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Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for OS/2- by Noah Sumner

If you are like the vast majority of OS/2 users you think you don't need an anti-virus program. We all know that DOS viruses can't affect OS/2, right? Wrong. The experts tell me that there are probably somewhere around 200 viruses that can and will affect you even if you are running OS/2 under HPFS. If you are running under FAT that number is much higher.

Well, at least none of them will really attack OS/2, right? Wrong again. There are currently three known viruses that are designed to attack OS/2 users only, and if Warp 4 is a success that number will start to rise.

Now you are probably saying, "Well, maybe I should protect myself from viruses." That is where our good friend from Dr. Solomon comes in to play. Why should you use Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus for OS/2? Here are three good reasons:

  1. it detects the OS/2 viruses (IBM's Anti-Virus doesn't)
  2. it has a nice PM interface
  3. it is truly 32 bit.
Personally, I don't want to have 100 command line switches to play with for my anti-virus program. That is why I like the simple and easy to understand PM interface that is used in Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus. You can perform a virus scan right from that screen, unless you want to choose advanced options. You can also run all the programs from a command line interface, however, it is slightly more complicated, due to the dreaded switches.

At the top of the screen you should be able to see a few options for pull down menus, all of which are self explanatory and, indeed, even expected in an anti-virus program. Except for one: "network". Unlike with most programs, with Dr. Solomon's you can scan network drives without buying a more expensive "networking" version of the program.

You will also see two large buttons on the right hand side of the Dr. Solomon's screen. These are a "scan and repair" button and a list of all drives. The most important thing is that Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus is filled with lots of options for use when searching for viruses. You can search compressed files, executable files, and even use Heuretics. Heuretics searches for common patterns in viruses which will even allow you to find a new virus that hasn't been discovered yet.

Searching for viruses is very quick compared to the other programs and seems to be extremely effective. If checked, the repair button will remove the virus from you computer and repair any damage caused to files by that virus.

You will also notice three large buttons at the bottom of the screen. They are "check for changes", "virus information" and, very simply, "exit". Checking for changes (GIF, 8.9k) is a very important feature that you can and should take advantage of. Checking for changes creates a "finger print" for all files contained on your computer. You can later verify your fingerprints and if there has been a change made, you will be informed -- a very effective way to determine if a virus is at work. The fingerprints are safe because they are created using a password that only you will know so a virus can not evade this search.

There is one other button in the main screen (GIF, 25.2k), which is perhaps the biggest advantage of Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus over all its competition! This button leads to a virus encyclopedia (GIF, 21.6k), which tells you about the various known viruses. This encyclopedia tells you what a virus does, gives you a clue as to its capabilities (whether it is encrypted, stealth, etc.), tells you whether the virus is memory resident and gives any known variants on the virus. You will also be told how damaging the virus is and the approximate repair time -- if the damage can be repaired.

Unfortunately, this is the one area where I have found a "bug" in the product; if you select some viruses, instead of displaying information, you will drop out of the virus encyclopedia and be brought back to the main interface. When it works though, this feature can be very useful in many situations.

Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus includes many other features that you will appreciate in the event that you are hit by a virus. In fact, I used a program to compress all files on my disk and from that point on, Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus wouldn't run because it knew the files had been changed (IBMAV would run).

Possibly the greatest part of Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus is the thought process that went into the product. Most people don't have a clean boot diskette to use in case of a system crash due to a virus. So Dr. Solomon includes a special program called Magic Bullet, which is a bootable diskette containing their own operating system which will read your FAT drives and boot sector, search for viruses and clean them if needed.

Finally, one of the best features of Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus is the documentation that comes with the product. In the box you receive a short manual for the OS/2 software, which is very well written and easy to understand. You also receive a manual for the DOS version of the software (which is included in the OS/2 package), which is much more detailed and also tells you what to do in the event that you find a virus. The best thing about the manuals is that they include a virus encyclopedia much like the one included in the software. However you can carry this one around with you so it is easy to use when a friend has a virus; you can open up the book and find what the virus does and how to remove it. This manual is so good I have actually been offered $50 for it; I refused.

 * Dr. Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit
by Dr. Solomon's Software Ltd.
MSRP: US$130 (approximate price)
Noah Sumner is a member of TeamOS/2 and the Toronto OS/2 Users Group.

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