Malware remains a potential threat for many PC owners, and IObit Malware Fighter has a sequel.
The appropriately named IObit Malware Fighter 2 (I must admit, I’m disappointed it isn’t subtitled “The Reckoning”) is a major overhaul of the company’s anti-malware app. It adds a variety of features that update the software for modern times, including a Metro-style UI, cloud security and full Windows 8 support. Though I was given access to the paid version, the basic anti-virus functionality can be accessed for free. Let’s see how IObit’s new app stacks up.
Users who’ve previously used IObit Malware Fighter will immediately notice the new interface, which is a complete overhaul of the software’s aging UI. To keep itself up to date, IObit has opted for a Metro UI interface inspired by Windows 8. This ensures it integrates well with the new Windows interface and also makes the software easier to use on a touchscreen device.
With that said, the developers haven’t gone crazy with the new design. Software re-forged with Windows 8 sometimes ends up with an interface that looks comically huge on a desktop, but there’s no such problem here. The default window is large enough to make buttons usable with touch, but not so large that it consumes your entire desktop.
Once you move past the main screen you’ll find that most portions of the interface look quite slick. The Smart Scan view, for example, has a minimalist look that’s at once informative and futuristic.
IObit’s interface is not just meant to look more modern. It’s also meant to provide protection without confusing users. To this end, the company has implemented a simple “Fix All” button. This is something that has appeared in previous IObit software, and it’s a nice feature to carry over.
The Fix All option covers four main areas; scan, protect, update and action center. Protect and Update will generally be correct unless the user purposely turns off automatic updates and protection. Scan runs a quick scan for threats, a feature that can be scheduled to occur at a specific time or happen whenever your PC is idle. And finally there’s the action center, which highlights problems (like malware that has been quarantined) that need additional user input.
There’s no doubt that the Fix All button does its job. However, I was dismayed to find the Action Center reports “problems” which can only be resolved by Advanced SystemCare and Smart Defrag, two other IObit products. The latter was particularly irksome because my system’s primary drive is solid state and thus doesn’t benefit from defragmentation. I can understand such advertisements in the free version, but these alerts continued even after I upgraded to Pro.
Perhaps the most significant feature added to IObit Malware Fighter Pro 2 is Cloud Security. For those unfamiliar with the concept, cloud security uses the power of collective analysis to help identify files that are troublesome. If a file behaves suspiciously on one PC, that information is uploaded to IObit’s server and can be used to flag similar or identical files on other PCs. Also, users can directly upload a file that they believe suspicious for analysis before uploading it.
IObit is not the only company to offer this feature, but it’s far from the last, and I’m glad to see that it’s been included. This review was largely written with a pre-release version of the software but, even so, there were already almost 200,000 files analyzed. Most were fine. But a small handful (about 2%, as can be seen in the screenshot above) were not.
The app’s settings menu is split into six sections. The most important is the scan options, as this is where you’ll set up how the software handles both the quicker “smart” scans and through system scans. The software lets users decide if they’d like to skip certain files (like large files or compressed archives) and choose if threats should be automatically quarantined. There’s also a scan scheduling feature and an ignore list, which can be helpful if a certain program you know is safe for some reason generates a false positive.
In the protect menu users can make a few minor adjustments to protection levels. There are only two different levels of protection, High and Recommended, as well as one feature (DOG, a heuristic malware detection algorithm). In theory, reducing protection levels and turning off DOG may make IObit less intrusive and solve performance problems on slow systems, but I had no such issues, so I can’t comment on if these options would actually resolve them.
Also important are the update and notifications options. Malware Fighter 2 has a slick notifications system that pops up in the lower right, based on several different conditions. Some of these may eventually annoy. For example, you probably don’t have to know every time the software auto-updates. So you can turn some notifications off. And speaking of updates, they can be changed so they occur only at a scheduled time or only when the program starts. There is no option to turn updates off, though they can be skipped if a system is on battery power.
This is a solid update that offers improved protection, a better interface and easy one-button protection. Anyone looking for a simple, intuitive anti-malware solution should check it out. You can download Malware Fighter 2 for free, then upgrade to Pro.