Jumpshot review

In addition to being the strangest-looking antivirus I've ever seen, Jumpshot is among the most effective. It beat out all other products tested with my current malware collection, though its scan did a bit of collateral damage.
Photo of Jumpshot

By and large, antivirus programs tend to look a lot alike. The main screen typically features buttons to launch a scan and check for updates; additional pages offer detailed configuration settings and other actions. Jumpshot ($59 per year on five PCs; other pricing plans available) absolutely doesn’t conform to this norm. Instead of security components, it features cartoon-style “minions” and a chatty user interface. Don’t let the cute appearance fool you; it’s actually quite effective.

Jumpshot isn’t intended to replace day-to-day antivirus protection. Rather, you run a Jumpshot scan to wipe out any active malware, tune up the system, and fix privacy problems. There’s no always-running ongoing protection component.

Pricing and Execution Options
You can download the Jumpshot application for free, but you must pay before you can run a scan. According to the Jumpshot website, the Home User pricing plan is the most popular. This plan lets you run unlimited Jumpshot scans on five PCs for $59 per year. The Power User plan extends that to 25 PCs and costs $149 per year. With both of these plans you can gift a free Jumpshot scan to all of your friends, one scan per recipient.

At the high end, the $269 Professional subscription allows unlimited scans on unlimited PCs. It also gets you early access to new features, and unlike the other plans it’s licensed for commercial use. Finally, for $19 you can purchase a single scan, which doesn’t seem like such a good deal to me.

The Jumpshot Swag Shop sells 8GB USB drives in the form of several of the minions for $35. These drives come pre-loaded with the software, and the price includes one scan.

Though you wouldn’t know to look at it, Jumpshot is a bootable Linux-based antivirus tool. If your PC won’t boot, you can create a bootable Jumpshot CD or USB drive on a clean system and boot from that. On a system that’s not so compromised, you can simply run the Jumpshot application. Like FixMeStick 2013, Jumpshot automates the process of rebooting into the Linux environment. You won’t see any sign of Linux, though, nor does the product even mention it. Jumpshot calls the reboot process “sedating” your PC.

Meet the Minions
The face of Jumpshot is Officer Pete, a mustachioed fellow with a policeman’s outfit. Kobayashi the ninja handles finding and eliminating malware. Beef, a brawny type, corrects any security setting problems in popular programs, and Torque does the same for Windows settings. All are represented by gape-mouthed slightly grotesque cartoon characters.

Other minions remove junk files, wipe browsing traces, look for hardware problems, analyze your Internet speed, and more. Maximus, the cloud minion, may email you asking for a re-scan if cloud-based analysis reveals an opportunity to further clean the system.

When you launch Jumpshot, it offers an optional brief tutorial on just how the system works. After you reboot into the antivirus environment, you must either log into your existing Jumpshot account or register (and pay) for a new account. Then just sit back and wait for the scan to finish. Bored? You can view each minion’s biography and learn its special talents.

The post-scan summary page displays three large batteries representing Security, Performance, and Privacy; Officer Pete explains that by clicking on each you can get details about what the program did. Each minion gets an opportunity to explain what it did for you in a cartoon talk-balloon. For example, Kobayashi might say, “It’s a good thing you called me in because I found and killed 2 malicious applications that were lurking on your PC.” It’s certainly a different presentation from the typical antivirus product.

From the Jumpshot online portal, you can view a list of all the scans that you’ve performed and dig in to see the full report, minions and all. If you’re working on a lot of systems, you may want to log in and enter a name for each right after finishing a scan. Otherwise it can be hard to tell them apart.

Earning Karma
The actions of each minion earn you points called Karma. You also get bonus Karma for a wide variety of actions. Using an official Jumpshot USB drive gets you points. The first scan on a particular PC earns a bonus. If in the course of processing your PC the Jumpshot system “learned” something new, that’s worth a bonus. If your scan revealed a bug in the system, as a couple of mine did, you get a big Karma bonus.

What’s Karma good for? For now, it just helps the Jumpshot team track how much effort was involved in cleaning up your systems. Eventually they plan to display a leader board, perhaps run some Karma contests, or even offer free swag for top Karma earners.

Using Jumpshot
I started my testing process using the official Jumpshot USBs that the company supplied. With just two accessible USB ports, I could only run two scans at a time. Partway through the process, I realized that it would be easier to just run the application directly, or use the Jumpshot application to create a bootable ISO image and boot my virtual machines from that.

On one test system, Windows informed me that I would have to reboot before it could recognize my new USB device. After reboot, the device was totally corrupted. JUMPSHOT.EXE was gone; SEXY.EXE and PORN.EXE appeared in its place. Poor Officer Pete! If you’re going to use Jumpshot on a USB device, make sure you get one with a read-only switch, and flip the switch after loading it up with Jumpshot.

