Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows v9
Unless you happen to live in Russia, you may not have heard of Dr.Web Internet Security products. However the vendor has in fact been in business since 1992.
Dr Web offer traditional Internet Security and antivirus packages as well as cloud-based antivirus “as a service” options.
In this review, we have concentrated on Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows v9. The product performed well, but had some quirks that may limit its appeal to some. We recommend reading this review in full to see if they are quirks that would concern you.
As stated in the summary, Dr. Web offer cloud-based antivirus as well as traditional, locally-installed products. Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows 9 (reviewed here) is the entry-level product in the home-user range. There is also a more expensive product called Security Space 9, with additional functionality and protection for Linux and Mac OS X included alongside Microsoft Windows protection.
Prices for Dr.Web are provided in Euros (or at least they were from our European testing location!)
Dr. Web Anti-virus is available as a one-year license for one or two PCs. A single PC license is €26 and a twin PC license is €51. These prices are just approaching the upper end of average, and we were a little disappointed with how few purchase options were available when we can usually select more computer and duration options. The one Euro saving for a second PC seemed extraordinarily tight too!
However, while we were browsing the Dr.Web website, we discovered references to quite a few offers, including one to expand protection to multiple PCs free of charge, and another that gives 150-days of free protection to those who renew for a second year. So, although the purchase price isn’t especially generous, the company does seem keen to reward customer loyalty.
A 30-day demo of the full product is available for download.
Dr.Web’s features list includes all the standard stuff, but there are a few notable additions, especially the mobile device support which we haven’t seen in any other entry-level product.
Key functionality is as follows:
SelfPROtect: This features installs part of the software as a low-level driver to protect from viruses that try to disrupt the program from operation.
FLY-CODE: This detects viruses that have been hidden in unknown archives with “packers.”
Firewall: Not many entry-level antivirus packages come complete with a firewall, but Dr. Web includes one that claims to “scan all traffic”
Mobile Device Protection: People who purchase Dr. Web for Windows can download an antivirus client from Android, Windows Mobile or Symbian free of charge.
Active Infection Removal: Dr Web claim that the program will still install successfully on computers that are already infected with “sophisticated malware.” As an alternative, it’s possible to run the program from an external device to clean up an infected PC.
SpIDerMail: This is the email scanning component of Dr.Web, which also includes antispam functionality.
All-in-all we were rather impressed with Dr. Web’s features list. Although quite a few vendors throw in a firewall with an entry-level product, not many also include antispam. The mobile device protection is the icing on the cake.
We were keen to see if our experience lived up to the vendor’s promises, so proceeded with the installation.
Installation and Configuration
The demo install file for Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows 9 was a fairly bulky 160MB and took a few minutes to download.
The install was all pretty standard. First we had to accept a license agreement.
We were then asked whether or not we wished to install the Dr.Web firewall. We chose to install it.
Next, we were asked if we were happy to connect to Dr.Web’s cloud services to access real-time threat data.
We were then asked for a license key file. As we were using the demo, this wasn’t relevant to us, but we did need to click the small question marks to ascertain which option to select.
Finally, we were warned not to install Dr.Web over the top of an existing antivirus program and able to click an “Install” button. The install then proceeded quickly.
Next we had to request a “demo key.” To do so, we had to provide our name, email and location.
After we had registered, the program automatically started a virus definition file update.
We then had to reboot our machine. Not many antivirus installations require this step nowadays, but as the install itself had been quick and trouble free, we were not frustrated by the time it took.
Once our machine had rebooted, we began to explore the program interface. We noticed that the icon on our desktop was labelled “Dr. Web Scanner,” and took a look at this first. We arrived at some fairly basic scanning options, but were able to click through to some more advanced options, such as the ability to exclude certain files from scans.
Next, we had a look at the options attached to the product’s System Tray icon.
Here we could see various other features, but the only options available for each was statistics. To access settings, we first had to click on the “Administrative mode” option. Once we had done so, we could then access settings for each of the program components.
Although we found plenty of advanced options, we couldn’t seem to find any way to schedule scans. Perhaps we simply failed to find the options, but if they’re really not present this seems a strange omission.
We concluded our tour of the GUI feeling a little unsure about the design. It seemed a strange mixture of really modern and rather old-fashioned, with the scanning module feeling oddly detached from the rest of the software. While we didn’t have a major dislike of the interface, it’s fair to say there are others that feel a little more coherent.
We decided to press on with our real-life tests.
We utilised our usual infected USB key to put Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows 9 to the test.
The software didn’t automatically scan our device on insertion (or offer to do so). When we clicked “open folder to view files,” all of our threat files were visible.
However, within a minute or two, we noticed that two of the threats had disappeared from the key, including our fake Google Chrome installer that some antivirus packages struggle with.
Strangely, Dr.Web dealt with these threats silently – no notifications or pop ups appeared. We had to find our way into the “Quarantine Manager” to see what the software had found.
We weren’t sure about this default functionality: The vendor has obviously taken an approach of “minimal interruption,” but we couldn’t help but feel we’d rather be told when a threat has been found.
Our test virus from the European Expert Group for IT Security remained on our key. We tried to run it, and this time the software did show a pop up to say that it had removed the threat.
So, all-in-all, Dr.Web dealt successfully with all of our test infections, despite not quite handling them all in a consistent way. It’s important to note that this is just a minor functional criticism – the software worked where it mattered.
Finally, we began a full computer scan to look at system resource usage.
RAM and CPU use was rather inconsistent, sometimes low (with RAM and CPU at 80MB and around 20% respectively), and sometimes high (250MB and 80+%). The scan also took a considerable time to complete.
The “Support” tab of the Dr.Web website presents a bewildering array of options, but the majority of them are “self service,” such as forums and a knowledge base.
We found a support ticket system, which promises a response in 48 hours (though the vendor states that they aim to reply within three). There is also a “round-the-clock” support phone number, but this is a local number based in Russia, which could prove rather expensive to those elsewhere in the world!
- Good test results
- Very generous features list
- Free mobile device protection
We weren’t so sure about
- Slightly quirky interface
- Couldn’t find scheduling settings
- Telephone support involves a call to Russia
- Light on notifications when viruses are found
- Inconsistent RAM and CPU use during scans
- Little incentive to buy for multiple PCs / years up front. Incentives come on renewal instead.
It’s rare to find so many items on our “we weren’t so sure about” list, and that actually sums up our experience with Dr. Web Anti-virus for Windows v9 rather well.
On the face of it, this is an almost perfect product. Most importantly, it caught all of our test viruses, and installed easily. However, we kept finding things that perturbed us, even though they were never quite enough to warrant major criticism.
This leaves us with a product that’s hard to sum up. Quirky is probably as good a word as any, and we must emphasise the fact there’s nothing to hold us back from recommending it. We probably wouldn’t choose it ourselves, but the 30-day demo is there for anyone who fancies giving it a go.