There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the right anti-virus solution to protect your PC, including how intuitive and easy to use a product is. F-Secure Antivirus 2006 is a winner on the usability front, with a simple, streamlined interface that any user can navigate with ease.

All users will appreciate the fact that updates and scan are scheduled automatically, and those less experienced in working with AV software will benefit from the program's effective built-in tutorials.

At first glance, F-Secure has all the makings of a winner. Use the default scanning options and you'll be amazed by the speed at which the process completes. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving: the default setup scans certain file types only (those commonly associated with viruses), rather than all fi les on the selected drive.

When you edit the program's option to scan all fi les - including within archives - the speed factor drops like a stone. F-Secure was by far the slowest scanner in our tests, taking just under 1.5 hours to complete the same tests that others completed in as little as 21 minutes. The program seemed to have an especially tough time grinding through compressed files.

Free for personal use

To its credit, F-Secure handled real-time protection with ease, and did a great job of scanning incoming and outgoing email messages for threats. One bonus for home users is that the software is available free for personal use, a great option for those on a budget.

We're not saying that F-Secure won't get the job done, because it will. What we are saying is that if you intend on sitting in front of your computer while a full scan is underway then you had better bring along a good book, because you'll be there for a while. Dan DiNicolo