IOBit 360 is a relative newcomer on the antimalware scene, although the Chinese publisher is known for making solid utility software such as Smart Defrag. It's a fast and welterweight freeware utility for detecting and removing malware, and plugging your system's security holes before they can been exploited. The new improvements in version 1.10 include integration with the Windows 7 security center, a new feature that creates a USB key-portable version, a toolbar, and scan engine tweaks.

IOBit 360 (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

If you're unfamiliar with the program, it's fairly simple to figure out and use. The interface has large left navigation icons with simple labels that won't confuse novices, while the tools menu offers some useful features that more advanced users are sure to appreciate.

The Overview tab is the main window and it contains links for immediate Smart scans, definition file updates, a "security analysis"--which evaluates potential exploits in your system and includes Windows security patches--and a status update window. This tells you whether your real-time protection, automatic scans and updates, and heuristic-based scans are on or off. Automatic scans and updates, and scheduled scans, are restricted to the paid upgrade, which is currently being offered on sale for $19.95. It's usually $29.95.

The Scan tab lets you initiate a Smart scan, a Full scan, or a Custom scan, and the Protection tab lets you toggle your real-time protection status. It seems a bit odd that a user would want the separate controls that the program offers for "known malware" and "unknown threats," but you can toggle them independently.

A running scan that wound up taking about six minutes to finish. (Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

The Tools tab is what makes IOBit 360 comparable to others in its class, giving you seven useful system security tools. There's a Hijack scan for power users, a Security Holes scan, a Passive Defense that disables cookies in Firefox and Internet Explorer, and ActiveX in IE, and an Unlock and Delete tool for getting rid of files your system thinks are in use. This feature is slightly less important in Windows 7, which will tell you when you encounter a locked file where it lives, but the unlocking and deletion features are definitely useful.

There's a Privacy Sweeper that will clean not just cookies and cache but saved forms, download history, and other Internet traces in all the major browsers it detected on my system, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, and Safari, but the sweeper will also check utilities such as archival tools, multimedia players, and other applications that regularly ping the Internet. These days, that's nearly everything.

Annoyingly, the PC Tuneup option takes you to the download page for another IOBit program, but users on the go will like that you can create a custom portable version, launchable from a USB key. IOBit 360 eats about 50MB of RAM when idle, with a Smart scan taking about 6 minutes and a full scan finishing in 45 minutes, making this one of the fastest in its class. I didn't notice any system lags while running it, and it didn't detect any malware on my system, although it did point out tracking cookies from multiple browsers. Third-party efficacy tests haven't yet been performed against high-performing competitors such as Ad-Aware or Malwarebytes, but IOBit is proving that the antimalware tool without antivirus isn't dead--yet.