iAntiVirus 1.0 review

Writing reviews of Mac antivirus software can be a thankless task, much like correcting email grammar: no one particularly wants to hear about it, but there might be some value in the exercise.

There have been no major viruses or malware outbreaks for Mac OS X since its introduction in March 2001 (kind of amazing, actually). That excellent track record doesn't make a strong case for running antivirus software on your Mac. Most antivirus software makers get around this by having their products do more than just look for Mac-specific threats.

They will scan and clean your Mac of any Windows viruses that might come along so you don’t unknowingly pass them along to your Windows-using friends, making you a better Internet citizen. Some also protect you from phishing Web sites, giving some added value and protection. All of this can be checked off in the Good column.

iAntiVirus 1.0 from PC Tools takes a different approach: its threat database only contains signatures for known Mac-specific malware (including viruses, worms, trojans, and the like), though the scanning engine is capable of scanning for PC threats as well. PC Tools made this choice so the app would be lightweight; its database is small, and it can scan many files very quickly. iAntiVirus took a little over an hour to scan both drives in my Mac Pro, which hold about 830GB of data.

iAntiVirus offers three flavors of scans: Quick, Normal, and Custom. Quick scan is, not surprisingly, the fastest of the three, but it scans only certain areas of your Mac's hard drive (those that are known to typically harbor malware).

The Normal scan takes longer but is far more comprehensive. If you have a particular set of folders that you want to examine, then a Custom scan is what you want. Archive files (zip files, for example) can be optionally scanned for viruses as well. You can also schedule iAntiVirus to scan your Mac once a week, daily, every other day, or never. (Installation of updates for both virus definitions and the app itself can be scheduled as well, with the same options.)

The iAntiVirus interface is very clean and easy to use.

These scheduling options are basic at best. Ideally, you should be able to define the day on which weekly scans are done and create entirely custom schedules--scanning on the second Wednesday of the month, say. However, most users should be fine with the limited built-in scheduling.

Complementing the three kinds of scans is IntelliGuard Real-Time Protection, which constantly runs in the background, protecting your Mac from nefarious files. When IntelliGuard (or any other scan) finds a suspicious file, a Growl-like alert window pops up in the upper right hand corner of your Mac's screen, letting you know what iAntiVirus has found and what steps it has taken.

NEXT: Quarantine suspect files


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