If you or your customers still don't run an antivirus utility, Trend Micro just took away your last excuse. PC-cillin HouseCall is available free on the Web at www.housecall.antivirus.com. Sure, other makers of antivirus software provide free virus scanners on their Web sites, but they require that you download, decompress, install, and run the software offline. HouseCall, an ActiveX program, loads into your browser and runs immediately - albeit with annoying ads displayed on your screen at the same time.
And unlike free scanners that simply let you know whether your PC has a virus, HouseCall will also destroy any nasty visitors it finds.
Users of Internet Explorer can run HouseCall directly. But if you prefer Netscape Navigator, you'll need to download the NCompass Labs ScriptActive plug-in (available from the HouseCall Web page) before you can run HouseCall.
Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, it takes three to four minutes for HouseCall to load into your browser the first time. You'll then see an Authenticode Security Technology certificate declaring HouseCall to be a genuine registered ActiveX control. A screen shows your local and network drives; you then choose which ones you want to scan, click the Scan button, and off you go.
Rather than check for all of today's 12,000 or so existing viruses, HouseCall looks strictly for the approximately 200 that are now circulating "in the wild", including the common Word and Excel macro viruses. In tests run by PC World (ARN's sister publication), it took a little over 15 minutes to check 12,654 files on a PC and find no viruses. If it does find one, HouseCall lists the name of the virus and the infected file. Most viruses can be removed with a click of the Clean button; if it's a virulent strain, you may have to delete the file.
One caution - HouseCall is effective, but it only takes a snapshot of your files. You still need a full-time virus scanner for the best protection.
Trend is planning an Australian download site for HouseCall but it is also available from the company's US site at www.housecall.antivirus.com for free downloading.
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