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F-Prot: Don't Panic!

Entry 880 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash

Dos were the days (F-Prot looks a bit more modern now) Last week’s entry was about buggy software. This week I wanted to post about the first of the most recent Orb reissues, 4 in total, but then disaster struck.

I have been sympathetic towards the anti-virus product F-Prot since my MS-DOS days. F-Prot has saved my day and my ass at least a couple of times. F-Prot was (at least the dos version) freeware and with some tweaking you could make it run as a real-time scanner on Windows 3.11, 95 and 98 as well. Shame on me!

The dos versions refused to work on XP though (due to the NTFS file system) so I was obliged, well not really obliged because I could have switched over to another one of the free AV tools, to buy some licenses. I’ve got 35 of those now. F-Prot is not only very reliable it is also very very cheap. One single license costs you about 20 Euro but 35 licenses will only amount to about 100 Euros, and that is still cheaper than some of the big shots in the AV world for one license alone.

F-Prot released version 6 of their product last year and were so thrilled with it that they announced that the previous version, number 3, something must have got wrong with their numbering, would be discontinued in June.

But disaster struck with Thursday’s update. Apparently that one automatically deleted the old - existing - version without replacing it with the new upgrade. Every PC had a dreadful red security center icon telling that the antivirus had been disabled. I don't know how many clients F-Prot has, that is not my goddamn business anyway, but they must all have felt as protected as swimming without a tampax.

While some forum aficionados were contemplating what had just happened (and proposed solutions and workarounds for the problem) the F-Prot management and programmers had suddenly disappeared from cyberworld, as if they had been annihilated by a passing convoy of Vogon warships.

About 8 hours after the first forum message signalling the problem an official message appeared. It read:

“We are experiencing a minor temporary malfunction in our update servers.”

This kind of infantile crisis communication was of course like swinging a red flag in front of a jumpy bull. As another forum member sarcastically remarked:

“I don't think this is a minor temporary problem. I think this is a Major Meltdown.”

Don't forget that thousands, ten-thousands, hundred-thousands of computers had suddenly no virus protection anymore (or so it seemed anyway).

The official reason why the F-Prot management apparently didn’t find it necessary to communicate about the problem was explained (a day later, again on the forum) as follows:

“The reason was not that we weren't taking the problem seriously, it's been our only concern for the last 48 hours or so. We just didn't want people to panic.”

So far for the official reaction of F-Prot that was published in large friendly letters.

I just think the F-Prot heads were panicking themselves and had to clean the shit out of their own pants first. By the way, their website doesn't mention anything at all about the would-be crash. For them, it is like it never happened. They should perhaps check if there are still dolphins swimming in the ocean.

The DOS versions of F-Prot can (apparently) still be downloaded and used. More info (and some utilities) can be found on the following addresses:
Download F-PROT Antivirus for DOS (official)
Claymania F-PROT for DOS page
Living with F-Prot for DOS Antivirus

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: True Story