CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 Review

by Reads (18,115)
  • Pros

    • Polished interface
    • User-friendly
  • Cons

    • Extremely long scan times
    • Feature-light
    • Blatant upsell to higher-price suite

By Charles P. Jefferies

CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 is advertised to keep your computer virus-free, spyware-proof, yet still run well on a power-strapped netbook. Read our review to find out if CA’s results match its claims.

Product Overview

CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 is a $49.99 Internet protection suite for home users. It provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection and the license is good for up to three computers. CA Anti-Virus is advertised to be netbook friendly, implying it should be light on resources. We will find out.

Download & Installation

CA Anti-Virus is a 79MB download. The install is relatively painless after starting the installer; it takes a few clicks and about five minutes to install. The wizard is straightforward, though not as slick or innovative as other products such as Norton 2010. Users are prompted to register however it is not required. Before the install finishes, the software performs a quick scan of the computer; afterwards, a restart is required to complete the install process. The majority of antivirus suites have not required a restart, though that is a trivial item to complain about.

Program Interface

CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 interface

CA takes employs an unconventional interface with their anti-virus suite. Instead of a traditional 2D layout with tab-based browsing, a 3D wheel-like interface allows users to easily see and select categories. I like the concept but this interface is unfortunately serves as little more than an upsell for the $69.99 Internet Security Suite since only one of the categories is actually enabled in this standard anti-virus package. I don’t care for this purposeful limitation and found it annoying, considering that the Anti-Virus suite is a not-so-cheap $49.99. There are better ways to upsell a product and this is not one of them.

CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 my computerClicking on the My Computer category (the only one that is enabled) brings up the screen shown at the right. The interface is polished and easy to look at. The left side shows recent activity, while the right side shows scan results and allows users to perform new scans. Users could navigate to other categories at the bottom, if they were available . . .

In Use & Effectiveness

CA Anti-Virus stayed out of the way in common tasks such as word processing and gaming. We did not notice any apparent performance decrease, such as lag when opening applications. Updates were performed in the background automatically.

To test the effectiveness of CA I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security website. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests.

CA Anti-Virus blocked the first file from downloading and while it allowed the others to download, it found two of them immediately. The other I had to scan for, which it found easily. Overall CA Antivirus suite is not particularly proactive but performs as expected.

Performance Impact

We evaluate the performance impact and system resource usage of using anti-virus software in three ways:

1.       Overall system performance measured before and after installation using PCMark

2.       Memory footprint

3.       Time it took to perform a full system scan

Our test system is an HP Pavilion dv5t.

Overall System Performance Impact Measured with PCMark Vantage

The PCMark benchmarks as measured before (left) and after (right) the CA install are shown below.

CA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 benchmark before installCA Anti-Virus Plus Anti-Spyware 2010 benchmark after install

There is no change before and after – CA indeed has an extremely small footprint, which is good to see.

Memory Footprint

CA Anti-Virus takes up about 68MB of system memory according to the Task Manager, which is significantly more than other anti-virus suites we have tested up until this point. While an extra 68MB of memory usage is unlikely to affect a modern computer’s performance, on a netbook with only 1GB of RAM it might make a small difference.

Time it took to perform a full system scan

This is the kicker of this entire review – the scan time — five hours and four minutes. The same computer with the same data is used to test all anti-virus products here, and the majority of anti-virus suites up until this point have managed to do it in less than an hour. I actually stopped the first scan at the three hour mark because I thought something was wrong, but that was not the case. CA reported it scanned many more objects than the other anti-virus suites, but we have no way of verifying whether it was in fact more thorough or not.

Conclusion

CA Anti-Virus 2010 has a very limited value proposition. It provides basic anti-virus and anti-spyware protection for home users but is not particularly proactive. Scan times were extraordinarily long. The software is feature-light next to competitors such as Norton and Kaspersky and does not offer anything unique. We like the interface but it is a blatant upsell for the more-expensive security suite since most sections are visible but not accessible. Overall while CA Anti-Virus 2010 performs as advertised, it is difficult to recommend.

PROS

  • Polished interface
  • User-friendly

CONS

  • Extremely long scan times
  • Feature-light
  • Blatant upsell to higher-price suite


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