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Five rules for protecting Windows with antivirus software

The best rules of thumb for virus protection on Microsoft Windows are the same as they have been for years. Chad Perrin lists the five rules of thumb for protecting a Windows computer with antivirus software.

Good antivirus software is a critical part of any Microsoft Windows system that communicates with other computers, particularly if it is connected to the Internet and deals with browser, email, or instant messenger traffic. It seems like everybody has his or her favorite antivirus solution and it is different from everyone else's. For personal desktop systems, however, there are some rules of thumb that seem to be fairly universal among security experts:

  1. Install your AV software before connecting to the Internet. Any MS Windows computer should have antivirus software installed before connecting to the Internet. I have seen malware insinuate itself onto a computer in less time than it took to download antivirus software to use on the computer. If you have not seen that, and you use that as evidence you do not need to worry about antivirus until after you have opened a browser and navigated to a Website where you can download AV software, you are just playing Russian roulette with your computer's security.
  2. Don't use default AV software. Norton and McAfee, once among the most trusted brands for home antivirus, have taken significant damage to their reputations. These days, most home desktop security experts recommend that any computer that comes with either of these brands of antivirus software get something else installed instead, as quickly as possible. Regardless of what you think of Trend Micro's enterprise antivirus offerings, the free AV software from Trend Micro that comes with some new computers has never been regarded by many as good enough on its own. In general, the "free" antivirus software you get with your computer will come from a big-name vendor that has more money for marketing than any of the others, and is not the best option for your purposes.
  3. Get AV with a real-time scanner. You need an on-access, real-time scanner to ensure that some of the most common infection vectors for viruses and worms are checked "live", to prevent an infection from spreading when your computer first encounters the virus or worm. Real-time scanning can be a real burden on system performance, and there may be times when you will want to turn it off to get your performance back, but be very careful about that. Browsing the Web and checking email are not the times to turn off your antivirus real-time scanner for extra performance.
  4. Perform regular full-system scans. A real-time scanner is not enough. You should also make sure you perform full-system scans often, and automate the process with a scheduled nightly scan if possible. Real-time scanners only detect an incoming virus before it infects your system if it happens to pass through a point of access that the scanner can effectively protect, and even then sometimes something might get through before there is a virus signature available for your AV software.
  5. Don't use two AV programs. Using two antivirus programs at the same time is just asking for trouble. Whether it is because their real-time scanners fight over access and between the two of them can slow your computer to a crawl, or because one might misidentify virus signature files maintained by the other as actual virus infections, many problems can crop up that make using two desktop antivirus applications effectively incompatible with each other.

My approach for a long time has been something like the following:

  • Get any installers downloaded from an already protected computer, and burn them to a CD-R.
  • Make sure the MS Windows computer is not yet connected to the network.
  • Remove any antivirus software that may have come with it.
  • Install AVG Free, configure it to my liking, and make sure real-time scanning is turned on. Run a complete system scan, just to be safe.
  • Install ClamWin, and configure it to run a complete system scan at a scheduled time once a day or once a week (depending on my expected usage habits with this computer) at a time when I'm unlikely to need to use the computer.

I know I just broke Rule Number 5: Don't use two AV programs. I have found, however, that AVG Free and ClamWin tend to play nicely with each other, a rare trait in modern antivirus applications. Because no antivirus software is perfect, the fact there are two AV applications that can be used to provide simultaneous coverage is a significant advantage in the battle against infection.

Of course, part of the reason they play well together is the lack of real-time canning provided by ClamWin, which is the well-known ClamAV software used for virus scanning on many Linux and Unix-based mail servers. As the ClamWin site explains it:

Please note that ClamWin Free Antivirus does not include an on-access real-time scanner. You need to manually scan a file in order to detect a virus or spyware.

I use AVG for its real-time scanner, and delegate periodic scanning to ClamWin. Every now and then, I'll run a full system scan using AVG as well, when I know the computer is not going to be busy for a while and the ClamWin scan is not scheduled to run at the same time.

