AVG versus VIPRE – My “unofficial” review

First off, let me make it clear that my review is not an official endorsement towards either of the products mentioned – but rather a fairly detailed account of my experience with them both.

Second, let me explain my setup.  I have a home built computer running WinXP Pro (SP3) on an Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard with 4 Gb RAM, dual 512Mb SLI linked Nvidia graphics cards, all powered by a Intel 6850 Quad Core processor running at 3.0 Ghz. – All-in-all a very “snappy” game system that also renders complex 3D scenes pretty fast! 

For years I’ve always ran AVG (the paid version) for my virus protection and I have never had a moments trouble with it, nor for that matter have I ever had a virus – I should also mention that I’m VERY careful (anal) about what gets into my computers!

Anyway, a month ago, based on a LOT of reviews that I had read, I decided to try Sunbelt Softwares VIPRE anti-virus application.  I followed AVG’s clean un-installation procedure, rebooted, and then installed VIPRE.   What follows is my take on VIPRE after a month of use, and in a round about way my take on AVG as well…

My first troubles with VIPRE came a few days after the initial install when the virus definitions update failed.  I’ve had things like this happen before when there’s network problems, etc.  With AVG you just try again later.  With VIPRE however, when an update failed for me, it completely trashed the previous set of definitions leaving me virtually unprotected.  At which point I had to perform a complete definitions download (not just a update) and this takes a while!!  This happened on and off for a few days – after contacting technical support and checking the forums – I tried flushing the DNS cache on my computer (ipcong /flushdns) and that, for whatever reason, fixed the problem once and for all!!

My second problem I only noticed just a few days ago – when replying to a email in Thunderbird, it causes VIPREs SBAMSvc.exe service (active protection monitoring, or whatever it’s called) to take my CPU to about 25% – and keep it there until reboot!!  I didn’t notice this right away I think simply because my computer has a lot of horsepower. I ran to the forums once again, and found (as near as I can tell) that this is not a isolated issue either and that they’re (Sunbelt) working on.

At this point I reluctantly decided to switch back to AVG.  After un-installing VIPRE, rebooting, and re-installing AVG, a third problem that at the time I wasn’t sure was attributed to VIPRE, corrected itself as well, and that is my computer now powers down completely again.  With VIPRE installed the computer would shut-down properly, but would not power down the computer – leaving it running.  I had to hold down the power button for 4 seconds to turn off the power.  Now however with VIPRE gone and AVG back, the computer turns itself off after shut-down like it should.

Conclusion:  VIPRE may very well be a “better” anti-virus application than AVG as far as what it can detect and such – I can’t prove nor disprove this either way.  However, VIPRE appears to be experiencing what I like to call “new software growing pains” which is understandable for a new product – but is also a problem for someone like me who expects the anti-virus software they use to have as few problems as possible.  Sunbelt Software’s technical support is superb – they were very quick and eager to help me out with my troubles. To the contrary however I don’t know anything about AVG’s technical support – but that’s sort of the point when you think about it.

Sunbelt Software offers a free trial download of their VIPRE application, I would recommend to anyone interested in VIPRE (or any software for that matter) to give the trial a try for as long as the trial lasts to be sure it will work as advertised on your system.