or spyware scan engine available as the product is limited to catching viruses running loose on your portable drive and disturbing your activity.

Once installed, the software will automatically initialize at the insertion of the U3 drive in the computer. The preparation for protecting the device takes a while so don't worry if a couple of minutes pass and the software is still in "initialize" state. Once the preparation is complete a small avast! icon will make itself visible in system tray.

Clicking it will bring avast! Antivirus U3 Edition interface to the desktop. From this main panel you can make all the settings you want for the antivirus. The options are ordered vertically in the left hand side of the window so you can quickly pick your choice.

The first option will give you an overall view over the state of the Virus shields, version of the engine working for the welfare of the U3 smart drive, the date of the virus database and its version, the date of the last scan of the currently inserted U3 as well as the expiration date of the software. Toggling on/of the Virus shield results in making the system tray icon appear/disappear.

In the lower part of the window there are the statistics for clean files and infected files. They can be reset by simply pressing the Reset button in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

The core of the application is Scan menu. Avast! proves not to be selfish and provides assistance into rooting out the nasties not only from the U3 drive, but also from the host computer. A third option available lets you choose a folder to be verified. This can also be located either on the host computer or on the portable drive.

Setting up the antivirus to best protect you is a cinch. Most regular antiviruses display a plethora of options and settings and most users are confounded by the situation. With avast! this section is as simple as can be and the two areas available allow you to make the general settings of the software (enable Virus Shields when device is inserted, update definitions at U3 drive insertion, scan the host machine at U3 insertion and create a log of the scanned files) and the configuration for the Virus Shields.

The latter area lets the user choose which files to be scanned (files with the most vulnerable extensions only, all the files and decompressing archives during on-access scanning). By default the software will scan the files with selected extensions only. The extensions are those deemed most likely to contain a virus in accordance with the avast! virus definitions.

There is no scheduling option for the software to perform a scan at a user defined time, but the scan parameters you can configure are pretty good. You can select the sensitivity of the scan by dragging a slider to different levels (Quick, Standard, Thorough and Custom) for each level the file parameters will change. At the end of the verification the user can choose to receive a report of the scan or not. The report can also be customized and only certain information can be included in it (soft errors, hard errors, skipped errors, infected files, OK files and commands on infected files).

The actual verification process is very short (mainly it depends on the drives included, but the engine still moves fast) and the detection ratio is one of the highest I have seen up to now. Unfortunately the software will not protect you against zero-day attacks as there is no real-time protection available, but from what I have seen the publisher releases virus definition updates daily.

The Good

The trial period of the application is 60 days, which gives you plenty of time to evaluate the application and convince yourselves of the security this little program offers.

The interface is nice and simple. The options are not confusing and handling the configuration and the scan process is piece of cake.

Portable avast! allows you to scan the host computer as well as certain folders only with the same ease as ever.

The Bad

Initialization of the application takes a little long, but once you get past this everything is OK.

The Virus Shield did not perform as I expected as I intentionally dropped a nasty on the U3 drive and there was absolutely no response from avast!. Upon scanning the drive, the software successfully identified and eliminated the malware.

The Truth

Great software with daily virus definitions releases. Installing it on the U3 drive is fast and only the definition update will slow down the process for a while.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
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