Norton Securities is a non-replicating virus:
July 3, 2006 6:55 PM   Subscribe

Now that my subscription is approaching its final week Norton is going berserk on my machine. I want to put it out of its misery. I hate it now even more than when it killed Webroot Spysweeper. Of course I need to get good virus protection before I off Norton. I’ve been following the discussion here and it looks like McAfee offers a good alternative for someone like me who isn’t tech savy. By the way, I’m just now switching from a dial up connection to Bellsouth DSL.
posted by Huplescat to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
i like - its a whats what of good free software to have. theres an antivirus and firewall section. i use avg antivirus and zone alarm because those are the ones i hear the most about. both free. no problems here.
posted by GleepGlop at 6:58 PM on July 3, 2006

McAfee is actually almost as bad and broken as NAV. I couldn't in good conscience suggest you use it. It was a nice product 15 years ago, but isn't very good any more. I've been happy with AVG Free, although some people dislike it and prefer NOD32.
posted by majick at 7:01 PM on July 3, 2006

I'm going to assume you are running Windows XP, and suggest you run over to Grisoft, and get their free anti-virus program. It is an easy install, just take all the defaults and it will update itself daily and check your e-mails, as well as automagically doing all the other anti-virus stuff.

We've had problems with Norton and McAfee (and Panda) where I work. AVG Free has been a dream.
posted by QIbHom at 7:04 PM on July 3, 2006

AVG Free indeed. It's so good that you'll wonder why it's free. (answer: because you'll pay for it when you use it commerically or get a 64-bit processor. And you'll be happy to do it because it's SO GOOD.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:08 PM on July 3, 2006

Best answer: AVG is the best antivirus for the non-tech-savvy I've ever seen. You install it, and it just works. I've very rarely seen it cause trouble, and I've installed it on literally hundreds of machines.

I hate Norton.

I hate McAfee.

I don't know which of them I hate worse. I think it depends on which of them is installed on the broken machine I'm dealing with at the time.

I've seen Trend (PC-Cillin) break machines after an automatic update.

I haven't used NOD32; everybody I've spoken to who has seems to like it.

And you need to download the AVG installer, then kill Norton (good luck with that - it's often a painful process getting rid of the last remnants of it) then install AVG. Don't ever have two AV products running at the same time on the same machine, as they will most likely fight.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 PM on July 3, 2006

I've tried both AVG and Avast! (also free) and been pretty much equally happy. Avast! is a bit slicker and more featureful.
posted by Eater at 7:13 PM on July 3, 2006

The Windows XP SP2 inbuilt firewall works just fine, by the way.
posted by flabdablet at 7:15 PM on July 3, 2006

In my experience, on a low-end machine you'll notice more of a performance hit from Avast! than you will from AVG.
posted by flabdablet at 7:16 PM on July 3, 2006

AVG and Avast are good, but if you have any academic/corporate connections, you should try Symantec's Corporate Antivirus. Just like norton, only not a piece of shit.
posted by fvox13 at 7:18 PM on July 3, 2006

your best bet is to run two at the same time. on my slow machine i run AVG and ANTI VIR. on my baby, i run AVG and AVAST. you can try Clamwin, the virus guard is slooooow. but its thorough. plus you can download the Clamwin extension for Fire Fox and it'll scan all your downloads. but it is a memory HOG. i'd link to it all, but your google prolly works just as well as mine.

make sure you use Opera or firefox. adbock, noscript, ect.ect.ect.
posted by Davaal at 7:44 PM on July 3, 2006

I use Nod 32 and really like it. It is very unobtrusive does a good job.
posted by busboy789 at 7:56 PM on July 3, 2006

Avast is great.
posted by The Monkey at 8:09 PM on July 3, 2006

I am intending to replace Norton myself but haven't decided what to replace it with, AVG seems to be getting the most recommendations. Does, AVG offer firewall protection as well?
posted by anticlock at 8:26 PM on July 3, 2006

Another vote for (free) AVG. I've had it for about a month with no problems. It gets updated almost daily, is easy to use and takes up less space than my old anti-virus software.

