I recently tested out the “FixMeStick,” a product that detects and removes viruses outside of the Windows environment.  It’s a good concept being that some viruses remain on a computer by hiding in the file system.  So even when you clean your computer using a Windows anti-virus product, the virus simply returns after rebooting your system.  Because you boot your computer from the FixMeStick, it runs outside of Windows and the viruses remain dormant while the product does its job.  It scans your hard drive using 3 major anti-virus engines.  Kaspersky, Sophos, and Vipre.  This sounds great, but in all likelihood it would probably do the same job with only one of those 3 anti-virus engines.


I set out to test the FixMeStick with 2 infected laptops.  The product was easy enough to use but if you don’t know how to start your computer to a boot menu, you may have a little difficulty with it.  Once it is started, it’s a fairly easy product to use.  It will automatically update all of its virus signatures if you’re connected to a wired or wireless network.  It then tells you to “take a break” while it scans your computer for viruses.  Once completed you can review the viruses found and/or remove them.  Simple.


So I ran FixMeStick virus scans on both of my test systems.  It found 1 trojan on one of the laptops and 6 viruses on the other.  It even indicated which anti-virus engine found which virus.  In both cases I declined removal of the viruses because I still wanted to test the FixMeStick against a free product available from Kaspersky called Rescue Disk 10.


Rescue Disk 10 was originally designed to run as a CD or DVD and has been available for many years from Kaspersky.  They even have a downloadable utility that allows you to create a bootable USB flash drive from the DVD/CD .ISO image, very much similar to the FixMeStick. I ran Rescue Disk 10 on both of the infected laptops and located all the same viruses.


So I posed the following question to Marty Algire, one of the founders of the FixMeStick:


Hutch - Twin Cities eMedia:


  • I did a comparison between your FixMeStick and Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 and found them to have comparable effectiveness.  Granted, the FixMeStick uses 3 anti-virus engines (one of which is Kaspersky’s) there seemed to be redundancy in viruses that were found.  When I compared the viruses found I see the FixMeStick indicates which engine found which virus.  Rescue Disk 10 ultimately found all of the viruses detected by FixMeStick when it was run on the same system (we didn’t tell FixMeStick to remove anything).  Does your product give credit to whichever anti-virus engine found the virus first?


Marty Algire - FixMeStick:


  1. “The FixMeStick does display which engine(s) found which infection(s) when the scan is completed, e.g. if more than one engine detected the same file as malicious, that will be displayed.

  2. Some people prefer to make their own rescue disks at no cost (some peopleprefer to wash their own car at no cost etc....). The FixMeStick is for people who prefer to buy a product that's much easier to use than DIY solutions.  Examples of technology in the FixMeStick and not in free rescue disks:

        

  • Loads three different anti-virus scanners from three different anti-virus companies and runs them in parallel, in as little as 512 MB of RAM, and with similar throughput as a desktop “on-demand” scan.

        

  • Doesn’t store anything on your PC (definitions stay on the USB).

        

  • Connects to wired and WIFI networks, and automatically connects to your WIFI network without requiring you to figure out your network SSID and password.

        

  • Boots on the widest range of PC hardware, including Windows 8 PCs with Secure Boot firmware.

        

  • Built-in remote connect client.

        

  • Amazing customer support.”


The only items I found in Marty’s list of “technology in the FixMeStick and not in the free rescue disks” were the three “different” anti-virus scanners (I wasn’t able to reproduce any multiple virus engine finds during my testing, so I’ll just have to take Mr. Algire’s word for it.) and the “built-in remote connect client.”  “Amazing customer support” is a relative “sales” term so I tossed that one aside.  Other than that, Rescue Disk 10 seemed just as effective as the FixMeStick.


Both the FixMeStick and Rescue Disk 10 claim that they are not a replacement for anti-virus programs that protect your system from infections.  In fact, neither seems to remove malware as we found out after using both to remove viruses.  A post malware scan found between 30-40 malware objects that still needed to be removed.  The virus scans came back totally clean.


The FixMeStick sells for $59.99 per year and may only be used on 3 computers, unless you wantto upgrade to their “unlimited” plan for $299.00 per year and can be purchased at https://www.fixmestick.com.  


Rescue Disk 10 is free unlimited use and can be downloaded from Kaspersky at http://www.kaspersky.com/virus-scanner.
The utility for creating a bootable USB flash “stick” is available at http://rescuedisk.kaspersky-labs.com/rescuedisk/updatable/rescue2usb.exe.  


Larry Hutchinson (Hutch) is President of Twin Cities eMedia,

an IT problem solving company that’s been in business since 1990.

FixMeStick

vs.

Kaspersky

Rescue

Disk 10