Other factors can play a role in protecting against virus infection, of course. A good firewall; good user practices when browsing the Web, checking email, or downloading files; and even MS Windows User Account Control can help sometimes -- though the dubious benefits of UAC may be more trouble than they are worth.

Do not let all the hype about improving security in Microsoft Windows lull you into a false sense of security, in any case. Microsoft still neglects virus and worm exploitable vulnerabilities, default settings are still not what they could be, the fundamental architecture of MS Windows is still far from well armored against infection, and the behavior of the user is still one of the most important factors in determining how likely the system is to get infected.

About

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer, and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.

32 comments
alan williams
alan williams

DON'T USE AVG. THe new version 9 stopped my Vista laptop from booting up. It was corrupting the DCom storage.

kmdennis
kmdennis

Are you kidding me??? McAfee??? This is one time I really would like to say....Ok. I am getting too excited. I have used the McAfee Corporate Edition ( I used to support it) and it is ROCK solid. It doee use up about 110MB of memory but you are pretty safe. That thing is like a firewall. It is among the top three BEST and Norton is not,NOT one of them. AVG??? You must be out of your mind! I have tested several of these and , better yet, let me try to dig up some stuff. It is deep but I may find it. I a talking about at least 5 different current upto AV software and McAfee Corporate beat them all up and down the avenue like they were some bad disrespectful stepchildren. And I don't like the company, but the product is probably second best next to one which is too difficult to configure and use as to make it kind of barely being number one. And Mcafee is real time scanning. You can configure it to scan on the read and write, and with heuristics. it will prevent anything form installing without your permission, block a user who tries to infect you. I cant name it all here.

btljooz
btljooz

This is a [b][u]great[/u][/b] article! :D However, it's beyond me as to why Tech Republic, et all, insist upon endorsing AVG and ClamAV. Unle$$ they're being paid off to do it????? ?:| -> [i]AVG[/i] [b][u]used[/u][/b] to be the 'go to' AV solution several years ago. [b]NO MORE!!![/b] AVGarbage has become nothing but bloatware that does [b]NOT[/b] do it's job very well at all! -> [i]ClamAV[/i] is great for *nix systems to keep them from passing on virii to Windows systems. But the buck stops there! ClamAV simply is [u]not [b]strong[/u][/b] enough for Windows! >>>-----> Avast AV is a [b][u]MUCH[/u][/b] better choice for an AV solution as it beats both AVGarbage and Clam hands down! [b]PERIOD![/b] http://www.avast.com/ Other than the products suggested in this article (IF any specific product must be pushed down people's throats at all...sorry, I had to give an alternative to the crapware suggested in the article) it's a very good, basic article. :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've found Threatfire to play nicely with several AV apps, since it doesn't take 'traditional' AV approach. It's does more of a heuristic analysis of an application's behavior. It's available in a free for home use version, with a small footprint, auto updating, and pretty much 'set and forget' until it something trips it.

gregwhiteuk
gregwhiteuk

I am a bit concerned now because the author seems to be recommending against the use of Norton or McAfee AV software. I am a paid subscriber to McAfee and if I'm to cancel my subscription in favour a free offering I need a good reason. So can I have the reasoning behind your line of thinking please Mr Perrin.

valvelifter
valvelifter

In addition to the five steps I would add; make a separate data partition and when you have a fully loaded system (all major software installed, security configured etc) make a system backup and store it on the data partition. that way you can have a fully functional system within about half an our of any disaster.

gregwhiteuk
gregwhiteuk

OK guys I am going to stick with my paid subscription of McAfee. PS. just for info, I am talking about a home user here, but I have worked in a large organisation with very strict internet policies. I am a bit confused with discussions in these threads because i detect a bit of contraction and some back peddling. I cannot believe that McAfee would write a piece of software that will behave differently on a corporate machine than a home user as far as virus detection is concerned!!! At the end of the day corporate users are already better protected because they sit behind a firewall and a proxy server, so any switched on administrator is going to configure both firewall and proxy server that prevents a user from visiting insecure sites. On top of all of that you can restrict which users have access to the internet and which sites they visit if you are really paranoid. I think if you are sensible you can get away with one of the free AV software (and I am biased towards AVG) or none at all if you are really dull not recommended if you have little or no computing experience. I like to explore and be inquisitive so I do think a paid subscription is stronger than a free vend.

