Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

Summary: Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - I've finally found an antivirus package that delivers the goods.

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[UPDATE: Many of you have asked about the effectivness of VIPRE. Testing  security software is a big job and well outside of my capability. However, VIPRE has passed West Coast Labs' Checkmark certification. Details here. I am told that more certification is in the pipeline.

Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - I've finally found an antivirus package that delivers the goods.

Sunbelt Software VIPREOver the years I've become truly disillusioned by security software. A good antivirus package used to be the first thing that I installed on a system after installing the OS, but now that's become one of those tasks that I know I should do (not just to protect myself, and the network, but others that I communicate with) but that I put off until the last minute. Why? Because I know I'll start hating the system shortly afterwards and resenting the security software for consuming so much of my precious system resources.

VIPRE setup and interface gallery here

There have been times when seeing the performance hit that a system takes after installing a security package has actually made me put my head in my hands and wonder whether all these strides we have made in processor power and RAM capacities are all undone thanks to security firms unleashing their bloated wares upon us. I'm not going to name any names - I'm pretty sure that most of you will be able to rattle off a list of them without any prompting from me.

Time for a short story ...

OK, story time. Last night my wife and I were at my mother-in-laws and the subject of her slow notebook came up. The notebook is question is an aging IBM ThinkPad R51e that runs Windows XP and which hasn't really been all that fast from the start. It suffers from not enough RAM and too many drivers and specific apps (which are tricky to remove without losing features) kludging up the system. But what makes matters worse is that any security software that you install onto the system amplifies these problems greatly.

The antivirus package that was installed on the system was Kaspersky AntiVirus 2009 2008. I have a love/hate relationship with this product and use if mostly because it's the best of a bad bunch (a statement that says a lot about the current line up of security software). We uninstalled this application and immediately there was a performance gain. I didn't benchmark the system under controlled conditions but I'd say that boot times were cut by about 33% and loading times for applications by 25%. However, I knew that I couldn't leave the system unprotected and that I'd have to install something in place of Kaspersky. Then I remembered that I'd received an email earlier in the week from Sunbelt Software informing me that the new VIPRE antivirus and antispyware app was out (an enterprise version has also been released). One of the features that the email bragged about what how this software wasn't a resource hog.

I decided to pull up the website and take a look. The copy for VIPRE (which stands for "Virus Intrusion Protection Remediation Engine") was full of performance-related claims:

  • "VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is high-performance security software that doesn't slow down your PC like older, traditional antivirus products."
  • "Tired of old antivirus software that makes your PC slow down to a crawl? Interrupting what you are doing with slow scan times, causing problems and nagging you? Time for a change to next-generation antivirus + antispyware that IS NOT a resource hog!"
  • "Does not slow down your PC"

Bold claims, but that said, almost all antivirus vendors nowadays makes similar claims.

OK, I clicked the download link and the 12.6MB packaged came down swiftly. I started the install process which seemed much like every other install process and the program installed without fuss. After a reboot the setup wizard picked up again and guided us through the initial setting up of the software. VIPRE downloaded the risk definitions and the program was ready to roll.

Then I noticed something. The system was just as responsive with VIPRE installed as without. Wow! I wasn't expecting that. We rebooted the system just in case it wasn't running, and then downloaded the EICAR test file to make sure that it was running and sure enough, it was, and it was having almost no effect on the performance of the system. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

Back at the PC Doc HQ ...

Today I've had a chance to take a closer look at VIPRE, and it has to be said that I like what I see.

