Dec 14 2008
We can’t live without anti virus on our computers in this day and age. I guess we really can, strictly speaking, but the non-techies in my household don’t have the understanding of the Internet to know which behaviors to avoid and what might get them in trouble. So I put AV on their computers, because it’s easier than trying to educate them. And as vital as AV is in these situations, I refuse to pay for it. Why? Because there are so many free options available, and I think most of the for-pay AV’s are too expensive for offering few features that I can’t get in the free versions. I suspect the free AV solutions use the home AV market as a loss leader to get themselves market share and awareness, giving them a toehold in the corporate AV market, which is where the real money is in any case.
For years I’ve been using AVG Anti Virus free edition, but recently I’ve been less than happy with it. It’s been fine on my computer, a decent XP desktop, but on my wife’s slightly older Win2K system, it’s been more than a little unstable and recently started complaining at startup that it was missing a .bin file. I tried to update it several times and scanned the hard drive several times, but I lack the confidence in it’s ability to find malware if it’s acting this flaky. So this morning I uninstalled AVG and now I’m in the process of installing Avast Home Edition. The initial installation was as painless as expected, the system rebooted and before it fully loaded into Windows it’s doing a full system scan for malware. It hadn’t found anything when I started writing this, but given the amount of storage space on her computer, a full scan could take a little while.
So my question to you is what free AV program do you use at home and install on your family’s computers? Or do you pay for AV from one of the big names? Or do you skip AV all together, since the I’ve read numbers stating that AV is only between 60% and 80% effective in any case? And most importantly why did you make the decision you did?
Update: Here’s a link to an entire list of AV products out there at Checkvir.com and a really good report by Anti-malware Test Lab, showing exactly how ineffective AV is. According to this report, only Avira (who?) Kaspersky and F-Secure AV even hit the 90% mark for finding viruses. The big players, Symantec and McAfee only hit the mid-60′s. Ouch!