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-- by James Alan Miller
E-mail. The Web. Floppy disks. Software downloads. It's a hostile world out there. Fortunately, products like PC-cillin II are around to ward off the viral infections that threaten your PC at every turn.
Like Norton AntiVirus on our Recommended List, PC-cillin runs quietly in the background, looking for and intercepting a wide range of viruses. The bad news is, even though it pops up a warning, PC-cillin allows you to proceed without disabling a detected virus. And that means you can still send and receive infected files via e-mail. The good news is, the program won't let you decompress an infected file.
PC-cillin's graphical interface displays your system's virus exposure level, noting any of 11 potential sources of viral threat. In addition, linear meters show protection level, threat rating and CPU activity. Just a glance at SmartMonitor tells you when the last virus was found on your system and when you should do a scan update.
As with Norton AntiVirus, PC-cillin does a good job of detecting invaders buried in layered zipped files. Macro Shield stops you from opening files infected with Word macro viruses. It also claims to intercept newer, unclassified macro virus strains. You may clean, rename or delete an afflicted file. The Clean Wizard helps even the most inexperienced user through the clean-up procedure.
During testing, PC-cillin detected 13 of 13 DOS viruses, 10 of which were cleanable. Out of the 10, it cleaned six. To handle the remaining four, it launched TouchStone's Internet support portion of the program, through which you send infected files to the company's Virus Lab. When they're clean, you retrieve the files via the Internet.
Through the program's Internet connection, you can also receive virus pattern and program updates, along with notices about new viruses. Access to all the Internet features is free for 90 days, after which you pay $29.95 for another year. Fortunately, as with Norton AntiVirus, the virus pattern updates are always free.
The CD-ROM bundles AT&T WorldNet ISP and e.support, a free round-the-clock tech support network.
PC-cillin falls short of our Recommended List because it's not as easy to use as Norton AntiVirus, and it allows you to send and receive infected files. The excellent Internet features, however, make it worth your consideration.