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Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security Review

A great antivirus solution featuring some unique extras

Our Verdict

Quality protection at a price that is affordable, but some machines may get slowed down.

For

  • Strong protection
  • Effective at URL blocking
  • Multiple layers of anti-ransomware
  • Spam filtering

Against

  • Older PC’s get slowed down
  • Limits configuration options
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(Image credit: Future)
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While it does not get the notoriety of its competitors, Trend Micro is a giant when it comes to the best antivirus products around. It offers a full catalog of products that encompasses all the segments: enterprise, virtual, business and consumer, and has an annual revenue in excess of a billion dollars.

At the bottom of Trend Micro’s offerings for the home product segment is Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, their basic solution focusing on the essentials, but still including real-time antivirus protection and blocking of malicious URLs. In addition, the Folder Shield also has extra ransomware protection, that prevent unauthorized access to folders that have been selected.

Trend Micro Pay Guard can work with a number of browsers, Chrome, Firefox or IE, and for protection during online banking and similar sensitive transactions, go ahead and launch a more secure version. Another add-on is for Outlook, which provides a spam filter. This useful feature is included, while some other security vendors restrict it to only their higher-tiered security suite offerings.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security: Price

Trend Micro Maximum Security is certainly a solid contender compared to other starter antivirus offerings, especially factoring in the low price of $29.95 (£23) for the single computer, one-year license. Doubling the subscription to two years does increase the cost to $59.90 (£46), which unfortunately does not provide any further discount, but locks in the current price across a longer time period.

Moving up the tiers, Trend Micro Maximum Security is a complete security suite which includes features such as the password manager, parental controls and protection for social media. It provides protection for a variety of the major platforms such as PCs, Macs, Android and iOS devices, and at a better value than competing solutions. These five device, single year license costs $49.95 (£39), and the ten device, two-year license is affordable ay $119.90 (£93).

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security: Set up and installation

The Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security web page unfortunately hides the link to a trial, and instead highlights their '30-day money-back guarantee.' While they may be hoping that users will simply purchase their license right away, so be aware. Look for the ‘Free Tools’ link at the top of the page, to go to the Free Trials area.

The trial available covers the full featured Trend Micro Maximum Security suite, but realize that the interface is quite alike to the product on the lower tier, and will give a really good idea on Antivirus+ Security’s performance. Also, this trial goes for a full 30 days, which is plenty of time to see if this solution meets your needs.

Installation is a snap, including an easy download, and then automatic setup. As the installation concludes, a prompt appears for providing your email address for product news and updates, but we appreciate that this step is entirely optional, as our box remained blank and the installer finished without an issue.

With the setup concluded, the package went into the background, although it did add an icon to the PC’s system tray. This antivirus solution does a good job of blending into the woodwork, and you can forget that it is even doing its job.

We started off doing some initial exploring, and with the default settings, it did not live up to expectations. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security incorporates a spam filter, but it did not come on by default after installation, and frustratingly the interface hardly brings any attention to it. We only realized this after searching through Outlook’s interface, searching for a toolbar, which we did not find, and then the answer appearing in the Settings dialog.

However we can put these minor issues to the side, as Trend Micro remains easy to install, with a robust core antivirus engine, and a full 30-day trial providing plenty of time to decide if it suits your needs prior to purchase.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security: Features

The interface has a simple, appealing appearance, that includes icons that are animated, the prominent scan button, and your security status clearly described, along with text captions and a gaggle of tooltips. We also like the option for customizing the console via the selection of a new background image.

The Settings dialog also carries through this same simplicity these. Leaving out the often confusing technical jargon, options appear in good ol’ plain English, including "Prevent programs on portable drives from launching automatically" or "Check if programs try to make unauthorized changes to system settings which could threaten your security."

Experts may be looking for more granular control, but for those that don’t often go into the settings of their antivirus program, Trend Micro's autopilot approach gets the job done.

Scanning options follow the simple theme to be quite straightforward, with the options for performing a quick, full or custom scan, with being able to designate particular drives or folders to scan. There's no additional control over this process, for example, lacking Avast’s capability to add other scan types, or to regulate the details of how it performs. However, it gets high scores for ease of use, and for those that skip over the settings of your antivirus program (no judgement, but we know many users are in this camp), we suspect you’ll be ok with this.

Too bad that the scan times measured a little below average during the testing process, but any program can pretend to scan at breakneck speed without finding anything. Antivirus+ Security does a thorough job, actively identifying threats and suspected files. Unfortunately, the penalty of this is that it also falsely alarmed at several legitimate technical tools, for example Nirsoft apps, but if you routinely scan your system with another antivirus solution, you'll be aware that this is par for the course with competing antivirus solutions.

The URL filtering is a useful feature, which is able to block most of the malicious URLs on our test. We also appreciate the custom configuration options, as while competing antivirus solutions only have the option for the user to toggle the URL blocking on or off, this one features a 'protection strength' slider, which can be turned up for more aggressive blocking, or reduced to lessen the false alarms.

