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Total AV: a product closer to a scam than an antivirus?Publié le
When it comes to antivirus, you can find everything on the Internet: there are good products that protect you and try to innovate, average products whose performance is not exceptional and more than mediocre products that deserve to be avoided. But there’s also another category that isn’t often talked about: antivirus products that try to confuse users’ minds and try to get money out of them. Today, we will discuss the thorny case of Total AV, a software whose reputation on the web is far from brilliant: so, quality antivirus or product to avoid?
Total AV, the best antivirus?
Maybe at this point you’re thinking “who the hell is Total AV? ». It is true that it is a product that is never mentioned in our columns and that we have never included in our antivirus comparisons. And yet, the product is very visible on the internet.
Let’s take a concrete example: you have just acquired a brand new computer and you need an antivirus. On Google, you will therefore type keywords such as “best antivirus” or even “antivirus comparison”. On the results page, the first results are what Google calls “ads”, i.e. sites that have paid to be highlighted. They are also indicated as such thanks to the “ad” banner. On our example, for the search “best antivirus”, we have 4 of them, 2 of which come from the official sites of two antivirus publishers: Bitdefender and Panda. The other two sites are, by name at least, unknown to us.
Of course, we open the two other sites and one thing is obvious: both web pages offer a list of the best antivirus products and they highlight the same product: Total AV.
Totally unknown, Total AV supplants all competitors like Norton, Panda or McAfee and it would have many qualities: complete online protection, light, easy to use… Is it the ideal antivirus? To top it all off, and just as we’re about to close one of the pages, a tempting offer offers us Total AV for only €19.95. So finally, it’s not a free product as we are told?
Total AV, a free or paying product?
So, Total AV: free or not? Reliable product or not? We decide to click on one of the ads to find out more. We arrive on the official website of the product. The product would be appreciated by more than 10 million users around the world, that’s all.
Of course, we opt for the free product which can be downloaded very easily from the official website. During installation, we note that the publisher of the product is Protected Antivirus Limited (or simply Protected), information that will be useful to us later on.
The installation procedure is relatively quick and does not require any user intervention. Once the software is installed, we are invited to create an account to take advantage of the free product. This is done in a few seconds, while the configuration is completed and Total AV downloads the latest updates.
First thing: Total AV offers us to make a first analysis and we run it. A “Smart Scan” scan then takes care of checking the state of the hard drive of our test computer. In the background, a web page opens with a video explaining the use of Total AV and its various features. In the meantime, this first scan seems to be endless: the software is trying to track down potential malware but also to search for possible duplicate files.
At the end of our analysis, Total AV detects several things that are wrong with our machine. Our installation, which is very fresh, strangely has many problems, especially with regard to system optimization and disk cleaning. But no button seems to propose to correct the problems. Instead, a “protect yourself” message with a 70% reduction. Did we get fooled?
Above all, a small line draws our attention: “Real-time protection must always be activated”. Does this mean that Total AV, which claims to be an antivirus, does not offer real-time protection in its free version?
It does! A quick look at the program’s options does indeed indicate that real-time protection is not activated and even when trying to activate it, we are told that we have to pay for it.
A click on the “protect yourself” button mentioned above automatically redirects us to the official Total AV website where we are invited to pull out our credit card.
But obviously, we’re doing the deal of the century: the product would be charged 29€ instead of 99€ and we receive gifts: system optimization tools and two additional licenses compatible with Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. All in all, it’s a nice saving of 108€. What’s more, we learn that more than 4,000 people have already taken advantage of this offer, so we’re lucky! What are we waiting for to crack?
Just as we are about to close the page, a new pop-up appears. Total AV definitely doesn’t want us to leave without getting its antivirus software. This time, we are offered an 80% discount on the initial price. So it’s no longer 29€ but 19€. A bargain!
Continuing our analysis of the purchase page, we came across a very interesting piece of information just below the fields designed to fill in your banking information. See for yourself.
