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NOD32 2.7 review

NOD32 proves that secure things can come in small packages

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Our Verdict

A lean, mean, pest-busting machine

For

  • Fast and effective scanning

Against

  • Steep learning curve for beginners

NOD32 may not be the first name that comes to mind when picking an AV program, but it's definitely worthy of serious consideration. Since 1998 NOD32 has won the coveted VB100 award (for 100 per cent virus detection and no false positives) more than any other program: a total of 41 times.

The program has always had a reputation for being a fast file scanner and a low resource consumer. Here we'll show you how the latest version stacks up.

NOD32 2.7 is easily among the fastest scanners out there. It goes about its work quickly and efficiently, even in its in-depth scanning mode. Its RAM footprint is small (around 23MB), but effectively doubles when running an on-demand scan.

The program is suitable for older systems with lower hardware specs, but don't expect miracles on a PC with 32 or 64MB of RAM. However, other AV vendors could learn a thing or two about keeping their software lean from the folks at ESET.

NOD32 works to keep your system pest-free in real-time by way of four primary monitoring modules (MONs). AMON is the real-time file scanner, scanning all files before they're opened.

DMON scans MS Office documents for threats, while EMON takes care to ensure that pest-laden email messages and attachments never reach your inbox. Finally, IMON is changed with inspecting all HTTP and POP3 traffic as it enters and leaves your PC.

Our attempts to download infected files were greeted with immediate warnings from IMON before we even had a chance to save them to our PC. Our on-demand scans picked up all planted viruses without problems.

So what's new?

New features in NOD32 2.7 include full support for Windows Vista and "Anti-Stealth" technology designed to detect existing root-kits rather than just the installation of new threats. That's good news because root-kit detection is lacking in almost all commercial AV products.

Additionally, NOD32 takes a new approach to defining and classifying spyware and adware. Instead of painting it all with the same brush, NOD32 categorises them into groups called "potentially unwanted applications" and "potentially unsafe applications".

Unfortunately, it's up to users to decide whether they want to turn this detection off. In our opinion, detecting everything by default (and then allowing the user to make a decision) would have been better.

You'll either love or hate NOD32's strictly business interface. While the program's windows get the job done, new users may have a tough time deciphering some settings and digging through each monitor's configurable options.

It's easy once you get a feel for it, but we still think that NOD32 would benefit from a basic mode interface with more handholding. Having said that, there's no shortage of help available to NOD32 users: there's a detailed help file, excellent forums and direct tech support (although this is via email only).

NOD32 isn't the least expensive AV program at £23 for a one-year license, but there are discounts available for multiple-year registrations and renewals. Having said that, you can pay the same (or more) for products that don't stack up nearly as well. The price is right considering NOD32's efficiency and effectively, and especially so for more experienced users.