System virtualization is a very cool technology which, if used correctly, has the power to control malware intrusion through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment, rather than operating in a “real” environment.
Running virtualized while surfing the Internet makes sense, and since it does, we’ve reviewed a number of these applications in the last year or two, including -Shadow Defender, Returnil Virtual System (a previous version of the application currently being reviewed), Sandboxie, GeSWall, Wondershare Time Freeze, Free BufferZone Pro, and more – including virtualized Browser add-ons.
A quick overview of Returnil System Safe 2011 Free:
Returnil System Safe clones your computer’s System Partition and boots the PC into a controlled virtual environment, rather than native Windows. Since the OS operates virtually, the “real” OS cannot be compromised by malware, malicious software, etc. Should the virtual OS become compromised, a simple restart will return the machine to its original state.
Returnil System Safe 2011 Free is compatible with both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows systems. As a value added bonus, Returnil System Safe 2011 Free incorporates an Anti-malware and Anti-spyware component.
Installation is uncomplicated and should run error free. All of the following screen captures can be expanded to the original size, by clicking on the graphic.
Pay particular attention to the registration screen. Should you choose not to register the application, certain product features will not be available past 30 days.
If you plan on continuing to run the application past the 30 day mark, it seems sensible to register. Registration will be confirmed as per the following screen shot.
Setting the Virus Guard real-time protection is simple and straightforward.
You will have the option of automatically starting the application on Windows startup but, I caution against this. Once the application is running, any changes (including downloads, for example, cannot be saved). You will, of course, be guided by your own needs.
The following screen capture explains this restriction.
Instead of an autostart, launch the application manually as needed – surfing the Web, for example.
- New an improved interface
- Clear protection status of your system
- Manage main features from one screen
Virus Guard (Anti-malware and Anti-spyware)
- Real-time protection – define your own shield sensitivity
- Quick Scan – light on resources and effective
- Full Scan – thorough scan of pre-defined areas on your computer
- Scan is dynamically adjustable to user workload (less resource intensive)
- Protect your system – Virtualize it!
- Virtual Mode Always On or just in current session
- Ability to save files via File Manager (paid version only)
- Powerful anti-execute protection
System Restore (System Rollback)
- Repair infections with ease
- Restore your system to a previously known/clean state
- Recover individual infected files
- Do not ever worry about losing your data
System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, Windows 7 (all – 32 and 64-bit).
Supported Languages: English, German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Polish, Bulgarian, Finnish.
Download at: Download.com
Compared to previous free versions of Returnil, this version suffers from a major lack of functionality – with the focus primarily directed towards a user upgrade. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that of course – that’s marketing. But, this market driven position ignores the fact that free competitive products offer more substantial features and benefits.
If you’re looking for a free virtualization application that offers a reasonably complete solution, then you should consider Free BufferZone Pro. You can read a full review here – Free BufferZone Pro – Maybe The Best Surfing Virtualization Application At Any Price
Update: July 1, 2011
Mike Wood, from Returnil, has clarified a number of issues in the response which follows:
Thanks for the review and write up. All feedback is welcomed and yours has been taken into account for future versions. Some feedback on a couple of things in the article:
1. “… this version suffers from a major lack of functionality “: In the older RVS 2010 versions, the Virus Guard was limited to Quick Scans only. We changed this in the 3.2x versions to include Full System scans in RSS Free. We also provide updates via the Cloud feature that are based on the unknown/malicious file and behavior data collection and server side analysis in our own engine/AI tech. RSS Free does have some limitations as far as premium features are concerned, but that is actually only for the System Restore and File Manager/Access Real disk features. The latter centers around being able to save content to the real System partition while in Virtual Mode and the former is centered on the additional tools we provide to the native Windows Shadow Copy service used for the SR feature.
Those using the Free version can still save content and data to disk; the key is in where that data is stored. In the free version you can still save content to non-system disks/partitions and also have access to the Virtual Disk which can be used as a convenience for those with single partition rigs (only a C:\ drive for example).
The features in the System Restore in the paid versions includes automatic antimalware scanning of restore points and backups prior to implementation as well as the ability to recover files from the previous machine state following a restore. Another feature of the SR is that it can monitor all forms of backups and will list them in the Full Restore option when activated so they can be scanned for malicious content as described above.
2. The discussion of layered security approaches: RSS Pro was designed from the outset to be a vertical layered security approach in a single application where each component part works to not only provide its core functionality, but also to cover the weaknesses in the other component parts. As the free version does have some feature limitations, it is more appropriately placed as a team player in a larger layered strategy that the user is implementing with an ability to cover System level virtualization (as opposed to BZ’s application layer approach), complimentary antimalware, and anti-execute so you can reduce the overall number of other security applications you need to make said strategy work.
The paid version takes this a step further and allows the user to have a layered strategy in a one-stop package that can reduce the need for additional programs in the mix other than a good firewall solution.
With Kind regards,
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