ParetoLogic XoftSpy Antivirus Pro Review
XoftSpy Antivirus Pro is marketed by ParetoLogic, and described online as “new” software that has evolved from an anti-spyware product.
Our initial impressions of XoftSpy Antivirus Pro left us a bit bemused. The vendor website seemed dated, and the branding wasn’t in line with the rest of ParetoLogic’s products. The product’s features list was also one of the shortest we’ve seen.
Even so, XoftSpy Antivirus Pro passed all of our real-world tests with flying colours, leaving us to conclude that it is, in fact, a product worthy of consideration.
XoftSpy Antivirus Pro seems to stand alone in ParetoLogic’s range. All the vendor’s other products come with ParetoLogic branding, including ParetoLogic Internet Security, which appears to be a rather similar (albeit more fully featured) product.
XoftSpy Antivirus Pro is a little different to the average antivirus product. You can download and install it free of charge, but it’s then only possible to use the software to scan your PC. To fix any issues found in the scan (or to use ANY other features) you must register and pay for the software.
This meant that we had to purchase the software to complete our review. For most purposes, a free demo would be more useful than this crippled functionality.
All of the costs for XoftSpy are in US dollars. When you register, you are immediately given a $10-off coupon, resulting in a single computer package costing $29.97. There are also options for two, three, five or ten PCs, with the latter costing $159.97 – a quite generous multiple-PC discount.
Irritatingly, ParetoLogic by default add on an extra $9.97 for “web browser and cleaning optimization,” although it is possible to deselect this.
Even more irritatingly, however, there’s some kind of tax added on (to the tune of nearly US$7 on a single computer license) at the point of payment.
To be frank, we didn’t particularly like the sales model for XoftSpy Antivirus – we’d rather see a 30-day demo.
In addition, the website seemed very dated, a bit “cheap,” and rather unclear. We hoped the product itself would prove more pleasing to use.
XoftSpy Antivirus Pro is a little mean when it comes to features. Although firewall functionality is often held back for a vendor’s “Internet Security” product, it’s quite rare to see email protection and anti-phishing features left out of the entry level package too, as they are here.
The main features that are included with XoftSpy Antivirus Pro are listed here:
Advanced Protection: As well as definition based virus protection, XoftSpy uses “heuristics and behavioural analysis.”
Rootkit Removal: This claims to remove deep-rooted threats.
Comprehensive Protection: As well as normal viruses, Xoftspy protects against “spyware, adware, keyloggers, Trojan downloaders and other malware.”
Other than standard things such as scheduled and customised scans, these are all the features that ParetoLogic list online, resulting in a rather unimpressive package; most modern antivirus software comes with at least a few “bells and whistles.”
Still, we decided to hold back from judging the software until we saw it in action.
Installation and Configuration
As we had become aware that we would need to pay for this software to complete our review, we registered and completed our transaction via PayPal.
Once the transaction was complete, we immediately received a license key.
We then downloaded the small 10MB program file from the vendor website in order to install it on our Windows 7 Professional test machine.
Installation was standard stuff, requiring a few clicks of the “next” button.
During the install, we were asked whether we wanted a desktop and “Quick Launch” icon – usually packages add these by default.
Next, we were advised to ensure that no other antivirus products were installed on our test PC.
The install then completed fairly quickly, but did require a reboot.
When our PC started up again, an auto-update process began automatically, but didn’t find any required updates.
It turned out that this auto update referred to the program files. After the first update, an automatic scan started, which then proceeded to update our virus definitions. As we wanted to enter our licence key, we cancelled the scan once the definitions were up to date.
We then proceed to enter our purchased license key.
With all of this complete, we were free to begin to explore the XoftSpy Antivirus Pro interface.
The interface was bold and clear, but there wasn’t a huge amount to “play with.”
Settings were fairly thin on the ground, with not much in the way of advanced options for techies to play with. We also failed to find any surprises beyond the features on the list we discussed earlier in the review.
We decided to press on with our real-life tests.
As always, we used our special USB key to introduce some threats to our test PC. The key contains three pieces of malware of varying levels of complexity.
When we inserted the USB device, the software didn’t immediately offer to scan it. Instead, we saw the usual Windows 7 AutoPlay menu. We selected the “open folder to view files” option.
Although we could initially see all of our threats on the directory listing, we quickly saw a pop up in our system tray saying that XoftSpy had quarantined a threat. This was quickly followed by another one. All that was then left on our key was the “easiest” threat, a test virus from the European Expert Group for IT Security.
Before dealing with this, we decided to look at the program’s quarantine.
This confirmed that XoftSpy Antivirus Pro had correctly identified and quarantined two of our three threats, including the fake Google Chrome installer that several products fail to deal with.
We returned to our USB device, and tried to run our final infected file, EICAR.COM. Pleasingly, the software immediately added this to the quarantine, resulting in a perfect 100% result in our real-life tests.
Finally, we set off a full system scan to review how much RAM and processor resource the software uses.
Resource usage was pleasing, with memory usage remaining below around 40MB, and CPU usage only occasionally passing through the 20% barrier.
We also noticed that the main scanning process referred to GFI software, which implies that this software uses the company’s “VIPRE” antivirus scanning. The VIPRE branded product also did very well in our real-life tests.
There is a “Tech support” button within the “About” section of the XoftSpy program interface. This triggers the default browser to open the support section of the vendor website.
Support options are a little thin: There is a knowledge base, and a ticket system for email queries. We were unable to find a number for phone support, or any other options.
To be fair to ParetoLogic, however, a test email query was answered professionally within about 12 hours.
- Perfect real-world test results
- Low resource use
We weren’t so sure about
- Vendor website is rather old-fashioned
- Support options limited (although email support is effective)
- Rather stingy feature set
- No proper trial available
- Sneaky tax add-on during purchase
We were ready to criticise ParetoLogic’s XoftSpy Antivirus Pro quite heavily, until it surprised us at the eleventh hour with perfect test results and low system resource usage.
Even so, there were several things that failed to impress. The software is strictly “no frills,” and more generous features are available elsewhere. We were also irritated by the lack of a proper free trial, when providing one is standard practice in the industry.
Still, this is a “lean and mean” product that does work where it matters. We prefer products that pass all our tests despite a thin feature set than products that promise the earth but stumble with real-life threats. Furthermore, the simplicity of the product could appeal to technophobes.
So, despite our early misgivings, XoftSpy Antivirus Pro does deserve a look – but techies who want lots of features to play with should try elsewhere.