When antivirus utilities expand into full-scale security suites, we’re accustomed to seeing them add performance tune-up tools, perhaps to offset any perceived slowdown caused by security functions. With IOBit, things are the other way around. The company’s main focus is tuning performance, with antivirus capabilities added only in the top-of-the-line IObit Advanced SystemCare Ultimate. The current version 11 adds ransomware protection, among other enhancements, but testing revealed a big hole in protection against ransomware, and the product failed some of our hands-on tests.
The Ultimate edition includes all the tune-up features found in IObit Advanced SystemCare. Please peruse that review for full details of our findings, beyond the summary below. In this review, we’ll focus on the antivirus. Some components remain inactive until you turn them on. Among these are Surfing Protection, Browser Anti-Tracking, Real-time Protector, and FaceID. This last one is interesting. You configure it to recognize your own face in the webcam, and it warns if it detects an unknown face. Some of these components require a separate download. Surfing protection is one such; it marks up unsafe links in search results and steers you away from fraudulent (phishing) websites. When you launch a scan, it looks for startup items, privacy traces, junk files, invalid shortcuts, problems in the registry, and spyware threats. The product doesn’t clarify precisely what it means by spyware threats. Fixing detected problems can free up disk space and improve performance.
Among the other privacy and performance features are: Security Reinforce, which diagnoses security weaknesses; HomePage Advisor, which protects against browser hijacking; Disk Cleaner, which removes junk files; and Performance Monitor, a desktop widget that tracks RAM and CPU usage. On the Speed Up tab, Turbo Boost kills unnecessary services for a performance boost, Hardware Accelerate looks for old drives, Deep Optimization goes beyond basic tune-up, and App/Toolbar Cleaner advises installing IObit Uninstaller to clean up unwanted apps. We found Advanced SystemCare Pro to be brimming with opportunities to install other IObit programs. Some were free, which is fine, but we weren’t pleased to find that others required a separate payment.
Installing Advanced SystemCare Ultimate is just as quick and simple as installing the basic tune-up utility. The product uses the same dark blue background, with white text and as-if glowing blue icons. But in the Ultimate edition, the default tab is Antivirus, not Clean & Optimize. On this tab, IObit shows three big icons for Quick Scan, Full Scan, and Custom Scan. A full scan took one hour and 15 minutes, which is a good bit longer than the current average of about 50 minutes. However, this product relies on Bitdefender’s engine, and Bitdefender Antivirus Plus took an hour and 16 minutes, so this result is totally consistent.
Many antivirus utilities leverage the first full scan to identify safe files, ones that need no further scanning. This kind of optimization can really speed up subsequent scans. A full scan with Norton ran nearly two hours; the repeat scan finished in 15 minutes. Avast Pro Antivirus went from over an hour the first time to less than a minute on the second full scan. IObit managed a repeat scan in 15 minutes, demonstrating that it does use some form of optimization.
We floundered for a bit looking for promised features, especially ransomware protection. We finally realized that clicking the link Protection details displayed nine components. Six of these appeared in the Protect tab in the plain tune-up utility. The Ultimate edition adds Anti-ransomware Engine and Auto-Silent mode, as well as a switch to turn Windows Firewall on if it’s not enabled. Silent mode suppresses notifications while a full-screen program is active.
IObit Advanced SystemCare Ultimate licenses an antivirus engine from Bitdefender, but Bitdefender’s excellent lab results don’t apply, and the labs don’t test IObit. In our hands-on phishing protection test, it failed badly. Its new ransomware protection component protects many types of document files from unauthorized access, even read-only access. However, this component completely failed to block ransomware that launched at startup. If you want Bitdefender’s antivirus protection along with thorough system tune-up, consider just buying Advanced SystemCare PRO (a one-time cost) and getting antivirus protection directly from Bitdefender.
There are many better choices for antivirus protection. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Kaspersky Anti-Virus earn great lab scores, and include many bonus features. Tiny, lightweight Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus uses a journal-and-rollback system for unknown programs that can even reverse ransomware damage. Symantec Norton AntiVirus Basic scores high in our hands-on tests, and includes a powerful intrusion prevention component. And McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you install protection on every device in your household. In the crowded field of antivirus protection, these have all earned the Editors’ Choice designation, and any of them is a better choice for you.
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