The UX of Antivirus – Mar,2009

Lately, I have been really frustrated with Antivirus programs.  The user experience is usually painful.  I manage dozens of machines from friends and family and at work.  I install antivirus all the time and have used alot of them over the years.  Here is my rundown of the bad and the ugly.

Norton Antivirus
Every time I have ever installed or seen a machine with this program, it was ALSO infected with a virus.  I think this program just doesn’t work.   Maybe virus makers try to disable it because it’s the most popular? I don’t know, but it sucks.  I will never install this thing again.  Additionally, it uses alot of ram comparitevely.  As a business, Symantec seems to give this thing away as a loss leader, but  I can’t find a free version online.  Grade: F

I used to use Avast everywhere.  It’s pretty small.  Installs easy and has a free home edition. The only part that sucks is the registration.  You HAVE to regsiter and give your email and name.  Plus they have this bizarre captcha on the registration page that any bot worth it’s salt could crack.  Even so, I don’t mind registering.  What I mind is that you have to register and re-register and re-register ALL THE TIME!  It’s like, everytime it does an update, I get phone calls “Hey Glen, my antivirus says its expired!”  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to move on.  OH, and one other thing.  Avast has this stupid thing where is uses the speakers on your computer and yells each morning “Virus Database has been updated!”  I don’t need to HEAR that.  Who cares?  Shut up!  Good program, sounds should be disabled and HORRIBLE REGISTRATION PROCESS.  Grade: C 

PC Tools AV / Threatfire
I was excited about threatfire at first.  I installed it and blogged about it.  Then, I heard from one of their employees that it should be considered part of “layered security”.  What does that mean?  So I asked and could not get them to give me a straight answer.  They insisted on me having PCTools AV AND Threatfire.  I asked them to please finish the following sentence:

If I have threatfire and NOT PCTools AV, my computer could be vulnerable to [FILL IN THE BLANK].

They would not (could not?) answer this simple question.  This one interaction with their employee made me so nervous about the company in general that I immediately uninstalled all of their products.  I have no idea what the real story is, but this one employee freaked me out.  If anyone knows the answer to that question, I definetely would be interested.  As far as the program goes, Threatfire seemed to run smoothly, but PCTools AV was alot bigger and alot slower.  It crashed a couple of times with strange errors.  I didn’t like it at all.  Grade: D

Clam AV
Clam AV is an open source project for anti-virus.   It is the only one I can find.  Ok, not the only one, but the only one that seems I could install and get working. Article why this is the case.  It doesn’t have a real-time scanner, just an on-demand one.  To me, that is worthless, Sorry.  I need a real-time scanner.  Grade: F

I was looking on Betanews for a replacement and saw Clam and someone posted that Avira was really good.  Another person agreed.  That was enough of an endorsement for me.  I downloaded it and installed.  So far, I don’t know much.  I know it was easy to install and I didn’t have to register.  It’s using about 13 megs of memory.  Will it stop viruses?  Gee, I hope so, but I just installed it. The configuration is a little light/confusing, but I don’t have anything I need to configure yet anyway.  Grade: B+ (So far, so good)

I don’t see a free version. I have heard nice things but I have never used this one. This program evokes a memory of a movie from 1992 called Sneakers with Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley (Also, Dan Ackroyd, River Phoenix and Sydney Poitier – Wow, great cast).  The movie had a device that could break codes, but not Russian codes; those were based on different ideas.  It only broke American codes.  I feel like Kapersky (A Russian company) can only block Russian viruses and not American ones.  This is a riddiculous assumption based on a pretyt goofy movie, but still…I keep thinking it.  Grade: ? for the program, B+ for the movie

This is the page that keeps me from installing AVG.  Notice how it says “Anti-Rootkit” not included?  Every time I see that, I think “Rootkit viruses SUCK!  I don’t want to get caught with that…AVG, sorry, no can do”.  Now, here is the rub…I do not KNOW that any of the others include it or not.  I just know AVG DOESNT include it.  I would like to know if the others do or don’t as a comparrison, but Wikipedia doesn’t have it.

I used this a long time ago and loved it.  But  it’s not free, so I don’t use it.  I need free.  Freeeeeeeee.  Sorry to all the companies that want to make money off anti-virus.  I feel like this is really unfortunate.  Seatbelts and airbags are included in the price of the car.  You don’t buy them afterwards. Which brings us to…

Microsoft One-Care
Microsoft is FINALLY making their anti-virus porogram free. The seatbelt and airbag has finally arrived!  I haven’t used it yet, but I hope and pray that it doesn’t suck.  Please don’t suck.  Please don’t suck.

There are other programs out there, but these are the ones I have used.  Right now, it’s Avira.  Let’s see how long I can use it before I get frustrated and bail.

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