Monday, July 27, 2009

Which Antivirus program should I use?

One of the most popular questions in computing, everyone needs to know the options when it comes to security software. There are many types of security/antivirus software, but first we should look at what it is, what it does, and what it doesn't do.

A peek back
In the early days of personal computing, Norton (Symantec) and McAfee were pretty much the only real choices of antivirus (AV) software. You could download a free trial, but then needed to pay for a subscription to continue receiving virus database updates. While it's important to install antivirus software, it's just as important to keep it up-to-date. Most AV programs handle this by automatically checking for, downloading and installing updates.

Today, Norton and McAfee are still very active on the AV/Security software scene, thanks in large part to the deals they've made with computer manufacturers to include at least a trial version of one or the other on virtually every new computer. But are they the best option for every day computing? Most tech people say no.

Security Suites
The Security Suite programs from Norton, McAfee, Trend Micro's PC-Cillan and CA have proven themselves to be quite intrusive, difficult to configure and manage, and easy to corrupt. Experience has show them to dramatically slow down even the newest computers.

There are several versions of AV/Security software available from each company. Viruses used to be the major concern; today, they are far less problematic than trojans and other malware. With the proliferation of adware, spyware, trojans and spam came the programs to protect us from them - the Security Software suites. Not only do they include virus protection, they've added a stronger firewall, spyware blocker, and spam protectors. You can see how all this protection, scanning just about every file that is opened on your computer, would begin to bring productivity to a crawl.

A better alternative
There are several very good, free antivirus programs available that have proven records for protecting your computer while balancing the hit on performance to your computer. Money is not the important factor here - if I found a better program that I had to buy, I'd do it. Nothing I've worked with beats these free programs.

Do you need a security suite rather than just antivirus? Not in my opinion. Windows Vista includes a spyware protection program (Windows Defender), and both XP and Vista include a built-in firewall. If you're using a wireless router you already have two firewalls; why pay for another and add more overhead to your computer's load? There are several good, free anti-malware programs everyone should install and know how to use. Here are two, and remember - I didn't come up with the names:

Be sure to read carefully to download the free version of these programs, not the trial. Be aware these free versions are strictly for home use; the license does not cover businesses, organizations or even non-profits.

VERY Important: Download the new software to your Desktop (ALWAY SAVE, not Open or Run) first, then remove your current antivirus or security program, then install the new program.

MOST Important: There are MANY rogue antispyware and antivirus programs out there. Don't install everything that pops up and offers to *help* you. If you're in doubt, send me an email, a text message or call me first!
text or call: 315-573-4905

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