RipVan
RipVan

Far too often when someone asked me to look at a completely disfunctional computer, the solution was to UNINSTALL either of the "big two." Usually it was because they put on the entire suite of crap. I always felt bad that they paid for it, so I would usually reinstall the virus protection ONLY, and leave that SYSTEM DOCTOR CRAP off of their computer. I would always tell them that as soon as their subscription expired, to get OFF that product completely. Those things are garbage.

apotheon
apotheon

As Palmetto already pointed out, there is a difference between the enterprise offerings from McAfee and Symantec, and the home AV software from both companies. McAfee Corporate is a substantially better product than McAfee's home software offerings, such as McAfee VirusScan Plus. The same goes for Symantec's enterprise software versus its home software -- the latter of which is branded "Norton". I very specifically stated that I was talking about the home antivirus software offerings under the McAfee and Norton names in the article: Norton and McAfee, once among the most trusted brands for home antivirus, have taken significant damage to their reputations. These days, most home desktop security experts recommend that any computer that comes with either of these brands of antivirus software get something else installed instead, as quickly as possible. Note the uses of the word "home" there. McAfee Corporate, as Palmetto pointed out, is not the "free" antivirus software from McAfee that comes into many homes every year preinstalled on desktop computers purchased at Best Buy or Wal-Mart.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Different critters. We use McAfee's corporate products at work too, but I don't run their consumer product at the house.

apotheon
apotheon

AVG used to be the 'go to' AV solution several years ago. NO MORE!!! AVGarbage has become nothing but bloatware that does NOT do it's job very well at all! AVG consistently tests well against other antivirus software in terms of its performance, keeping resource usage relatively low (I have experienced a significant improvement in resource usage in AVG Free over Avast's free offering), and its virus detection success rate. It also does an excellent job of keeping false positives to a minimum, both in my experience and in tests. ClamAV simply is not strong enough for Windows! Notice that I did not suggest people should use ClamWin alone on MS Windows machines. It is a handy backup to perform scheduled full system scans. Because it plays well with some other, real-time AV scanning applications that do a great job, there is little reason to ignore the fact that ClamWin can add additional coverage to the system. As I said in the article, everybody has his or her own opinions on the matter of what AV software is best. About all that pretty much every security professional worth his salt can agree to be true about AV software preference is that Norton and McAfee are no longer worth the money, or even the time and aggravation.

grax
grax

"it's beyond me as to why Tech Republic, et all, insist upon endorsing AVG and ClamAV. Unle$$ they're being paid off to do it????" TR don't. Chas. Perrin does but I doubt that he gets paid by Grisoft. He's just writing from experience. My experience is that AVG real-time scanner works fine for me. I've not suffered an infection in several years because I get my 'flu jabs! The "free" pre-installed products on new machines slow them down and after a year one is asked to pay. Several people I know have done so only to find that their updates don't work and they cannot get their money back. Chas failed to mention the AVG Safe Search Add-on for Firefox: works a treat. Of course, if you're using a different browser you aren't really interested in computer security. Finally Chas, at the end you didn't really mean to say: "false sense of complacency", did you?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Both are %100 free, rank higher in independent studies for protection and take up fewer resources. At the very least, you will have a product that provides protection on par with what you have (though most including myself will argue Avast and AVG are better) and leave your system running faster due to less resources being tied up. :) It's free. What will it hurt to try? If you don't like it, you can reinstall your paid service.

