Norton AntiVirus 6 for Mac stays on guard

Norton AntiVirus 6 for Mac stays on guard

By Joel Sparks

Special to GCN

Version 6.0 of the popular Norton AntiVirus package for the Apple Macintosh is a fast and easy route to always-on protection from known, unknown and macro viruses.

The installation takes only a few steps, detailed in a booklet tucked into the CD-ROM case. After restarting the Mac from the CD, allow 15 to 20 minutes for an initial virus scan. Installation then takes only a minute, followed by another restart to begin ongoing virus protection.

The entire Mac can become a SafeZone in which everything is autoscanned.

The options are detailed, but except as noted below, most default settings should be left in place. There's plenty of guidance in addition to the booklet: succinct balloon help, a reference guide on the CD and Apple Guide files with definitions of terms. That's all pretty basic, however; there's little to steer a novice through the more advanced options.

You can leave Auto-Protect on to check continuously for viruses, clicking it off only to avoid interruptions during other software installations. Auto-Protect ignores compressed files, and manual scans will do the same unless you change the Compression option.

Users of utilities such as Aladdin's StuffIt Expander, and those who save Internet downloads, should consider making an initial scan of all compressed items.

Compression does significantly increase scan time, however, and I found Norton AntiVirus wasted time trying to decompress already decompressed files.

Users might wish to change the SafeZone setting.

For greatest protection, the entire computer can be designated a SafeZone, so that every copied or downloaded file is scanned.

Box Score '''''''''''''

Norton AntiVirus 6.0 for Macintosh

Fast, always-on virus protection

Symantec Corp.; Cupertino, Calif.;

tel. 408-253-9600

Price: $70.53 GSA; $29 upgrade from previous version

+ Auto-Protect for constant surveillance

+ Faster full scans than with previous version

+ One year of free updates

Real-life requirements:

Mac OS 8.0 or later version, PowerPC Processor, 24M of RAM, 10M free storage, CD-ROM drive, Internet connection for LiveUpdate

AntiVirus works fast enough that the scanning is not intrusive. Files are checked only once, and even a new 10M file scans in about five seconds.

Auto-Protect runs in background. For full scans, launching Norton AntiVirus will bring up a simple directory view to select files and folders individually.

The program generates a list of any files that caused scan problems. Take note: Deleting a file from this list will erase it from the hard drive completely.

Move to trash

Although you might well want to erase an infected file, it would be safer if Norton AntiVirus simply moved deleted files to the Trash, as happens in the file selection view. A history file shows results of previous scans, and any information deleted from this list will be gone forever, too.

The initial scan of my test system ran into trouble with Adobe Photoshop. An error message claimed there was not enough memory, even though other, larger application files scanned fine.

According to the package's Help, such an error could indicate file corruption. But once Norton AntiVirus was on the hard drive, increasing its memory allocation from 4M to 5M in the Get Info window stopped the error.

Norton AntiVirus 6.0 is significantly faster than the previous version. A full initial scan of 4.5G of files, including compressed ones, took me 52 minutes with Version 5 but only 31 minutes with Version 6. Subsequent scans go faster, depending on the number of new or changed files.

The package price includes one'years subscription to updates from Symantec's Web site, www, downloaded by the improved LiveUpdate application. I updated to Norton AntiVirus 6.0.1 with LiveUpdate.

Getting the latest virus definitions via LiveUpdate will keep the system on guard against oncoming threats. The Mac requires a restart after updates are installed. Automatic, periodic downloads are easy to schedule for systems that are always connected to the Internet.

Joel Sparks, a free-lance reviewer in Silver Spring, Md., has been a government lawyer and database programmer.

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