Returnil System Safe Free 2011 is a free PC security suite based on a premium software package. It includes the basics, including virus and malware protection and its Virtual Mode feature, a virtualization technology that isolates your PC from threats. In addition to the reduced-function free version, Returnil is also available as a fully functional 30-day trial version. The free version lacks features such as the automatic system rollback feature, remote online management, and free technical support. More significantly, it disables the File Manager that lets users save files and make changes to their main system from inside Returnil's virtual system. That means you can surf the Internet and use your PC safely, but you can't save any work you do in Virtual Mode.
We needed to reboot our system to finish installing Returnil's setup process. The program does most of what it does in the background, but there are several access points, including an optional floating desktop bar and a system-tray icon, which we right-clicked to call up Returnil's menu. The blue-hued user interface bears a generic resemblance to other security applications and system utilities, with large fonts and plenty of opportunities to upgrade to the paid version. After checking for updates, Returnil scanned our system for threats when we clicked the Start Scan button. The scan was thorough but turned up no major issues, we're glad to say (speaking on behalf of our system). We were most interested in the Virtual Mode, though. We activated Returnil's Virtual Mode, which had no obvious adverse effects in our system or its performance, apart from a slightly longer load time. Inside the VM, we browsed to a Web site normally and saved an image to our desktop in the usual way. We exited the VM, which required a reboot and purges all changes made while in a virtualized environment. Sure enough, after rebooting, our saved image file was gone.
The functional security tools Returnil includes with the free version are certainly valuable, and most of the features it omits can be replaced with other freeware, such as antispam utilities. Of course, you don't need Returnil to create Virtual Machines on a Windows PC; its chief advantage is in making virtualization easy to use. The only real sticking point is the disabled File Manager. Without it, Returnil's Virtual Mode works but is of limited utility.
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