Tuesday, July 03, 2012

SOFTWARE: I Won't Use It, But I Recommend It

[Due to Google Blogger's COMPLETE and UTTER FAILURE to stop the COMMENT SPAMMING BY REGISTERED GOOGLE BLOGGERS (Yeah, I'm talking to the primordial slime that goes by Kevin and variations), all postings from now on will start with this preface. Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

Over  the years, I have migrated from anti-virus program to anti-virus program. I liked them all better when they were JUST an anti-virus program than a "do everything not nearly as well as just the AV" program suite. In trying to steal business from the firewall people and the parental controls people and the spam people, the AV people lost their focus on what made them worth noticing in the first place.

Years ago, the first AV program of choice to fall to feature bloat was AVG. It had replaced Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee Anti-Virus, not because of the bloatedness of those programs (eventually that did happen), it was the general crappiness and resource hogging of the leading two pro programs that were coasting on reputation at that point. AVG fell hard. It's been years since I recommended AVG as a free alternative to the dollar-happy big two.

I switched, after some research, to Avast! And I've been pretty happy with the product. Indeed, I recommend just about everybody I 'consult' with use it. Even my father, the ultimate 'don't bother me' tester. He just wants to use the computer and doesn't understand the need for anti-virus programs at all. He still won't, even though I'm delivering a new computer to him this week as a combination of belated Father's Day gift, birthday present and excuse not to delouse his current computer. He went a day or two past the free subscription he had to Avast! And the result was almost predictable. White Smoke got onto his computer. I have words for the developers of White Smoke. But Mom insists I refrain from using words like slime buckets to describe people this month.

I wavered a couple of years ago when a Delphi programming specific virus got through Avast! and onto my computer. It was the Stuxnet of its time, but only aimed for those of us who programmed in the Delphi Pascal language. Too specific for general AV programs to catch ... until MONTHS after the fact. I switched at that point to Avira professional.

Now, Avira is a bit more finicky than Avast! But I was in panic mode myself and longed for all the finicky I could get. But long before my subscription to Avira Pro ran out, I ran back to Avast! Pro. Got a good deal and did the switch.

Along with Patrick, the HW guy in my team, I bruited Avast! even to my professional clients. It replaced McAfee on the network of my main client. I guess you could say I was on Avast!'s team. But you would be wrong.

I'm in my last month of my current Avast! subscription and I will NOT be renewing. I still recommend YOU stay with Avast!  But I'm switching to BitDefender Professional. Not sure if it will be JUST the Anti-Virus 2013 or the Internet Security suite. It's ten bucks difference when it goes on sale at Bits Du Jour in  a week or so. (Check daily, there's other deals too) I'm getting sort of tired of Windows 7 Firewall Control saying NO and THEN asking me, rather than the way I used to be familiar with--Zone Alarm's asking me how it should answer, BEFORE answering it. So, a while with the BitDefender firewall is possible.

WHY am I switching when I suggest you don't? I have NO tolerance for being bugged by a program that I pay for. Daily, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY, DAILY, I am now being reminded my Avast! subscription has only a few specific number of days left before it expires. It started with a MONTH TO GO!!! I can't turn off, modify or make the notes fade away on their own. I'd get less bother from the free version.

The other reason is Avast!'s sandbox. I don't use it. I have Sandboxie when I want to run things in their own little memory space. What bothers me about the auto sandboxing feature is that turning it off is more than a little work. And that the automatic default setting is auto ... and auto too often means "NO, I won't let the user run the program." At a minimum, you have to change that setting to ASK from AUTO. And frankly, I surreptitiously turn the feature completely off on most computers I deal with. Even if they don't have Sandboxie.

I like choice and I like easy choice. I don't like the way Avast! has moved to deciding too much for the inexperienced user. It's annoying ads, come-ons and begging for you to convert free installations to paid ones (and the tricky way they handle just about every update to facilitate taking another run at the inexperienced). I totally HATE their bleepin' little doomsday clock warning and I think I need some time away from Avast! to see if absence makes the heart grow fonder. It did after the Avira experiment. This time? I don't know. This isn't a panic switch, this is the result of a growing itch that switching scratches. I might not be back.

And while I recommend staying with Avast! (assuming you can handle the constant ads), don't be surprised if I'm back here clanging the bell for a change to BitDefender (or something else). Times are a-changin', as they always are in the world of computer software.

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