Help Me Protect My PC Please?
February 14, 2009 8:56 AM   Subscribe

What Is The Best PC Anti-Virus Software?

My subscription to Norton Anti-Virus Software is ending, and I read here on Metafilter in another thread that this may not be the best choice in PC virus protection.

They are going to auto-subscribe me for another year if I don't cancel, so would like the hive mind to recommend something better for me to use on my system.

I run an HP laptop with Vista Home Premium.
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Computers & Internet (45 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I recommend AVG Free. It's widely respected and does a great job. It is consistently one of the most downloaded and heralded free anti-virus applications.
posted by karizma at 8:59 AM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


2nding AVG Free big time.
posted by phunniemee at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2009


3rding AVG
posted by chrisamiller at 9:09 AM on February 14, 2009


I've been recommending and using AVG Free for years. But it screwed up on me recently, an auto-update went bad, so I switched to avast. It seems to work well.
posted by Nelson at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2009


I also switched to Avast! from AVG after AVG went glitchy, and am very happy with it.
posted by essexjan at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2009


I recommend Avast to people at work and use it home with no problems, but I reckon AVG works fine, too.
posted by jmd82 at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2009


I use AVG on all my WIndows machines simply because it's free, but if you're willing to pay I've heard you can't beat NOD32 (at least in terms of performance).
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2009


Previously. I hate to sound snooty but AVG is far from the best protection available :(
posted by Sufi at 9:23 AM on February 14, 2009




Paid: NOD32. I used this for years until I realized that pirating an antivirus defeated the purpose so I switched to...
Free: Avira, which I really like even if you have to disable the nag screen unless you want it to come up everything you update the virus definitions.
posted by Memo at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


To offer a bit more information, I am currently using Eset NOD32. After researching several antivirus statistic websites (sites like AV-Comparatives) I had decided on both Kaspersky or NOD32.

Be sure to check Newegg for an OEM version of whatever you choose.
posted by Sufi at 9:34 AM on February 14, 2009


NOD32. I've read nothing but good reviews. Removing Norton and installing NOD32 gave the (older, XP-era) machines a nice speed boost, too. I can't really compare it with other software in terms of efficacy since I haven't compared others, but I'll say that we have three machines, and none of them have had a single problem as long as NOD32's been installed.
posted by fogster at 9:36 AM on February 14, 2009


I was always firmly in the AVG camp, but I've been using the open source ClamWin lately. Note: it doesn't have an on-access scanner, so it's only for manual scanning, but if you're only using Firefox with NoScript installed (and you should be), on-access scanning really isn't that important and not having it means less of a memory footprint. Just remember to scan anything you download before you open it.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:39 AM on February 14, 2009


I enjoy clamwin.
posted by scarello at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2009


I'd just like to pipe up here and ask the Poster about how s/he intends to remove Norton before installing AVG or different anti-virus protection.

I had to phone India to get rid of Norton on my machine when I installed AVG.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:51 AM on February 14, 2009


I switched to Avira Free after AVG went wonky on three different computers. The pop-up ad isn't all that bad, considering that the program's free (I successfully disabled it on one computer, but was unsuccessful on a 2nd). I haven't had any issues with Avira.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:19 AM on February 14, 2009


To clairfy -- when I tried to (unsuccessfully) disable the pop-up it corrupted the entire program and I had to re-name the corrupted file folder because Windows wouldn't let me delete it, then reinstall.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2009


I should note that I have been running AVG Free (through the various updates) for quite a while now on several different PC's (laptops and desktops) and have zero wonkiness. Apparently from the comments above, YMMV, but it may not necessarily be an issue with AVG.
posted by karizma at 10:49 AM on February 14, 2009


[a few comments removed - "get another OS" is really a smarmy non-answer.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2009


Do you run as a local admin and can install anything by double clicking on it? If so, consider switching all people in your house to limited accounts. This will prevent a lot of malware from installing itself, and you can switch to the admin account when you actually want to install something. More details here. This will make the AV software much less critical.
posted by benzenedream at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2009


I'd just like to pipe up here and ask the Poster about how s/he intends to remove Norton before installing AVG or different anti-virus protection.

I've uninstalled Norton from several peoples PCs recently without any difficulty. Just a straightforward Add/Remove Programs thing.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:01 AM on February 14, 2009


I'd recommend that the best subscription anti-virus software is no subscription anti-virus software. Just get something you can run once in a while while you're feeling bored. Your best protection is good internet browsing habits.
posted by Justinian at 11:17 AM on February 14, 2009


I found AVG to be effective but very in-your-face pop-uppy and annoying upon logging in. Such that I came to dread logging in.
posted by everichon at 11:25 AM on February 14, 2009


I also like AVG. The venerable Leo Laporte recommends nod32 by eset for a paid solution that is much more robust. I've heard that Kaspersky is the best but can be frustrating to use.
posted by mattholomew at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2009


I trust Avast on my Windows install, and on all my friends who had a trial of Norton's run out years ago.
posted by deezil at 11:41 AM on February 14, 2009


AVG had some issues (with Vista in particular) a while back, but they seem to have resolved them. Of course, with the free version you have little recourse to customer support if something does go wrong, but there are numerous decent forums for AVG Free.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:44 AM on February 14, 2009


NOD32. Much less memory-intensive than Norton, and almost certainly more effective. Never look back!

