Newest antivirus in town isn't quite new

The functionality of Avira AntiVir in Lavasoft's wrapper.

On paper, Lavasoft Anti-Virus Helix contains the most sought-after components of antivirus applications: malicious software blockers, on-the-fly detection, a scanner, malicious software removal, and protection from e-mail viruses and Web threats. It offers full system scanning and lets you pick from preset scans or create a profile to scan a smaller portion of your PC, for instance, just your 'C' drive. But that shouldn't be a surprise once you realize that the product is virtually identical to Avira AntiVir. If you already use an Avira product, there's no reason to switch to Anti-Virus Helix.

Nevertheless, Lavasoft's Anti-Virus Helix performed well in our tests, beeping when encountering a suspicious file and staying put until we ignored, deleted, or quarantined it. While a good practice, the need to babysit the scan could undo the benefit of any overnight scans you schedule. It could also use an internal browser to look up information online about discovered threats.

The application's configuration menu includes an expert mode, which may frighten off novices--but the nonexpert menu contains very few options. Expert mode lets you switch on rootkit scanning and scan outgoing e-mail messages, though it offers little help in the latter.

Just like Avira AntiVir, the dowdy Anti-Virus Helix is less easy to use than other antivirus apps. That's little concern for intermediate and advanced users who thrive on file trees and won't mind consulting the program's thorough help file when the tool tips aren't quite explanatory enough. Casual users who prefer to set it and forget it may wonder why Lavasoft Anti-Virus Helix takes more effort than comparable security applications.

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