apotheon
apotheon

As matthew_t243 pointed out, McAfee and Norton are not the best performers on the market in terms of their ability to catch malware trying to sneak into your system and wreak havoc there. There's more to it, though. In addition to costing more than the higher quality free offerings, the McAfee and Norton offerings share several other problems: 1. They are tremendous resource hogs, and have been known to slow systems to a crawl. 2. Their Internet security suites often interfere with the operation of other software. One of the most commonly heard pieces of (marginal, or even bad) advice from telephone software support is "Turn off your antivirus and firewall and see if it works." Norton and McAfee are the main reasons this has become such a commonly heard refrain. 3. They are both well known for their tendency to pick fights with other antivirus software, so that having two AV applications on the same machine is a good way to break things if one of them is from either McAfee or Norton. 4. They both tend toward more false positives than some of the better free offerings. 5. They are both, themselves, common targets of viruses and worms, and tend to be vulnerable to such malware because of the complexity of the software. I'm sure there are other reasons that I don't recall off the top of my head, but there are five reasons for my recommendation to get you started. Perhaps you would not have any problems with your McAfee install. I cannot tell you what to do -- only what I recommend to people who are trying to decide what they want to do. At least you have AV software and keep it up to date. That puts you ahead of the average, I think.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

First, welcome to TR. You might want to view the FAQ and New User's Guides: http://techrepublic.com.com/1200-10871-5757160.html http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/techofalltrades/?p=152 "I cannot believe that McAfee would write a piece of software that will behave differently on a corporate machine than a home user..." The reason the piece of software behaves differently is that it's not one piece, it's two. The application McAfee sells to retail customers is not the same program that corporate customers purchase. The corp. app has a lot more features for remote deployment and updating. In theory the contents of the anti-virus .DAT files McAfee issues regularly are the same, but the execution of the apps are not. (Another difference is in a corporate environment, we can make sure the user is getting updated, and we can prevent him (or his kids) from disabling the software!) Our corp. agreement allows our employees to install the corp. version on their home systems. I was running it myself until recently, when I switched to MS Security Essentials. I was having problems with McAfee updating automatically, although it worked manually. I also wasn't pleased with the huge CPU footprint compared to MSE. Hey, if you're happy with McAfee, there's not reason to switch (or defend your choice).

cSpeak
cSpeak

I've had the same experience time and time again. Remove which ever of the "big two" is installed on the system from from distribution and sure enough it runs infinitely better. I've used PrevX and NOD32 together for a few years but NOD32 seemed to start to bog down each computer after about 6 - 8 months. Recently I've only run PrevX and haven't had a single issue with infections. From time to time I'll use AVG Free or another scanner just to make sure PrevX is doing it's job. so far, so clean.

btljooz
btljooz

Your experience has been entirely opposite to mine where AVG is concerned. I switched to Avast several years ago after AVG allowed my computer to become so infested that I had no choice in the matter but to do an OS re-install!!! I had used and trusted AVG for over five years at that time. YES, at that time, my installed AVG was its latest version and the definition files had just been updated the day before. At that time, AVG only offered updates ONCE a WEEK! I admit that once I lost confidence in AVG I've only tried it one time since then (about a year or so ago) to see what all the hoopla was about concerning it and I found it to be extremely bloated, hard to use and simply not worth my time to mess with as compared to Avast. Maybe I'll 'test' it again? But, it will have a [b][u]lot[/u][/b] to prove to me to get me to even consider the thought of actually using it on any permanent basis!!! Since switching to Avast, I have had no incidences of infestation that required an OS re-install like I had with AVG. Avast has saved my computer on several occasions. While I've heard of them, I've had no problems by way of 'false positives' during my use of Avast with the exception of ONE time in over five years. I'd much rather have to deal with a 'false positive' once in a great while than have a virus or virii infest my computer like when AVG allowed that to happen causing all its carnage. It's also quite simple to merely 'google' what shows up as a [i]positive[/i] to find out exactly what it is and how to deal with it if one is not sure of what is going on at any particular time. That goes for what [b][u]ANY[/u][/b] AV solution finds for that matter. ;) As for AVG testing well, take a look at these: AVG comes in last here: http://antivirus.about.com/od/antivirussoftwarereviews/a/freeav_2.htm The chart on this page gives some [b]extremely[/b] [i]interesting[/i] statistics: http://www.virusbtn.com/news/2008/09_02 Notice where AVG falls in comparison to Avast?... and quite a few other AV solutions, as well? http://blog.avast.com/2009/09/20/did-avast-win-the-latest-avcomparatives/ That may be Avast tooting their own horn, or maybe not... In closing of the 'statistics argument' I strongly suggest you go to: http://www.av-comparatives.org/comparativesreviews/main-tests and download the "23 On-demand Comparative August 2009 Report (PDF-english)" to see the actual results for yourself/selves. > [i]Notice that I did not suggest people should use ClamWin alone on MS Windows machines.[/i] Yeh, in your list you state in #5. [i][b]Don't use two AV programs.[/b] Using two antivirus programs at the same time is just asking for trouble. Whether it is because their real-time scanners fight over access and between the two of them can slow your computer to a crawl, or because one might misidentify virus signature files maintained by the other as actual virus infections, many problems can crop up that make using two desktop antivirus applications effectively incompatible with each other.[/i] Is that not just a whole lot contradictory? ?:| Make up your mind!!! :| ;) Should one [i]not use two AV programs[/i] or should they??? ?:| Personally, I back up my on-board anti-malware arsenal with F-Secure's online scanner here: http://www.f-secure.com/en_EMEA/security/security-lab/tools-and-services/online-scanner/index.html While there are many such online scanners, I've found that one to suit my particular needs the best and can, therefore, suggest that one possibly try it out to see for themself how it works for them. I use an online scanner as a backup to my on-board arsenal due to the fact that I know that there are nasties running around out there that have the ability to disable on-board anti-malware programs. Using the on-line scanner negates the necessity for a second onboard AV program which cuts the very real possiblity for AV conflicts to zero! Now, I feel that it is totally remiss and completely irresponsible to write an article strictly dealing with anti-virus software in this day and age when there are so many different types of mal-warez running around the net in addition to virii without giving them one small mention pointing a possible follow up within a series of articles about all the specific malwarez and how to combat them. But it is a decent [b][u]START[/u][/b]. That said, I absolutely agree with you when you state that, [i]"About all that pretty much every security professional worth his salt can agree to be true about AV software preference is that Norton and McAfee are no longer worth the money, or even the time and aggravation."[/i] ...Uh, it seems (from the above links) that AVG has run that exact same course? Where [b][i]opinions[/i][/b] are concerned: [b][i]Opinions are like [u]MEEholes[/u]. Everybody has one![/i][/b] ]:) It's the [u]truly[/u] smart folk who take a bit of time to [b]research[/b] to find out the [b][u]FACTS[/u][/b] instead of simply running with an [i]opinion[/i]!!! The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the pessimist [b]knows the [u]FACTS[/u]![/b] B-) E.G.: Before switching to Avast permanently, [b]I [u]RESEARCHED[/u][/b], and did try, a myriad of other solutions which didn't even measure up to AVG, no less Avast, including but not limited to ClamAV and Avira. (You do NOT want to get me started on Avira!) Therefore, I landed squarely on Avast and strongly (as you've experienced) recommend it based upon my own [u]experiences[/u] with it and along with that myriad of others on many different machines. EDIT: http://www.whylinuxisbetter.net/ B-) ]:) B-)

apotheon
apotheon

TR don't. Chas. Perrin does but I doubt that he gets paid by Grisoft. He's just writing from experience. Aside from getting my name wrong and an errant period, this is exactly correct. I am a freelance writer who contributes to TechRepublic on a regular basis for the IT Security column. I am not a TR employee or representative, and my recommendations should not be taken as representative of official TR positions. failed to mention the AVG Safe Search Add-on for Firefox I failed to mention it because it fell outside where I wanted to keep the focus of the article, though I suppose I might have mentioned it without dragging things too far off-topic. Thanks for bringing it up in comments, so that others in discussion will have a chance to learn about it. Finally Chas, at the end you didn't really mean to say: "false sense of complacency", did you? Good catch! I originally had a form of the sentence that just referred to "complacency", then edited it to make it a little stronger, meaning to say "false sense of security". Unfortunately, I managed to miss replacing the word "complacency" with "security", and didn't notice before the article was submitted for publication. I have edited it to use the word "security" where I meant to say "security". Thanks for pointing out my error.

BGunnells
BGunnells

"I have seen malware insinuate itself onto a computer [...]" Reeeeeeeeeeally? Apparently the malware simply suggested it should be present, implied that it was, and VOILA! ;-) If we could only harness that power, software installs would be a thing of the past! :-P

apotheon
apotheon

Please share what you find so bizarre about using ClamWin.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

MS OneCare did better than I expected. Do you think similar results can be extrapolated to Security Essentials?

apotheon
apotheon

BUT never have you pointed to any credible source confirming your 'opinion' about AVG Never? Really? 1. Have you read everything I've ever said? 2. Are you just saying that any sources I've cited are not "credible" to you? What makes them lack credibility in your eyes -- the fact that they disagree with your own assessment that AVG sucks? 3. Maybe you should go tell the people at Virus Bulletin that they're not credible when they share their test results and methodology so you can duplicate the tests yourself. That wasn't actually brought up first by me in this discussion, but it's the most proximal source here that supports my statements. Therefore, as an experiment, I challenge you to 'employ' some "confirmation bias" of your own to back up your opinion of what you, personally, think of AVG. I invite you to visit the above link. Other than AV Comparatives, I could find no credible source of information about ANY AV, no less the two we're discussing here. So, basically, you seem to be saying something like the following: 1. Your personal, anecdotal evidence suggests that AVG sucks, because you had exactly one bad experience with it. 2. My personal, anecdotal evidence suggests that AVG is decent software -- and that, while it may not always catch everything right away, neither does any other AV software. Further, there's a lot of evidence out there supporting my suggestion that there's no such thing as "perfect" AV software, and to some extent individual bad experiences can be chalked up to the luck of the draw. 3. There's no credible evidence of anything anywhere in your view with regard to comparing AV software except the AV Comparatives report. This report shows just a few percentage points' difference between Avast! and AVG in terms of coverage and both are rated as having similarly low false positive rates. While AVG is shown as being "slow" at real-time scanning, whereas Avast! is indicated as "fast", it says nothing about the complaint I had about Avast! performance -- that it consumes more system resources, thus interfering with the performance of other software on the system. Meanwhile, G-Data consistently outperforms both in the AV Comparatives report, and the percentage difference between Avast! and AVG is within expected deviation for different testing methodologies. Based on this interpretation of events, it seems to me that: 1. You have either rejected any comparisons that disagree with your biases or haven't searched much for additional sources that you might consider "credible", stopping after finding one you liked. In fact, the AV Comparatives report on proactive detection shows AVG beating Avast!, but you saw fit to ignore that as well, despite the fact it's from a "credible" source by your (unspoken) standards. 2. You think your anecdotal evidence trumps mine, which is fine for your own purposes, just as I similarly trust my own experience over your description of your experience. It's a good thing to trust one's own experience over that of others, all else being equal. For some reason, though, you feel it incumbent upon you to claim that my experience is stupid and wrong just because you trust your own experience more than mine, and try to convince others that my experience is stupid and wrong as a result. This is not "fine". It's rather belligerent and downright prickish. 3. You seem perfectly willing to ignore even AV Comparatives' cautions that its testing methodology applies only to real-time (aka "on-demand") scanning, and not to full system scans, on-execution scans, and other virus scanning triggers, which means that its suitability for determining an AV software offering's suitability is somewhat limited. Have you actually tested any of the other free AV solutions (besides Avast and the two you recommend) yourself? Yes, I have. If so, which ones, for how long, in what environment, etc. and what were your results? If I feel the urge to write reviews of AV software, I'll write them as articles for TR. It's a lot of work to write a decent review (as opposed to just a nearly incoherent rant that misses most of the salient points and fails to convince anyone the author knows anything about the subject), and that seems to be what you're asking me to write, with your demands for timestamps and comparable testing environments. Do you really expect me to answer the question as you've asked it in a comment? Seriously? AND just how long did you use the Avast? It was about six months of regular use on two computers, and about a year of supplemental use when doing maintenance work on others' computers when I worked for a consultancy in Florida. Did you notice anything about it that was better than ...say AVG? Its interface was prettier. It sometimes caught infections that AVG missed -- and AVG sometimes caught infections that Avast! missed, so I'm not really sure that counts as "better". My memory of the direct comparison is a little faded, so I don't want to swear to anything else at this exact moment, but I do know that there was nothing compellingly enough better about it to make me select it over AVG when AVG tended to do less damage to the performance of other software on the system and Avast! has been caught misidentifying benign but politically controversial sites as malware distributors.

btljooz
btljooz

I understand your point about "confirmation bias". BUT never have you pointed to any [b][u]credible[/u][/b] source [i]confirming[/i] your 'opinion' about AVG other than the fact that you write for a large, popular tech 'magazine'. Therefore, as an experiment, I challenge you to 'employ' some [i]"confirmation bias"[/i] of your own to back up your opinion of what you, personally, think of AVG. Other than AV Comparatives, I could find no [b]credible[/b] source of information about [u]ANY[/u] AV, no less the two we're discussing here. So, let's see what you can dig up. ...Just for discussion's sake. ;\ EDIT: BTW: Have you actually tested any of the other free AV solutions (besides Avast and the two you recommend) [u]yourself[/u]? ?:| If so, which ones, for how long, in what environment, etc. and what were your results? ?:| AND just how long did you use the Avast? Did you notice anything about it that was better than ...say AVG? Just curious as to your mileage vs. mine.

apotheon
apotheon

Well, the TR staff has their heads stuck up their own MEEholes! Actually, I understand their point. Keep in mind that TR has specific business needs. You can call it anything you like since I dug up some info from at least one extremely credible source that refutes your claims about AVG in particular Meanwhile, there are credible sources that offer a different picture. Selecting one that shows the result that agrees with your impression is exactly what "confirmation bias" means.

btljooz
btljooz

[i]It's probably worth noting that I'm talking about AVG Free.[/i] That's what I'm talking about, too. My negative experiences with AVG were with the free versions, respectively. Of course a corporate environment needs a different solution than a home environment. I, too, should point out that I'm talking my experiences on my [u]home[/u] computers. Not only did [b]I[/b] have a bad experience with AVG Free, but my late spouse gave both of us a bad experience when AVG allowed that computer to become infested so bad that IT had to be re-formatted! This occurrence happened just after I switched to Avast on my computer. My computer was spared the re-format because Avast caught the infestation as it traveled through our router to my computer! While Avast caught it to let me know that I had a problem I still had a mess to clean up. At that time (many years ago) I knew very little about computer networking and couldn't understand how virii could jump across the router like that. But I was elated that my Avast caught that garbage before my OS was completely destroyed like the other one was! [i]An email went out to TR's contributors a while back telling us to avoid writing series that make people feel like they need to read the next article to get the whole story.[/i] ...etc., etc. Well, the TR staff has their heads stuck up their own MEEholes! They need to step back, see reader feedback and rethink their position. Maybe a solution that could possibly suit both sides of the coin would be a section specifically for "Series" of articles on topics such as this one. E.G.: This article of yours would be the first in the Series on "Types of Malware and how to combat them" or something similar. AAAAH!... [i]"confirmation bias"[/i] Hey! [b]THAT'S[/b] a GOOD one!!! :^0 ROTFLMAO! :^0 You can call it anything you like since I dug up some info from at least one extremely credible source that refutes your claims about AVG in particular. I call it [i]"putting my money where my mouth ...uh, KEYBOARD... is!"[/i] ;) B-)

