How to select a good anti-virus product

Well, if you didn’t receive emails with viruii attached, or surf to “dubious” websites, you wouldn’t get infected. For the rest of us, we would be looking at either Microsoft Security Essentials, or something which costs money.

Or you’re a corporate customer, who has “business” needs, you’ll be needing to spend money.
If for no other reason that most anti-virus prohibit the use of their “free” products in a commercial setting.

The following are the questions I ask myself when I’m looking at an anti-virus product.

Personal use.

  1. Does it have a history of “false positives”?
    False positives are when the anti-virus product detects “good” files as being a virus.
    For personal use I wouldn’t buy Symantec, McAfee or CA eTrust products.
    Far too many false positives for my taste, which I wrote about here.   Heck, McAfee can’t even be bothered to test their product updates against known good Microsoft Windows PCs.
  2. What choices does the product give me if it finds a virus?
    Does it give me the choice to ignore the issue, quarantine the file, or just delete it?
    This is an important point for me, after having had McAfee delete some files I wanted to keep.
  3. Is it from a vendor I trust?
    This is a personal choice, but I wouldn’t ever buy McAfee products.  Ever.
  4. Will it slow down my PC if I install it?
    You used to pay a performance penalty for running an anti-virus product on your desktop.  But not so much now, with computers having gotten faster over the years.
    It is useful to be able to exclude programs from anti-virus monitoring, if you know the program is trustworthly.

For home use, I’d recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.

Corporate use

  1. Can I manage the anti-virus product from a central management point?
    Which means, can I distribute updates from a central point?
    Can I change settings on the client?
    Can I exclude particular files and processes from being scanned?
    You might not think this is important, but having to change a setting on 1000 desktops manually, gets real tiring real fast.
  2. Can I get support?
    When you product starts to cause issues such as deleting harmless files.
    The kind of support I am talking about, is that the vendor knowa more about how their products, then I do.  I should not have to tell the vendor what “debug tracing” is, and why I turned it on to diagnose an issue with their product.
    The rot with vendor support really started when AV vendors has off-shored their support to low-cost centres.  They’re low-cost centres because they pay peanuts.  And when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. 

Neverthess, for corporate use, I’d recommend either Microsoft Forefront Client Security, CA eTrust Anti-virus or possibly even Kaspersky Work Space Security.

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