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New computer -- advice on antivirus / firewall etc


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#1 krazyklown

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 07:53 PM

I'm getting a brand new toy! Toshiba Satellite L655-S5114 NoteBook Intel Core i5 460M with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Comes with Norton Internet Security™ 2011 (free 30-day trial), after which one must pay. Which free antivirus, firewall, and other privacy/security programs do you recommend? Much thanks in advance for your advice!

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#2 quietman7

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 08:53 PM

Choosing a security toolkit with anti-virus, firewall and anti-malware programs is a matter of personal preference, your technical ability and experience, features offered, user friendliness, ease of updating (and upgrading to new program release), ease of installation/removal, available technical support from the vendor and price. Other factors to consider include detection rates and methods, scanning engine effectiveness, how often virus definitions are updated, the amount of resources the program utilizes, how it may affect system performance and what will work best for your system. A particular anti-virus that works well for one person may not work as well for another. You may need to experiment and find the one most suitable for your use and your system. There is no universal "one size fits all" solution that works for everyone. For more specific information to consider, please read Choosing Your Anti-virus Software.

No single product is 100% foolproof and can prevent, detect and remove all threats at any given time. The security community is in a constant state of change as new infections appear. Each vendor has its own definition of what constitutes malware and scanning your computer using different criteria will yield different results. The fact that each program has its own definition files means that some malware may be picked up by one that could be missed by another. Thus, a multi-layered defense using several anti-spyware products (including an effective firewall) to supplement your anti-virus combined with common sense, safe computing and safe surfing habits provides the most complete protection.


As a general rule, using more than one anti-spyware program like Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, SuperAntispyware, Spybot S&D, Ad-Aware, Spyware Terminator, etc. will not conflict with each other or your anti-virus if using only one of them for real-time protection and others as stand-alone scanners. In fact, doing so increases your protection coverage without causing the same kind of conflicts or affecting the stability of your system that can occur when using more than one anti-virus. The overlap of protection from using different signature databases will aid in detection and removal of more threats when scanning your system for malware. However, competing tools may provide redundant alerts which can be annoying and/or confusing as a result of the overlap in protection.

If using multiple real-time resident shields (TeaTimer, Ad-Watch, MBAM Protection Module, Spyware Terminator Shields, etc.) together at the same time, there can be conflicts when each application tries to compete for resources and exclusive rights to perform an action. They may identify the activity of each other as suspicious and produce alerts. Further, your anti-virus may detect suspicious activity while these programs are scanning (reading) files, especially if it uses a heuristic scanning engine, regardless if they are running in real-time or on demand. The anti-virus may even detect as threats, any malware removed by these programs and placed into quarantined areas. This can lead to a repetitive cycle of endless alerts or false alarms that continually warn a threat has been found if the contents of the quarantine folder are not removed before beginning a new security scan.

Keep in mind that you can overkill a system with resource heavy security programs that will slow down performance. Sometimes you just have to experiment to get the right combination for your particular system.

Use trustworthy security tools like:
I recommend taking advantage of the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Pro) Protection Module in the full version which uses advanced heuristic scanning technology to monitor your system and provide real-time protection to prevent the installation of most new malware. This technology runs at startup where it monitors every process and helps stop malicious processes before they can infect your computer. The database that defines the heuristics is updated as often as there is something to add to it. Keep in mind that Malwarebytes does not act as a real-time protection scanner for every file like an anti-virus program so it is intended to be a supplement, not a substitute. Enabling the Protection Module feature requires registration and purchase of a license key that includes free lifetime upgrades and support. After activation, Malwarebytes can be set to update itself and schedule scans automatically on a daily basis. The Protection Module is not intrusive as the program utilizes few system resources and should not conflict with other scanners or anti-virus programs. If you choose the free version, you can just use it as a stand-alone scanner, however, Malwarebytes' service (mbamservice.exe) will still show in Task Manager which is normal.
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#3 HydroLar

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 11:04 PM

Quietman7 is right, no one can tell you what package to get so I would suggest becoming familiar with the free versions of different malware programs to see what best fits your style and needs and then lay out the money for a license as well as online scanning modules.

I have personally used Norton Internet Security and AVG (at different times) both of which are excellent products but a little resource heavy especially on my older PC.

Now I use Superantispyware and Malwarebytes Anti-malware as separate stand-alone scanners and Microsoft Essentals for online scanning.

For a firewall I had used Norton and later, AVG but I now have a router with a built in firewall and a NVIDIA firewall.

My setup may not be the best but it works for me so I'm happy with it.
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