Friday, December 9, 2011

How to choose the right Anti-Virus (for Windows)

Having repaired several thousand PCs over the last ten years, I've learned a few things about the subject:

1) When someone says he/she "likes" a particular AV, I never take that person seriously on the subject. An AV choice simply isn't like choosing a graphics program or word processor. The average PC user simply doesn't enough info to know how their choice fares against anything else, even if they've tried others. You must be guided FIRST by sources like AV-Comparatives, who have the resources to objectively and rigorously test the various offerings. AV-C also permits you see how different programs fare over time.

Sadly, PC Mag and ZDNet no longer do this kind of in-depth, comparative analysis, so I have to get off my butt and find other sources [besides AV-C], but you get my drift.

2) When someone mentions that the program is free, I always reply: "free AV is generally too expensive." I realize that it's a tough economy and everyone can't a full price program (BTW, I'm the senior PC tech for a branch of a Fortune 500 retailer), but there are LEGAL ways around the high price of software. You can buy up-to-date, discount security software from 
Amazon has several deals, so at their everyday prices you can protect multiple PCs without breaking the bank. (Like Kaspersky IS 2011 3-user for approx $30, incl shipping.)

3) Finally, stick with Firefox, Chrome, and/or Opera to minimize potential exposure to malware in the first place. These browsers (as opposed to IE) are far less likely to blindly download and execute [embedded] malware and thereby cause a problem that must be fixed.

For the record, in the last ten years, I've used Spybot, MalwareBytes, Avira Free, CA eTrust AV, Norton IS/Norton 360, and have settled on Kaspersky IS. KIS runs well even on most small memory (512MB) PCs, so that's what I use for default protection on PCs that I've redone/cleaned. KIS is very flexible (and inconspicuous) for power users and is feature-rich, so a novice need only install it to get excellent protection (ie. one doesn't have to tweak it to achieve adequate protection.)

Kaspersky has recently made major improvements to its stable of products. The latest Kaspersky Pure (equivalent to Norton 360) offers a centralized management interface (haven't tried it yet !), so one can tweak/update/etc any licensed PC, from a single PC. Kaspersky One offers an Internet Security package for any combination of up to five different devices (haven't tried it yet either !), ie. PC, Mac, and smartphone !


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