- Quick to install
- Runs scans quickly
This review is for a new free antivirus program, currently in beta, from Chinese firm Baidu. Given all the press about Chinese state-backed hackers recently would it be wise to take a chance on this program for your computer security? Lets find out…
Will it run on my PC?
The minimum suggested system requirements for this program are as follows:
- All versions of Windows
No other system requirements are noted on Baidu’s site which is a bit awkward and also indicative of the site in general – hardly any useful information is present at all.
Is it easy to install this program?
Remarkably so, yes.
The installer is very small indeed and the entire installation process too, quite literally, seconds.
If nothing else, Baidu Antivirus can have an award for ease of installation!!
What is the user interface like?
Pretty lean and basic which, for many people who are maybe not so adept at computing, is exactly what they are looking for.
When you start the program up you get two main screens. The first one (above) gives you access to the scanning options – full scan, quick scan and custom scan.
From here you can also send feedback to Baidu and enter the settings screen.
If you use the right arrow on the screen above you’ll reach the second home screen as seen above.
Here you can play with a few sliders to toggle the following on or off:
- File System Protection
- Proactive Defense
- Web Access Protection
What features does the program offer?
Baidu Antivirus reminds me of the past in that it is an antivirus program with no bells or whistles — unlike many other AV programs these days you won’t find any extra features here. Thats not necessarily an issue though as standalone antivirus is all some users are looking for.
The fact that the program is so slim on features is what makes the installation so quick. It should also, in theory, perhaps lead to a program with low resource usage (more on that near the end of the review).
Will it keep me safe?
This is probably the single most important question you need to ask about any security software that you will entrust to keep your system safe. Unfortunately, in my testing, the answer to that question was a resounding no with Baidu.
I performed my usual tests with a sample of malware and known bad links and the program detected some of them as being malicious. Whilst this is a beta version of the program, and 100% detection rates are not likely either, I was expecting more here. I would say that this program only detected half, if that, of the bad stuff I fed to it.
In fact it was so bad that I downloaded a collection of malicious files from the web after proceeding through warning notices from Chrome only for Baidu to happily let me install them.
My overall impression of this program is not good.
I didn’t enter this review with any concerns about the program originating from China –
@security_faqs And if you were in China would you trust a Western anti-virus firm just now?
— John Leyden (@jleyden) March 5, 2013
– but I did come out of it with a very strong feeling that I wouldn’t trust any of my machines to it due to the poor detection rates I experienced within my own testing.
There was also another big issue too. For a program with such a small footprint I was expecting a quick and resource light antivirus program. I only got one of those wishes. Baidu Antivirus was very quick to install and scans were quick too. In fact, the scans almost seemed too quick – a full scan took about 10 minutes in comparison to the hour or so I normally experience with competing programs. But, surprisingly the CPU usage was very, very high indeed – typically 90%+ for the entire scanning process. During that time my machine was completely unusable.
Baidu Antivirus 2013 is still in beta and may improve over time but, for now, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – there are many, many better free antivirus programs out there in my opinion.