  • First off, the performance claims do seem to be real. today I've uninstalled a number of different antivirus packages from a selection of systems and replaced them with VIPRE and on every system I'm seeing and feeling a performance boost. Not only is the real time monitoring far lighter and and less of a resource hog than any other antivirus package I've come across, the system scanner is also fast and light-weight (I've been typing this, taking screenshots and running a couple of virtual machines while VIPRE has been scanning my system). My testing backs up the claims made by Sunbelt Software and goes to prove the benefits of adopting a clean slate, building a product from the ground up approach.
  • VIPRE offers all-round protection - antivirus, antispyware, protection from email-borne threats, rootkit detections and other goodies such as a secure file eraser and history cleaner.
  • VIPRE is easy to use. In fact, the interface is a pleasure to use.
  • The product is honest and gives you clear feedback relating to what it finds on your system - no scan and scare tactics here.
  • Then there's the aspect of fair pricing. A single license for VIPRE costs $29.95 and gives you a year's worth of updates, while a 3-user annual subscription is $39.95, while for $49.95 you can protect all PCs in a single household with a single site license. That's the fairest deal I've come across. "Typical 'household' licenses offered for security software products limit the number of PCs protected to anywhere from three to five per household," said Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt Software. "With our unlimited home site license, customers pay one low annual subscription price for the product of their choice for all the PCs in their home. We don't care if it's five, ten, or 200 computers.  One price covers all the computers located in that residence."

Now I've rolled VIPRE onto a number of systems, I'll let you know how things go in a follow-up post. 

System Requirements

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher
  • At least an IBM Compatible 400MHZ computer with minimum 256MB RAM
  • At least 150MB of available free space on your hard drive
  • 2x CDROM
  • Internet access with at least 56Kbps connection
  • Supported Operating Systems:  - Windows 2000 SP4 RollUp 1  - Windows Server 2008  - Windows XP SP1, SP2, SP3 (Home, Pro, Media Center, Tablet) 32 and 64-bit  - Windows Vista+ (All flavors) 32 and 64-bit
  • Supported Email Applications: Outlook 2000+, Outlook Express 5.0+, Windows Mail on Vista, and SMTP and
  • POP3 (Thunderbird, IncrediMail, Eudora, etc.)
  • Installation of VIPRE is not supported on Windows 95, 98, or ME, Macintosh or Linux

A 15-day fully functioning trial version of VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is available.

Topics: Software, Hardware, Malware, Operating Systems, Security, Windows

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26 comments
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  • No Firewall ???

    Sounds great, I looked into them because of your article, but it looks like they never incorporated their firewall product. In fact, their firewall product page talks about how it will work with VIPRE so that price you've posted isn't a good comparison against competing suites. Funny you mention Kaspersky because I too consider them the best of the bad. If sunbelt bundles the firewall and keeps the price the same, they could have a winner.
    happyfirst
    • The firewall is coming

      Sunbelt says that later this year they will bundle the firewall with the AV and AM protection in a Vipre suite. From what I've read just about everywhere on the Net, however, Comodo Firewall Pro free is significantly better than Sunbelt's Kerio.
      billfranke@...
  • Sunbelt?

    Sunbelt? The same people who kept delaying and delaying Vista support for their their just acquired firewall, and still don't have 64 bit support?

    Frankly, I'm worried if they'll keep supporting it in the future if they're having a tough time supporting their other products.

    AVG works fine on my system.

    Personally, if you're really having troubles with slowdowns, my advice is to just turn off real time scanning and do a weekly or daily complete scan. An antivirus is frankly something that tells you you've been infected, not something that prevents infection.
    CobraA1
    • what?

      I would never advise turning off real time scanning. I think you are completely incorrect when you say that "An antivirus is frankly something that tells you you've been infected, not something that prevents infection."

      There are numerous viruses that hide themselves from or completely disable your Antivirus program once you are infected. Once this occurs, your AV program may appear as if it is running and protecting you when in fact, it is doing absolutely nothing.

