Settle this software fight
January 10, 2010 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Who should I trust - AVG or cnet? Cnet says, "No flies on us, download willy nilly." AVG says, "Stop, Stop, Stop! For the love of FSM stop before this malware kills us all!"

Downloaded Mp3 Wma Converter 1.9 from cnet which claims all files are tested spyware free. Started the install and AVG had a cow.

Is cnet overstating the safety of their files? Is AVG overly cautious? Is it possible for you to know from the information in my question? Or is it a case by case that no one can answer without seeing the file? (In which case I'll take the better safe than sorry route and find another way to files.)
posted by Lesser Shrew to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
"AVG had a cow"

posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:40 PM on January 10, 2010

Any antivirus tool will occasionally give you a false positive. Try the same install after the next update and see if it's still troublesome.
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 PM on January 10, 2010

Best answer: You can scan any file less than 10MB using dozens of virus scanners by uploading it to VirusTotal. I just downloaded what I think was the same file, uploaded it there, and got this result. If the file I downloaded was the same as yours, that means it's likely to be as clean as the proverbial whistle, and your AVG's on crack - especially considering that one of the engines Virustotal uses is AVG's.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:47 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cnet, as in I've never ever had a problem with them in the last 10+ years. If you are concerned do as others have suggested and scan with another tool.

Housecall and Kaspersky online tests are what I usually do for single files.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 9:46 PM on January 10, 2010

Sometimes legit programs start giving out false positives on virus scanners. It happened to a couple of programs recently after Avast pushed out some untested updates.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:56 PM on January 10, 2010

Panda is very friendly and free.
posted by hortense at 10:03 PM on January 10, 2010

For reference, I'll point out that erightsoft's SUPER will convert basically anything into anything else, although the interface leaves a bit to be desired.

Download link at the bottom of that page.
posted by katrielalex at 4:38 AM on January 11, 2010

Best answer: It may be reacting less to the software as such than to something it's trying to do in its install process. Antiviral programs tend to be touchy--and rightfully so--about programs, especially ones it can't identify, modifying the registry or other tasks common to the install process.* This frequently results in programs from minor and independent developers, the kind who are too small for antiviral companies to notice, getting flagged as malicious by your antiviral software.

If you're confident that the program is okay, disable your antiviral, install, and re-enable it. Run a quick scan afterwards just to make sure there aren't any trojans, but you may well be fine.

*The Microsoft developer who thought that requiring each and every program you install to modify the system needs to be drug out into the street and shot, if such has not already been done.
posted by valkyryn at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2010

I'm a big CNET podcast junkie and recently on the Mailbag podcast, Molly Wood answered a viewer email about a "virus ridden" file. She said the CNET team pulled it down to do further investigation on it after the viewer complained. I wouldn't install it and I'd send an email to the CNET folks.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for such thorough and thoughtful answers - including suggestions for alternative tools.

Cat Pie Hurts - AVG threw up a message about Malware. Don't have a screenshot and don't recall the exact wording, but it was an alarming alert.

I've never had a problem with a download before and - for whatever reason - it never occurred to me that cnet would provide a timely and useful answer so thanks for that tip, cwgrlUp. Next time I won't have to bother the green.

It's installed now, nothing naughty shows up on a scan, although it does pull up the software homepage in Mozilla when launched, but I can live with that. (It tried to install a Yahoo toolbar, but what doesn't these days?)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:10 PM on January 12, 2010

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