Quest for a good Antivirus 26 Jan, 2012 Quest for a good Antivirus

I have long been a loyal customer of Norton Internet Security product -- and I can vouch for its comprehensive, effective protection. However, when my most recent subscription expired, due to my Grad-student budget I decided to try other alternatives that I had access to via other subscriptions, or free software.

My ISP, Charter Inc. provides its users a security solution titled 'Charter Security Suite' which in turn is an offering from F-Secure. While I have been skeptic of anything other than Symantec/Mc Afee/Zone Alarm, I decided to give it a try. After all, F-Secure is a for-profit organization and I must be paying for it indirectly (by paying my ISP).

It turns out to be quite noisy. I have grown used to Norton silently making decisions for me based on its Symantec WINE. But being an early adopter, I occasionally did manually choose my trust levels with Norton. The Charter Security Suite on the other hand, asked me if I trusted Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and nearly every other prevalent software out there.

And, curiously, this antivirus was not the first program to startup. It usually started after quite a few software that connect to the Internet were up and running -- bad, right?

And then there was that fiasco with one software update -- Charter's suite asked me if I trusted the exact same binary about 30 times! That was the limit.

I had the free Microsoft Security Essentials running on my parent's PCs and they never mentioned it nor was there any incident of virus on their systems - a good thing. So I decided to try it. Install was a breeze and the quick scan completed in under 15 minutes without affecting my system performance. Nice!

But I was not comfortable with no firewall on my Windows PC -- enter Zone Alarm. I had used it a master's student and remember being very satisfied with it. The download size (~150MB) was a bit of a brow-riser, but the install and setup was fantastic. Funnily, I kept waiting for ZoneAlarm to pop-up and ask me to set up something -- but good thing I was disappointed there. I then dug into the settings to find all in good shape -- software that I trusted was already trusted; no pesky pop-ups.

So that is my current setup - Microsoft Security Essentials and ZoneAlarm Firewall - both free & so far so good.



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