PC Tools has its work cut out with Spyware Doctor and Antivirus these days, and with a range of low-priced rival suites available it’s left to those who are happy with the Windows firewall or have a dedicated alternative handy to consider a purchase. It has been rather slow in evolving however, and the latest version for 2010 doesn’t offer any particularly radical new features or a new look, instead opting to refine existing tools to better handle new emerging threats.
The interface hasn’t really changed at all over the last few versions and there’s nothing radically different here. From the main screen it’s possible to scan a computer and switch key tools on or off as well as viewing status reports of recent scans and updates. The IntelliGuard tool suite is still here and itemises the various guards available for individual control, though we still can’t see too many occasions when this would be required. A typical collection of more advanced settings do offer decent control over the software’s behaviour, but in truth this is still a very basic set of tools.
New features include automatic webpage scanning for Internet Explorer and a range of new “state awareness” modes that include a game mode to disable alerts when running full-screen applications (including movies and other content), a power-saving mode to disable scheduled tasks when running on battery power and an idle mode that performs scans when the PC is not in use to improve subsequent scan times.
The software does seem to do a good job at detecting and eliminating threats during this process, and along with the West Coast Labs Checkmark certification it has a 100% on-demand detection and clean rate of WildList Malware and a 99.46% clean rate of full test malware sample according to AV-Test.org.
Scans do take quite a while and though there’s little impact on general computer use while they are running, we were expecting improvement here. Rivals such as Norton 360 took just 10 seconds to perform a quick scan that takes PC Tools six and a half minutes on the same test system, though this did drop to around 4 minutes on subsequent scans.
There are other niggling issues such as the fact that many of the updates we performed required a restart and the fact that you’re not given a lot of information on threats, but our biggest concern has to be the price.
£39.99 for an “AV-only” suite seems overpriced, particularly when you consider that all-singing, all-dancing solutions such as BitDefender Total Security are available for a similar price or less, if you shop around online. For this reason it’s difficult to offer Spyware Doctor with Antivirus a recommendation, even if its core task of protecting you from threats is handled very well.
Despite performing well in detecting and cleaning the latest threats, a lack of ambition in terms of introducing new tools or performing any radical improvements lets Spyware Doctor down, but not nearly as much as the high price.