eScan Anti-Virus 11 Review
The eScan range of antivirus products is produced by New Jersey-based MicroWorld Technologies. Since 2011, the company has been awarded with a number of Virus Bulletin VB100 awards.
MicroWorld offer a comprehensive range of products for a number of operating systems. This review concentrates specifically on eScan Anti-Virus 11 for Windows.
Although we found several things to like about this product, including it’s generous feature-set, we felt the software fell short of its “user friendly” promise. Read on for more details, but prepare for the fact you may decide to look elsewhere for your next antivirus product.
In common with several Internet security vendors, MicroWorld offer a sizeable range of different products. eScan Anti-Virus 11 is reviewed here, but the company also offer a higher-end package with the tongue-twisting name of “eScan Internet Security Suite with Cloud Security.” They also offer “Anti-Virus with Cloud Security,” and other products that cover Mac, Android and Linux.
eScan Anti-Virus 11 is available for one, two, three or five machines, with a license lasting one, two or three years.
A single-PC package for one-year costs $22.45 in the US or €18.09 in Europe, the slightly strange price of the latter being caused by the addition of VAT. For some reason, the eScan website stubbornly refused to provide us with a price in Pounds Sterling.
At the other end of the scale, a three-year subscription for the maximum of five PCs comes in at $123.96 or €93.96. Prices for this product are therefore slightly below the typical average, with generous discounts for long subscriptions and multiple PCs.
There’s a prominent link to free trials on the vendor website, and also the unusual ability to download the .ISO image for a combined install and rescue CD – a nice touch.
eScan Anti-Virus 11 boasts a rather impressive features list, complete with a couple of things we haven’t seen elsewhere.
Putting aside the promised “trendy” interface, the key features are as follows:
Whitelisting Technology: This places known files on a “whitelist” to speed up scans and minimise the impact on system resources.
Self-Protection Technology: This works to stop new malware attempting to disable protection or interfere with eScan program files.
Gaming Mode: This feature automatically ascertains when you are playing a game in full screen mode and prevents any notifications from disturbing a gaming session.
Laptop Mode: This is a user-selectable feature that prevents intensive activities such as full scans from starting when a laptop is running on battery, in order to maximise runtime.
URL Filter: “Zero day protection” is promised with a URL filter that claims to block access to compromised websites.
Network Attack Prevention: This is a form of firewall that is designed to prevent against cross-network virus infection.
AntiSpam: It’s unusual for an entry-level product to include antispam functionality, so this is a pleasing addition.
Vulnerability Protection: A feature which helps ensure that your Windows installation is patched with all important Windows updates.
Rescue File: eScan provides you with a boot CD (mentioned above) which can clear rootkits and other deep level infections that prevent your machine from properly booting.
Folder Protection: This feature allows you to “lock down” specific folders so that they cannot be changed or tampered with.
All-in-all the eScan features list has a distinctly “next-gen” feel. As always, we wait until our real life tests before judging the effectiveness of a product, but first impressions here were good.
Installation and Configuration
We downloaded a trial of Anti-Virus 11 for the purposes of our review. Our test machine was running a clean install of Windows 7 Pro, 32-bit.
At 190MB, the trial download was reasonably large. MicroWorld provide a “download manager” link alongside a standard download. We didn’t really feel the former was necessary for a file of this size, and the need to allow the manager plugin to install makes the download a little more confusing for a novice, this is, however, only a small observational criticism.
Once the download was complete, we commenced the installation. This was all very standard stuff: accepting a license agreement and hitting “Next” a few times. We liked the simplicity as there were no questions waiting to confuse the less technical.
Towards the end of the installation, Windows Firewall and Windows Defender were automatically switched off.
Next, we received a warning to remove any other Internet security software before going any further. This didn’t apply to us so we continued.
We then had to reboot our machine to complete the installation. All-in-all, although the install was trouble-free, it felt slightly time-consuming, and while techies would probably appreciate the detail as to what was happening at each point, novices would probably prefer a bold (and less intimidating) progress bar!
After the reboot had completed, we double-clicked the “eScan Protection Center” icon so we could explore the program interface. We quite liked the bold interface (which was rather more “trendy” than the scanning screen!) but quickly noticed that our virus definitions weren’t yet up to date.
We clicked the “Update” button and were a little confused as to the status of the updates. The top of the screen showed the virus signature date as October 2012, but the update section said that an update had taken place on the day of the review. Clicking the “Update now” link didn’t seem to do anything.
We also noticed that the majority of our options were greyed out (as you can see in the case of the “settings” button on the above screenshot).
After a quick Google search we were able to ascertain that we could access all the settings by right-clicking the program icon with the “Shift” key held down as selecting “run as Administrator.” Although, as techies, we worked this out, we felt compelled to give a “black mark” for this, as technophobes would not easily no why they couldn’t access program settings.
Still, once we were running the software as Administrator, we could access all the settings, and the definition dates seemed to correct themselves.
The settings were all rather technical in nature, and some of the default configuration choices weren’t particularly clear. For example, we noticed that “proactive scan” was disabled by default. We didn’t know why, nor were we offered an easy explanation. Similarly, the mail scanning features and anti-spam functions were disabled “out of the box.”
At this point, we’d seen enough of the interface and decided to move on to our real life tests. As we did, we were already developing an early impression of eScan Anti-Virus 11 as good for techies, but not really that user friendly for novices.
We plugged in our usual infected USB key to test out eScan with a few real security threats.
The software got one big tick from the start by immediately scanning the inserted device for viruses with no prompts or suggestions. We like this, as it may not occur to everyone that this is a wise thing to do.
The scan also found two of our three test threats and quarantined them straight away:
What WAS left on our USB key was the trickiest of our three test files, a fake installer for Google Chrome, which in fact installs a selection of undesirable malware alongside the popular browser.
We double-clicked the file, and unfortunately eScan did nothing to prevent the installer starting and us clicking our way through.
By the time the installer had finished, our test PC was in a bit of a mess, with lots of adware and a hijacked browser search.
Finally, we ran a full virus scan using the product to look at CPU and RAM use, and to see whether it managed to remove any of the newly installed malware.
During the scan, our CPU use bounced between 20% and 60% with a total RAM footprint of around 120MB. However, there was an option to set the scan to “low priority” so it had less performance impact. This did noticeably reduce CPU use, but RAM use stayed the same.
We allowed the scan to complete, which took exactly 38 minutes , but sadly the software didn’t manage to eliminate any of our newly introduced malware.
Customer support is strong for eScan, and the vendor makes clear the fact that a range of support options are available 24/7.
Email and live chat are the options “round the clock,” along with self-service forums. The company also has a very active presence across a bewildering array of social networking platforms, and support phone numbers for a range of countries.
- Good support options
- Default scanning of USB devices
- Generous feature-set, including firewall and antispam
We weren’t so sure about
- Graphical interface not nearly as “trendy” as the vendor thinks
- Clunky initial installation
- Several quirks that will confuse technophobes
- Failed to identify our fake Google Chrome installer
We started off with really high hopes for eScan Anti-Virus 11, but unfortunately the marketing skill that’s gone into the website promotion isn’t matched by the quality of the product.
Having seen the interfaces for many antivirus products, we could name several that are truly user-friendly, and despite the promises MicroWorld make, eScan’s wouldn’t be on our list.
Despite this criticism, eScan could appeal to technical users, especially due to the generous addition of antispam and firewall features in a (fairly low cost) entry-level product. We would have recommended the product to these users had eScan identified all of our test viruses, but sadly it missed one. As such, it misses out on a recommendation too.