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Reliable, Free Anti-Virus Software? 586

Posted by timothy
from the when's-it-positively-gotta-be-windows dept.
oahazmatt writes "Some time ago my wife was having severe issues on her laptop. (A Dell Inspiron, if that helps.) I eventually found the cause to be McAfee, which took about an hour to remove fully. I installed AVG on her system to replace McAfee, but we have since found that AVG is causing problems with her laptop's connection to our wireless network. She's not thrilled about a wired connection as the router is on the other end of the house. We're looking for some good, open-source or free personal editions of anti-virus software. So, who on Slashdot trusts what?" When school required a Windows laptop, I used Clam AV, and the machine seemed to do as well as most classmates'. What have you found that works?
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Reliable, Free Anti-Virus Software?

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  • by mikesd81 (518581) <> on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:27PM (#25512047) Homepage
    Well you already mentioned Clam AV. I use that myself. I'd go with that. Some of my friends use Avast, and I don't have a problem w/ that either, but Clam works for me.
  • Moonsecure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:35PM (#25512091)

    Ran across Moonsecure recently. GPL'd AV software supposedly. Never used it myself though.

  • Re:Clam AV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:36PM (#25512097) Homepage Journal

    No, and besides being open source, ClamAV is rather unobtrusive, which is a feature I like. It doesn't get in the way. If I want it to scan something on-demand, it will through the shell extension it installs. I don't want something scanning every damn executable I click on.

  • Re:PEBKAC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:36PM (#25512099)
    Wow, someone has never been around someone who doesn't know much about computers. With Windows users there are two modes, either paranoid as in "OMG!!!11! I can't go to Google!1!1! It will give my computer a virus!11!1!" or "My computer has *insert program here* installed so I can do whatever I feel like and never, ever, ever get a virus, ever". The real ideal solution would be to switch to a different OS, either Linux or OS X, but a lot of Windows users will only use Windows and refuse Linux even when it is easier to do most tasks than on Windows.
  • by modir (66559) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:48PM (#25512187) Homepage Journal

    I would recommend Avira AntiVir [1]. It is free for personal use too. The was most impressed of the speed. I used Avira AntiVir all the time before I moved to Linux.

    [1] []

  • Re:Clam AV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @05:57PM (#25512279) Journal

    I NEVER run background scanning on a virus program. It's a needless system overhead. When I get something new that might be suspicious, I simply run it on that specific program.

    Only time I ever got a virus on the PC was about nine years ago when the virus program I used was running in the background, and let the CIH virus through.

    Not to mention the many MANY issues virus programs cause with games. First thing any support message will tell you is make sure your anti-virus is disabled.

  • by tepples (727027) <> on Saturday October 25, 2008 @06:06PM (#25512353) Homepage Journal

    A weekly full scan? That's closing the barn door after the horses fled.

    Not exactly. My copy of Firefox 3 detected ClamWin and set itself up to call ClamWin every time a download completes, whether it be from a software download site or from my web mail.

  • by davidpfarrell (562876) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @06:14PM (#25512423) Homepage

    I'm trying to move from 32-bit XP to 64-bit vista, and one of the things keeping me from making the switch is trying to find a good 64-bit virus program.

    I'm using ZoneAlarm on XP and one of the things I like most about it is the applications watching and firewall.

    Having it authorize net access and system access is a feature I find very nice to have.

    Unfortunately, it looks like ZoneAlarm is not in the 64-bit game.

    Correction: They were beta testing a 64-bit windows version sometime ago but have dropped it completely with no apparent mention of trying again.

    Currently for firewall on Vista, I use the built-in firewall with full deny by default and then configure applications to go through on a one-by-one basis.

    But I really liked being notified when apps tried to do any potentially dangerous activities like run each time the system is loaded or modify the hosts file, etc.

    So anybody got a good replacement on 64-bit Vista for paranoid users like myself?

    Thanks in advance for any replies.

  • Re:Clam AV (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @06:14PM (#25512427)

    I have never ever ever had antivirus interfere with running a game. IMO its a scapegoat they try to throw at you and reduce their own responsibility.

    I also never disable antivirus while installing software and in 7 years with 4 computers in the house have never had that be an issue.

  • by WMIF (1175429) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @06:53PM (#25512749)
    I like the idea of ClamWin, but unfortunately I cannot recommend it. I work with a lot of different malware, both new and old. In my experience, ClamWin has been one of the worst for detection.

    If you want to check it for yourself, upload different malware to where they compare many different engines on the sample you provide.

  • Re:Clam AV (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @07:02PM (#25512815) Journal

    As a matter of technical humor, you do realize that one of the first things a trojan tends to infect is your system restore, right?

  • Clam AV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmgray13 (702097) <linux AT gminter DOT net> on Saturday October 25, 2008 @07:15PM (#25512909)
    I use Clam Av on all my Windows and linux computers. So far, all have been virus free.
  • by Toll_Free (1295136) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @07:21PM (#25512941)

    I run Vista X64 Ultimate.



  • Wireless printer? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot&m0m0,org> on Saturday October 25, 2008 @07:43PM (#25513055)

    This might be coming from left field, but your question struck me because I was having exactly the same issue (with exactly the same person, my wife).

    Turns out the problem was our HP wireless printer. The drivers were causing network traffic that was causing my wifes computer to slow down. she also has a dell inspiron, but hers is a little old (1gb memory and 1.2ghz cpu).

