G Data AntiVirus 2014 Review
G Data is arguably not as well-known as many Internet security software vendors. However, the German company has, in fact, been in existence since 1985, when it produced the first antivirus product for the (now distinctly “retro”) Atari ST computer.
While we liked certain elements of this product, especially the clean user interface, it was too clunky and inconsistent for our liking. The installation and initial updates were slow and irritating, and we couldn’t count on the software to behave predictably. Perhaps future updates of the program will iron out these issues, but for now they give this product a sadly amateurish feel.
In common with nearly all Internet Security companies, G Data offer a standalone antivirus product (which we concentrate on here) and a more expensive Internet Security option. G Data also offer a “Total Protection” product.
G Data AntiVirus 2014 costs £29.95 for a single PC, one year subscription in the UK. The same product costs $29.95 in the US, where it is on special offer at the time of writing, and €29.95 in Euro countries. This disparity is a little unfair on European users (especially those in Britain) based on current exchange rates.
G Data also offer subscriptions for three or five PCs, and for two years instead of one. Savings can be made for this commitment: a two-year, three-PC subscription costs £74.95 in the UK, $59.95 in the US and €44.95 in Euro countries. Here the price disparity is significant enough to label as bizarre, and shows a worrying lack of joined-up thinking on the part of the vendor. Furthermore, not all options seemed available in all countries: for example, we couldn’t see a two-year, five-PC option on the French website.
It’s certainly fair to say that G Data could do with putting some more work into the regionalisation of their websites.
That aside, G Data do offer free trials of their products, so we were able to take advantage of this for the purposes of our review.
G Data are akin to Norton and Kaspersky in terms of their fondness for a long features list with lots of impressive technical terms. G Data’s include “Active hybrid protection,” “CloseGap technology,” and “BankGuard.”
When reviewing products, we don’t allow ourselves to be swayed by these buzzwords. We prefer to let the results of real life tests speak for themselves.
Regardless, here are the most significant features included within G Data AntiVirus 2014:
Standard On Demand / On Access and Scheduled Scanning: The cornerstone of all antivirus packages.
Email Scanning and AntiSpam: While most commercial antivirus products include email and attachment scanning functionality, it’s quite rare to see antispam without investing in an “internet security” product.
CloseGap Technology: This uses two virus scanning engines, and smaller updates that download separately to the main definition files to keep on top of the most recent threats. Normal definition updates are provided hourly.
AutoStartManager: This claims to “accelerate startup” so that you “boot up as you did on the first day.
BankGuard Technology: This is intended to protect users when using banking and shopping sites.
Behaviour Monitoring: This claims to protect against unknown threats by detecting suspicious behaviour. Most modern antivirus packages have some variation of this feature.
With its rather impressive features list, we were keen to put G Data AntiVirus to the test, so we proceeded to install it on our test machine.
Installation and Configuration
Our test machine for this review was running a freshly installed and updated copy of Windows 7 Professional. We used the trial download of G Data AntiVirus 2014.
At 333MB, this was one of the largest product downloads we had seen, so we were immediately on our guard for anything that could be described as “bloatware.” We also had time to put the kettle on while we waited for the download to complete!
Once the file was downloaded we ran it, and began the Windows installation routine. First we had to choose our language settings:
We were then given the choice between a standard or “user defined” installation. We also spotted a tick box where we could opt-in to the “Malware Information Initiative,” which was selected by default.
After accepting the license agreement, the installation proceeded. The remainder of the installation took only a couple of minutes to complete – a surprise given the size of the install file. We were then given the chance to enter a key to unlock a purchased version, or activate our trial.
We were required to enter some basic details (name and email address) to activate the trial.
After we saw the dialog box pictured above, and clicked OK, we were required to reboot our Windows machine. This is actually quite unusual for modern antivirus products, as most now begin working without this step. As such, it made the install seem unusually time-consuming.
Still, the reboot completed and startup seemed no slower as a result of the software having been installed, which was pleasing. We clicked the G Data icon in our system tray so we could begin to look at the software’s interface.
The first thing we noticed was that our definition files were showing as out of date, with an update due to start in four minutes. Rather than waiting, we triggered the definition update manually.
The update process took a really long time (around 15 minutes), so we spent quite a while watching a progress bar. While we waited, we opened our Web browser (Internet Explorer) and were pleased to see that G Data hadn’t installed any unwanted browser add-ons.
While continuing to wait (with increasing impatience!), we also noticed that we had, in fact, been given a 14 day trial, and not the 30 days promised on the vendor’s website.
Maddeningly, after all of this, we noticed the program interface telling us that the software itself needed updating.
This required more downloading and a restart of the program, followed by another reboot. During the install of this update, a system tray “bubble” told us we had 30-days remaining of our trial, at odds with what the main GUI was telling us.
It was a shame we were quite irritated by this stage, as we liked what we saw once we began to explore the program interface. The GUI is clear and uncluttered, with the ability to perform simple functions such as triggering scans with a single click. The “autostart manager” functionality was also quickly accessible, and it was immediately apparent how to use it.
More advanced settings were also just a click away, though novice users could probably use the program with no need to explore them.
We decided to press on and throw some test viruses at G Data to see how it coped.
We grabbed our highly infected USB key and plugged it into our test machine.
Pleasingly, the software jumped to action on one of our test viruses before we were even prompted to “open folder to view files.” Our fake antivirus (scareware) program was easily identified and dealt with by G Data AntiVirus.
Our other viruses were still visible on the file explorer, so we started with the easiest one, and tried to run the test virus from the European Expert Group for IT Security.
Unfortunately, the software had no reaction to this test infection. Instead, the spinning Windows “circle” spun relentlessly and showed no signs of stopping. We decided to right-click the file and trigger a manual virus scan. This time, G Data did identify the file as a virus, but sadly it didn’t stop us from running it. Meanwhile, the spinning progress circle kept on spinning, leaving us with no option but to reboot yet again. We had no choice other than to put this test down as a “fail.”
After rebooting, G Data Antivirus offered to scan our USB key as soon as we plugged it back in. This time, it found all the viruses on it with no problems. Unfortunately, however, this wasn’t consistent.
We repeated our tests with fresh copies of the viruses to reassure ourselves of the inconsistency. Unfortunately, G Data’s product continued to be inconsistent in whether it offered to scan our key for viruses. Although the software clearly has the capability to detect everything we threw at it, we weren’t left with confidence that something couldn’t slip through the net.
On the face of it, G Data offer some generous support options, including telephone support via a freephone number (in the UK at least). Even better, G Data promise to respond “daily and around-the clock.”
However, we did discover a fly in the ointment, as you may notice above. G Data only help customers with a valid licence, which means no support for trial versions. We always see this as a little counter-intuitive, as if the product doesn’t work right, nobody is going to pay for a copy just to get some help.
To add insult to injury, we found that the product manuals available online for the software were out of date and referred to the 2013 version of the software.
Other support options include email and ticket support. Unusually, we couldn’t find a support forum.
- Well-designed interface
We weren’t so sure about
- No real-life support for demo users
- Outdated user manuals on vendor website
- Inconsistent results in virus scanning and dealing with external media
- Unclear whether trial was for 14 days or 30 days
- Huge pricing disparities between different countries
- Horribly slow initial install and update process
G Data’s AntiVirus 2014 felt distinctly unfinished. Everything from online price disparities to the need to update the program itself after downloading the software left us mildly irritated.
It was an added shame that the program seemed ultimately capable of identifying all of our test viruses but again let itself down by behaving inconsistently.