Be sure to check Newegg for an OEM version of whatever you choose.

^ This is truth.
posted by stleric at 12:03 PM on February 14, 2009


I'd add ZoneAlarm to the list. Coupled with AVG Free, you have a good team going there.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:35 PM on February 14, 2009


One poster mentioned not being able to remove Norton. It likes to dig itself into your OS, but luckily Symantec knows this. There is a Norton Removal tool for when you decide to pitch it. Just download your new AV app and have it ready to install after you restart from removing Norton.
posted by ijoyner at 12:38 PM on February 14, 2009


I clean computers as part of my job. We switched from AVG to Avira AntiVir a couple years back. Free, and consistently outperforms any other free A/V, and most of the commercial ones. For the corporate world I recommend Kaspersky, but it's a bit much for most users. Same with personal firewalls, which are often misconfigured by people who don't understand networking (i.e., most people). Anti-spyware is essential. Spybot and Ad-Aware are both well-established and work well, although Ad-Aware is getting bloated lately. SpywareBlaster is also worth having. All these are free or have free versions.

McAfee is not that great. Norton's detection rate is often good, although the software performance is usually the source of a lot of complaints. I'd stay away from both.

Av-comparatives.org is the only truly non-biased A/V review I know, although they only review the commercial options.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:53 PM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Memo writes "Free: Avira, which I really like even if you have to disable the nag screen unless you want it to come up everything you update the virus definitions."

Well, I'd add that it's a small price to pay for such software, as it only happens once a day when it updates, and they only advertise their own products. The free version even allows you to schedule scans and updates, which most free A/V disables.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2009


I use AVG and Avast! on different computers and both work very well.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2009


One more caveat with all these recommendations.

Make sure you don't have more than one anti-virus program installed at one time. You can have multiple anti-spyware programs installed, but the A/V programs interrupt processes to examine them, so if there is more than one program doing that, it could cause serious issues, like the machine going very slow or freezing up.

And the recommendation to run under limited accounts is a good idea, if your software allows it, and run as admin when you want to do administrative things, like install/uninstall. Unfortunately, many times it's not possible due to the way vendors write software for Windows requiring it to be run as administrator, but it's a very good practice wherever possible to run as a more limited user.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2009


I recommend Norman. My place of work (500 employees) has used Norman for years.
posted by iviken at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2009


ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite
posted by boby at 1:22 PM on February 14, 2009


Nthing AVG Free.

Nthing that the big names like Norton and McAfee are far worse for performance and more annoying than any virus you are likely to get.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2009


Oh yeah and are you behind a physical firewall (ie, router)? This is, in my experience, much more important for stopping malicious traffic than whatever software you may or may not have.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:51 PM on February 14, 2009


Ive seen ALL these products fail my own testing with commonly downloaded malware. Virus scanners help with the low hanging fruit, but a lot of techniques used by virus writers today go right through them. Packed and encrypted executables most notably.

I think AV is required but its only one part of the puzzle. The other part is not to run as administrator for your everyday usage. Take your user account out of the administrators group and run as user or power user. When you need to update or install software just right-click and do a RunAs. More info here.

On top of that I recommend using Firefox with the Web of Trust extension plugged in. Also the adblock extension too, as most malware now comes from compromised ad servers. Thats how "Antivirus 2009" got spread so quickly. People thought it was legitimate because it was served from Forbes.com or whatever.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:07 PM on February 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Web of Trust site here.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:10 PM on February 14, 2009


Love Avast.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:24 PM on February 14, 2009


NOD32 or Kaspersky are both excellent.
posted by dragontail at 3:44 PM on February 14, 2009


ClamWin ftw. I use only the standalone one. As the real first antivirus is YOU. Don't clic if you don't know what you're doing.
posted by zouhair at 5:41 PM on February 14, 2009


Avira, which I really like even if you have to disable the nag screen

Oh Jesus Christ, thank you for that link. Now that you can do that, I second Avira for free.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:09 PM on February 14, 2009


I used to use AVG but the latest version is pretty bloaty.

I use Avast! now, and it's great. I'm in a high-risk environment (usb stick in several shared equipment computers that are internet accessible used by a *lot* of dumbassed people). It's lightweight and has caught a bunch of virii/trojans before they had had a chance to do damage and clenaed up the USB key I 'tickled' those infected computers with.

Avast also has a much easier/less obstrusive definitions upgrade routine, and the notification message is voiced by someone with a rather mellifluous voice.

<waves!>
posted by porpoise at 9:54 PM on February 14, 2009


You have several great choices for free AV software and free anti-spyware software above. In addition, as a Windows user, it's very important to download & install critical updates from Microsoft, either automatically or manually. You should use Internet Explorer to occasionally verify that updates are current, including updating to IE7. Then you should stop using IE. There are some current pieces of malware that seem to get past IE easily. Given that you don't lose (and probably gain) functionality, it's a no-brainer to ditch IE except for a handful of sites.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on February 15, 2009


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