These little lines tell us several things about the acquisition of Total AV. First of all, the 80% discount on the price of the antivirus is only valid for the “initial period”, i.e. the first year. Secondly, we also learn that the purchase of Total AV automatically renews the subscription to the antivirus. That is to say that the software costs 19€ the first year and 99€ the following year and those after that. Finally, we also note that taxes are not included in the price. That is to say that the first year, you will not pay 19€ but 22.80€ (with the French VAT of 20%) and that the following years, the Total AV protection will not cost you 99€ but 118.80€. Can you see the bill going up?
And since these little lines are placed at the very bottom of the purchase page, there is a good chance that a good number of buyers won’t read them before paying.
All in all, we were thinking of downloading a free antivirus from a page listing the best free antivirus software. In the end, Total AV is just a scanning tool that is unable to solve the problems it detects. Then, the software incites users to take out their credit card and offers them more and more attractive promotions until they decide to pay, thinking they are getting a good deal. But after a year of protection, the user pays a high price for Total AV services, much higher than most other antivirus vendors on the market?
Total AV’s secrets ?
But who’s really behind Total AV? Earlier we had seen the name of the company that publishes Total AV go by: Protected or Protected Antivirus Limited. A quick search on the internet allowed us to find the official website of the company. The latter lists only one product: Total AV.
However, by deepening our research, and although nothing is indicated on the official site, the company Protected.net does not offer Total AV. They are also behind at least two other “security solutions”: ScanGuard and PC Protect. A simple look at the legal notices on the official sites of the three products allows you to check that the company behind them is the same: Protected.net Group.
Even better! If you browse the PC Protect and ScanGuard sites, you will see that the products have exactly the same interface as Total AV. Or is it Total AV that has the same interface as these programs?
ScanGuard, PC Protect and Total AV are clones of each other. The interface is identical, only the product name changes. The same side menu, but also the same icons and the same layout can be recognized.
By the way, the PC Protect software also appeared in one of the antivirus comparisons we consulted and it was in second place. By visiting the respective ScanGuard and PC Protect sites, we see that they use the same methods as Total AV: fluctuating rates and the mention, more or less visible, of the promotional rate that only applies for the first year. The mechanics are well oiled and you only have to look at the comments under our article to see how many dissatisfied customers there are.
What should we remember about Total AV?
Is it a real antivirus? Clearly not in its free version. Total AV is nothing more than a scanning tool whose sole purpose is to encourage the user to buy the paid version: security alerts, attractive prices, various offers… The purchase, often at a price that seems advantageous, has its drawbacks: tax-free prices and especially the automatic annual renewal at full price.
Total AV (along with fellow ScanGuard and PC Protect) is betting on the lack of information from its users to get as many customers as possible, who will be billed at full price one year later. In fact, you only have to type “Total AV reviews” in search engines to find an impressive number of testimonials from dissatisfied users on the forums. So can we talk about a scam, a scam? Legally no, because everything is indicated on their site even if it’s in small print. On the other hand, from a moral point of view, everyone can make their own opinion and we have our own?
But is Total AV a valid antivirus in its paid version? We did not bother to acquire the software to test it. However, a recognized antivirus testing organization, AV-TEST, added it to the list in one of its latest tests. And the results are not very good, since the antivirus software ranks among the latest…
The last point we want to come back to concerns the sites we were talking about at the beginning of the article, those sites that list the, allegedly, best anti-viruses. These pages are nothing more and nothing less than marketing tools. Their objective is to attract a maximum of traffic to Total AV and consort sites, while at the same time highlighting as much as possible these little-known software and making them look like high-performance antivirus programs. It is therefore preferable to turn to other sources to determine which antivirus programs are likely to suit your needs. And we have a nice antivirus comparison with our own tests and our own product reviews, certified without scams!
Information: This article was originally published on February 9, 2018. An update of its content was made on March 27, 2020 to verify the reliability of the information. The original article has therefore been modified and completed accordingly.
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