      I've found Sunbelt to be a fantastic company with top notch support. As you mentioned the firewall was acquired while VIPRE was written by them from the ground up. That can sometimes make a huge difference.
      Moikk
    • dude you said not something that prevents infection your wrong

      dude you said An antivirus is frankly something that tells you you've been infected, not something that prevents infection. your wrong. dude anti-virus software scans the files downloaded to your computer and detects if it is infected.
      and ether deletes or quarantines the said file.
      i don't know who told you anti-virus does not prevent infection but they were wrong. i would not ask them for any more computer advice. because they do not know what they are talking about.
      SO.CAL Guy
  • I'm using NOD32

    It seems very lightweight and seem to score well on AV Comparatives. But I also have Norton on another machine, although its better than previous versions the machine slows down considerably when doing a scan.
    marks055@...
  • RE: Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

    Lacks a firewall..... Plus the one they do offer isn't even for 64 bit. Sad..Truly sad. As for the products, I liked it, but as i mentioned with no firewall in it, its not the end all be all of AV engines.

    Ill re-check it out for sure once it includes a 64 bit firewall
    Datagg
  • I'm glad it's fast, but how well does it work?

    Speed and resource use is important, but what about its effectiveness removing/preventing infections? After all, that is purpose of the program. Sunbelt has always been middle of the road with their protection software. I will wait awhile and see how the reviews for that are. Check out the one from PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2326528,00.asp
    jpr75_z
    • I'm glad it's fast, but how well does it work?

      "Sunbelt has always been middle of the road with their protection"? Sorry -- I have to say something to that.

      While we're always improving and I'm not going to say we're perfect, we've won a fair number of awards for our products:

      CNET Editor's Choice:

      http://reviews.cnet.com/antivirus-and-filtering/sunbelt-counterspy-2-0/4505-3681_7-31232203.html

      PC World Best Buy:

      http://www.pcworld.com/article/119572/spyware_stoppers.html

      Best enterprise email security (readers choice):

      http://www.sunbeltsoftware.com/Press/Releases/?id=177

      And so on.

      As regards the PC Mag review, we got a pretty good score there. The primary miss appeared to be from a commercial keylogger that one buys to monitor their system (Elite Keylogger) and hence, they were not part of a typical piece of malware per se. Nevertheless, we are absolutely committed to making VIPRE the best antimalware solution on the market and we continue to improve the product. This is the first version of the product and we expect continued and significant improvements to it over the coming months, including broad and powerful detection of these types of threats.

      Alex Eckelberry
      CEO, Sunbelt Software
      alexeck_z
      • RE Sunbelt's Vipre & vipres "score"

        I have just had an incredibly bad experience with Sunbelt's vipre. I understand that there is not sunbelt tech support on weekends but I sure expected a reply on Monday. Nothing. Nada. Ridiculous. VIPRE allowed a virulent backdoor trojan to get through. Which can happen on the best of protectors. I understand that. But then vipre says it had caught it. It had not. VIPRE said it was running the deep scans I had set schedule for. It was not. I did a restore to "go back in time" to rid my pc of this virus & malware. As tech I spoke with on Friday advised. Did not help. I have also learned that the burito/exe is not a brand new problem. Been around awhile. VIPRE just had no definitions for it. And I cannot get a response even as to how I should fix this? My mistake was in thinking before I had purchased vipre that the tech support was so great. I had obviously mixed up tech support with sales.

        Others beware. VIPRE lets things through & then will not help you fix it when it does. Worse, vipre screen say it HAS fixed it when it has not.
        DenaDenise
  • RE: Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

    Datagg, our goal with VIPRE was to first start with the basics, designing a comprehensive antivirus + antispyware product.

    One thing we also don't want to do is emulate the competition, by adding on tons of features, at the risk of performance.

    We'll certainly be adding firewall capabilities to the product (as well as HIPS and IDS).

    We do have a firewall, as you noted. 64-bit firewalls for Vista are a pretty rough kettle of fish, as you also probably know.

    Alex Eckelberry
    CEO, Sunbelt Software
    alexeck_z
  • VIPRE + Sunbelt Firewall Pretty Impressive

    I've been beta testing Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2009 which has been touted as reducing system resource usage significantly over previous versions. My initial impressions of NIS were good, with a notable reduction in resource usage when compared to NIS 2008, TrendMicro, etc. However, after reading your post, I decided to replace the NIS beta with VIPRE plus the full version of Sunbelt Firewall to see how they compared.

