Who or what is NOD32? To the average person in the street this may well be a realistic question but don’t let the name of lack of profile deter you, as this is one of the best online defence tools we’ve come across in a long time. What it has in its favour are two things: it’s fast and it’s light.

You can monitor what is happening from the NOD32 Control Centre, which is divided into four sections for monitoring real-time protection. These cover internet, email, standard file access and even Office tools and have their own acronyms. IMON (Internet MONitor) inspects all HTTP and POP3 traffic as it enters and leaves your PC, while EMON checks your email and attachments before you even open them. AMON is a real-time file scanner, checking files before you open them for potential threats. Finally, DMON does the same thing but specifically for Microsoft Office documents. The interface isn’t the most friendly we’ve come across and you’ll need some experience, or confidence, to tune it to the way you want it.

What we particularly liked about the software is that it isn’t resource heavy, so even if you’re using a budget PC, it’ll only take up about 30MB of disk space and will run in the background nicely of any machine with as little as 256MB of memory.

Conversely, it’s also one of the fastest file scanners currently on the market, so you won’t be opting for an inferior product simply by its low system demands.

Of the new features, the Anti-Stealth tool is perhaps the most compelling. Most anti-virus kits work from the point of install – stopping new threats. Anti-Stealth actually looks at the root-kits of your current configuration and wheedles out existing problems. We know this works as it quicker found the infections we planted on our test PC, so we’re confident it’ll do the same on yours.

Other features cover support for Vista, so if you’ve upgraded to the new OS you can take advantage of NOD32. Interestingly, the software takes a new look at how spyware and adware are defined. Instead of just flagging them up as problems, you’ll find two new groups "potentially unwanted application" and "potentially unsafe application". You can choose to revert this back to the old-fashioned way but as with most tools, you’ll need to dig around to find out how to switch it off.

Price when reviewed:

NOD32 fulfils the needs of most people quickly and without fuss and for this alone needs to be commended.

OK, it may not be aimed at the first-time user, needing a bit of experience to tweak to your needs but if you’ve owned previous AV software and are looking for a resource light alternative, we think NOD32 2.7 should be top of your list.