Another useful feature is the Trend Micro's Folder Shield, a module for anti-ransomware, watching over the Documents and Pictures folders, along with any connected USB drives, providing protection from any attempts for modification of these files by trusted processes, with the option for adding more folders if needed. We get that Folder Shield is not really breaking any new ground, as Windows 10 has similar features with its new Controlled Folders, but we certainly welcome this extra layer of protection which has potential to stop a brand new undiscovered ransomware right away.

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(Image credit: Future)

Trend Micro's Pay Guard is highly secure for carrying out online banking, shopping and similar financial transactions, which keeps malware at bay, rather than interjecting itself into whatever you're doing. Again, not really unique, but the implementation here is not the usual.

Bitdefender SafePay and similar software setup the secure environment within a custom browser designed to be safer. However, Antivirus+ Security does it differently, and using your favorite browser, ie: Chrome, Firefox or IE, and resets it for the highest security settings. The merit of this approach is that is it keeps is simple to use due to the familiar interface, but does leave us curious if it is as secure. We would guess not, as Trend Micro has significantly less control over the functions of the browser, but full disclaimer, we simply don’t know as we don't have any test to quantify precisely how much less (or more) secure it might be.

Yet even another feature is the included spam filter. Trend Micro makes no mention of it, and you only encounter it by randomly stumbling onto it via the right page of the Settings dialog. This feature is pretty restricted, and it only works with Outlook, using POP3, SMTP and Exchange. However, once activated, it quickly got added to Outlook on our PC.

On some brief spam testing, it also did not leave us with a favorable impression, as Trend Micro labeled some legitimate emails incorrectly as junk on a routine basis. At least there are some tweaks allowed, via the addition of trusted addresses to a whitelist of Approved Senders, and also by adjusting the filter’s strength.

The Link Filter tool can block emails fully on the basis of them, including links to known malicious websites, which is an excellent way to prevent contact with dangerous messages. While not quite the most robust of spam filters we've ever used, with the multiple settings that allows for fine level of tweaks, so we consider it an overall benefit to the suite.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security: Protection

We next look at AV-Comparatives' real-world protection test, a popular benchmark that puts 18 of the top antivirus engines versus the latest malware threats. In recent tests, it has been quite favorable for Trend Micro, with their latest products blocking an amazingly high 100% of threats across nine tests in 2018 (from February to October).

However, this program has more false alarms than its competition, yet it still gets ranked first among 18 contenders in the February to June 2018 summary report. Back in second place was F-Secure, which was the other antivirus that scored 100% on protection, and behind that in order were Bitdefender (99.8%), Kaspersky (99.7%) and Avira (99.7%).

AV-Test's August 2018 Home Windows report also shows similar findings, with Trend Micro achieving a really high 100% rate of protection.

Unlike some of the other tests, SE Labs July to September 2018 Home Anti-Malware Protection report ranks these programs with a complicated scoring system which is determined by how the protection works (taking into account if the malware threat is immediately blocked from launching, or initiates, then is neutralized after). In their testing, Trend Micro ranks in sixth place, behind major antivirus solutions from Kaspersky, Norton, Windows Defender, ESET and F-Secure. Looking closer, the difference in scores is really quite miniscule, as first place scored 100/100, and Trend Micro’s score is 98/100,  which is still good enough to receive the AAA award, their top designation.

To confirm these tests, we took this solution ourselves and put it up against a custom ransomware simulation. As this program is of our own design and creation, Trend Micro can’t rely on file signatures of known malware for threat detection, which makes it turn to behavior monitoring for identification. Too many antivirus products miss the mark on this type of testing, yet Trend Micro was able to get the job done. Not only did it neutralize the ransomware with a low three files encrypted, but all of those encrypted documents got recovered, so we lost absolutely no data.

The shortcoming of this antivirus software is when it comes to the negative effect on system performance. PassMark's 2019 Security Products Performance report looks at 14 security suites to assess the impact on performance on 23 metrics. Unfortunately, among Trend Micro's tested products, Maximum Security and Internet Security, both got lower rankings- 12th and 13th places- putting them close to the bottom.

While we can criticize some of the methodology of PassMark's scoring, the AV-Comparative's October 2018 performance test also came to a similar conclusion after a poor showing, and places Trend Micro at 13th out of 18 tested solutions.

Keeping this in perspective, this not the last word, and clearly how this software runs on your system depends on your hardware, and your use of the program. To be on safe side, we recommend that you download, and trial this product, assessing the impact on your system’s performance before committing to it.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security: Verdict

 Trend Micro is a simple to use antivirus tool which includes some useful bonus features, including anti-ransomware and a spam filter, but be on the lookout for possible negative impact on performance. 

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