Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 Review
Kaspersky Lab, based in Russia, have been in the Internet Security game since 1997. According to Wikipedia, over 300 million people use their products.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus has enjoyed a good reputation over the years and won various awards. Based on our testing, it certainly deserves this, as it stopped our all of test viruses in their tracks. However, not everything about the product is perfect, as you will see later in the review.
Kaspersky offer a rather bewildering array of different Internet Security products, including Kaspersky PURE 3.0, Kaspersky ONE, Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013, which is the product we concentrate on in this review.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 can be purchased with subscriptions valid for one or two years, and for one, three or five PCs. A three-PC subscription costs £39.99 in the UK or $59.95 in the US. This is broadly in line with what Norton charge for their equivalent products.
All of Kaspersky’s products are available online on a 30-day free trial basis. We took advantage of a trial for the purposes of this review.
In common with all of the major antivirus vendors, Kaspersky are keen to highlight all of the innovative technologies on offer via their product.
Key features of Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 include the following:
File and Email Scanning: As is normal for all antivirus packages, Kaspersky includes on-access and on-demand file scanning and the scanning of emails, including archived attachments.
Cloud-based Security Network: Kaspersky pool information from millions of PCs running their software to help respond to threats in “real time.”
Anti-Phishing: Kaspersky Anti-Virus includes a “URL Advisor” that can warn you if you inadvertently access a site that may be trying to trick you into revealing personal information.
Vulnerability Control: Kaspersky uses technology that can stop malware taking advantage of un-patched software and causing damage.
Minimal Performance Impact: Like most modern Internet Security products, Kaspersky claims to have a minimal affect on system performance. This is a response to the “bloatware” that became popular in the industry some years ago.
Gamer Mode: Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 has a “gamer mode” that minimises the footprint of the software for good gaming performance whilst maintaining security.
Low Battery Drain: When used on a laptop, Kaspersky minimises resource usage to maximise battery life.
Virtual Keyboard: The software provides you with the option of using a mouse-click keyboard instead of the real thing if you wish to be extra careful when entering banking login details.
Optimised Definition Files: By keeping some virus definition information “in the cloud,” Kaspersky have reduced the size of virus definition file downloads.
Windows Troubleshooting: Kaspersky has a built-in feature that searches for “damaged and irregular” Windows settings that can be caused by malware infection.
When looking at the features list, we were pleased to see practical items and a clear focus on low resource usage and a minimal footprint. We admit to being more encouraged by features like these than by impressive but ultimately meaningless names for “cutting edge” technologies.
With this in mind, we had high hopes for a software product that was truly “lean and mean” in day-to-day operation.
Installation and Configuration
With a free trial available, we decided to use this to test the software on our review machine, which was running a fully updated version of Windows 7 Professional.
The file download was quite large at 151MB. Double-clicking it began the setup procedure:
During the first stage of the installation, we were asked to participate in the Kaspersky Security Network:
We were rather impressed with the speed of installation – just over a minute, and with no requirement to answer any further questions, or even click “next.”
After clicking “Finish” the application started up. This was very fast too.
We were then faced with a very clean and simple user interface:
A couple of things concerned us at this point: Firstly, the UI told as that our license was “missing,” and made no reference to a free trial, or how long it lasted. Secondly we were told that our databases “had not been updated for a long time.” We were then further disconcerted by a red error message saying our licence wasn’t activated. This all felt a bit heavy-handed for a free trial.
However, shortly afterwards, everything began to correct itself. The licence activated, saying we now had a 30-day trial licence, and we were prompted to run a definitions update:
Sadly, things went a bit wrong here. Every attempt to update the software resulted in the program hanging at “connecting to server.” We decided to reboot our machine and try again.
Upon doing so, we were actually quite surprised how long Kaspersky took to start up and appear in our system tray. Once it was there, we attempted to update the definitions again. This time, the definition download began, but downloaded extremely slowly.
It’s fair to say that we may have just caught Kaspersky’s update server on a glitchy day, but after being promised “Optimised Antivirus Databases,” we weren’t particularly impressed with the update experience. With the update process still only at 44% after nearly ten minutes, we decided to get a drink and come back to it!
In total, the update process took around 18 minutes and involved a 103MB download.
With the update finally finished, we had a quick browse around the user interface. We liked the uncluttered feel, and particularly the fact that all of the features had simple options for novices, complemented with various custom “settings” buttons allowing techies to delve further into the intricacies.
With the software running and updated, it was time to unleash some genuine viruses to see how Kaspersky coped with them.
We inserted a USB key containing our three test viruses: a generic test virus from the European Expert Group for IT Security, a fake “scareware” antivirus program, and a more challenging combined threat in the form of a fake Google Chrome installer, which is in fact designed to trick unsuspecting users into installing various items of malware.
As soon as we inserted the key, a window popped up advising us to scan the contents for malware. We thought this was a nice touch, and accepted the offer of a full scan.
The scan instantly detected the fake Google Chrome and offered to delete or ignore it.
Kaspersky also detected and deleted both the other threats from the USB key without our intervention. When we checked the logs, we were impressed to find that it had also found the additional threats contained within the fake Google Chrome installer.
So, all in all, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 scored a perfect 100% in our real world tests. Although this left us with no need to run a full scan, we kicked one off to have a look at the memory and CPU footprint of the software.
We found two Kaspersky processes running, one as the logged in user and another as “SYSTEM.” In total, they used around 165MB of RAM – a slightly above-average amount compared to other products we’ve reviewed. CPU usage was quite high as well, and we did notice some performance degradation when we tried to perform other tasks while the scan was in progress.
The remaining time of two hours to complete the scan seemed rather excessive too!
Hitting the “support” button within the Kaspersky software took us to a range of self-service options including FAQs and forums.
We then clicked the small “Help” link to try to find out about other support options. We were rather disappointed with what we found: While Kaspersky offer telephone and ticket support to paying customers, they offer no support at all to those using a trial version. This seemed rather mean, as a trial customer who experiences a problem is hardly likely to buy the software to get the problem resolved.
One other notable point is that Kaspersky offers an installation service for those users lacking the confidence to complete it themselves. For this they charge £29.99 in the UK (approx $45/€35).
- Perfect results in real-life tests
- Sensible prompts to scan removable media
- Clean user interface
- Innovative features, particularly “gamer mode” and Windows settings checks
We weren’t so sure about
- Slow startup on reboot
- Quite high CPU and RAM use during scans
- No support for trial users
- Glitchy and lengthy initial update process
We must complement Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 for how it it dealt with our real-life viruses. Not only did it catch them all, but the sensible advice to scan our USB key meant it caught them quickly, and all at once.
With that in mind, it’s a shame we also have a couple of things to criticise. The program just isn’t as “lean and mean” as we’d hoped based on the promotional literature, and although we may have just encountered the update servers on an “off day” the seriously fast installation was let down by an initial update process that took ages and required a reboot. No support for trial users seems a little tight too.
Even so, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013 was one of our best performers so far where it really matters: catching viruses. As such, we recommend it – but we also recommend taking advantage of the trial before handing over your cash.