Goldstein, October 2007
PC running Windows 2000 or later, Internet connection
for product updates, 64MB free RAM, 40MB available
hard drive space
(upgrade pricing available)
7 Professional is a comprehensive set of integrated
PC security tools which includes antivirus, antispyware,
firewall, system recovery, system maintenance and
system monitoring utilities. Protection and maintenance
utilities are grouped separately in the program interface,
with various individual tools, components and configuration
settings assembled in logical subgroups. SystemSuite
7 Professional is designed to be installed and used
on home, SOHO and small business PCs of all kinds.
It is priced within reach of most consumers, leaving
little or no excuse for anyone to say, "My PCs
aren't protected because that darn security software
is just so gosh-awful expensive!"
SystemSuite 7 Professional is a large installation.
All in all you get a total of approximately 60 integrated
tools. SystemSuite 7 Professional, like all the other
competing products in this category, attempts to
be all things to all systems. It almost succeeds,
which is darn good for anything priced so inexpensively.
Rather than individually testing each one of the
five dozen tools, we installed and ran SystemSuite
7 Professional on three different workstations. Two
of the systems were running Windows XP Professional
and one was running Windows Vista Business. Installation
was flawless on all three systems. We turned on every
single automated feature available in SystemSuite
7 Professional including Checkpoint (a replacement
for the Windows Restore Point function which creates
backups of your system that you can roll back to
in the event of problems), antivirus and antispyware
monitoring, the NetDefense firewall, regularly scheduled
disk defragmentation, and Uninstall (which tracks
everything that enters your system including new
software and device drivers) for removing software
and uninstalling hardware drivers.
| |After three weeks of use, we had a review meeting at which
everybody involved got a chance to express descriptions,
likes, dislikes and so on. Here are the results, organized
according to the order in which the components are presented
in the SystemSuite 7 Professional interface.
- Antivirus - the Trend Micro antivirus engine does the heavy lifting
and updates are issued by Trend Micro through its various licensees
including VCOM/Avanquest of course. Virus detection was excellent, catching
everything in our arsenal and everything coming in via email. We could
not directly test zero-day threats because, as far as we know, none
appeared during the review period.
- Antispyware - Trend
Micro again does all the work under the covers. Detection is good,
not great, and we feel that Trend Micro needs to do some work in this
area. Of course, we say that about every suite product where the antispyware
component is concerned. Although best defense is a dedicated
antispyware utility, this component in SystemSuite 7 Professional
is acceptable. Add a stand-alone antispyware utility no matter which
security & maintenance
suite you buy.
- Firewall - The previous version of the NetDefense firewall was essentially
flawless. This version is not, apparently because VCOM may have changed
the underlying firewall engine. Mind you, it's better than the firewall
that Microsoft built into Windows Defender, so you're better off with
NetDefense. Again, this component is good but not great. It failed to
detect and register several stealthy utility products that regularly
require Internet access, leaving the products to access the web unmonitored
and unfiltered. But it's still better than the Windows firewall.
- Diagnose - While not as comprehensive as similar components offered
in competing suites from Symantec and McAfee, it does a good job for
home, SOHO and small business computer users by supplying results which
are generally understandable. You can launch small system monitors which
by default provide real-time status of Processor Time (why not label
it CPU instead?), Threads (meaningful mainly if you're monitoring a
multicore processor), Available MByte (why not label it Available RAM
instead?), and Disk Time (which we think means disk activity, but since
the readout is a percentage number, we're not actually sure). Those
are the default monitors, but you can add additional panels with customs
names and a whole range of individual resources and hardware monitors
to each panel. Diagnose also contains a SMART disk test function to
check SMART-enabled hard drives (i.e., almost every hard drive manufactured
over the past 10 years).
- Fix & Maintain - Registry analysis is good, but some of the registry
'errors' it reports aren't really errors. The result? A few disabled
programs (e.g., Microsoft Visio 2003 in one case) which either have
to be re-registered by entering the serial number or reg code, or in
one case completely reinstalled. Otherwise, it's a very good component,
so you have to get into the habit of reading the results of the scan
to un-checked items you know are a problem before clicking the Fix button.
Functional testing before and after registry repairs with Fix & Maintain
and after running Optimize to defragment the registry showed
a noticeable improvement in overall system response and
shorter boot/reboot times.
- Optimize - Jet Defrag has been a component in SystemSuite for years
and it works quite well. It's not super speedy, but it gets the job
done on hard drives. Always perform a backup before doing maintenance
or drive defragmentation of any kind. The registry defragmentation and
compacter also works well.
- Cleanup - Cleans out temp folders, Internet file caches, duplicate
files, backup (BAK, OLD, etc.) files, zero byte/zero length files and
generally roots around in Windows to get rid of all sorts of other junk
as well. It works properly and is easy to configure.
