The next candidate in our Security for Everyone Series is Acronis Internet Security Suite 2010. Acronis doesn't seem to have the same notoriety in security circles as Norton or even the "internet fame" of AVG. Without prior knowledge or experience with Acronis as a security solutions provider, I thought the suite had decent features, easy configuration, but nothing stood out as innovative or unique. If you want to know more, read on.
The very first impression I had of the tool was the enormous download size (249 MB) and 24 minutes Acronis' servers took to deliver the file. Once the executable was on my system, it only took 8 minutes to install the program. The splash screen was minimalistic, neither matching nor clashing with Windows 7 default theme. The installation routine was minimal (not a true "one click installation" like Norton Internet Security 2010), with three standard installation screens/questions. After exploring the custom options, I ran through the "Typical" installation. Acronis didn't attempt to sneak in any bloatware/spyware with their installer routine, so feel free to click away. One reboot later and I was ready to start testing.
Once I was online again, I double clicked on the security suite and was immediately asked for a 64 digit serial key. I had the option to select "later" but then I received a prompt to fill out a registration screen. After that screen was cleared, I was asked if this was a home or public computer. Thankfully, that was the last question/pop-up before I was able to get into the security suite. My first action was to check if there were any available definition updates and was pleased to see that no updates were required (which means that the 249 MB installation file included the most recent definitions). Acronis alerted me that I had a major security threat: I haven't run a scan, so I obliged. 52 minutes later, the scan was done and it had found a few minor issues (which was impressive since this was a clean installation).
If you technically savvy readers think Acronis looks familiar, does the name BitDefender ring a bell? After a tip from my editor, I did some research and it seems that Acronis' search engine is based off of the BitDefender engine. I installed BitDefender and was shocked at the similarities. With that said, I think Acronis took the source material and improved upon it by making the menu options simplified and more intuitive.
Ease of Use and Configuration
Acronis Internet Security Suite is built for ease of use. It doesn't bombard the user with options; it attempts to simplify those options via user "profiles". The overall appearance is reminiscent of 2000-2001 era Norton suite with a light blue skin, which gives a sense of familiarity (but not ground breaking). Appearance aside, Acronis Internet Security Suite 2010 had snappy performance and offers a robust selection of security tools.
The primary functions (virus scanning, security, and parental controls) were simple to configure and use. Users won't be overwhelmed with advanced menu options, the developers seemed to focus on burying those advanced options in favor of simple user activity profiles. If users have a need to access the advanced custom menu, they are self-explanatory offering features that can be activated or deactivated.
Users interested in the parental control features will greatly benefit from Acronis' simple approach. Whenever I am asked to help set up parental controls for friends, I find them frustrating to configure and then explain to the user. Acronis' Parental controls are intuitive (based on the accounts defined on the PC) and simple.
I especially liked the "Web Limiter" feature as it was completely common sense to set up. Parents will be pleased with the instant messaging control options. If a parent feels the need to monitor their child's instant messaging, Acronis can track messages (and send notifications), detect keywords, and keep logs.
Firewall rules were simultaneously simple and potentially annoying for intermediary to advanced users. During installation, I noticed that the installer program deactivated Window's built-in firewall management tool. When the system came back up, it asked it for a location (home or public) to set default firewall options. Under the "typical" mode I tested AIM, G-Talk, and then ran Pidgin to see if there were any issues with the instant messaging programs - none. I decided to run uTorrent and it did ask for permission to grant access. After that, it worked fine.
The user "profiles" option could be frustrating if you are an advanced user and feel the need to switch back and forth between profiles, but for an average user, typical would work just fine.
Acronis also features firewall management for sharing within the home network. I can see this becoming a frustrating nightmare for novice users. A user would need to register a friendly computer on the home network in order to enable sharing between the two systems. The tool is simple to use (once you set up a master password), assuming you know why you have to configure it.
Antivirus and Antispyware Features
As I mentioned earlier, the main virus scan took 52 minutes to complete (against an 80 GB drive). Considering this was a relatively clean installation (with about 20 GB of data), I was disappointed with the performance of the scanning engine. During the first scan I ran (with no "infected" files), Acronis surprised me by detecting a quarantined temp file left over from Windows Security Essentials. Besides that, it was an uneventful 52 minutes.
I downloaded a few test Trojan files and put them in various folders deep in the computer's file structure. Acronis detected, quarantined, and alerted cleanly and without confusion. After doing some "internet research", I picked up typical tracking cookies which Acronis aggressively eliminated.
Having found out that Acronis Internet Security Suite was running on the BitDefender engine, I pulled the most recent report from AV-Comparatives.com. BitDefender/Acronis does well, receiving an Advanced+ award, which makes it belong to the group of top security suites on the market.
In our review of BitDefender Internet Security 2010 we said that this solution was the 'biggest missed opportunity of buying for grandmothers'. Even if Acronis is a clone of the same solution, it did refine some aspects of its parent. While I have my reservations about the internal network sharing control panel, Acronis Internet Security Suite 2010 is a very simple security solution. What it lacks in originality and product differentiation, it makes up for in simplicity and full scope of security tools. Advanced users could get turned off by the lack of configuration options and slower scan times but for novice users, intermediate users and parents, Acronis is a good and easy security tool. If you want to give it a try, the evaluation version can be downloaded from Acronis' website.