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First Look: PC Tools iAntiVirus

updated 12:05 am EDT, Tue July 22, 2008

PC Tools iAntiVirus

Anyone who has used a Windows PC knows that you absolutely must have an anti-virus program or else your computer will likely crash the moment you connect to the Internet. Fortunately, the Mac has remained largely untouched by the variety of malware (viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and spyware) that plagues PCs. However, with the growing popularity of the Mac, it's inevitable that more people will start writing malware for the Mac. Although you don't need an anti-virus program for the Mac just yet, you might feel safer knowing that a free one exists called PC Tools iAntiVirus.

The biggest distinction between this program and rival anti-virus programs for the Mac, such as Norton AntiVirus, is the size of its database. Nearly all antivirus programs contain a database of known viruses and other malware threats. Each time an antivirus program scans a file, it checks its database to determine if it recognizes a virus embedded in the file.

An antivirus program is only as effective as its database, which is why you must constantly update this antivirus database. Since few malware programs threaten the Mac, most Mac antivirus programs pad their database full of Windows virus information. This lets the antivirus program boast that it can find and recognize thousands of viruses. What these antivirus programs fail to tell you is that the majority of the viruses it can catch run only on Windows, which can never harm your Mac in the first place.

What makes this program's database different is that it only contains Mac-specific malware threats. Despite the scarcity of such threats, there are several dozen malware programs that target the Mac although most of these programs are "proof of concept" programs or only capable of infecting and running on the old Mac OS 9 operating system.

After the program installs, it works silently in the background, scanning for malware threats. This necessarily gobbles up memory with the potential for slowing down your Mac, but this program doesn't appear to noticeably drag down performance.

More importantly, the program can scan inside archived ZIP files, which can be handy for protecting against malware hidden inside compressed files. Scanning inside archives takes time, so you can turn this feature off to speed up the scanning. The program also provides the usual options for excluding certain folders from scanning or changing the scan mode.

With its default settings, scanning is relatively quick while still allowing you to run other programs at the same time. Given the handful of Mac malware threats and their relative scarcity, most of the time the program won't find anything threatening your Mac. In the rare event that your Mac does get infected, the program can quarantine the suspicious file to keep it from infecting or altering any other files on your hard disk.

You don't need an antivirus program, but a free one like PC Tools iAntiVirus can protect your Mac at no extra cost. If you need technical support or need to protect Macs used in a business, the program will cost $29.95. For most Mac users at this time, any antivirus program is still more of a luxury than a necessity.

by MacNN Staff



  1. spartian

    Joined: Dec 1969


    just checked house call

    your article prompted me to check on trendmicro's house-call. It also claims to support the Mac via it's java based scanner.

  1. loudpedal

    Joined: Dec 1969


    10.5 only

    I just tried to install on my Tiger machine and was informed that it requires Leopard. Also, you need to subscribe for $29.95 to get updates for a year. I don't know if you could just delete the program and reinstall a new copy instead of subscribing.

  1. chas_m




    This entire article is complete BS.

    The premise "However, with the growing popularity of the Mac, itís inevitable that more people will start writing malware for the Mac" starts off the cavalcade of horse hockey. The reason we don't have viruses is because Mac OS X is more secure than Windows, not because we're less popular. Popularity has absolutely f-all to do with it, every virus writer on earth has been trying for YEARS to claim the title of "First Virus for Mac OS X" and for eight years they've FAILED. Just like this article.

    The FUD continues with the lie that this software is free. It is NOT.

    The only malware being written for the Mac is coming from ANTI-VIRUS COMPANIES desperate to create fear and paranoia and sell to the Mac market.

    SHAME on MacNN for running such crapola!!

  1. 010111

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "security through obscurity" is a common myth PC folk like to toss around. it simply isn't true.

    you, me and everyone on freaking earth knows that the very day a "hacker" creates a legitimate self-propagating Mac virus the tech-press (probably even the regular press) would go absolutely apeshit. they already practically do for complete non-issue / fakeytown junction Mac exploits.

    something REAL...? that would literally set the internet on fire with buzz.

    so considering the absolutely insane amounts of "street-cred" creating a legitimate Mac virus would give the author... it is ridiculous there isn't a TON already.

    unless of course there is an inherent architectural reason why... hmmm... i wonder...

  1. howiethemacguy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Couldn't they be more creative than that?

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    dangerous software

    Antivirus software has to hook deep into the OS to serve any useful purpose, because it has to catch access to potentially infected files before they're opened, run, or otherwise accessed. This degrades the performance and reduces the stability of your computer, and increases the chance of your data being lost or damaged. Unless there is a significant threat from viruses actively propagating in the wild it's a bad idea to install dangerous software like this.

    An offline scanner for Windows viruses that runs periodically in the background but doesn't interfere with normal use, maybe. But for Mac users at this time, an antivirus program is a hazard, not a benefit.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: iAntivirus

    How about iDiskSpaceWaster? Or iMoneyPit?

  1. msuper69

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Now this is news!

    "Anyone who has used a Windows PC knows that you absolutely must have an anti-virus program or else your computer will likely crash the moment you connect to the Internet."

    Wow. The instant you connect you crash. Amazing.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Look at the picture, looks like they targeting beetles instead of viruses? Perhaps they should call the product the anti-beetle? It would be as useful as all the other anti-virus.

    Keep note that "ClamAV" is free if feel like wasting your clock cycles for a virus scanner on the Mac.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let the FUD begin

    Jesus, enough of this market share bullshit already.

    The reason there have been no OS X viruses is because of the design of the operating system.

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