Probably close to half of my business consists of computer virus removal. I’ll never forget when I encountered my first computer virus, on a client’s computer in 1997. Prior to that I had read about viruses but they remained a theoretical proposition only. When a virus popped up on my client’s machine I just about clapped my hands in delight at the novelty of finding one in the wild – I had no idea how prevalent computer virus infection would be come and how much of my time would be spent cleaning up after it.
Free is good!
Fifteen years after I encountered my first virus, everybody is aware of how common and annoying and even dangerous virus infection can be, and nobody should be without protection. I’m often asked what virus protection I recommend. Fortunately there is no need to pay for an excellent antivirus, however I always answer with a question – what internet provider do you use? Depending on the answer I highly recommend one of two free solutions.
Norton Internet Security for Comcast subscribers
A benefit of your Comcast subscription is a free subscription to the excellent latest incarnation of Norton Internet Security, currently the highest rated security software on the market. You have the right to install this on up to 7 computers, and it’s tied to your Comcast modem, so you must install it in your own home. This is the antivirus solution I use on my own computer, and I find it very effective at repelling the attacks from hacked websites that are the most common way viruses get onto systems these days.
Unfortunately Comcast has chosen to bundle this excellent antivirus with another layer of support called Constant Guard, and I find Constant Guard to be intrusive and use too many system resources. I have written instructions on how to install Comcast Norton without Constant Guard, and they are available for download on the Resources page of my website.
Free antivirus for the rest of you
If you are not a Comcast customer my recommendation for a free antivirus solution has evolved over the years, but I currently highly recommend a program from Microsoft called Microsoft Security Essentials. This is a great program, simple to use, and uses very few system resources. By the way if you are a Verizon customer and you currently pay monthly for their antivirus solution you will be much better off cancelling it and switching to Microsoft Security Essentials.
Free antivirus for Macs
For you Mac owners, your virus concerns are still mostly in the theoretical stage, 15 years behind the PC crowd. However, I have encountered viruses on a few Macs in the last 6 months – it’s coming. Comcast subscribers are eligible for the Mac version of Norton. There are currently two good free Mac antivirus solutions out there, Avast and Sophos. I haven’t used either so I can’t make a solid recommendation but they are both from highly respected antivirus providers and get good reviews.
Some final points to leave you with:
- All PC’s come with some sort of antivirus installed but it’s almost always a trial subscription. Antivirus programs MUST be current and up to date. One of your very first steps on getting a new computer should be to uninstall that trial and install one of the free solutions described above.
- You can only have one antivirus program running on your computer at one time. Multiple antivirus programs will compete with each other, slow your computer down, and actually provide less protection
- I often tell people antivirus protection is like a flu shot – you are less vulnerable but you can still get the flu. Practice “safe computing” at all times regardless of the protection you have installed!
For more information or to contact me please visit my website at www.thecomputermom.com