Installation of PCDefense was quick, in part because the most resource-laden part of the application--the antivirus engine--resides online, which is a curious design choice. PCDfense has partnered with Romanian antivirus vendor BitDefender and cobranded the latter company's free online antivirus scanner. On-demand scanning is fine when you suspect you have a virus or worm and simply want to confirm and remove the offending malware; it is not fine, however, if you find yourself defenseless during an active virus or worm attack such as MSBlast or Zotob. For most people, the online antivirus scanner within PCDefense will be worthless.
Laplink PCDefense seems best suited to complement existing antivirus and firewall protection by offering specific tools targeting spyware, keyloggers, and rootkits; it also provides backup and recovery options should disaster strike. The PCDefense interface reflects the scattered nature of the product. There is no one button to scan your PC for malware; rather, you must select individual scans, which can be intimidating to a new user. For a snapshot, the PCDefense status screen gives you a snapshot of your system's relative security, displaying when scans were last run but no centralized "scan my PC" option, which could frustrate beginners who simply wish to rid their machine of malware. For an inside look, see our Laplink PCDefense slide show.
The best part of PCDefense is its antispyware tools. Spyware Alarm is a proactive monitor that prevents known spyware from installing on your PC. Laplink Antispyware 4.17, the main antispyware component, is based on the antispyware engine from Paretologic, makers of XoftSpy SE, an antispyware app that CNET Download.com users ranked four out of five possible stars. We found it performed well on our test machine, identifying the same spyware that Webroot Spy Sweeper 4.5 found on the same test machine.
Laplink PCDefense includes something most Internet security suites do not: disaster recovery. The Disaster Recovery tool can make an image of your hard drive and store that image on a removable drive, such as a CD or a DVD. In the event of a disaster, you can restore the image and return your PC to an operational state fairly easily. However, we found this tool lacks the configuration and ease-of-use options found in other products such as Norton Save & Restore.