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DLS (beta) review: free, portable Norton Power Eraser takes aim at malware

I spend a lot of time during the work week removing malware from customers' computers. So whenever I happen upon a new malware cleanup app, I make it a point to put it through the paces. Better tools make my job easier, after all.

Today I'm checking out Norton Power Eraser -- a free, portable malware cleanup tool from the folks at Symantec. I had tried to test earlier beta versions of NPE, but there was a rather major bug which prevented me from doing so. When I tried launching the program in safe mode with networking, it would fail just after startup because it was unable to communicate with Symantec's servers (NPE is a cloud-powered program).

Fortunately, Symantec has since fixed that issue. So with yet another infected system on my workbench, I fired up NPE and put it to work.


The full system scan completed in about 5 minutes on my customer's netbook (an Atom 270 with 1GB of RAM and 9GB of data on the hard drive). Only one malicious program was detected, and NPE successfully removed the executable, desktop shortcut, and startup entry in the Windows registry.



Before performing the reboot NPE suggested, I then ran a second scan with Malwarebytes -- my current go-to malware removal tool.


After running a smart scan (which took approximately the same amount of time as NPE's scan), Malwarebytes flagged more than 500 items. I always take malware and virus tools' tallies with a grain of salt -- since they tend to err on the side of caution and may flag files that I don't consider to be problematic. More important than the actual count is the fact that Malwarebytes detected four additional files related to the infection NPE had just cleaned up -- as well as a handful of trojan and hijacker components NPE missed entirely!


I like the fact that Power Eraser is portable, but I certainly hope its detection and removal abilities see a significant upgrade. It's still beta, so I'm hopeful that it will pack a bit more of a punch once released.

Tags: analysis, cleanup, eraser, fix, malware, norton, power, repair, tool, trojan, virus

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