In several cases I got an email from Maximus the minion a day or two later, announcing that he “spotted some suspicious items that require follow up,” and requesting a repeat scan. I couldn’t always see what the repeat scan accomplished, but in several cases it whacked malware samples that were missed in the first scan.

Jumpshot ran smoothly on most of my test systems, including one infested with ransomware that makes installing an ordinary antivirus impossible. However, its scan damaged two systems by quarantining important files. One went into an endless loop of logging off and on, the other bluescreened at every reboot.

Recovery was simple. All I had to do was boot to Jumpshot again and undo the scan. Doing so restored the system, malware and all. Tech support went over the logs and checked Maximus’s cloud analysis, after which a repeat scan fixed one system. For the other, I typed a “cheat code” supplied by tech support to open up a remote-control session within the program. It took a little time, but the support agent (actually the company’s co-founder) managed to identify and fix the problem. As for my own time, once I initiated the remote-control session I didn’t have to do a thing.

Impressive Cleanup
Don’t be fooled by the cute, friendly little minions; there’s some hard-core malware fighting going on when you run Jumpshot. It detected 86 percent of the samples, the most of any program tested using my current malware collection. Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ 10.5 came in second, with 83 percent detection.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70, Norton AntiVirus (2013), and Kaspersky Anti-Virus (2013) all detected 89 percent of my previous malware collection. Of course the results aren’t directly comparable since the samples were different, but Jumpshot is certainly up there among the best.

Jumpshot scored 6.5 points for malware cleanup, once again the best among products tested with my current collection of malware samples. The previous high score of 6.0 went to Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security. With 7.1 points, Malwarebytes leads among products tested with the previous collection. Norton and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus 2013 both earned 6.6 points in that test.

Jumpshot could have earned a substantially higher score, except for the fact that it left behind quite a few executable files. Jumpshot co-founder Pedram Amini explained that this behavior is actually by design.

Every malware program needs some way to launch when Windows boots, and once it has done so it has the potential to resist removal by antivirus programs. Jumpshot examines all executable programs, but it brings out in-depth analysis for any program that uses one of the over-250 techniques to launch at startup. It quarantines those that are clearly malicious, naturally. For those that are merely suspicious, it simply disables launching at startup. If one of those files proves to be malicious, your regular antivirus can remove it without interference from a running copy of the program.

Had Jumpshot removed all of the malware-related executable files, it would have scored 7.3 points in this test, higher than any program tested with my current or previous malware collections. Going forward, I’d like to see Jumpshot stand on its own, without relying on some other antivirus to finish the cleanup job. Perhaps a few more minions…

For full details on how I run my malware removal test, see How We Test Malware Removal.

Jumpshot malware removal chart

Normally I would include information about Jumpshot’s independent lab test results, but at the moment it doesn’t have any. In truth, the unusual nature of the product might not be entirely compatible with some standard lab tests. For now, I’ll have to rely strictly on my own testing.

Performance and Privacy
Jumpshot also performs a wide variety of PC tuneup and privacy enhancement tasks. It eliminates “junk and crapware” to make the PC more responsive, and also empties the Recycle Bin. To protect your privacy, it wipes out traces of your Web surfing history. It tweaks settings in Windows and in popular applications to enhance both security and performance. And yes, there’s a minion for each of these features.

When you review the results of a scan, you’ll also get info from a couple of reporting-only minions. Jumpshot reports your Internet speed, warns about insecure WiFi, and reports on what sort of files are hogging space on your hard drive.

I saw most, but not all, of Jumpshot’s features in action. The minion that warns about hardware failure and performance problems never showed up, nor did the minion dedicated to identity protection.

When evaluating security suites, I run an extensive series of performance tests, to determine whether the suite slows performance. I tried a stripped-down version of those tests to see if I could measure an improvement in performance after running a Jumpshot scan on my standard physical test system.

Each test ran faster after a Jumpshot scan. For starters, the system boot time went down by 11 percent. A script that moves and copies a large collection of oversize files took 7 percent less time than before the scan. And the time required for another script that zips and unzips that same collection of files was 16 percent less after Jumpshot optimized the system. It seems to work!

A Fresh Approach
Are your friends and relatives always asking you for help with sluggish or infested PCs? Instead of spending time debugging when you should be visiting, you can just gift them with Jumpshot scans. The cartoonish, super-simple interface is designed very specifically to make using it easy for those who aren’t so technically inclined.

I like this product and look forward to seeing just how it will evolve. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware 1.70 remains our Editors’ Choice for removal-only antivirus; it’s free, and it didn’t do any collateral damage in testing. Still, Jumpshot offers an interesting alternative.

Specifications
Tech Support Forum and web-based support.
OS Compatibility Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
Type Business, Personal, Professional

Verdict
In addition to being the strangest-looking antivirus I've ever seen, Jumpshot is among the most effective. It beat out all other products tested with my current malware collection, though its scan did a bit of collateral damage.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc