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G Data Antivirus review

The exploit protection antivirus solution with dual engines

Our Verdict

G Data is a strong combination of antivirus with web protection, but it is also overpriced with the potential to slow your PC down.

For

  • Accurately detects viruses
  • Effectively filters spam
  • Reliable URL blocking
  • Protects from keyloggers

Against

  • Large performance impact
  • Some minor scanning issues
  • Average price
  • Lacks free trial

G Data can certainly best most other antivirus programs when it comes to years of experience. In fact, this German software maker can boast a history of over three decades, along with the claim of developing the world’s first antivirus program- all the way back to 1985.

Getting back to the present day, and we can find G Data producing highly-rated consumer security products that protect all the major platforms: Windows, Android and Mac, and also some comprehensive endpoint solutions that cover the enterprise market as well.

Down at the bottom of the offerings is G Data Antivirus, that we focus on here. While it does have the baseline designation, it also has additional PC antivirus features- more than the competition- featuring protection from exploits, anti-ransomware, URL filtering, spam filtering, and even a special browser to keep you safe during online banking, shopping and financial transactions.

The program features multiple elements to keep you safe, including its own antivirus engine, and also the Bitdefender engine. There is also a CYREN-based layer that can detect an outbreak right away.

G Data Antivirus: Price

G Data can certainly best most other antivirus programs when it comes to years of experience. In fact, this German software maker can boast a history of over three decades, along with the claim of developing the world’s first antivirus program- all the way back to 1985.

Getting back to the present day, and we can find G Data producing highly-rated consumer security products that protect all the major platforms: Windows, Android and Mac, and also some comprehensive endpoint solutions that cover the enterprise market as well.

Down at the bottom of the offerings is G Data Antivirus, that we focus on here. While it does have the baseline designation, it also has additional PC antivirus features- more than the competition- featuring protection from exploits, anti-ransomware, URL filtering, spam filtering, and even a special browser to keep you safe during online banking, shopping and financial transactions.

The program features multiple elements to keep you safe, including its own antivirus engine, and also the Bitdefender engine. There is also a CYREN-based layer that can detect an outbreak right away.

A license for a single device is at the top of the average range of $29.95 (£24) for the yearly subscription. In fact, some other competitors at the top end, such as Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Kaspersky Anti-Virus have the exact same price. 

Also, be aware of savings available for additional computers or an extension to the license term. By way of example, a five PC, two-year license comes in at $94.95 (£75), which is a fair deal, but again not a standout with other vendors also offering package deals for multiple device, multiple year licenses.

We note the absence of a truly free trial, but appreciate the 30-day money-back guarantee in case you are not satisfied.

G Data Antivirus: Set up and installation

G Data Antivirus proved to be a quick and easy download. Installation did have a speed bump due to the downloading of the setup components, but then proceeded just fine, with no further issues.

G Data, as does some of its competitors, has a registration process with the user providing a name and email address. The installer also makes the request for a physical address and phone number, but thankfully providing this is optional, and we went ahead with leaving those boxes blank.

Right after completion of setup, a pop-up window recommends we install G Data WebProtection, which is a Chrome extension designed to keep safe from phishing, scam and malicious sites. We prefer this type of protection work at the network level, to keep not only the Chrome browser, but cover all browsers and applications for the PC. G Data goes ahead to claim their approach improves the accuracy- although this us wondering the validity of that.

Looking into the installed files, G Data uses up 600MB of hard drive capacity, and adds seven additional background processes which require a generous 250MB of RAM. Not surprisingly, with our system performing with a full load, we did find that it got slowed down. As it has been measured by others, and we discuss this below, we did not quantitate the degree of slowdown on our system from G Data.

G Data Antivirus: Features

The G Data Antivirus interface provides the user with plenty of information and options- more than its competitors that too often take a minimalist approach, and we appreciate the more robust interface.

The opening screen doesn't take the easy way out with a simplified approach, by indicating the security status with only a ‘Protected’ caption or just a green tick to reassure you, for instance. Alternately, the status is displayed with a total of no less than seven protection layers, which displays plenty of neat information, such as update details, license information and details on the system.

Furthermore, these status reports also work as menus. For example, clicking on Web Protection displays a menu, with options that include disabling URL filtering, adding exceptions, or firing up the Settings dialog for allowing additional adjustments. Additionally, there are status lines that can be opened for Real Time Protection, Spam Protection, with other layers providing speedy access to go directly to the often used settings. This is a convenient element that optimizes the screen space, and facilitates navigation.

