As per expecatations, I would never recommend running a system without antivirus software installed. It’s just not a good idea. (few exceptions, very very few) But I often wonder what is worse: The virus? Or the anti-virus? Why do I say that, you might ask. Simple, if you check the definition of a virus it is a piece of code that causes your system to slow down, hang up and run poorly. Well, unfortuantly most anti-viruses fit that same description. So what do you do? There’s a lot of opinion out there on what anti-virus software is the best. I even have my own. But for each his own on this, because none of them are 100% perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
One very interesting thing I’ve found over the years is that the paid anti-viruses often tend to be the worst. Not always, but most of the time they are the culprit for causing all types of system problems. In the past 10 years many versions of free anti-virus software have become available. They have all turned out to be quite good in comparison to paid versions. But they too can be troublesome at times. There are some rather expensive options, and those I’ve found to be among the best for keep your system running well and still provide a good amount of protection. So, in a sense you do get what you pay for. Not all the time though.
At this time, I’m using the Microsoft Security Essentials AV on all my home machines. I’ve found it to be extremely good at not slowing down my systems or causing grief with other software packages. It’s also quite high on marks for catching things. Keep in mind though that NO AV software will ever catch a zero day virus. AV software is a “block known bad things” type of software. If the virus is not known yet, they can’t block it. With e-mail and web sites being lightning fast these days, viruses can propagate the internet in minutes. It usually takes most AV software days to find, catagorize and update their known list of viruses.
The best anti-virus? YOU! Learn how to surf safely. Don’t open any e-mail attachment or a link in an e-mail unless you know that you are supposed to get it. Even if the e-mail is from a friend, keep in mind that the “From” field in an e-mail can be forged to look like it’s from someone you know but can actually be from a virus maker. Links in e-mails can also be manipulated to give false information. And, don’t just Google anything and go to any site without consideration of what site you are visiting before you click that search engine link. Virus writers love to pick on well searched topics to make a temporary web site, push it into the search engines and catch unaware users. Basically try to stick to known sites. In the real world a dark alley is easy to see, easy to recognize and you don’t go down it. On the Internet the “dark alleys” are well lit, sometimes even inviting and even can look like a familiar place. Very dangerous. So, in today’s internet I would never recommend surfing aimlessly. Know where you are going and go there only. That way you know you are as safe as possible.