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I've never heard of K7 Computing until I volunteered to do a product review of K7 Total Security 10.0. It is not one of your mainstream security products, but this review will provide you with information so that you can decide for yourself if it is a product you can't live without. Here's what this review will cover.
- Who is K7 Computing?
- What will K7 Total Security do for you?
- Minimum system requirements
- Installation Experience
- Ease of use for Novice Users
- Configurability for Knowledgeable or Advanced Users
- System Performance and My First Scan
- Reporting, Updates, and Help
- Product Support
- The Verdict
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Who is K7 Computing
With a product that is obviously not very well known, especially in the U.S., you'll want to know a little about the company that produced it. If you used Google Trends, and specify "K7 Computing", you will notice that articles about it didn't start coming out until as early as the beginning of 2008. People didn't start searching for it until just recently in the second half of 2009. Thus this would explain why I haven't really heard of this product, as it is very new to the market--at least the US Market.
According to their web site, the company is based out of Chennai, India. The company has been around since 1991 with 16 years of experience and expertise in protecting digital assets against various malware over the Internet, and is said to have over 9 million satisfied paid customers. They released their first antivirus product for DOS back in 1992. K7 Total Security was actually first released in 2002 with antivirus, anti-span, firewall, and privacy control features. In 2003, they partnered up with a Japanese software publishing company to sell their K7 Virus Security software. Four years later, in 2007, they opened a huge facility in OMR, Chennai; and by 2009, they claim to have reached over 9 million customers.
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What will K7 Total Security do for you?
Based on their marketing information, it will pretty much do everything to protect your computer! Here is what they advertise the product will do for you:
- Virus protection
- Block spam
- Adware and spyware protection
- Key-logger and root kit detection
- Privacy protection
- System monitor
If you ask me, this is definitely everything but the kitchen sink. You are probably thinking--"with all these features, it will probably cause my computer to come to a crawl." We will find out; so read on.
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Minimum System Requirements
These are the minimum system requirements for K7 Total Security:
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows 2000,Windows XP SP2/Windows Vista
- Complete 64 bit support including Vista 64 bit, XP 64 Bit, Windows 7 64Bit
- RAM: 512MB
- Hard Disk: 60 MB
- Internet connection for registration and updates
This isn't too bad, considering most computer systems today are being sold with anywhere from 1GB to 4 GB of RAM. I do have some computers I've purchased about 3 years ago that only has 512MB of RAM, so this means that most users today should be able to take advantage of this product.
As you can see from the first bullet, there doesn't seem to be support for Windows 7; however, because of the second bullet, I'm guessing that this was just an oversight in their content. This information can be found in their product page.
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The installation of K7 Total Security 10.0 is very straight forward--as is the case for many software installers being made today. The one thing about this installer is that it doesn't really ask you about which modules of the total security package you wish to install. Instead, it assumes that because you purchased the total security solution you want all features installed. Most users aren't computer security savvy, and as such this assumption is right on target.
After you begin the installation, you basically have to simply accept the license agreement and if you leave the install path as default, you are pretty much done with the first part of the installation.
After the product files are installed, you will be prompted to activate the product. If you have your license key ready, you may enter that information at that time. If you don't, the product goes in evaluation mode which lasts for 30 days.
Once you complete the activation process the product goes to check for updates, if any, and proceeds to download them, When you complete the updates, you will be asked to reboot your computer. This is typical of most security solutions as their drivers tend to connect to the deepest level of the operating system.
After the reboot, the product is fully installed and operational.
Note that you cannot install the product if you don't have Internet connectivity; so make sure to be online when you begin the installation.
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Ease of use for Novice Users
The user interface of K7 Total Security is very simple and well organized. On the main console you will see on the left side five buttons that represents the major security features of the product. On the top right, you will see the Reports, Updates, and Help buttons. In the main panel, the product shows the appropriate content--depending on the button you click.
If you are novice about computer security, you would be all set because the product core functions are operational after the install. You should, at the very least, do some Privacy configuration to make sure you take full advantage of the product's privacy protection features, although the default installation will already protect you from malicious and phishing sites. You should also do an initial malware scan of your system.
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Configurability for Knowledgeable or Advanced Users
If you are the type who likes complete control of every little detail of a software's configuration, this product is for you. Each function of the product is configurable to meet the needs of knowledgeable or advanced users.
Even advanced users like simple easy to follow interfaces on any software products. This is what you would see in K7 Total Security 10.0. Starting at the Home button, you will see the overall status of K7 Total Security, including the product license status, and the general product settings. In the Status tab, The various functions of K7 Total Security are represented in the display, preceded with a colored sphere. The sphere is GREEN if it is OK; any other color means that the function listed next to it is disabled or needs updating. It also shows you when it was last updated. In the General tab it shows you the general display settings of the program. It looks simple enough
The AntiMalware button provides you with the Status of the AntiMalware function of K7 Total Security. The antimalware function provides the core security for the product because this is where all of these functions occur:
- Real-time scanner - protects your system from viruses
- Email scanner - eliminates viruses in email as they are sent or received
- System monitor - provides active protection against viruses and spywares
In the Scanner tab, you can specify the folders you wish to make part of a scan. You can also schedule periodic scans in the Tasks tab using preset tasks, or you can add your own.
The Firewall button takes you to the Status tab of the firewall function. Here you can halt all traffic, filter traffic, or allow all traffic. The default is to filter traffic. If you suspect that your computer is infected and is trying to infect other computers, you can click Halt traffic and you will effectively block everything coming in and out of your computer. Once things are under control, you can Filter or Allow all traffic--depending on what you are trying to do.
