Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - Redefining security software

Sunbelt Software's VIPRE - I've finally found an antivirus package that delivers the goods.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

[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 VIPRE
Over 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 antispywareapp 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!"
  • vipre21sm.png
    "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.

  • vipre29sm.png
    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.

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