I started with McAfee which came with the machine and dropped it after haggling with them over a price discount which they wouldn't honor (so what if it was a couple of days after the deadline).

Then I went to the EZ armor suite which was free for a year with Roadrunner. The firewall was nothing but trouble so I had to zap that. It also didn't seem to get updated that often. They seemed to think that I was going to pay after a year. They were wrong.

So I switched to AVG which a colleague at work has used for a while. So far so good. No complaints. And the price is's free.
posted by bim at 8:52 PM on July 3, 2006

Another happy AVG user here. Been using it for at least two years on three PC's with no probs.
posted by pompomtom at 9:04 PM on July 3, 2006

AVG + Windows XP SP2 firewall + Firefox (instead of IE) + being somewhat cautious about downloads/attachments = never had a single virus, and never had a single hassle with my protection suite. Every member of my family/friends that had MacAfee or Norton installed had some problem with it eventually, and I've switched almost all of them to AVG with nary a complaint.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:15 PM on July 3, 2006

What busboy said. NOD32 is awesome; just set it and forget it. Kaspersky's is excellent as well, but it uses way more system resources, so I dumped it in favor of NOD. Been a happy NOD customer for over two years.

You can do some comparisons here:

AV Comparitives

Generally speaking, the free anti-virus solutions aren't very effective. Norton is a POS and you're well rid of it.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:39 PM on July 3, 2006

If you're going to get DSL, check and see if Bellsouth includes a free subscription to anything. ATT/Yahoo DSL includes what I believe is the CA suite; I'm going to try it when my NIS subscription runs out.

While I haven't had any major problems, aside from the frustrating activation process, I've heard too many horror stories about NIS. Sorry, Symantec, but I'm going to look elsewhere.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:44 PM on July 3, 2006

your best bet is to run two at the same time

Everything I've ever read says this is wrong.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:49 PM on July 3, 2006

another vote for AVG.
posted by sophist at 10:30 PM on July 3, 2006

The pay editions of AVG have an inbuilt firewall; IIRC the free one doesn't. But the Windows XP SP2 inbuilt firewall really does do an adequate job.

If you're running something pre-XP, I like the SoftPerfect Personal Firewall, loaded with this ruleset.
posted by flabdablet at 11:04 PM on July 3, 2006

Also, I'm currently in the process of rolling out the centrally-administered version of AVG to a corporate network, and have found it straightforward, well-designed, well-documented and cheap.
posted by flabdablet at 11:07 PM on July 3, 2006

First, let me chime in along with the rest of the AVG folks. Their free version is a very good tool and here's why:

1. Quiet and unobstrusive. It get's in, does the job and doesn't muck about too much with the guts of your OS.

2. Free updates. It gets the updates and scans the computer with nary a beep until it is done. No annoying daily annoucements that you need to register. One of the best, well supported free apps out there in my mind.

3. Effective. Alas, in my job, I see a lot of infected computers. AVG gets all I have seen so far. Some of the more clever ones will disable whatever antivirus they have running, making removal even more of a task. For whatever reason, AVG does not seem to be one of the antivirus programs that is targeted. Norton is targeted as are most of the other big antivirus programs but AVG seems to fly under the radar.

4. It plays well with others. I am loathe to leave any machine without anti-virus software AT ALL. We all know that when a machine has more than one anti-virus software loaded on a machine, problems erupt due to the nature that either program sees the other as an invasive program and attemptd to disable it. You can see why this might be a problem. Machines develop an identity complex and start crapping the bed. However, I have a machine running both AVG and NAV and they are working well together. No conflicts and we are three months in. So, I got that going for me.

If you are looking for good, uick and cheap, AVG is the way to go. I know this violates a standard project management rule of thumb but in this case, it holds true.
posted by Dagobert at 11:21 PM on July 3, 2006

About six months ago I ditched Norton and went with NOD32 based on what I read here in the green. It's been wonderful. NOD32 is super fast (it's written in assembly) and just works without any other nonsense.

