VirusScan, from the US software house McAfee, comes on a single floppy disk and is easy to set up and customise. The package contains a well thought-out configuration "interview" for first-time users. For example, VirusScan will check a computer for virus activity every Friday afternoon, if that is a good time. It also reminds users about the importance of backing up.

VirusScan offers the chance to scan a suspect hard disk before installation; scans are fairly quick. Unfortunately, the default installation is with floppy scanning off. This leaves the computer vulnerable, although the settings are easily changed. Scanning Internet files requires the optional WebScan software.

VirusScan is priced at pounds 29 (ex VAT). This includes one free online product update and BBS for the first 90 days, with an option to purchase a personal maintenance plan or quarterly disk/CD-Rom updates.

McAfee (01344 304730)

Norton AntiVirus and Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh (SAM) are twin products from Symantec. Norton is more sophisticated than SAM, with live updates of the software over the Internet. This overcomes the problem of virus software becoming out of date.

Norton for Windows 95 includes a separate emergency disk for scanning. SAM and Norton for DOS/Windows check for viruses as part of installation. SAM and Norton AntiVirus for Windows 95 both scan Internet files automatically. The packages also automatically prompt users to set up software options properly, as part of the installation process.

Norton AntiVirus for Windows 95 is priced at pounds 69, pounds 99 for Windows 3.1. Symantec AntiVirus for Macintosh costs pounds 69. All prices are exclusive of VAT.

Symantec (1628 592222)

Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit is available for PC and Mac. Like McAfee's VirusScan, it comes on a single floppy. The virus software can be run before installation, to check for existing viruses.

Like McAfee's product, proper installation is not automatic, leaving floppy scanning off. Scanning is quick, and the program can be set up to monitor the computer for unusual activity. Dr Solomon's Mac product is also able to identify DOS viruses on disks. On the PC, the package also scans compressed (or zipped) files as well as regular files and programs.

Dr Solomon's AV Toolkit for Windows 95 is priced at pounds 125, which includes quarterly updates, pounds 220 for monthly updates. AV Toolkit for Mac costs pounds 99, which includes monthly updates. DOS versions cost pounds 99 and include quarterly updates, pounds 175 for monthly updates. The Windows Toolkit version costs pounds 125 with quarterly updates, pounds 220 for monthly updates. All prices are exclusive of VATn

S&S International (01296 318700)