Ready to Get Rid of Your Anti-Virus Software? - The Yoggie Pico Reviewed
Yesterday I uninstalled my anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software. My computer is now completely naked against pieces of computer code that might do it harm. And yet my PC is probably more secure than ever.
Why get rid of anti-virus and allied software? Because these programs are often a significant drag on computer resources. They slow down your computer's shut- down and boot-up process, and they often engage in hand-to-hand combat with other programs residing inside your computer, causing crashes and other anomalies.
But you've got to have this software. Until now.
I purchased the Yoggie Pico Personal, a small stand-alone computer that you plug into your PC's USB port, and which handles all the computer's security functions. The Yoggie Pico, which looks like a USB thumb drive, is actually a miniature computer with a 520 Mhz Intel XScale PXA270 processor, running a panoply of security software on the Linux operating system.
Installation is a snap, and starts with the scary step of uninstalling all your current security software and turning off your software firewall. Just plug the Yoggie Pico into a free USB port, install some software, and mission accomplished. The software that the Yoggie comes with is not anti-virus software, but drivers, a management panel so that you can customize the Yoggie and view reports on what its blocked, and a fail-safe so that if the Yoggie is removed or breaks, your computer will not connect to the Internet and expose you to bad things.
Installing computer security is a lot like building a roof, and about as exciting, too. If it works, great -- you never think about it. If it doesn't work, then you think about it a lot. The Yoggie is like that: once it's installed, you don't think about it. Traditional anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software you think about a lot, in part because security software often nags, and also because of how it slows down your computer.
I like the concept behind the Yoggie: off load a computer's security functions to another computer that has a dedicated purpose. Why burden your computer's processor with extra work that can be performed by a dedicated machine? Why increase the risk of software conflicts with anti-virus software? It may be that the Yoggie is the start of a minor revolution in computing.
Once you no longer have anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer, you'll never again see a prompt that says, "Your anti-virus software has been updated. Please reboot."
On to the big question: Does it work? Yes. All traffic to and from the Internet is routed through the Yoggie Pico, which updates its virus and other definitions automatically. While the documentation is a little confusing in parts, installation and operation are easy. My computer's now both faster and protected. Yoggie recommends that you test your new defenses through a virus testing site, which helps give you a warm and fuzzy feeling about this big change. You can see how the Yoggie Pico has been protecting your computer through the Yoggie's management panel.
As as nice side-effect, you can use the Yoggie Pico as a kind of computer security key: remove it and your computer can't connect to the Internet. The Yoggie software that keeps your computer from connecting to the Internet if the Pico is broken or removed can't be uninstalled without your password first being entered. (Note to self: don't forget the password.)
The Yoggie Pico Personal isn't flawless. Occasionally there's a glitch in accessing the management panel, but that can be solved by reinstalling the software. The Yoggie Pico has sometimes blocked certain web pages for reasons I can't fathom, giving a cryptic error message: "Yoggie Gatekeeper has detected an unknown request: Server sent forbidden Transfer-Encoding header." (Yoggie reports that this is a known problem and will be fixed soon.)
You're required to enter in a long license key to install the management panel software, which, of course doesn't make any sense, since the software won't work without the device itself.
Yoggie will continue to update its anti-virus software for a year; after that you need to pay a subscription fee, just like with traditional anti-virus, anti-spyware software.
I'd like to see the software offer more ways to customize the Yoggie Pico's protection, too. Yoggie also needs better tech support. Much better. As far as I can tell, the only way to have a question answered is to email the company. I emailed a question and it took 36 hours for a response -- the response was very helpful. A Yoggie user forum would be useful.
The Yoggie glows blue to reassure you that it's running. There's also a green icon on your computer's task bar to offer additional reassurance.
Yoggie, www.yoggie.com, produces several flavors of security devices that range in price from about $179 to $249. One of these devices gets positioned between your router and modem and can protect up to five computers in your home. Others, like the Pico, attach directly to your PC's USB port.
If you're nervous about not having any anti-virus or anti-spyware software on your computer --what happens if a virus slips through?-- Yoggie comes with a year's subscription to standard anti-virus software so that you can scan your computer. There are also several free web-based anti-virus scans: Just Google "online virus scan."
Nothing I've ever done to my computer before has improved it as much as removing all the security software. Not even talking to it nicely. The Yoggie Pico is like getting a spiffy new PC for only $179.