I was a Norton loyalist for 10+ years but saw that package swell from useful to bloated during that time.

My machine boots about 30% faster without the Norton nonsense... it's stunning how bad that product has become.

As mentioned AVG also does a wonderful job. Go with NOD32 or AVG and you'll never look back.
posted by wfrgms at 11:22 PM on July 3, 2006

Best answer: I'm sorry.
posted by NortonDC at 1:45 AM on July 4, 2006

But seriously, if you're really serious about thwarting net-nasties, run Firefox with the NoScript extension.
posted by NortonDC at 1:47 AM on July 4, 2006

There is no actual evidence of the effectiveness of Antivirus software.

I'm serious. This is my field, it's my area of expertise, and there's no clear sign any of them make you any safer at all.

The anti-spyware/anti-malware guys are reacting to actual threats. The AV industry by contrast has been running on fumes for years.
posted by effugas at 2:12 AM on July 4, 2006

Best answer: This is my field, too; I fix a lot of infected Windows boxes. While it's undoubtedly true that I see more spyware than viruses, viruses do still cause trouble and it's worth having something in place to catch them. One of the schools I work at had a virus spread across several staff laptops via email (thanks for nothing, Symantec Antivirus Corporate); since then, all staff have seen a sharp increase in their spam load. I'm presuming that at least one of those laptops delivered its entire address book to somebody unscrupulous.

I have seen AVG detect and quarantine several viruses that arrived in emails to one of my machines. I have also seen it find and isolate viruses that spontaneously installed themselves onto an Internet-connected Windows ME box that I'd left with AVG and the Zone Alarm firewall installed; the owner had turned ZA off because, after an update, it screwed with his emails and stopped his internet banking from working properly - and he wasn't up to date with Windows patches, because his ISP-supplied network setup CD had set his dialup connection to use an autoproxy script that killed Windows Update stone dead.

AVG also detects a certain amount of spyware/adware/trojan crap. It doesn't do as clean a job of removing active installs of that stuff as something like Spybot Search & Destroy would, but it will usually stop it running in the first place.

A decent antivirus scanner is, in my opinion, just one of the security precautions a Windows user needs. I agree that it's not the the most important precaution. For my money, the Right Things, in order of importance, are:

1. Make sure you have a working firewall that simply drops any incoming packet on the floor, unless a specific rule allows it in. The Windows XP SP2 firewall is adequate, as is the SoftPerfect firewall I linked to above.

2. Set your Windows NT/2000/XP machines up with a single administrative user, and create limited accounts for day-to-day work. Without administrative privileges, it's hard for malware to get a solid grip. Try to find alternatives to software that isn't happy to run this way. If you can't, fiddle with security permissions until the software does run.

3. Make sure Windows has all available critical updates applied. If you're using a Windows version that has automatic updates, turn them on.

4. Install Spybot Search & Destroy, and enable its SDHelper component for blocking bad Internet Explorer downloads.

5. Use Firefox or Opera for general web browsing. If you're using Firefox, install the Adblock Plus, Adblock Filterset.G Updater, Noscript and IE View extensions, and use Windows's Set Program Access and Defaults tool to disable access to Internet Explorer. The only explicit ways in to IE should be via the Windows Update and Microsoft Update links from the Start menu, or via IE View redirects from Firefox.

Of course, the fact that you can start IE implicitly just by typing a http: address into the address bar of any Windows Explorer window makes something of a mockery of this "disabled" access :-)

6. Use anything other than Outlook or Outlook Express for an email client; both are horrible. Thunderbird is fine. Eudora is fine. Pocomail is fine.

7. Last, but not least, install a decent antivirus tool. AVG Free is, in my opinion, the best value for money+time invested.

If you do all seven of these things, you can run a Windows box trouble-free for years. It pisses me off endlessly that they're never already done when you buy your Winbox from the shop.
posted by flabdablet at 3:14 AM on July 4, 2006 [5 favorites]

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