    The results were that the Sunbelt combo used about 25-30% less system resources than the NIS beta. Admittedly, NIS has a few more bells and whistles and its functionality is integrated, but Sunbelt has made a pretty compelling case for its products with its performance.
    NameRedacted
    • Using F-Secure Security Suite 2008

      Wow, this F-Secure is very good and there's been no noticeable in reduced performance and no resource hog whatsoever. The Firewall, AV, AM, Intrusion Detection, etc...it works awesome even when scanning silently in the back ground while doing multitasking in the back ground. There's no lag/latency in the program launch, or anything.

      I like this FW way better then Windows FW itself and other competitive FW programs. I've been reluctant to see what Norton has to offer for 2009. I used to be a long time user but gave up using it because of the Resource hog.
      rcorrigan@...
  • VIPRE on a 'net-top'

    I installed VIPRE to the missus' ASUS Eee 4GB this weekend, and it only uses ~ 50MB of disk space (for the definition update). Also installed it to my new laptop, and the CPU util dropped to ~ 2% when the system is at 'idle' (vs. 20% at idle with Norton 360).

    Great stuff, Sunbelt!
    RichardsBD
  • Watch out if you download from Softpedia!

    I've just downloaded the FREE Beta version of Vipre from Softpedia to try it out. But, I was nearly suckered (not hard, they sigh....!)

    When you hit the download area for Vipre on Softpedia, the natural - to me - thing to do is click on the 'Download HERE' button. But don't. That's a cleverly positioned ad that takes you to something called Winclean, which is a totally separate product.

    The Vipre links are on the RIGHT of the page.

    Greetings from the heart of suckerdom!

    Chris.
    ulrichburke@...
  • Adrian i was skeptical but dude after i uninstalled

    Adrian i was skeptical but dude after i uninstalled kaspersky and installed this on a test machine it was like night and day. i like you have had a love/hate relationship with it. crossing my fingers every time theirs a core update. and hopeing it does not hose my system.
    but back to my test.
    after installing this on a system thats 3 years old. i could tell immediately that the system had gotten some of it's horse power back. a lot of horse power to be truthful.

    now the fun part. i went to sites i know that try and give you drive-by downloads. it amazed me. it caught everyone.

    this is one of the reasons i like your blog i might not agree with you all the time but you give us information we can use.

    i'm going to have the techs at my stores install it and try it for them selfs and if they have the same experience i've had. i am going to install this on every computer we build for resale. again thanks for the info.
    SO.CAL Guy
  • RE: Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

    Thank you, Adrian... For the longest time I was engaged in this love/hate relationship with AV software. Norton, a super-resource hog was an early default that I finally got rid of. I used to use MacAffee as well. Based on some positive reviews I moved 2 of my computers to Zone Alarm, only to be annoyed by its interference with almost all programs. Kaspersky worked well, but slowed everything doooooown. CA antivirus seemed inobtrusive, but questions remain as to its effectiveness. Have purchased and installed VIPRE after reading your column. On my ultraportable (Asus F6 with XP sp3 and 1.5 G memory) it zips along and the machine seems much more responsive. Mark me one happy customer!
    rtomas@...
  • VIPRE Kills My Defragmentation Runs

    The defrag runs slow to a complete crawl with Vipre active protection enabled. Sorry, this isn't the magic bullet that it's been made out to be. In reality, its just another piece of AV software; better than some, definitely, but not the end all save all of computer software.
    psychosmurf
  • VIRPE causes massive keyboard lag.

    I bought three copies of VIPRE based on this review. So far, i've installed only one copy. The Keyboard lag is so bad, i'm considering getting a refund and renewing my NOD32 license. NOD32 has been solid, but VIPRE is half the cost -- Guess i get what i pay for.

    FWIW, i'm running VIPRE on a Quad Core, Vista x64 with 4GB ram.
    RobVT
    • What do you mean by ...

      ... keyboard lag?
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes