VCOM SystemSuite 6 Professional review

Price when reviewed

Both VCOM and Iolo fall into the category of system suites with added security, rather than being primarily security suites with added functionality. However, as system maintenance and system security are so closely interwoven, they certainly don’t look out of place here. Like Steganos, this is a collection of many parts, using carefully sourced partners to provide anti-virus, anti-spam and firewall components.

VCOM SystemSuite 6 Professional review

What VCOM has done differently is integrate them all under the QuickStatus central console. Although this integration isn’t complete – don’t expect Norton, McAfee or ZoneAlarm-like management – it does provide instant views of system status and access to all the apps. The only real sign of being disjointed was during installation, with the anti-spam component not installing with the main suite, but rather as part of a ‘bonus’ software selection. The only other relevant app of note is a copy of Tenebril GhostSurf, a program that allows for anonymous browsing should you require it.

The anti-spam in question is MailWasher, although we were initially saddened to see it was the free standard version of the program. However, when we ran the recommended ‘check for updates’ link before installing, it provided us with a download of a fully licensed copy of the latest MailWasher 5 Professional instead. This is a very competent anti-spam app, although it does take a lot of training and some getting used to. It wasn’t quite good enough out of the box to pass our spam tests, detecting 93 per cent of the spam correctly with false positives of 1.8 per cent, but we’d confidently expect it to move into ‘pass’ territory once trained.

The NetDefense firewall is, in fact, a Sygate-powered app and so should be a mature and efficient option. Unfortunately, installation had more than its fair share of guesswork about it, leaving us scratching our heads as we were bombarded with a series of conflicting warnings: ‘firewall could not be started’, ‘try again in a few seconds’ and finally ‘start from wizard after setup’. Well, not quite finally, because just before the system rebooted we got another dialog pop-up informing us that the firewall was shutting down. Either it started or it didn’t, and such conflicting messages do little to inspire confidence in such a vital security component. All of that said, once up and running it sailed through the security tests.

Both anti-virus and anti-spyware apps are powered by Trend Micro, so it isn’t totally surprising that they did well in our tests. Anti-virus scanning was speedy, and having direct links back to the superb Trend Micro online database of virus and exploit definitions means you should always be well informed when it comes to making a ‘keep or delete’ decision. This also applies to the spyware definitions, but VCOM SystemSuite surprisingly struggled in our tests. Theoretically, it should be using the same definitions database as Trend PC-cillin 14, so we must assume it’s using an older anti-spyware client – neither VCOM or Trend Micro would confirm this when we asked. What we do know is that VCOM detected 58 per cent compared to PC-cillin’s 63 per cent, removed 59 per cent instead of 64 per cent and blocked 67 per cent not 71 per cent. From the Labs perspective, it’s irrelevant, as both sets of scores represent a fail anyway.

This is the first time we’ve looked at VCOM SystemSuite, and we were impressed by the choice of security components as well as the breadth of system tools included. There are 50 or so tools, covering everything from diagnostics to cleaning, including secure deletion of files and a hard disk failure warning system, plus the bootable CD doubles up as rescue tool. Surprisingly, given the otherwise excellent breadth of coverage, parental control was a notable absentee. This, coupled with the fact that definition downloads are a little disjointed as each component requires separate downloads (unlike the fully integrated Symantec LiveUpdate, for example), holds it back. Norton Internet Security plus SystemWorks beats VCOM for truly comprehensive and integrated system management.

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