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October 20th, 1999


Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh 6.0
 

Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: Symantec
Product Home Page: Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh Home Page
Description: Virus Detection, Protection and Removal
Address: Symantec Corporation
2500 Broadway
Suite 200
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3063
U.S.A.

Price: US$69.95 List
US$29.95 Upgrade

Telephone: 1-310-453-4600
Fax: 1-310-453-0636
Requirements PowerPC Processor
Mac OS 8.0 or Higher
24 MB RAM
10 MB Available Disk Space
CD-ROM Drive
Internet Connection for LiveUpdate

System Used For Testing Power Computing Power Center Pro 210
Newer MaxPOWR 300 MHz G3 Upgrade
Mac OS 8.6
[Review] Latest Norton AntiVirus Offers Significant Performance Boost

Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh 6.0
by John F. Braun

Introduction

Compared to other platforms, Mac users have relatively little to worry about when it comes to Mac-specific viruses. Whereas there are 30 or 40 documented viruses specific to the Mac, our Windows friends have to worry about thousands of different viruses.

However, cross-platform compatibility of Word and Excel introduces another threat in the form of macro viruses. If you exchange documents or programs with others, it is best to protect your system with an anti-virus utility.

Documentation

The CD-ROM jewel case comes with a 24-page manual which provides information on viruses, and explains how to scan for viruses, and how to install the package. There is also a Read Me file on the CD-ROM. Two Apple Guide help files are available after installation.

Installation

The installer uses the Installer VISE system. This package should also be used to remove the application, as we soon discovered. Although the installation went smooth enough, there was a substantial delay of about 4 minutes before the installer started copying files to the hard drive. The only indication if what was happening was a window showing that our hard drive was being scanned. After the files were copied, we decided to Quit and update our virus definitions.


Main Screen
(Click for Full Sized Image)
Main Screen

Unlike previous versions, the option to delete certain files is now offered from the Main Screen. This facility allows you to delete both visible and invisible files, such as older invisible Virus Scan files. Be careful!

Operation

LiveUpdate

New in Norton AntiVirus (as well as Norton Utilities 5.0) is a LiveUpdate feature which will update program components as well as virus definitions. Even with a cable modem, a virus update under version 5.0 took about 30 minutes, no doubt due to the use of a 1K block size. An option in this case would be to download the update from the Symantec FTP site, but this required an extra step. The new 6.0 update program graduates to the more Internet-friendly FTP protocol, with the update taking about 30 seconds. Your mileage will vary based on available bandwidth.

Auto-Protect

During restart, Norton AntiVirus Auto-Protect warned us that our Norton AntiVirus Library file was damaged. Had we read the ReadMe file on the CD-ROM, we would have known that we should have removed 5.0 before installing 6.0. This is readily accomplished with 5.0 installation program, but it would have been nice if the 6.0 installer could have done this for us. Once we removed all traces of Norton AntiVirus and did another installation, the system started properly.

Norton AntiVirus

The 6.0 feature set is similar to that of 5.0, with some enhancements:

  • You can specify options for how to scan floppy disks and removable media, which now include the ability to bypass a scan if you hold down the shift key.
  • You can define a SafeZone in which all items copied to it are scanned. To avoid excess scanning, you may want to designate a single folder where all downloads and files from other systems are first placed.
  • The Scan options no longer include an option to detect unknown viruses, but does include an option to scan for boot block infections.
  • Prevention options will warn you if certain suspicious modifications to your system are about to take place.
  • Alert and Reporting options are the same.
  • Finally, the LHA and LZH compression schemes have been added to the types of compressed files that can be scanned.
  • Integration with Norton Utilities via a Utilities menu.

This version of Norton AntiVirus will scan compressed files at the end of the scan, and show the details of what files are being decompressed and scanned. Based on this information, you can intelligently decide which compressed formats, if any, you'd like to scan. A full scan of our system took 24 minutes for scanning of non-compressed files, and 115 minutes for our compressed files. If you save compressed files after using them, you might as well disable the scanning of these files to save time.

Scanning Issues

During a full scan of our system, Norton AntiVirus consistently crashed at a certain point during the scan. Remembering that we had been running a public beta of NAV 6.0, we deleted the invisible NAV 6.0 QuickScan files that had been left behind. After this was done, the scan completed with no problem.

Performance

We noted several performance enhancements in the areas of startup time, scan time and virus update, as shown in the table below.

Measure Performance

NAV 5.0 Scan Time (1) 31 minutes
NAV 6.0 Scan Time (1) 24 minutes

Startup without NAV 105 seconds
NAV 5.0 Startup Time 152 seconds
NAV 6.0 Startup Time 120 seconds

NAV 5.0 Virus Update 30 minutes
NAV 6.0 Virus Update 20 seconds

For More Info

If you want to learn more about viruses on the Mac, check out the Mac Virus FAQ.

Conclusion

Despite some installation and scanning issues, if you remember to delete prior versions of NAV properly, you won't run into any of the problems that we did. Given this, we were impressed with the performance enhancements, both in scanning and startup speed, and especially with the LiveUpdate feature. We're glad to see Symantec continue to improve their Norton AntiVirus product.


Final Score (Maximum Score is 5 Gadgies)
4 1/2 Gadgies
Pros Improved scanning performance
Vastly improved LiveUpdate feature
Access to Norton Utilities 6.0
Cons Excessive delay during install
Requires manual removal of older versions
Doesn't delete older invisible scan files
These shortcomings are more than made up
by this releases other improvements



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