- Recovery - FileUndeleter, RescueDisk, Checkpoint, Emergency Manual
and UndoIt all seem to work well. Of course you never really need any
of these tools unless you're in the midst of an emergency. If you don't
already have a rescue boot CD or DVD or some sort, then you're a doofus.
We deleted a few system files and then successfully used the recovery
disk to reboot a system and repair it. We also deleted all sorts of
files in all sorts of places, then used either FileUndeleter or UndoIt
to get everything back. The only problem we encountered had to do with
efforts to recover files located in areas of a hard drive that had been
partially overwritten. In other words, these recovery components should
work in most typical situations, but they're not designed to be industrial
strength PC repair bench utilities. SystemSuite 7 Professional makes
it easy to create a rescue boot CD. The Checkpoint component is the
star of this bunch however, and makes the Windows Restore Point function
look positively lame and unreliable by comparison.
- Uninstall - This one tracks existing and new program installations
to help root out all of the dozens of files and registry entries installed
by most software in order to help thoroughly uninstall, leaving little
if anything behind. The Uninstall component generally does a much better
job than Windows and many program-specific uninstallers. It works better
on software it originally tracked than it does on software that was
already present before SystemSuite 7 Professional was installed.
- Zip - As part
of a comprehensive file maintenance routine, some people
like to archive, or rather ZIP compress older files
into more compact units. You can save hard drive space
and make more efficient use of CD or DVD backup discs.
However, SystemSuite 7 Professional does not include
any sort of supporting, integrated file management tool,
so the Zip component is a bit of an orphan. It works
well enough, but it's also limited in functionality
compared to almost all of the stand-alone Zip utilities.
On the other hand, it's much better than the rudimentary
Zip capability built into Windows, so if you haven't
yet purchased your own copy of WinZip and you already
have SystemSuite (or will have it shortly), it should
fit most of your needs. The Zip&Backup
part of this thing is useful for putting together quick,
customized backups. It's quick and easy to use.
the dim memories of times long past, I remember a product
from Mijenix Software called SystemSuite. It was a speedy
and efficient Thoroughbred compared to the enormous system
protection and maintenance suites available today. These
suites are enormous today, mainly in response to the vast
array of threats and system complexities. Mijenix Software
was absorbed by OnTrack (in 1999), which then sold SystemSuite
to VCOM (in 2002). VCOM was acquired by BVRP (in early
2005) which then changed its name to Avanquest (mid-2005).
Avanquest is a huge multi-national software publisher.
Just thought you'd like to know. Like all products of its
kind, SystemSuite 7 Professional hooks deeply into your
system and that can sometimes cause slowdowns during program
launches and during software installations and updates,
largely due to the way in which the antivirus component
watches and analyzes files entering and exiting RAM. The
NetDefense firewall engine is new but does not seem to
hold up as well as the engine in SystemSuite 6 and earlier,
essentially missing some test stealth program launches.
The virus signature and definitions updates still take
too long to download and install, requiring far too many
mouse clicks from the user to complete the process. This
sort of thing should be largely automated by now and hasn't
improved at all since SystemSuite 5. The Registry cleanup
component generally works well but occasionally deletes
important keys, my Microsoft Visio 2003 registration being
a prime example. A QuickBooks Pro installation was also
messed up by the registry cleaner and we had to reinstall
the program. This has been a SystemSuite problem for some
time and I really wish the developers or someone in QA
testing at Avanquest would fix the issue. The Zip utility
is useful enough but seems out of place in the absence
of any other file or document management tools. The inclusion
of the Zip features would make more sense if VCOM fixed
some bugs in its powerful PowerDesk 6 file manager and
folded it, along with a backup scheduler, into SystemSuite
7 Professional. The help system is well organized, but
it's not context sensitive so there's no component specific
help in each part of the program.
Pros: The antivirus and antispyware engines work well. While
Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab seem to be leading the
pack, SystemSuite's TrendMicro underpinnings are close behind
and in fact the differences between most of the middle and
upper tier security suites are minimal. Virus detection,
update lag for new malware and threat signatures, zero-day
threat protection and the firewall all rank among the top
five in security suite products on the market right now.
For fifty bucks you get a 3-license package which seems ideal
for most home, SOHO and small business use. At this price
there's really no excuse for not having proper PC protection
and maintenance. For Windows PC users who have experienced
the shock and frustration of bad device drivers or product
updates messing up the system and the subsequent lack of
an uncorrupted Windows system restore point, Checkpoint is
on its own worth the price of the whole suite. The registry
cleaning and optimization tools will usually make older,
poorly maintained systems feel faster and more responsive.
The recovery tools will save you from yourself more often
than you might imagine. SystemSuite 7 Professional works
as advertised and in addition provides plenty of extras to
help keep Windows PCs of all types running smoothly and securely.