Your anti-virus software is betraying you, and you don’t even know it.

<WC: Originally appeared in Go! Magazine, December 2006>

William Conner – My Computer Hero

Unified Threat Management  -  Photo: Will Conner

Unified Threat Management  -  Photo: Will Conner

If you’re like most people you have relied on one of the many “standard” security suites that come pre-installed in your system, like a 60 day trial of Norton Internet Security or AVG anti-virus or some other well known suite. You may even have been savvy enough to update your subscription and perform regular scans, but your computer continues to do strange things and grows slower and slower, and you’re not really sure why.

The answer is simple; you’ve been saddled with a mediocre product and don’t know any better because everybody else has too. Anti-virus (AV) software over the last few years has morphed from simple and powerful scanners into a veritable Swiss utility knife of anti-spam, anti-spyware, pop-up blocking, anti-phishing, firewalls that do more and more. In theory, these extra utilities are great, you get more bang for your AV buck and it all comes in one simple easy to use interface (we hope). Then there’s the drawbacks, like the famous Swiss Utility Knife while these “Security Suites” do many things, they do few if any well; not to mention they’ve become bigger and slightly more unwieldy with each new feature.

This brings us to the current situation you, just like many others, are in. You now have this software that you are relying on to keep your operating system well lubricated and free of nastiness so you can enjoy the use of your computer, but it isn’t working as well as it once did. The big culprit here is Norton Internet Security, but it isn’t the only one. Even our favorite AV, Avast! Anti-virus comes with many other features that at best slow your computer to a grinding halt if not disabled during the install process. Without these extra features Avast! works wonderfully. In fact it has consistently taken top honours in all certifications and awards for the last few years, while Symantec’s Norton products have consistently fallen behind bringing me to my second point.

Last years great security product is this year’s biggest threat. Many of my peers and I have noticed a trend in the industry that seem a bit disturbing. As AV providers become more and more popular, instead of focusing on improving their detection and removal methods, they add more features which drag down your computer, make it harder for you to use, and open themselves up to new vectors of attack.

Partly do its popularity and partly because of its bloat, Norton Security Suite is the most targeted software by anti-anti-viruses I know of. This is a big problem because while you think you are being protected on the information highway your “oil filter” is failing and allowing the “engine” of your computer to slowly fill up with junk and seize. That is about the time we get our first call from new clients, in fact, it’s the majority of first calls.

What’s our recommendation? It’s time to switch. Get rid of last decade’s successes and try Avast! from www.avast.com. It is by far the most thorough and accurate AV I have seen to date. It is light, fast and unforgiving towards viruses, Trojans and other malware. It automatically updates itself, doesn’t need regular scheduled scans, has a boot time scanner to clean windows of any malware that blocks it’s removal and when properly installed and configured works the best by just leaving it alone. In fact, in my opinion, it’s the only one that does. Oh, and don’t forget, it’s also 100% FREE for home users.

Byline: William Conner is the owner and primary field technician of My Computer Hero mobile support servicing Calgary and outlying communities. Please e-mail him at <redacted> for instruction on how to properly configure Avast! Or call 24/7 to book a service call at 403-444-0700.