    The hp drivers were causing network traffic over her linksys wireless card, which in turn was using cpu cycles to support the wireless network traffic.

    The problem was corrected by turning off the HP printer.

    So, if you have a wireless printer, try turning it off.

  • Re:Easy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @07:52PM (#25513123)

    Yep, I agree. I got sick and tired of McAfee and Norton slowing down my computer, as well as taking hours of work to uninstall when something went wrong. So I tried out Avira and I've never looked back. I've installed it on something like 20 PC's since then, mostly for people who were complaining that their computer runs too slow, or relatives who didn't even know they needed to buy a new license every year (one of them had virus definitions that were 2 years out of date).

    Another great thing about Avira is that you can customize it to a much greater extent than MC or Norton. I've set mine to only scan files when reading (instead of reading and writing) and I've removed some of the default file extensions from it's list of files to scan. With that setup my system runs almost as fast as without any AV at all. And in the 2 years I've been using it, I've never once had a problem with viruses.

  • No one is good ! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vawarayer (1035638) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @08:27PM (#25513355)

    Through harsh experience I've found that NO antivirus software is completely securing your computer.

    Long story, short: I've lately traveled to Benin, Western Africa, where I've never seen computers so infected in my entire life.

    My solution: Faronics Deep Freeze []. It will insure your OS integrity by creating an image of it and reapplying this image over and over after every reboot.

    I'm a happy user.

  • by AgentPhunk (571249) on Saturday October 25, 2008 @10:31PM (#25514075)

    I'm a network engineer by trade with responsibility for my company's firewalls, IPS sensors, Network Behavior Detection / Netflow tools, etc. Your post piqued my interest for one of my backburner science projects: a malware research "lab". My company has multiple licenses for VMWare ESX server, VMWare Lab Manager, and the like, and I'd really like to create an environment where I can let specific malware run "freely" and see how well (or more likely, how poorly) my aforementioned firewalls and IPS sensors do at detection / mitigation. Sort of like the xkcd "malware aquarium" comic []

    I know this is an extremely open-ended question, but could please comment on my idea and give any general suggestions on how to get started? Note: I am not a newbie, have been doing some form of computers, networking, and hacking/network security for a long time. I'm just looking for some good Best Practices (or links to them) from someone like yourself who does this for a living.

    My idea is to have a few XP virtual machines running through a virtual switch, that connects through a real (and dedicated) interface on the VM server, out to the firewalls, and IPS's, and then back through another dedicated interface into the VM server. I suppose I could also 802.1Q trunk in/out of the VM server and save myself a NIC. I thought I could also create a virtual honeynet with honeyd for simulating destination hosts for the infected hosts.

    I'm not quite as interested in getting into the guts of the malware with reverse-engineering, disassembly, and whatnot. I just want to learn a few things, tune my devices, and ultimately better protect my company's network.

    Thanks a million in advance (and a huge THANKS for your work as a malware researcher. You are an unsung hero in my books.)

  • Re:Easy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aliquis (678370) <> on Saturday October 25, 2008 @11:40PM (#25514535) Homepage

    Personally I think Avast is annoying as hell, I don't remember what it did but it was annoying. Also at least earlier it wasn't to good at find viruses either, I think that had improved now though.

  • Re:Easy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mlts (1038732) * on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:12AM (#25514683)

    This is my personal opinion, but the computer that runs the pro audio software should not be used for general computing use, and should never be connected directly to the Internet. If you can, have two OS partitions, one for normal computing use, and one dedicated to the music applications.

    There are several reasons for this:

    First, latency. AV software sucks CPU cycles, which adds latency. This is one of the musician's worst enemies. You want just the OS and the music software if possible. One single swap to disk may screw up a long mix you are working on. This is also why you want to load a music workstation with as much RAM as you possibly can.

    Second, music programs are prone to crashing, especially with use of a lot of plugins. You want as few things that can go wrong as possible. Some programs not just work with tons of plugins, but bring with it a metric ton of DRM code, from CD-ROM copy protection, to USB dongles and the drivers those require. All this can conflict with A/V software.

    Last, music programs do a lot of I/O. An AV program that hooks onto the system and scans every bit flying by a pipe in real time is going to put a crimp on matters.

    For the music partition, if possible it should never touch the Internet directly... connect through another machine with internet file sharing, or best of all, a hardware firewall.

    Another reason to have two partitions. You can boot the normal computing one, and A/V scan the one dedicated to the music apps which has a higher chance of detecting rootkits if any are installed.

    I personally even recommend using a different operating system than normal for the OS partition with the music apps. If you have the volume license, WinFLP is recommended, as well as XP 64. If you need Vista compatibility, consider Windows Server 2008 which installs almost nothing by default.

    This is why I wish more music companies would write commercial stuff for Linux. Linux is extremely low latency. Plus, its not like it doesn't exist. The Korg Oasys, their flagship $8500 keyboard uses Linux as its base OS.

  • Adware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by el americano (799629) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:23PM (#25519519) Homepage

    The free version is simply adware. You may think it's not too annoying, but getting a pop-up every single day is too much. Maybe if you weren't doing any work you could deal with the surprise interruptions.

    If you want to tout their paid version, then go ahead, but their free version is no longer the best. Try AVG.

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre