Comodo Antivirus: A refreshing approach to free antivirus protection

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Most of us are using computers on a daily basis for online browsing, downloading or playing games. Every second of that time, somewhere hidden deep inside the web, is this tiny virus, Trojan or a hacker who is trying to access every bit of information on our precious hard drives.

Sounds scary I know, but there is more than one way to get essential security for your system without having to spend a single penny for it.

Under the name of Comodo Antivirus resides a freeware multi-layered security application that ensures complete protection against Trojans, viruses, buffer overflows, worms, zero-day attacks, spyware and hackers.

Comodo Antivirus Main

Installation & Requirements

Comodo’s installer will ask you to go through a number of settings before starting the installation. You will be presented with the option to input your e-mail address and receive news and updates, activate the Comodo SecureDNS Servers (a free extra service that offers an extra layer of protection against DNS Cache Poisoning attacks) and choose what components you wish to install. Sadly, this is the adware part: the components are the actual antivirus and the trial version of GeekBuddy, a remote control application used by Comodo’s certified technicians to provide customer support. It may sound very nice, but this service is included only for the commercial versions of Comodo, so in this case GeekBuddy classifies as adware.

The actual installation process is relatively painless. It will take about one minute (depending on your machine) and as soon as the installer is done, Comodo will perform an update to the virus database (which sadly takes longer than the setup). The program will also ask for a system reboot, needed for a number of changes to be applied.

Comodo is a Windows application only, and you’ll need 32 or 64 bit Windows 7, Vista / XP SP2, and at least 128 MB RAM and 250 MB of disk space to run it.

Interface

When looking at Comodo’s tabbed interface you’ll notice that it’s not very stylish, but it is clean, uncluttered and most important, easy to navigate. All the key functions of the software are easily accessible. The top menu is formed of tabs containing related tasks for Summary, Antivirus, Defense+ and More.

From the Antivirus section you can run scans and tweak scan settings, update the virus database, view the quarantined items and antivirus events log and submit suspicious file to Comodo for analysis.

Defense+ is a host intrusion prevention system that monitors all application activities in your system and alerts the user every time an executable file attempts to run. Defense+ also incorporates the Sandbox, a function that allows you to run suspicious or untrusted applications in an isolated environment and test them without exposing your system to any kind of adverse effects. From the related tab you can configure your Defense+, define trusted files and view the Defense+ event log, the list of unrecognized files and another one for active processes.

The More area, is reserved for non-essential tasks and information, namely general settings, configurations management, diagnostics and update functions, view copyright and version information for your product and quick links to the online official support forums and help files.

Pros:

– Free for non-commercial use.

– Frequent updates.

– Great at malware blocking.

– User-friendly tabbed interface.

– The Defense+ feature is based on advanced heuristic detection technologies.

– The Sandbox function isolates suspicious or untrusted applications.

Cons:

– The Defense+ function sandboxes a lot of harmless applications at first, which might be somewhat overwhelming for the average user and requires some time spent on defining its behavior.

– Configuration settings are spread across three different tabs.

– Average malware detection and removal rates.

Alternatives:

If you were discouraged by Comodo’s average results in malware detection and removal you should take a look at a few other free antiviruses with greater capabilities in this area. However, all free security products have some weak spots and choosing between them really comes down to each person’s needs and preferences

AVG Anti-Virus Free is one of the most appreciated free antivirus programs on the market from quite some time now. It has more than satisfying security functions packed in a clean, utilitarian interface including the well-known AVG LinkScanner that provides safety ratings for websites in search engine results.

Another great security solution for home use is Avast Free Antivirus that shines when it comes to low resource usage and real-time protection capabilities for online related activities.

Conclusion:

Comodo Antivirus holds some innovative features, such as Defense+ and the Sandbox technology, that treat unknown applications in a very aggressive manner and configured appropriately, can provide a high level of protection. However, based on Comodo’s issues concerning threat detection and removal we recommend using this product in conjunction with a malware removal utility so you can get the best of both worlds and enjoy a fully secure computing environment.