G Data TotalProtection 2014 review

Pros

  • Very strong virus detection
  • Easy to use interface
  • Twin AV scanners

Cons

  • No online storage
  • PC Tuner repeatedly got stuck
  • No cross-platform support

The term Internet Security software normally brings to mind names like Norton and AVG, but this is a surprisingly crowded market and G Data has been in it for 25 years, starting out from its head office in Bochum, Germany.

The company’s TotalProtection 2014 is its high-end offering, including extra facilities beyond the regular antivirus and anti-malware protections.

G Data uses dual AV scan engines for its antivirus protection. The obvious advantage of this is an improved chance of malware detection from the different algorithms and signatures used by the engines.

The disadvantage is the extra system resources required to support the two scanners and the possible slowdown when scanning. However, G Data claims to have got around this by developing what it calls CloseGap technology.

The idea, apparently, is to close the gaps in the protection provided by the twin engines. If you’re an existing G Data customer, it’s a little worrying to hear that these gaps exist, and the company’s explanation (at www.closegap.net) of how CloseGap actually closes the gaps is unclear – but it’s reassuring to know it’s now really good.

Other new features include an Autostart Manager, so you can control which apps and drivers start when you boot Windows, and Device Control, which gives you the ability to prevent USB drives and DVDs auto-starting, along with a completely restyled interface.

While the first two of these may prompt a “weren’t they already there, then?” reaction, the interface redesign is welcome. G Data has gone for a traditional look for its main control screen, with a series of nine icons across the top, each of which leads to a control pane below.

Each pane shows relevant status information and provides simple controls to tailor aspects of the software to your requirements. There’s a Settings panel, too, for more intricate adjustments.

The modules contained within the program include parental control, so you can block inappropriate content, BankGuard, which provides extra security online when banking or shopping, and a PC tuner. There’s a web safe function, which pops up warnings if you try to browse to suspect sites, but no traffic light system to show this in search results. G Data is working on adding this.

The tuner module is more thorough than some, offering prevention of scripts running in Media Centre and JavaScript in Abobe Reader, among many others. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the tuner to run to the end, as we consistently received the old Windows message “This action cannot be completed because the other program is busy” with no indication of what the “other program” in question might be.

It’s good to see backup facilities built into IS suites, as the obvious adjunct to anti-malware protection is to duplicate your valuable files. G Data’s backup facilities are good, with the ability to save files or your complete system to a local, network or online location.

2GB of online storage is provided, which is a rather low amount compared with the competition. You only get to know about this after you’ve bought and activated the product, as no mention of it is made in the marketing or trial version, which seems a bit of an undersell.

G Data includes a scheduler with its backup module, so you can set it to copy and maintain backups automatically at a convenient time.

We tested G Data’s claims of reduced PC resource usage by copying 2GB of data from one drive to another, with and without a scan running in the background. It took 1 minute 37 seconds without the scan and 2 minutes 23 seconds with it, a 47 per cent increase, which is no great shakes and around the same increase as with the company’s 2013 product.

Scanning our 30GB test file basket took 28 minutes 51 seconds to examine 5,255 files. This is a comparatively low number, when some other current suites look at nearly three quarters of a million, and the scan rate of just 3.04 files/second is poor. A subsequent scan of the same files took 19 seconds to cover the same selection, so the scanner fingerprints well.

The German testing house, AV-Test, scored the package at 16.0/18.0, a very good result. When looking at recent and zero-day threats, it scored a full 6.0/6.0 over two months, not missing a single piece of malware.

However thorough an antivirus product might be, you don’t want it giving false indications and here too AV-Test found the suite very good, scoring 5.5/6.0 and only flagging up four false positives during the entire period of the test.

The final test category looks at the resource hit of the scanning software and here the 2014 version of the program scored 4.5/6.0, exactly the same as last year’s product. This suggests that the CloseGap technology hasn’t made that much difference to this aspect of the product’s performance, though it’s still a good score.

Most IS suites are following the trend towards mobile devices and are equipping themselves for OS X, Android and iOS, as well as Windows. While all these platforms are supported by other G Data products, and there’s a separate G Data IS SE 2014 which covers two PCs and two Android devices, there’s no direct support for anything other than PCs here. A free basic Android app is downloadable, though.

Verdict

G Data TotalProtection is a solid IS suite with some useful extensions to the typical module set. The dual AV engines work well together and give the product a very good AV-Test result. There are some peculiar anomalies, though, like the lack of any online storage, and no support outside the PC – while much of the competition is going multi-platform. A final niggle is the apparent inability to run its PC tuner to completion.

Specifications 

Manufacturer and Product

G Data TotalProtection 2014

Antivirus protection

Yes

Antimalware protection

Yes

Antispam protection

Yes

Browser protection

Yes, including BankGuard

Two-way firewall

Yes

Parental control

Yes

Multi-platform support

PC only (basic free Android cover)

Online storage

2GB

PC tune-up

Yes

Extra features

Backup (no online storage provided), Autostart Manager, Data Shredder

Number of devices covered

3