We were browsing the results of AV-Test's latest IS software evaluation – as you do – and noticed a name we hadn't seen before. eScan is an IS suite from Microworld, a company based in New Jersey, which has done very well over the last year or so in comparative tests.
One of the key features of eScan Total Security Suite 14 is the clear, logical way everything's laid out. There seems to be a need in the IS industry to redesign product interfaces every year and have things arranged in convoluted sub-screens. Here, there are nine panels, each with a corresponding settings panel which pops up when you click on it.
The nine main modules are file and mail antivirus, anti-spam, web protection, firewall, endpoint security, privacy control, cloud protection, and identity protection. Cloud protection means protection using collated data collected from eScan customers worldwide, which is designed to help spot new threats at early stages.
The identity protection module enables you to enter your passwords and keycodes, which the software then monitors in your Internet traffic, so they don't get sent out without you specifically sending them.
This is a different approach from that taken by many suites, which set up encrypted vaults to store all your sensitive data. eScan also provides a virtual keyboard, which you can use to enter details online and foil keylogging attempts.
Web Safe is a new addition to this version of eScan Total Security Suite 14. It provides site guidance in Google search results, using a system of traffic light icons to indicate sites other eScan customers have found safe or otherwise.
There's also a new registry cleaner, which goes through and cleans up broken and redundant registry entries, and a vulnerability scanner, which looks at installed applications and checks for the latest updates against a list of known security flaws.
The help system is not context-sensitive, dumping you at the top level of an online page, no matter where you ask for help in the suite. It's not that up-to-date, either, with for example no details of the identity protection module.
Scan and Update have their own links at the bottom of the main software screen and subsidiary functions, which you'll use less regularly, run along the bottom. These include Tools, which boasts a range of housekeeping applets like disk defragmentation (not just a call to Windows defrag) and USB stick vaccination.
eScan Total Security Suite 14 is a PC-only product, though Microworld has separate protection products for Macs and Android, though not iOS. The Android offering, unusually, is divided in two, one covering phones and the other tablets.
The algorithms used to determine the files that need to be scanned vary dramatically from IS suite to suite, and eScan is very definitely at the "scan as few as possible" end of the scale.
On our 30GB basket of files, where the most brute force competitor looked at 893,677 items, this suite looked at just 5,255. This isn't unprecedented, with GData, McAfee and ZoneAlarm checking very similar numbers of files, but it's a continuing puzzle as to how such radically different regimes can score similarly on overall AV protection.
This suite took 6 minutes 18 seconds to check the files, which was quite a slow throughput of 13.9 files per second (though faster than the other three products just mentioned). On rerunning the test, it still checked 5,255 files, but this time in 5 minutes 20 seconds, nearly a minute faster.
The system resource hit of the program is average, as measured by our file copy test. The time to copy 20GB of files increased from 1 minute 31 seconds to 1 minute 47 seconds while a system scan was running in the background, which is a 17 percent increase. This puts it slightly above half way up the list when compared with the other IS suites we've tested.
The German testing house AV-Test gave eScan Total Security Suite 14 an overall score of 16.0/18.0 when tested under Windows 7. This is a good result, putting it in the top 10 of a 25-product group.
The result breaks down into three categories, each scored out of 6 points. Protection measures detection performance against widespread malware and zero-day attacks; those which haven't been seen before and have no AV signatures available to defeat them.
The suite scored a perfect 6/6 here, with a full 100 per cent detection of both types of threat, against group averages of 94 per cent and 97 per cent, respectively. This is very impressive and only matched by eight other suites.
The Usability category, which looks at false detections of legitimate software, also produced a 6/6 result. Breaking it down further, it gave no false warning on legitimate websites and none on installing new software. It did produce two false warnings of legit software during scans, against a group average of three.
The only place the suite dropped off was in the Performance category, which looks at the resource hit of the software during normal usage of the PC it's installed on. Here, the software caused an increase in access time of 4 seconds, which was also the group average.
Microworld offers eScan Total Security Suite licences for 1, 2, 3 and 5 PCs, and for 1, 2 and 3 years. The 1 year, 3-PC licence is comparatively inexpensive when compared with several better-known alternatives (at just under £50 currently).
This suite's technical performance is above average and most of the expected modules are in place. Since eScan produces separate IS software for other platforms, though, it would be good to see an offering where you could mix and match protection between devices.
Manufacturer and product
eScan Total Security Suite 14
PC only (free Android backup)
Backup online, tune-up, vulnerability scanner
Number of devices covered