This firewall is very configurable; click the Confgure button and you will see. There are four things you can configure: application control, profiles settings, network, and general. In Applications tab, you can specify any application and limit or fully allow their access to the network. In Profiles tab, file sharing and intrusion detection, as well at what alert level it should look for before logging the alert, can be setup. In Network tab, you can controlled the IP address or range to be filtered. In the General tab, you can specify logging and alerting options. The default setting will not display any alert. My recommendation is to make sure loggin is set, and that alerting be set to flash the icon in the system tray.
The Privacy button is probably the next most important part of K7 Total Security. It keeps an eye out for important personal or financial information that you want getting out from your computer. This area has the following key features: privacy, malicious site blocker, and phishing site blocker. The Privacy function helps maintain your privacy and prevent access to unauthorized sites. The Malicious Site Blocker features keeps you from going to sites that may infect your machine with malicious code. The Phishing Site Blocker helps protect you from web sites that try to trick you into divulging private, personal, or financial information.
The AntiSpam button takes you to the status window of the AntiSpam function. Its purpose is to filter out unwanted junk mail. Like the firewall, this feature has a rich configuration capability to include the ability to control: Approved email sources (what I call a white list), Blocked email sources (what I call a black list), user rules (for custom ways of identifying SPAM or not), advanced (requires Internet connection and uses online spam analyzer), smart analysis (if enabled, will allow the AntiSpam function to learn from emails you get), security (to block certain content), and general (for email plugin setting, program shortcut, and override options).
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System Performance and My First Scan
I installed K7 Total Security on a Vista machine with 160 GB of hard disk space, 2 GB of RAM, and a dual core Intel processor running at 2.8 GHz. You will notice that upon install, K7 Total Security will report that your computer needs system scanning. After the install, I checked to see if the computer's performance was affected. To my surprise, the system CPU utilization didn't show an noticeable difference, although memory usage went up by a bit. Overall, I didn't notice any sluggishness after the install and the reboot. This says a lot to the efficiency at which the various modules operate.
I noticed that one of the status displays indicated a scan is needed. I did one, and the product detected a suspicious file on my D drive--called autorun.inf. This happened to be the computer system's restore drive for when it becomes necessary to reset the computer to its original manufacturer state. Although it noted that the file was suspicious, it stated that it deleted the file. This is bad as one would think that suspicious files should just be quarantined, and not deleted. As it stood, there was no way to recover the deleted file through the product user interface. I hope this is not an indication of things to come from this product. If it is, then this product might be more trouble that it is worth!
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Reporting, Updates, and Help
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, you'll want to see reports, do product updates, and occasionally get help.
Without getting to deep into the different function of K7 Total Security, the Reports function is where you can see what the product has been doing for you. This function is pretty comprehensive. It provides information on the various logs for the different security functions--virus (virus found, scan summary, other), firewall (app control, net traffic, other) , and privacy (privacy info, other events, blocked URLs, sites visited, access restriction).
The Updates function is pretty straight forward. By default auto-update is enabled. So there isn't really much need to check here. If however you wish to invoke the update process, this is where you can manually invoke it.
The Help function is context sensitive. So it knows what section you are looking at and when you click Help, it will pop up help for the area of the interface you are looking at. I like the way they formatted the help in that they don't assume you know the meaning of the various security terms--like AntiSpam. It first describes how the product handles it and then proceeds on to enumerate steps on how to do something. Because of this, I think novice users will have an easy time understanding the help and will learn something in the process. This is probably one of the best organized and clearly written online help I've ever seen. Most of what I've seen in other products are mostly there to enumerate procedures, which are pretty dry reading if you ask me. I would say that, overall, K7 Computing did a very good job on their help, considering they are non-native English speaking writers that might have put this together.
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Product support is an integral and important part of any software you purchase. Based on what I've seen on their web site, if you need to talk to their tech support, most likely you'll be making an overseas phone call because their support number is +91-44-6611-7799. You can always go to their online support site or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you don't want to pay long distance phone tolls. Because of this, it may be difficult to get live support for cases where the online path will not do. This is probably one of the downsides to K7 Total Security.
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At the time of this writing, product pricing is as follows:
- 1 year
- 1 user license: $34.96
- 3 user licenses: $44.96
- 5 user licenses: $64.96
- 2 years
- 1 user license: $52.96
- 3 user licenses: $67.96
- 5 user licenses: $97.96
- 3 years
- 1 user license: $71.96
- 3 user licenses: $91.96
- 5 user licenses: $132.96
- 1 year
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Here's how I grade this product, with "A" being the highest grade, and "F" being the lowest.
- Company experience: A
- System requirements: A
- Installation experience: A
- System performance impact: A
- Protection feature completeness: A
- Product configurability: A
- Basic user experience: A
- Accuracy/Effectiveness experience: questionable first impression
- Product support: C-
- Product value: A
- Overall: D
I give this product an overall grade of D. I would have given it an A, but the scan that deleted the autorun.inf file in my restore drive made me lose confidence in the product's accuracy and effectiveness. I cannot really attest to the overall accuracy or effectiveness of this product as I don't have a complete product testing harness, but if there are other issues similar to the one I experienced on my first system scan, this product may not be as good as it looks. And since I cannot really get someone live with a free toll number--given that I live in the U.S.--it may be difficult to get help for anything that might pop up on this product.