For eScan AntiVirus Edition to be able to grab a share of a market over which corporate giants have a stranglehold, the company must offer a product that really stands out from the crowd. At first glance, MicroWorld appears to have done just that. Its eScan AntiVirus product uses the Kaspersky scanning engine (so you can be assured that its detection capabilities will be absolutely top-notch) and, at only $25 for 1 user for 1 year, it's one of the cheapest products available. Unfortunately, however, eScan is plagued with problems that combine to make it not as good a buy as it may have seemed initially.
Installation & Setup (1 out of 5)
eScan supports all Windows operating systems from 95 to Vista. The setup file is a 56 MB download which, while certainly not as lean as some other products, is about par for an antivirus product.
The installation routine in Vista was execrutiating sluggish, as was the subsequent update process. During installation, eScan updated itself and the proceeded to run a brief scan during which it identified a number of valid system files as invalid and indicated that they had been removed.
[insert screen Start scan]
There was no prompt asking whether it was OK to remove the files; eScan simply reported that they had been removed. Whoops! Once the installation had completed, I checked eScan's quarantined items but found no mention of the files that had been supposedly removed. Oh well, at least I'd created a restore point prior to installing – which was just as well as eScan didn't create one!
At the end of the installation process, eScan seemed to check for missing Windows updates. The only update it found was for the Windows Help (WinHlp32.exe) program – an optional update which is only needed if you want to be able to view 32-bit .hlp files in Vista. (Correction: after writing this section I discovered that eScan didn't check for missing updates. eScan's Help file is in the .hlp format and so that update needed to be installed in order for me to be able to view it in Vista. It would certainly have been nice for this to have been explained!)
[insert screen Help file]
eScan offered no customization options during installation – it was simply a matter of accepting the program's defaults.
User Interface (2 out of 5)
eScan's UI is both unintuitive and odd. eScan places icons for "eScan Anti-Virus Monitor" and "eScan Updater" in the Notification Area. Right-clicking the Monitor icon does nothing, however, double-clicking it calls up a screen which provides a limited amount of information and configuration options.
[insert screen Options]
[insert screen Customize]
Double-clicking the Updater icon does nothing. I initially assumed that eScan's only options were those which were should in the monitor screen and that it simply wasn't particularly customizable. However, I then discovered that considerably more options could be accessed by right-clicking the Updater icon.
[insert screen screen Right-click]
This positioning really makes no sense. Why place options under the Updater icon that do not relate to eScan's updater? And why must one icon be double-clicked while the other must be right-clicked? Inconsistencies such as this make the UI difficult to use.
The meaning of some of eScan's dialogs is also unclear. For example, many people may have no idea what "After Downloading make Virus List" is supposed to mean.
[insert screen Execute]
And the purpose/meaning of the options which follow on from that check-box are equally unclear.
eScan's shell integration is also poorly implemented. You see a "scan with eScan" option when right-clicking on some file formats, but that option is absent when you click on other formats such as ZIP files.
The UI is, to put it bluntly, a complete mess. It appears to have been hastily and thoughtlessly cobbled together and many people will find it to be extremely confusing.
Product Features (4 out of 5)
While well hidden, eScan does have most of the features you would expect to find in an anti-virus product. You can create and adjust scan and update schedules, specify whether or not archives are to be scanned, specify the action that is to be taken when a virus is detected, exclude file types from scanning by mask.
eScan lacks some of the advanced features and options found in programs such as ESET's NOD32 and Kaspersky Anti-Virus (see the reviews of those products), but it does have everything that most people will need.
Performance (4 out of 5)
Given eScan's shoddy, amateurish interface and bargain basement price, you might assume that its detection capabilities would be somewhat poor. Surprisingly, however, its detection capabilities are actually first rate. eScan uses a number of engines – including Kaspersky's which is one of the best in the business. This, no doubt, explains why eScan performs so well in independent tests – the product has received numerous VB100 awards (www.virusbtn.com) and received an Advanced+ rating from AV Comparatives (www.av-comparatives.org) in their latest test. McAfee VirusScan received an Advanced rating and Microsoft's OneCare only a Standard rating. So, eScan certainly compares favourably to it much better known competition when it comes to stopping viruses.
eScan is not the speediest product, but nor is it the slowest, A full scan of my 160 Gb drive took a little over 70 minutes. By way of comparison, NOD32 took about 20 minutes to scan the same drive and McAfee about 110 minutes.
eScan is also reasonably light on resources. Sometimes running an antivirus scan can reduce your PC to running at the speed of molasses – eScan doesn't: my computer remained usable and responsive throughout the scanning process.
Help & Support (2 out of 5)
Technical support by telephone is provided at no cost – except for the cost of the call.
eScan is rather poorly supported. There's a built-in Help file that really isn't all that helpful (and, if you're running Windows Vista, you'll not be able to view it unless you install WinHlp32.exe). There's also an online knowledge base which seems to be somewhat basic (I attempted to find how out to schedule a scan, but could only find an article which provided the answer "Yes" to the question "Can I have scheduled Scanning with eScan?" That was it. There was no mention of how to actually go about scheduling a scan). The MicroWorld website states that "You can access MicroWorld's Knowledge Base to discuss and share your ideas, give your recommendations and opinions" but, as far as I could see, the Knowledge Base simply compilation of articles – some of which are not very helpful!
Technical support is available via chat (to be able to use this service, you need to download either MSN Messenger or Yahoo messenger) or via telephone. MicroWorld do not offer an e-mail support option.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
eScan costs only $25 per computer, per year. By way of comparison, NOD32 costs $39, F-Secure Anti-Virus $59.90 and McAfee Virus Scan $39.99.
I really wasn't sure whether to rate eScan's price-to-value as "Hot" or "Not Hot". On one hand, the program has a scrappy and confusing interface, isn't particularly well supported and does some odd things during the installation. On the other hand, it does offer extremely solid protection for an extremely modest price. In the end, the program detection capabilities won out and I decided on a "Hot" rating – but only with some reluctance!
If you are looking for an antivirus product that will provide the maximum protection for the minimum price and are willing to entrust the security of your PC to an unheard of company, MicroWorld's eScan AnitVirus might be worth checking out.
While eScan has numerous shortcomings, it excels at what's most important: stopping viruses. Would I recommend eScan? Probably not. The program simply doesn't inspire confidence. Would I caution against using eScan? Probably not. Despite its shortcomings, the program undoubtedly has excellent detection capabilities.
NOD32, McAfee VirusScan, F-Secure Anti-Virus, Grisoft AVG