Providing an easy to locate link, is a Virus Protection tab that facilitates running the various types of scans, including quick, full, check specific files or folders, removable drives, and rootkit scans.

Scans clocked in at quicker than average, and displayed a high degree of accuracy, detecting  every last sample we threw at it. Also, an improvement on our previous review of G Data, there were no false alarms that got raised.

A small, but annoying issue turned up with G Data’s inability to simultaneously run two scans. With the program already running a longer system scan, initiating a second scan on the last download from Explorer's right-click menu sends the user a message: 'can't do that, a scan is already running.'

The URL filter, is a different feature, and better lives up to expectations, as it can block just about all threatening web URLs. With this great feature, we find it unclear why G Data continues their recommendation to install their browser extensions, though. There is a chance that their detection rate is higher, but with the Chrome add-on totally lacking any configuration options, it seriously did not add anything more to our eye.

The spam filter is a capable surprise, meshing nicely into our Outlook installation. It also performs well elsewhere, and throughout the process provides more than enough options for custom configuring it. While we did not do an in-depth examination on our own, with a limited sample, the module had a superior performance to Outlook’s default Junk filter, and approaches the accuracy of commercial software.

Some other G Data Antivirus features represent a significant challenge to assess for their true capability. This includes the BankGuard, which is an exploit protection module, designed to protect vulnerable processes that do their work deep inside the engine- however there is really no reasonable way for evaluating them for this review.

(Image credit: Future)

We next checked out what the Keylogger Protection module offers. By default, it protects just a handful of applications which are limited to just the common browsers. However, we ramped it up, and put it to the test against a commercial keylogger, and found that the module did an excellent job, as nothing entered online got recorded. Also of note, this protection does have the option to be extended to other software. However, G Data does provide fair warning that not all software is compatible with this technology, and hence may not work in all situations.

Autostart Manager is yet another bonus tool, and it can optimize your system with a delay in the launch of some of Windows startup programs when booting a system. In a situation where you want to modify the Steam client claiming too many resources with each system boot, you can totally delay its start for two minutes, or the option for even more. A boot time with less to start will turn into a PC that gets to work quicker, although your delayed programs will still be there a little later. While a nice to have feature, you should also know that this is hardly unique and there is excellent freeware that can accomplish the same function.

Controlled of the software is via a nicely designed settings dialog incorporating plenty of thoughtful touches. For instance, the Network Access dialog will specify a preferred network to use for downloading updates, to allow you to stop the program from consuming too much bandwidth while on a metered connection.

Looking overall, G Data Antivirus hardly has the fullest feature list, but that being stated, we like the product, which achieves it target mission to keep users free from malware.

G Data Antivirus: Protection

While we do some malware testing for an antivirus review, we also look to the major testing labs to run even more tests, and over a longer time period. Therefore for the more comprehensive look, it is critical to check their reports.

AV Comparatives has not gotten around to including G Data products in their testing over the last few years, but AV-Test does include them- and with positive results. In the September/October 2018 Best Antivirus Software for Windows Home User report,  they found that G Data provides protection from 100% of widespread malware, and just under 100% protection against zero-day attacks, to earn it the maximum protection score. The downside was that it had more than the usual impact on performance though, thereby reducing the overall score assigned.

Delving deeper into the performance question, we next looked to PassMark's Consumer Security Products Performance Benchmarks 2019 (Edition 2). This report examines a full 14 security suites through 23 metrics and assesses the impact on performance. Here G Data drops kind of low in the field into 9th place, and only Avast/AVG, some Trend Micro products and Bitdefender Internet Security going even lower.

While these lower scores are disappointing, let’s keep them in perspective. G Data did get a high score on some of PassMark's metrics, and any differences between these two packages are quite small. Also, we consider the protection achieved to be more important than how fast it gets done anyway. For those worried about the performance impact, go ahead and read PassMark's report firsthand for all the details.

We intended to finalize this review with a matchup of G Data Antivirus versus our custom ransomware simulator, to see if it could shut down the ransomware from behavior alone, as the signature would not be known by the software. Unfortunately it was not possible, as G data totally shut down the ransomware file before it could be run. From what we saw, we still don’t know about the behavior monitoring abilities of G Data, but it had a strong showing at static file detection, and in the final analysis kept us safe.

G Data Antivirus: Verdict

 G Data Antivirus, when it comes to malware, proved to be a precise and reliable at keeping malware at bay. The included bonus features, such as the quite capable spam filter let’s it stand out among other ‘just antivirus’ software solutions. Keep in the mind the potential performance impact issues that may slow some older systems, but after our own testing, we can provide the go ahead to trialing this solution.

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