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What is the best Anti-Virus Software?

Updated on October 17, 2010
Illustration of John Miltons Paradise Lost by Gustave Dor, 1866
Illustration of John Miltons Paradise Lost by Gustave Dor, 1866

A personal account

I recently got a virus on my computer. It wasn't fatal but it took a while to return my system to it's previous functionality.

I have never expected virus defenses to be perfect, nor humans! - but what counts is how things are fixed when a system has been exploited or abused.

First of all, it was my own fault anyway - I downloaded a file from somewhere. I do this all the time and usually check sources, especially if the file has the EXE (executable) extension.

Hasn't everyone learned that one?

If you download and run an EXE file you are basically giving permission to a file with a high degree of interactiivity with your own operating system to do things you have little control over so you better trust the source.

That's why you get those warnings about suspicious files or publisher could not be verified.

Here I give a personal account of my experiences with anti-virus software tools I have encountered and used.

DISCLAIMER: please make your own evaluations as this is only a personal account and history. Many of the products may have been improved and updated.

My first anti-virus was the FREE AVG and it seemed to do a great job operating in the background without much fuss and my computer didn't seem to have any probs with it - it didn't slow it down which seems to be a common criticism you find but when I upgraded to the non-FREE version it DID!

For me that was a ridiculous situation - use the product for FREE and you get GREAT SERVICE but once you're paid up for the product you get crapped on.

Of course that is not what REALLY happens. Everyone else is running better processors and I hadn't upgraded mine when I get a fancy paid version with bells and whistles which my OLD processor can't handle and I suppose it is my naivety to think you could just continue doing things with the same old versions which it took long enough to learn anyway.

It was a blow nevertheless and I changed my anti-virus to Zonealarm Pro which I liked because it gave a little pop up of all the little intruders that were trying to get in and whether they were trying to access my "priveleged resources". I could GIVE or DENY so not only was this product operating in the background but also letting me know bits of info.

The worst thing is being left in the dark for me and not full transparency.

With anti-viruses you always wonder what they might be up to, depending on your experiences - if there is a FEAR campaign being waged sometimes so you will buy the product or in one bizarre event that happened to a friend FAKE anti-virus program which is actually a VIRUS!!! and using look-alike logos of legit companies.

But let's leave the shadowy side of the anti-virus industry.

I think I upgraded my Zonealarm a couple of times but the last time it flopped on me. In one instance, it was a conflict and all that was required was the XP system update which hadn't yet come through and it was fixed.

The next time the problem was more serious and my computer slowed right down.

That's when I thought I would continue trying other alternatives.

I did a bit of research and came up with Spyware Doctor - many of the recommendations were good and came from reputable sources. It did seem to take a few resources to run though because other things seemed to slow down

Eventually, when the subscription ran out I thought I'd try Norton again. I had read enough headlines about how the new Norton was a huge advancement on the old slower versions.

I had a certain affection for Norton as it went back years (it was one of the first) and I was familiar with it from my earliest computer days.

I also noticed on the Microsoft page Norton is right up there as far as anti-virus options go and given my understanding of microsoft's quite rigid appraisals of anything used or downloaded on it's operating systems, to be that high, Norton would have had to have done a few things right.

You may not believe it then when I tell you I got my FIRST virus running Norton! but it was pretty lame really given how Norton Symantec handled it.

I had got the familiar "at risk" alert and without remembering the chain of events exactly, I entered my phone number into a support form I had found on their site.

Lo and Behold I actually got a call! and at a convenient time.

I gave the very polite person who spoke to me REMOTE ACCESS to my computer and watched as she removed the virus before my eyes.

It was trually an awesome experience to watch someone else open and close windows on my computer while talking to me on the phone.

Everything returned to normal and I can trually say to have TRUSTED the Symantec Norton process and to have got through unscathed (in fact fixed up) is a great way to go because it means if in the future it happened again I would know what to do without even having to leave my house!!!

The value I place on that is pretty high.

Lasly, as I understand it legit anti-virus companies all band together to build a database of what they call virus definitions and there is an alert system which can be used in the event of a new one emerging.

The important point is to keep your system UPDATED (use the latest verisions of things, operating systems, browsers, anti-virus software etc...) as old viruses will have no "functionality" in the newer scheme of things but they may if you still use OLDER versions that are not "PATCHED"

To finish on the analogy of a BOAT...

Think of your operating system (XP,VISTA,7) as like a boat and the virus as what creates a leaky hole (sometimes a really big ONE!!!).

Think of your UPDATES as patches for leaks and think of the latest operating system as like the latest boat with much stronger - "LEAK-PROOF" construction.

Think of your anti-virus as the software that spots potential things that create LEAKS in your boat.

Furher reading:


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    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Norton used to be low on my list too earnesthub as I always understood Norton to be very "resource intensive" - a real no no. But I've found nothing to compare with the latest Norton premium which I might add tells me whether a download (exe file for example) is safe or not. Thanks for the rating.

    • earnestshub profile image


      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A nice informative hub. Personal experience can produce very useful information.

      I had given up on Norton. Perhaps it is time for another look.

      I voted it up and "useful"

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      thanks for letting us in on your experiences Kristeen. McAfee is one I haven't used but it, like Norton goes back a long way.

    • Kristeen profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      great information psychicdog. It's hard to know which is the best. I have heard of all that you mentioned and used Norton and free AVG before. I now have McAfee. To me they all seem to be the same or close.

    • Lady_E profile image


      8 years ago from London, UK

      This is extremely usefu info. I'm glad you are up and running again. I need to take some action on this.

      Thanks. :)

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Thank-you, drbj!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for the reminder, psychicdog, about the importance of anti-virus software. You are spot on with your comparison to "patching leaks in a boat." Before the boat sinks.


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