Comparison Review
Company and product:
EliaShim Microcomputers
520 W. Hwy. 436, #1180-30
Altamonte Springs, Florida
fax: 407-869-1409
XTree Co.
4330 Santa Fe Road
(4115 Broad Street, Building 1?)
San Luis Obispo, CA   93401-7993
fax: 805-541-4762
BBS: 805-546-9150
ViruSafe 4.6
Summary: activity monitor, scanner, change detection, operation restriction,
utilities, and "bait" program
Rating (1-4, 1 = poor, 4 = very good)
            Installation      2
            Ease of use       3
            Help systems      1
      Compatibility           1
            Stability         2
            Support           ?
      Documentation           2
      Hardware required       2
      Performance             2
      Availability            2
      Local Support           ?
General Description:
Menu or command line driven multi-layered defense.  Significant tools for those
studying viral operation and experienced in their functions.
                  Comparison of features and specifications
User Friendliness
The program is shipped on two non-writable 5 1/4" disks or one write protected
3 1/2" disk.  The program can be run off the disk, or installed on the hard
disk through an installation program.  Manual installation and command line
switch descriptions are also available.
Ease of use
The menu interface is generally straightforward and simple.  There are some
exceptions, and the interface could not be said to be completely intuitive. 
Configuration screens give no indication of how to "complete" the setup once
choices have been made.  As well, the behaviour of the "List of Viruses"
function is difficult.  The screen format, and cursor movement keys, of the
list and the resulting information do not match.  However, it is helpful to
have this feature onscreen.
Help systems
Limited.  Help is context sensitive, but seldom tells you what you want to know
Additional virus signatures can be added in an external text file.  The format
for the signatures is given in the READ.ME text on disk, and is not difficult
to figure out.  In addition, the system is able to add signatures of new viral
programs which it finds in memory.  However, the format is not compatible with
the fairly widely used IBM VIRSCAN format.  Also, a maximum of 64 signatures
can be added in this way.
Program testing on machines fitting the hardware requirements occasionally
failed for unknown reasons.
Company Stability
Xtree is a fairly well established company, known for utility and disk
management software.  The version of ViruSafe obtained from Xtree does not
differ significantly from the earlier version obtained from EliaShim, but does
appear to contain programs that were developed by Xtree.
Company Support
The documentation is quite brief.  While clear, the manual is quite terse and
seems to be designed for the more advanced user.  Much of the documentation is
a description of how the menuing system and command line switches work.  No
specifics are given as to how functions (such as "revealing the presence of"
unknown viral programs in memory) are accomplished.  More important is the fact
that no "defaults" for any of the programs are listed.  For example, the
activity monitoring program, VS, has a long list of command line switches for
various functions, but no indication as to which of them are "on" when started
without switches.
It is fairly obvious that the new documentation has been copied wholesale from
an earlier edition without adequate proof-reading.  For example, installation
of new virus signatures refers repeatedly to "Chapter 2", but this manual has
no numbered chapters.
A very helpful feature is a "latest information" button on the menu interface
which presents the disk READ.ME file.  Thus the latest program info, helpful
hints and the hardcopy errata can be browsed onscreen.
Hardware Requirements
At least two disk drives, one of which must be a floppy, 512K memory and DOS
3.0 or higher.
It is gratifying to note the importance that ViruSafe gives to boot sector
viri.  The package contains provisions to save and restore the boot sector and
partition records for the hard disk.
Testing of this program was very problematic.  This version of the program
still would not run properly on the primary testing machine (a NEC Multispeed). 
The system locked up, repeatedly on most attempts to invoke any of the programs
in the package, including the installation and menuing program.
Testing of the programs is not as complete as I would prefer.  However, it can
be said that the claims made for this package exceed performance.  The package
is able to detect known viral programs, and can deal with most effectively. 
Performance with viral programs not known to the authors/program indicates that
these viri are able to bypass protections.
The change detection module, PIC, has a "generic disinfection" feature.  In
tests this worked very well, and was much simpler to operate that other
reviewed programs with the same feature.
Local Support
Not provided.
Support Requirements
Users at any level should be able to run the program without assistance.  The
instructions for installing the programs on a system which may be infected are
clear and should be helpful in clearing up existing infections before
installation proceeds.  However, the plethora of options with regard to
activity monitoring and change detection would best be set up by an advanced
user experienced in virus protection.
                                 General Notes
The package has a multilayered approach to virus detection and prevention.  It
should be suitable for most users in situations of normal risk.  While the
package would effectively deal with the bulk of infections one would normally
encounter, some of its claims would appear to be overrated.  The package
tacitly admits this: while it claims to be able to find both known and unknown
viral programs, it does recommend buying the upgrades.  Nevertheless, its use
would significantly reduce risk of infection.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1992   PCVIRSAF.RVW   921125

roberts@decus.ca           rslade@vcn.bc.ca           rslade@vanisl.decus.ca
       "News is what somebody, somewhere wants to suppress.
                   All the rest is advertising."  - Lord Northcliffe
Author "Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses" 0-387-94663-2 (800-SPRINGER)