Virus protection, malware prevention et al

I’m setting up my son’s computer and wanted to get any suggestions for what to install. I did a search for virus protection and the last thread was about a year old. The concensus in that thread was that for free virus checkers you could use either AVG free or Avast Home Edition. Any changes to that thinking or are these still the top dogs in the free category?

On my main computer I use Symantec (because I have a license for it from work), WinPatrol, Windows Defender, and Cloudmark for email spam (plus the firewall built into my router, of course). Is all that overkill or just par for the course?

Anything missing from above? I haven’t had any virus/malware/spamware issues with my computer for a long time, but then again I’m fairly conservative with where I surf and what links I click.

i reroute my email through a gmail account, then back again, which filters 99% of my spam. trouble is, that 1% is now growing to be unmanageable too. When are we bringing in the death by stoning penalty for the spammers?

Still only use AVG and my firewall for the last couple of years, and no problems to report. I’ve never found anything that handles spam particularly well. I turn outlook’s spam filter to high, although I know people who use safe lists only for outlook.

I get along fine with simply AVG Free and firewall as well. Spybot S&D gets run rarely, but I’ve never had spyware problems on my home PC–the best spyware protection a computer can have (and the worst cause of the lack of it) exists between the keyboard and chair, as the help desk root-cause saying goes.

Gmail’s spam filter works surprisingly well; it’s been my primary account for a year and a half now, and I only occasionally see things in my inbox that shouldn’t be there.

Only a quick trigger finger on the System Restore has been effective for spyware in my experience. Everything else seems to have a blind spot or two.

Oh, and Avast is a decent free anti-virus.

If you have a reasonable gaming machine you really don’t want to have to reinstall every few months along with all the apps and special tweaks / settings.

I do two steps.

  1. Use acronis for backups. It’s like Ghost, except it works in Windows, usually not even requiring a reboot. It can automatically generate images on a schedule if you like. I’ve made quite a number of images. One after reinstalling windows, one after i get all drivers updated, one after I install major invasive programs like Office, one after Firefox favorite extentions, etc. It is not infallible because I recently got a trojan nasty enough to infect even the oldest image I had. But it’s very nice overall, easy to use.

If you can repartition a drive with partition manager, you can use acronis.

  1. Run everything on limited account, only only using Admin for some tasks and evil games that require punkbuster, steam authentication, etc. About 30% of my current games need it grr.

  2. Virtualize. Get VMPlayer and run a browser machine. Save any files you download in a special folder. You can wait a month and scan it afterwards before running on your “real” system. Only use internet on this browser machine. Restore from snapshot as needed :)

Or get VMWare server, a copy of windows, and reinstall it on that virtual machine. You can run all the neat services you need.

“Hello, I’m a PC and wish I was a Mac.”


I use web-based email (Yahoo), the built-in XP firewall and Windows Defender (Microsoft’s Antispyware). I also use a basic linksys router between all of my systems and the net, which isn’t primarily for the purposes of security but as a side-effect does reduce the chance of getting hit by any of those worms that target an obscure service Microsoft has listening on some network port. Just using this very basic setup, I don’t remember the last time I’ve had to deal with a virus or spyware on my own systems, and they are all running Windows XP (always updated with the latest windowsupdate patches).

Alternately, whenever I visit home I have to fix the computers of various family members who were running like 3 different commercial virus checkers (McAfee, etc) when their computer was infected by something that managed to disable all of their security software and then invite all of its malware friends over to the point where they make the system completely unusable.

The difference is that certain (younger) members of my family tend to be the type that can’t help themselves from downloading small games or music players or any of those dancing-ad ‘freebies’. If you have someone who is going to download that sort of shit regardless of how many times you tell them not to, no amount of security software will save you. If you restrict access to people who know better than to download and run that crap, most security software is just going to be a waste of money that sucks up cycles without being of much use.

I know it is a cliche and when you say it, people hear you saying it in the Comic Book Guy voice, but most protection software is ultimately useless, because the deciding factor is the common sense (or lack thereof) of the person who is using the computer.

AVG Free

All have worked wonderfully since I bought my rig 2 years ago. Spam filters make my head hurt.

How do you do this? I get the “through the gmail account” part, it’s the “back again” part I’m not getting…

POP3 > Gmail > POP3 seems like it would be an infinite loop. :)

Just remember pal, if it weren’t for the temperamental nature of PCs, your ass would be holding a cup with pencils in it on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Put a filter on it so that email incoming from your Gmail account isn’t forwarded back.

Try AOL’s free version of kaspersky. Kaspersky is the best paid AV, and the free one just cuts out a few features you probably don’t need anyway. Don’t install the IE toolbar when it asks.

For spam, gmail and outlook’s built-in scanners are reasonable effective. But if you get a ton of spam like I do (>800 per day these days) give popfile a shot. It is >99.998% effective over time for me.

All of that doesn’t really matter, though. You’re talking about a kid’s computer, he’s going to click on all kinds of deviant shit that would horrify you if you only knew. Yes-- install a firewall, spam/virus scan everything, but it doesn’t matter because he will still infect the computer with soemthing. My suggestion is install and configure all your software then ghost the disk so it can be easily restored once the amputee porn popups start coming with any regularity.

Actually, I’d be working on mainframes for un-named govt agencies. Forget I said that. Said what? Nevermind.

DO NOT use AOL’s software. It’s full of malware. Let me find those links…,126928/article.html#

The only virus detection software I’ve used that’s decent is the corporate Symantec Antivirus, which maintains a pretty lean profile compared to its hugely obese home counterpart. I was recommended a non-corporate solution a while ago, I believe it was NOD32, but I’m forgetting if that was it now.

As for spyware, I run Javacool Spyware Blaster and Spybot S&D’s Immunize and then have a copy of free Ad-aware for scanning when things start acting weird. I’m not a big fan of active defense for spyware, but Windows Defender would be a free option (assuming you didn’t pirate your Windows or have a cracked WGA).

The license for the AOL AV is overly lax, but they don’t actually include any of that stuff and have said they’re going to change the license.