Company: Datawatch/Dr. Solomon’s
Estimated Price: $65.00
In early spring of 1997, I reviewed Datawatch’s product, Virex 5.7. This past fall Datawatch released its latest version, Virex 5.8. Just as in the previous version, Virex 5.8 is very easy to install, prompting you to scan your hard disk before you begin the installation, althought I might suggest that the scan option be moved to the first position so that users have to use it before proceeding. After you’ve done this, the dialog box offers you several options on how to proceed, including removing previous versions of Virex. You then choose on installing the Virex Control Panel, the Virex Control Strip module (for those of you using Control Strip on your Mac or PowerBook) and the Virex DropScan.
Virex lets you choose what you want checked and how you want it checked by the program. Pick by volume, folder, file or floppy, and Virex scans it for you. When it finds Trojan horses, they’re deleted. When it discovers an infected file, its repair features can restore almost any file infected back to its original condition, but Virex recommends, and I believe most people would agree, that you should replace the item with a fresh copy from the backup disk/original application disk you have. In the event it can’t be repaired (and you don’t have a backup copy), Virex has an option to copy the infected file to wherever else you wish so that you can use a disk editing program to attempt to retrieve your data before deleting it.
Virex can create a baseline ‘snapshot’ of your system, and the few minutes it requires at the very beginning of the Virex installation process can be invaluable if Virex detects an “unknown” rummaging through your data. Then Virex compares changes affecting your system against that snapshot and can warn you of the problem, allowing you to take care of it quickly and safely.
The items I liked best about Virex 5.8 are that it is Mac OS 8 compatible, is contextual menu friendly, handles Zip archives (the most common PC file compression format) and the fact that Virex now shows the date right on the window of the last update to the program. No muss, no fuss, no doubt about when was the last time you updated the virus definitons. Datawatch has also improved upon the Virex window itself, moving items around and adding Report List buttons where they can be readily accessed. As before, version 5.8 has the ability to scan items as they are downloaded or copied onto your computer, plus scan compressed files.
Speed wise, I’ve again noticed a difference between the earlier Virex versions and version 5.8, with 5.8 being quicker in its scans. To me that means that I’m moving on to other projects a lot quicker. Setupwise, Virex is easy to work with and offers you options on what, where and when to scan. And, of course, you have the ability to update your Virex program each month (primarily for updates on the Word Macro viruses) by downloading the Virex update which Datawatch provides at their Web site and through most online services.
System 7 or later, a minimum of 3 MB of free RAM and a high-density disk drive.
All in all, a very good value for what you are receiving. The only caveat that I will interject at this point is that Dr. Solomon’s Software has purchased from Datawatch both Virex and netOctopus(R), a well known comprehensive network and system administration program, immediately after Datawatch had released Virex 5.8. Dr. Solomon’s is well known for Dr Solomon’s Anti-Virus Toolkit, a cross platform product, and was apparently very interested in penetrating into the Macintosh market in a big way. Press releases at the time of the purchase heralded the acquisition and spoke of continuing with the great tradition of anti-virus protection that Virex had started. Virex updates are still continuing even after Virex’s acquisition by Dr. Solomon’s Software. Time will tell how well Virex will stand up to corporate changes. I would really hate to see an outstanding product somehow get lost in the corporate shuffle.
Russ Walkowich (firstname.lastname@example.org)