Computer Protection Over-Kill
August 24, 2006 11:08 AM   Subscribe

What are effective anti-virus and anti-spyware programs that work in harmony?

I recently attempted to save a relative's computer from the depths of virus and spyware hell (a foolish attempt, I know) and not only failed, but also managed to turn the laptop into an authoritarian regime of "you sure you wanna execute that program???" x infinity.

Needless to say the computer's hard drive will undergo a reformatting shortly (what I should have done in the first place). However, once that is completed, what melange of anti-virus and anti-spyware programs should I look into that will play nice together?

Here is a list of programs I had running simultaneously which not only bogged down the poor laptop's processor, but also objected to nearly everything you tried to do on the computer except empty the recycle bin.

*ad-aware - Love this program and have used it since college

*Spybot - Search & Destroy - Had heard good thing about this program but never used it until recently

*ewido anti-spyware - This was something I found recommended here on AskMeFi, but it would often go nuts when activated and want to go total war on everything from temp files to cookies.

*smitRem - Was using this to try and get rid of the dreaded SpywareQuake

*ToolBar Cop - Was instructed to use this in combination with smitRem to get rid of SpywareQuake

*Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 - Downloaded this also on suggestions from MeFi users and it too seemed to like to freak out attack anything that moved. It seemed a little trigger happy and actually deleted some executables that disabled explorer (I've since sold said relative on the glories of firefox).

*ClamWin Anti-Virus - I'm a huge fan of opensource stuff and I'd heard raving reviews about this program so I added it to the party. I think it does a great job, but it's scans took I left it on over-night and still had to wait until noon the next day. Ever more frustrating, once it was finished, it didn't give an option to delete the identified threatening files (at least no option I could find).

Bottom line: With the newly reformatted hard drive, what combination of these (or other programs) could I use to combat spyware/ malware and protect against viruses without sparking a turf war?
posted by Smarson to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Grisoft, the maker of award-winning AVG Anti-Virus, announced the release of ewido anti-spyware 4.0 to expand its antivirus and firewall offering to include comprehensive malware protection against rapidly growing threats such as spyware, adware, dialers, keyloggers, trojans and worms."

Will that work fer ya?
posted by NoMich at 11:54 AM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: Sounds like maybe thats all I need. Awesome, thanks!
posted by Smarson at 12:00 PM on August 24, 2006

When supporting friends or family with my gratis IT security support, I tell them to go and purchase either McAfee or Norton (now Symantec). Both are now suites with fully integrated features for antivirus, spyware, firewall, et al.

I choose these not because they are the best, or the cheapest, or free, but because they are easy to use and totally automated, and all-in-one.

This will keep your friends and family relatively safe, and you with plenty of free time.
posted by poppo at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2006

I know I'll take flak for this, but I'm currently using AOL's SSC. It's powered by McAfee and is an integrated system, as well as being free.
posted by polexxia at 12:31 PM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: The McAfee/Norton choice might be the best cureall since this relative is a repeat offender and will probably find some way to screw up my corrections.
posted by Smarson at 12:47 PM on August 24, 2006

Both are now suites with fully integrated features for antivirus, spyware, firewall, et al.

And both can make your system slow down to a crawl. Just to add to the list.
posted by justgary at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2006

You can run as many spyware scanners as you want, since you only run one of them at a time.

(Spybot's Teatimer -- which I recommend if you can tolerate the silly widget misalignment in the dialogue box, which he refuses to fix for some reason -- is a different story. It will cooperate just fine with A/V realtime scanners, but I don't know how well it would cooperate with other registry-change watchers.)

And finally, you only want one A/V program at a time. You can leave more than one installed, but you have to be vigilant to make sure that only one's realtime daemon is running at a time; that *will* give you hell -- and you should temporarily disable it while you're spy-scanning.

I like Spybot, AdAware, Spyware Doctor (I think it is), and Trend Micro A/V, myself; that's what we use on clients' machines.
posted by baylink at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2006

Response by poster: bayling - Thanks! I haven't heard of Trend Micro, I'll have to look into it.
posted by Smarson at 1:19 PM on August 24, 2006

TrendMicro, like McAfee and Symantec, will also come with a whole suite of stuff if you get the latest and greatest. Also recommended for the moochers of free IT security support.

As for justgary's comment: True, they can eat at performance. I would like to clarify that I do not use these products, I only recommend them for folks who should not be trusted with too much themselves, particularly when you support them for free.
posted by poppo at 1:29 PM on August 24, 2006

Spybot's Teatimer -- which I recommend if you can tolerate the silly widget misalignment in the dialogue box, which he refuses to fix for some reason -- is a different story.

This thread has a fairly simple fix for that.
posted by kindall at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2006

kindall: thanks a *bunch*.

I *greatly* prefer to leave teatimer running on people's machines (with instructions to never "accept" unless they're a) running Windows Update or b) installing software), but I couldn't.

Now I can.
posted by baylink at 2:49 PM on August 24, 2006

Another recommendation for Trend Micro. I use their PC-Cillin for my AV/firewall, and Spybot, Ad-Aware, and Windows Defender for Spyware. Spyware Blaster is another good option that can help prevent spyware from being installed in the first place (rather than just catching and removing it later).
posted by sbrollins at 4:07 PM on August 24, 2006

I just use a Mac at home and have a fulltime IT department at work for my PC's ;-) *Ducks*...
posted by KimG at 4:42 PM on August 24, 2006

Software firewalls suck bigtime. For the best speed/security combination, use a $20 hardware router/firewall, Norton or McAfee to scan email, and Firefox with Adblock(I'd say NoScript too, but you can't expect someone to be savvy enough to know when to not use it as opposed to just disabling it).

That's all you need, and you'll only have one software program running so there's no worry about conflicts.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:13 PM on August 24, 2006

Symantec AntiVirus (corporate)
Windows Defender


The PC has been virus and ad/spyware free since it was built 2 years ago.
posted by drstein at 6:27 PM on August 24, 2006

I recommended these in another thread:

SandboxIE (despite the name, works with any program, not just IE), keeps programs from writing to your REAL registry and filesystem

Altiris SVS, lets you instantly turn apps on and off, as if they were never installed (such "virtualized" apps are also sandboxed a la SandboxIE)

ProcessGuard, won't let anything run without your approval, kind of like TeaTimer for registry changes

I also recommend Windows Defender, Process Explorer, HijackThis, and AVG antivirus, which you can easily track down.
posted by kindall at 11:07 PM on August 24, 2006

Besides the first and last two mentioned in the original post list, I also have the free AVG version installed, but that was already mentioned.

Staying away from IM programs and p0rn will keep you safe. I've never had a problem in all my years of surfing, but if you do feel like something "just ain't right" (although you may very well not know you have one at all), try Mark Russinovich's RootKitRevealer (a recently acquired Microsoft employee, something great for all of us IMO) and al is other great tools at his Sysinternals site.

I also run CCleaner at the end of the day, just to clean stuff up before my nightly scripted backup. And be aware that just because it says it's anti-virus, doesn't mean it isn't actually loading some for ya. Personally, I can't vouch for any of the other names mentioned here but YMMV.

Bottomline, everything I use is free, and it works! G/L.
posted by BillyG at 2:20 PM on August 27, 2006

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