New online threats emerge every day, attacking corporations and consumers alike. These potentials threats aren’t disguised just as links or emails anymore. They could be coming for your personal information in all sorts of ways. And we’re making it easy for hackers when we post personal stuff on Facebook and Twitter.
There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself. You can educate yourself on new potential threats, read on how to keep your computer secure, and what security software doesn’t protect, and obtain the best tools for the job, whether they are anti-virus programs or extensions.
Here, I’ll be taking a look at ClamWin, an open-source anti-virus program that’s been around for a while. Should you get it? Read on to find out.
As you can probably tell by the name, ClamWin is available as a download for Windows machines only. You can download the installer here, which is almost 40MB, or you can also try the portable app for anti-virus protection on the go.
If you’re wondering about which version to go with, I’m using the portable version 0.97.3 for this review. This latest release has improved bytecode signature matching, in addition to the reigning features that characterize this anti-virus – virus scanner, scanning scheduler, automatic virus database updates, and integration with Windows Explorer and Microsoft Outlook.
If you’re using the installer, be aware that the Ask toolbar might be offered during the installation. Make sure you read what the checkboxes are offering before you click Next. I didn’t see any such thing during the portable application “installation”.
When you first launch ClamWin, you’ll likely need to download the built-in database of viruses.
Doing so will just take a few seconds if you’re connected to the Internet.
Once ClamWin has finished updating its Database, you can see the main window where you’ll have the options to set your preferences, update your virus definition database once again, scan programs currently running in memory and finally, scan specific files or directories.
Running Memory Scan
Selecting this option allows you to scan the programs that are currently running in memory. If you’re as paranoid as this author, t’s probably a good idea to update your virus definition database before running your scans.
Unless you’re running Photoshop, Mozilla Firefox, and many other resource hogs, this scan should be completed in a couple of minutes. Mine took just over 3 minutes and scanned 28 processes in memory.
Running File Or Directory Scan
In the main window, there will be a directory browser where you can select a whole drive (e.g. your C drive), specific folder or even a file to scan.
Depending on what you chose, this scan can obviously last a while. When I was running a scan for my D drive, ClamWin was also working really hard, using almost 109 MB of RAM. Not that it’s a bad sign, but it’s probably a good idea not to multi-task on your PC while you let a scan run through an entire disk drive. After a scan is finished, you can see the report right after, save it or access it in the main window menu.
If a virus is detected during the scan, there are three options you can choose from in the Preferences: Quarantine it, report it, or remove it.
If you’re particular about your scans, you can also filter files to be included or excluded from the scan in the Preferences. You can also limit a file size to scan or not, and also whether to extract files from zipped files in the Preferences window.
If you installed ClamWin instead of using the portable version, you’ll be able to schedule scans right in the Preferences window, increasing security for your PC.
If you’re using the portable version and wish to schedule scans, you could always use Windows Task Schedulerand clamscan.exe which should be under ClamWinPortable/App/clamwin/bin.
ClamWin shines for being an open-source anti-virus program with file and directory scanners, scanner scheduler, automatic downloads of virus databases and more. It does lack a real-time scanner, which could be a big con, but for basic protection and its price, it’s a great product to have on your PC security arsenal.
Have you used Clam AV or ClamWin? Share your experience in the comments section below!