apotheon
apotheon

I admit that since I lost confidence in AVG I've only tried it once since then (about a year or so ago) to see what all the hoopla was about concerning it and I found it to be extremely bloated, hard to use and simply not worth my time to mess with as compared to Avast. Maybe I'll 'test' it again? It's probably worth noting that I'm talking about AVG Free. I have given the "pro" version a try, and found it not to my liking (ironically, since the "pro" version is supposed to be the better software, in theory). When there's a perfectly serviceable free version of something for a home user that isn't on a limited trial install time limit, I don't tend to recommend paying a bunch of money for the "pro" version. For corporate networks, I don't recommend home AV software at all. That means the "pro", paid-for version of AVG Anti-Virus tends to fall through the cracks. It's possible your negative experiences were with (potentially trial installs of) the "pro" version of AVG's home antivirus software, thus the difference in experience from my own. Since switching to Avast, I have had no incidences of infestation that required an OS re-install like I had with AVG. Unfortunately, no antivirus software is perfect (which is part of the reason I don't trust MS Windows with anything important, since without perfect AV software it's basically Swiss cheese, in security terms). All it takes is one unlucky day, with some piece of malware that happens to be able to slip through the net of whatever AV software you happen to be using, to usher in a horde of other malware. Choose AV software that does a reasonably good job of catching stuff as demonstrated in independent tests, do your best to secure the system in other ways as well, and pray for good news every day -- or just use a different platform so you don't really have to worry about viruses and worms. Those are pretty much the options. I suspect you were just unlucky the day AVG failed you, or maybe you didn't sacrifice enough goats to Shub-Internet, Dark God of Connectivity that month. While I've heard of them, I've had no problems by way of 'false positives' during my use of Avast with the exception of ONE time in over five years. Look . . . I'm not saying that Avast isn't good at catching most viruses, or that it's rife with potential for false positives. I haven't actually said anything about Avast yet that I dislike about it other than the fact that I found it to kind of chew up system resources a bit too much for my liking (about as much as the "pro" version of AVG, last time I checked). The biggest problems I have with Avast are resource consumption at inopportune moments and the fact that the company has done some mildly sketchy things (such as misidentifying a Website that has been the target of a lot of political FUD as a purveyor of malware). I've never had a false positive with Avast, AVG, or ClamWin, though. Is that not just a whole lot contradictory? Did you not read the damned article? WTF? I'll copy the beginning of the relevant paragraph for you: "I know I just broke Rule Number 5: Don't use two AV programs. I have found, however, that AVG Free and ClamWin tend to play nicely with each other, a rare trait in modern antivirus applications." If you actually read the article, you'd realize I already addressed that. Personally, I back up my on-board anti-malware arsenal with F-Secure's online scanner here: There have been times in my life where an on-line scanner was not suitable to my needs, and they generally don't provide any way to automate scheduled full system scans in any case. Anyway, there's nothing that says you can't use an online scan just because you have a backup full system AV scanner installed on the local system. Now, I feel that it is totally remiss and completely irresponsible to write an article strictly dealing with anti-virus software in this day and age when there are so many different types of mal-warez running around the net in addition to virii without giving them one small mention pointing a possible follow up within a series of articles about all the specific malwarez and how to combat them. I'll let you in on a secret. Well, maybe it's not a secret, because nobody told me to keep it secret. An email went out to TR's contributors a while back telling us to avoid writing series that make people feel like they need to read the next article to get the whole story. Also . . . I try to mix up the content from one article to the next so that readers who actually subscribe rather than just showing up from Google for one specific article will be less likely to get sick of this column after six articles in a row on the same subject that doesn't interest them and unsubscribe. Anyway, there's nothing irresponsible about giving people information about how to deal with specific types of malware, even if you don't bend over backwards to try to make them qualified to run a malware scanner vendor. Uh, it seems (from the above links) that AVG has run that exact same course? I have a link for you: confirmation bias When you have a preconceived notion something sucks, it's easy to believe the majority agrees with you.

matthew_t243
matthew_t243

What do you mean? The link seems OK to me...