Protect and back up your data: BullGuard 5.0

Spyware, adware and viruses continue their assault on our PCs and it's proving difficult to keep the Net nasties at bay. Because there's a lot of software available now to help thwart such security and privacy risks, we were interested to see how BullGuard's approach fared.

The program integrates three different components: Anti-virus, Firewall and an online backup tool. These options are listed down the left side of the improved and easy to use interface, along with a main (overview) icon.

BullGuard plans to include anti-spyware and spam filter functionality in future updates.

After installation, BullGuard must be registered to become functional and it's important to get the latest virus definitions (updated around the clock, daily) or software updates.

The Anti-virus section of BullGuard is based upon the well-known BitDefender engine and automatically background-protects your files and e-mail inbox. If a virus is detected, detailed reports are produced advising best course of action. It's a three-step process that either involves disinfecting, quarantining or deletion. You can scan inside .rar and .zip archives and monitor IM (MSN, ICQ) and file sharing applications.

Now using Sygate's firewall model, the Firewall component can be configured for full intrusion and extrusion (in and out traffic) detection. By default, the firewall is set up for known and trusted applications. However, as more applications are installed or used, parameters can be set to allow or disallow various levels of access.

The backup solution is available in sizes ranging from 100MB to 5GB - the more space you opt for (that can be changed anytime), the more BullGuard costs over the course of your one- or two-year subscription. Using the Internet, files are transferred to BullGuard's secure servers with 128-bit SSL data encryption. Automatic scheduling is available to maintain your backups. Password-protected online remote access to your information via a Web browser is especially noteworthy.

One highlight BullGuard likes to spruik is its 24-hour support. Issues or queries can be resolved quickly with its Live Chat, online forums or e-mail (with touted one-hour response in some cases). Guides, screenshots and other information can be sent to you directly to help you walk thorough the problem, step-by-step.

Verdict Using BullGuard was streamĀ­lined and it performed pretty well in our tests, catching viruses and firewall breaches easily. It lacked a little in our cookie/adware tests, but we've already mentioned this should be addressed in future updates. Ideal for home and SME users, BullGuard is priced competitively and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Price: From $US49.95 (one-year subscription, 100MB backup); see Web site for full pricing details Vendor: BullGuard URL: www.bullguard.com System Requirements: Pentium or better processor; 64MB RAM; Windows 2000/XP; 200MB hard disk space; CD-ROM drive Features: 7 out of 10 Value: 8 out of 10 Overall: 7 out of 10