ClamWin Free Antivirus Review
ClamWin Free Antivirus is a free open source software project.
ClamWin Antivirus is a free antivirus software program for Windows PCs. The open-source freeware integrates well with Windows Explorer and Microsoft Outlook, is able to schedule scans, and automatically updates virus definitions. The suite offers good, basic protection without being too complicated for the average user.
ClamWin Free Antivirus differs from other free antivirus software in that it’s open-source, with no proprietary or commercial aspects. While it holds its ground in the antivirus protection department, it fails when it comes to blocking malware. The program doesn’t provide real-time protection, and it doesn’t check files as you open them or have them written to your hard drive. Scans are performed on-demand only, which means they initiate only when you schedule them or specifically tell the program to run one.
ClamWin Free Antivirus is used by more than 600,000 users worldwide and is favoured for its easy installer and open source code. It can be downloaded and used absolutely free of charge. The program is based on ClamAV engine and uses GNU General Public License by the Free Software Foundation. It is regularly updated via automatic downloads from a Virus Database.
All in all, ClamWin Free Antivirus is a good project but it falls behind other free antivirus programs in that it doesn’t provide real-time shields.
ClamWin Free Antivirus Performance
ClamWin Free Antivirus is a comprehensive freeware antivirus product that comes with integrated regular definition updates, powerful scanning tools and a dedicated task scheduler.
During tests, ClamWin misses quite a few Trojan horses, password stealer and other malware, which puts it right next to PC Tools Antivirus in terms of performance. It completely failed to detect malware made to steal online-banking passwords and misses more than two-thirds of such samples. In terms of finding how well a program can detect new malware, it performs slightly better, detecting roughly one-third of the samples.
The biggest downside to ClamWin Free Antivirus is that it doesn’t provide real-time protection, which means that if you want to find and clean and infected file, you have to do it manually. Users need to point the program to the folder where they believe the virus resides and initiate a scan, which is inconvenient to say the least.
The scanning process itself is fast with the application taking up a moderate amount of computer resources, which can put a strain on older systems. Overall, it is the second-slowest app in on-access scanning–only PC Tools Antivirus had slower scan times with less than impressive results when it comes to infection detection, rootkit identification and clean-up.
ClamWin Free Antivirus Experience
During installation the program allows users to choose whether to integrate the program with Explorer and install the Outlook module, both of which we selected. If you right-clicking the program’s system-tray icon, you can configure and update ClamWin as well as schedule scans, display reports, manually check for updates, and attend to other matters.
The program’s main interface is clean and basic but efficient, with a simple tree view of available directories to scan. The app’s basic interface lists the hard drives and allows for scheduling regular scans, but users will need to schedule a separate scan for each drive. There is a right-click Explorer option to scan a specific file, but this type of scan is notably slow, and by default it only reports discovered malware. If you want an option to clean it, you must change the settings to quarantine or delete the file.
Running an extra on-demand scan can be a good addition to your regular backup for your antivirus application, ClamWin’s poor detection rate means it makes more sense to run an online scan from a commercial software maker, such as BitDefender or F-Secure, and skipping this open-source project.
The settings menu provides plenty of options, including dedicated tools for Internet updates, proxy servers, scheduled scans, email scanning and reports. ClamWin Free Antivirus can monitor and scan your email client as well, checking incoming messages to make sure they’re clean.
During installation it’s important to know that the installer comprises a third-party toolbar and attempts to change the default search provider in your browser, so users need to pay attention to every single step when setting up the program.
When scheduling or launching scans, you need to select the specific files or folders you want checked. The program does not provide real-time protection, and it doesn’t check files as you open them or have them written to your hard drive; you need to point it to the location of the suspected threat. There is, however, access to the update tool in order to get the latest virus definitions as fast as possible.
ClamWin Free Antivirus Pros and Cons
As an open-source antivirus, ClamWin stands out from other free programs with no proprietary or commercial aspects. It won’t pester you with pop-ups for upgrade or upselling options, but is rather limited in its performance. While it provides basic protection – in terms of blocking malware, it doesn’t get the job done.
What do you get for free? ClamWin Free Antivirus works in Vista as well as in XP, scanning your files for viruses and spyware identified by a virus database that is updated several times a day. It does not yet automatically inspect files as you open them and can only clean infected files manually. If used in combination with another antivirus/malware tool – ClamWin can work well as an additional level of security.
Pros of ClamWin Free Antivirus
- Open source GPL virus scanner
- No pop-ups and upselling ads
- Light on system resources
- Integrates with Microsoft Outlook
Cons of ClamWin Antivirus
- No automatic scanning of files before you open them
- Manual clean-up of infected files
- Poor malware detection results
- False positives
- Slow scanning times
- No real-time protection
All in all, ClamWin Free Antivirus is a good free program but still needs a lot of improvements. The lack of real-time shields is, by far, the biggest drawback to the otherwise lightweight and functional antivirus. It’s easy to install and runs well on most Windows versions with a graphical user interface to the Clam AntiVirus engine.
It offers basic but viable alternatives to the subscription-based premium antivirus programs, many of which rely on automatic conveniences and extras to justify their price tags. In general, ClamWin would be a suitable option for second PCs, infrequently used machines, and tight budgets as it does its job, even within limited parameters.