TotalAV runs a required quick scan after installation, an important step total av free that it doesn’t offer any real-time protection. It also schedules a weekly quick scan, though it doesn’t give you any control over the time of day or day of week for the scan. You can opt instead for a biweekly or monthly scan. Given the absence of real-time protection, I total av free it offered a daily scan option. View All 9 Photos in Gallery The product’s dark gray main window features a left-rail menu with six items:
TotalAV Free Essential Antivirus
TotalAV runs a required quick scan after installation, an important step given that it doesn’t offer any real-time protection. It also schedules a weekly quick scan, though it doesn’t give you any control over the time of day or day of week for the scan. You can opt instead for a biweekly or monthly scan. Given the absence of real-time protection, I wish it offered a daily scan option. View All 9 Photos in Gallery The product’s dark gray main window features a left-rail menu with six items: The first item, Diagnostics, corresponds to what would be the home screen in most products.
Note that almost all the features accessible from that menu, including activating real-time protection, require purchase of the commercial TotalAV Essential Antivirus.
Fortunately, TotalAV seems to be sold on permanent and substantial discount. No Help From the Labs To get an idea of how effective a given antivirus product is, I look to four independent testing labs around the world. With their substantial research staffs, these labs can put products through grueling tests, tests that showcase the best products, and that give less successful products clues for improvement.
When I see a product in a lab’s test results, I know that the company considered testing important enough to merit the cost, and the lab considered the product significant enough for inclusion. Alas, none of the labs that I follow have rated TotalAV lately. I use an algorithm that maps scores from all four labs onto a point scale and generates an aggregate lab results score. I do require at least two scores to generate the aggregate; the more results the better. In the latest tests, each of these free products managed a respectable aggregate lab score of 9.
Kaspersky sits atop the list, with a point aggregate score based on results from all four labs. SE Labs didn’t include Bitdefender in the very latest report; but, based on the other three labs, Bitdefender rates 9. No Real-Time Scanning With no information from lab tests, my own hands-on malware protection test takes on added importance. This test typically starts when I open a folder containing a collection of malware samples I’ve curated and analyzed myself.
The minimal file access that occurs when Windows Explorer checks the file’s name and size is enough to trigger on-access scanning by many antivirus products. Others wait until the moment the file tries to execute.
With no real-time protection available, TotalAV does neither. The scan that TotalAV ran upon installation detected and eliminated just 54 percent of my samples. For completeness, I tried launching all the samples not wiped out by the scan. As expected, in the absence of real-time protection TotalAV did nothing to prevent these malware installations. It scored 5. For testing purposes, I keep about 20 antique PCMag utilities in the same folder as the malware samples.
These utilities dig deep into Windows to offer advanced monitoring and control in various system areas. Surprisingly, TotalAV’s scan identified three of these as malware; they aren’t malicious. Malware Protection Results Chart For another view of the product’s protection, I ran a system scan, figuring it would be deeper than the quick scan at startup. The scan finished in 28 minutes, well below the current average of about 45 minutes. However, it turns out this is not a full scan, but a scan for malware plus other system issues.
The quick scan already eliminated the malware known to TotalAV, so the system scan found nothing new. It did recommend eliminating tracking cookies in the browsers and enabling four components: Clicking the Take Action button brought up the familiar upsell web page, since all four of those components require payment.
As for those tracking cookies, when I chose not to upgrade it also skipped fixing those. Separate Web Protection Most antivirus products include some form of web-based protection, keeping users safe from malicious and fraudulent websites. Some, like Avast Free Antivirus , filter out dangerous sites at the network level, before they even hit the browser. Most, though, rely on browser extensions for web protection.
Safe Site is a separate installation, and indeed, you can install it without using a TotalAV antivirus product. You do need to create or log into a free TotalAV account to use it.
Clicking its browser toolbar icon gets you three buttons you can click to clear cookies, launch a private browsing session, or clear browser history—all tasks that you can easily perform without help from an extension. It also marks up search results, so you can avoid clicking dangerous links.
Most importantly, it diverts the browser from dangerous and malicious websites. I launch each URL and note whether the antivirus prevents access to the dangerous URL, eliminates the malware payload, or fails at protection. Since TotalAV doesn’t include real-time protection, I didn’t expect to see any detection of downloaded malware, and indeed no such detection took place.
In fact, I got well into the test before seeing any activity at all from the Safe Site extension. I continued testing until I had data points, and found that Safe Site detected and blocked just 12 percent of the malware-hosting sites, one of the lowest scores ever in this test. Interestingly, Total Defense’s arsenal includes real-time protection, but the company reserves web-based protection for its suite products. With just 8 percent protection, Total Defense earned the lowest score among current products in this test.
Naturally I will test the suite product separately. Other products have performed far better in this test. Bitdefender and Norton managed 99 percent protection, McAfee and Trend Micro earned 97 percent, and Avira Antivirus turned in a decent 96 percent. These fraudulent sites imitate secure sites, in hopes that unsuspecting visitors will log in with their usernames and passwords. Each time a dupe logs in, the fraudsters gain access to the real-world sensitive account.
For this test, I gather URLs reported as fraudulent within the last few days, with a preference for those too new to have been analyzed and blacklisted. I launch each URL in a browser protected by the product under test, and in instances of Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, relying on each browser’s built-in phishing protection.
I discard any URLs that throw an error message in any of the browsers, and any that are not undeniable frauds. Phishing Protection Results Chart I was surprised and pleased to see that TotalAV detected 89 percent of the verified phishing samples.
In addition, it outperformed two of the three browsers. That’s good, given that almost 30 percent of competing products score lower than all three browsers. Even so, TotalAV isn’t among the elite top-scoring phish phighters. Bonuses, But Not for You TotalAV is just bursting with bonus features, but hardly any are accessible to users of the free edition. On the System Boost page, you’ll find three options: The simple Startup Programs component lets you reversibly disable programs that launch at startup, something you could do using Windows components.
When you use either of these features, you get a notification that you’ve enabled premium usage for one day—in other words, it’s a free trial that expires after a day. The Uninstall Applications component doesn’t seem to have the same limitation. TotalAV found no duplicate files on my test system. The Junk Cleanup scan found 1. As with the System Boost components, it finished with a note that premium access to this feature was enabled for one day.
Web Security within the program isn’t related to the Safe Site extension. The Firewall page just offers quick access to settings for the built-in Windows Firewall. Choosing to activate any of the other three takes you to the purchase page for TotalAV’s premium antivirus.
There’s one more item in the left-rail menu, Password Vault. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that this, too, is a premium-only feature. Look Elsewhere for Antivirus Some folks say, “the best things in life are free,” while others contend, “you get what you pay for. Just looking at it, you’d think that it has a ton of bonus features, but trying to use them gets you an endless stream of upsell requests. Even the all-important ability to block new malware infestations with real-time protection is locked away, unavailable to users of the free edition.
The labs are mum about this product’s capabilities, but in two of my hands-on tests it scored at or near the bottom. In fact, there are quite a few free products that offer much better protection than you get from TotalAV. Since they’re free, you can experiment to find the one that’s best suited to your needs.
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