Total Defense r12 (r14?) review: Definitely a Lada

This time I’ll look at the Total Defense R12 anti-virus/anti-malware suite. This is the follow up replacement to Computer Associates Inoculan’s anti-virus suite which has been discontinued. Having used Inoculan before, I wouldn’t have simply discontinued it, I would’ve brought it in a dark alley and shot it point blank with explosive rounds.

Then poured napalm on it and set it on fire, but I digress yet again…

I’ll be using the same test PC as for the previous review, a standard Corei5 based computer with 4Gb RAM and Windows 7 Pro 64 bit edition installed.

Installation

The initial download is made tedious by the registration process, which fails incessantly with Chrome. However it worked ‘properly’ with Internet Explorer 9. Total Defense’s computers then send you the usual email with the download activation link. For this one I decided to use a spare gmail account I use sometimes to register stuff, strangely, the registration email was flagged by gmail as spam.

When clicked, the registration email sends you another, second email with more details like your registration key and other useless details, it does include what they call a “download link” but this actually turned out to be a link to another page where again, you’re asked to enter your details.

With that done and out of the way then, just as I thought I was finally going to download the trial software, Total Defense instead forces the end user to install a download manager called Akamai, stating on their prompt that this is to increase download speeds. Right.

After downloading Akamai, naturally you must run it. That’s when the Windows Firewall flags it for connecting to the Internet. I’ll play along and allow it for now.

Once installed Akamai exits and does absolutely nothing, or so it seems.

Fed up, I decided to simply move on to their “corporate” version, which I’m actually testing for something else entirely. This is where things got interesting. To begin with, the deploy process is hilarious. The corporate version must be installed on a push server, which is normal on corporate networks, and then the machines onto which the anti-virus is to be deployed, must be “discovered” which often leads to strange results.

For instance, once I reimaged the machine I was using because I suspected Akamai of being some kind of spyware itself, the push server took over half an hour to detect the new computer after running a manual end point discovery. Once that was done, it began giving authentication errors even though I used the proper credentials, twice.

Eventually I managed to get it installed to test.

Tests

For the first time in several years, I actually had trouble installing print drivers. You know when you install something, anything on a PC and the install wizard begins by prompting you to turn off the anti-virus? What they really mean is, If you have installed Total Defense, please turn it off otherwise our print driver will not work.

The sad part is that when other anti-virus software blocks any file from running, it will pop-up a prompt stating it has done so. Total Defense completely ignores this custom and instead, blocks the file from running but doesn’t tell the user.

Ironically, when I tried as a test, to run a file that actually contained a real virus, it didn’t block it, instead choosing to send me an email stating that the file I had just run, contained a virus.

Also, at a certain point, I noticed that several programs weren’t running anymore, Internet Explorer wasn’t starting up, I couldn’t print, a small utility I use to make PDFs and that I installed on the test PC wasn’t working anymore. I then realized that once in a while, Total Defense would pop-up a small message for a very short period of time, not long enough for me to read it. After waiting for it in anticipation I managed to grab a proper look. It had updated itself and needed to reboot the computer, and until it was rebooted, none of the aforementioned programs worked.

So let’s recap the Total Defense experience:

-Downloading the trial software is impossibly complex and instead installs a potentially unwanted download manager on your PC

-The corporate version of the software is worse since it must be installed by push and is definitely not suited for a home user

-Blocks a standard HP printer driver from installing without prompting the user that it’s done so

-Allows a known virus to run without blocking it, instead sends an email to the administrator of the virus deployment server like a mafia snitch

-Updates itself on its own which is good, prevents the PC from working properly until rebooted after updating itself, not good.

No Total Defense. Just no. You’re an anti-virus, not Donnie Brasco.

Kids, if you’re considering installing this anti-virus suite on your home or work computer re-read the above text.

At this point, there is a strong possibility that this is the software which Jeff Goldblum uploaded to the alien mother-ship in order to drop it’s shields and allow the resistance to destroy it.

A possibility that Total Defense was sent back to the past by Skynet to prevent John Connor from being born.

A possibility that their theme song should be Rebecca Black’s Friday.

The download process is about as simple as trying to juggle 25 knives, while having your right nipple twisted with a vice grip, and your left one imbibed in flammable oil then set on fire, as you ride a wet unicycle and wearing a Hawaiian skirt made of hay and a thong. Once downloaded Total Defense does nothing except hinder your usage of the computer, and flash a tiny orange tray icon.

Conclusion

Total Defense cannot be an anti-virus. The company should be sued for false advertising. Their product is to be avoided at all costs and should be flagged to the NSA as a potential terrorist threat. 0/10

 

About the author: Luca Colonnese

 

Limited production techno music, fiction and comedy. Actually, very limited. To follow on Twitter: Child of Gla55

Website: http://www.childofglass.ca

 

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