Monday, March 19, 2007

Have the virus suites become too big?

Everyone knows you cannot surf the Internet without good, active and up-to-date anti-virus software. But, on the other side, a large virus suite running in the background can have an adverse effect on your system performance.

This article is directed at the Big Three. These are Norton (Symantec), Trend Micro, and McAFEE. When it comes to these products you have to ask, "How much is too much?" All three, while trying to compete for our desktop, have expanded to the point that they are now part of the problem.

The problems vary, but here are a few: First is system resources. The most telling is the amount of RAM they use followed by CPU cycles. If you have a smaller, older or econo box you will see a considerable lose of performance.

Next, is how they write themselves in to the operating system. To do their job virus software has to be fairly invasive. But to make it work across a range of different operating systems, sacrifices need to be made. If they didn't, it would be impossible for the same piece of software to run on WIN98 and then work on XP.

Now the problem here is usually when the software updates or, is not properly un-installed. This is especially true with Norton. It is not uncommon after an update to experience anything from system lock up to not being able to access secure sites.

Another issue is confusion. All major manufacturers bundle the different suites with their systems. The problem is they are usually 30 - 60 day trial versions. When they expire most customers don't know what to do. Some buy the online upgrade, nine times out of ten, the upgrade will fail. This is especially true with Norton.

In addition, many people try to uninstall these anti-virus programs improperly. Most people go right to add and remove programs not knowing there is a proper way to uninstall them. These will all lead to connection or performance issues. And, some people just ignore the expired software and either download another or go without. Each of these approaches causes it's own set of problems.

All you really need is good basic virus scanning software with out all the bells and whistles. One product we like is called AVG anti-virus by Grisoft. It is not top heavy and does a a great job. You can get it at by clicking on the banner ad at the bottom of the page. Note: AVG will not work on Vista yet.

Bottom line, you have to have virus protection, no question. But you are not limited to the Big Three, who seem to care more about your wallet than your computer.

By Chris Kaminski
Chris Kaminski is head technician for Computer Guys Live Inc., an online computer repair company based in Asheville, NC. He has been working in and computer repair for the last 18 years. Visit the techs at Computer Guys Live for your computer repair and tech support.

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