Kaspersky Pure review

Price when reviewed

Kaspersky Pure is a new all-in-one package from the Russian anti-malware veterans, combining security with backup, parental control and tune-up modules. At first glance it looks like an attempt to hop on the Norton 360 bandwagon, but as the seemingly clean front-end opens up into a rabbit’s warren of subpanes showing statistics and configuration options, you realise it’s a more complex, less novice-friendly beast.

The practical emphasis is different too. While there’s no online storage for the backup module, Pure expresses a greater concern for privacy. In addition to the expected password manager, there’s a virtual keyboard designed to defeat keyloggers, a file shredder and a new 128-bit AES encryption client.

It’s worth noting that Kaspersky’s idea of “tune-up” isn’t the usual registry-cleaning voodoo. Rather, it’s a security and privacy audit, which suggests changes such as wiping system logs, setting Windows Explorer to show file extensions (to prevent file-type spoofing), and setting your browser to empty potentially confidential data from its cache when closed. It’s a one-off diagnostic, really, but more worthwhile than the throwaway wizards bundled with 360.

Parental controls follow a familiar model. You can prevent specified users from accessing certain categories of website, and ban or time-restrict specific applications (or, indeed, the entire computer). In truth, there’s very little here that Windows 7 can’t do, with the free Windows Live Family Safety tool, but one nice touch is the ability to prevent users from downloading files of certain types.

The Kaspersky Pure front-end looks simple, but there's a large range of options hidden beneath

The core of the package is still the malware detection and firewall modules. These look identical to those found in Kaspersky Internet Security 2010, and they bring with them some neat features, such as the “Safe Run” sandbox for trying out unknown applications, and the highly technical Digital Identity browser that lets you browse and clean up the huge amount of personalised data in your Registry.

However, although the company promises “enhanced detection technologies”, Pure’s performance in our malware detection test was very similar to that of KIS 2010 in our last Labs. That’s to say, it failed to quite match the Nortons and Aviras of this world, but kept up a credible 90% detection rate. It’s a result echoed by av-comparatives.org, whose February 2010 test gave Kaspersky Antivirus a detection rate of 97.1% — not dreadful, but a twelfth-place performance among the nineteen packages in that test.

Kaspersky Pure crams in a good range of functions, and it isn’t a dreadful resource hog. Installing it on our test system added 12 seconds of post-boot CPU activity compared to a clean Windows installation, but its overall RAM footprint of 663MB was the lowest of this month’s three packages. When it comes to security, though, it remains a silver-medallist, and while there are some useful features the price feels high, especially without an online backup service.


Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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