Thursday, July 23, 2009

SOFTWARE: Anit-Virus Choices

I have used various anti-virus programs over the years. I was partial to Norton Anti-Virus at one point. But it was costly to stay current, a resource hog, and enforced upgrades proved to be the final straw. I also used McAfee during that time period and found the same flaws.

So, I moved to the 'free' camp, starting with AVG. Despite a couple of hiccups over the years, I stuck with AVG until version 8. That's when THAT program tried to outgrow its niche and became less a master of one trade, and more or less a semi-decent jack of several trades. It even required leaving a big fat portion of itself in memory for non-anti-virus purposes ... even if that's all you wanted to do with it. So, I switched to Avast! Other than a regular requirement to re-register, it has seemed to do the trick.

But I am not using it right now on my main machine.

About two weeks ago, I switched to ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, finding it on sale for half-off at the local Best Buy. The reason for the switch actually has nothing to do with Avast!. It has everything to do with the ZoneAlarm firewall.

One of the reasons I like ZoneAlarm, besides the relatively easy handling of the two-way firewall access, USED to be its ability to tell me what programs were currently accessing the internet. The latest free versions removed that capability, and I was left in the dark. Infuriatingly, my ZoneAlarm system tray applet was showing my computer was almost constantly accessing the net, even when I wasn't running that SHOULD have been accessing the internet. Maddening.

I tried several freeware solutions to detail this info. All failed. So, in order to solve THAT mystery, I bought the ZA Internet Security Suite, which came with a bunch of stuff, including anti-virus. So, I gave it a try. I liked that it updated every three hours, which was better than the every day updating of Avast! It seemed fairly straightforward in handling found virii, including giving me options to repair, quarantine, delete and ignore now/forever. It wasn't exactly a speed demon and it DID slow down copying/moving operations between my various computers. But all in all, I decided to keep it as the anti-virus on my main machine.

By the way, the constantly accessing situation was Network Magic.

Even though I have a three-machine license for ZA-ISS, I'm leaving Avast! running on the rest. At least until October. Why October? That's when a new version 5 of Avast! comes out. The story certainly intimates that the product might be trying to outgrow its britches. That's following the same path as AVG.

Now, it's possible the free version of Avast! will continue to be just an anti-virus. I hope so. For once, I'd like a company to be proud of what it does and do it better than everybody else, rather than do what everybody else does. IF that's the case, more the power to the folks at Avast!.

But it's a situation to watch.

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