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Ask Slashdot: Actual Best-in-Show For Free Anti Virus?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the good-and-cheap dept.

Security 515

First time accepted submitter paperclipman writes "I'm on the college student budget and want to make sure that my recent investment in an Acer laptop will last me a good long while. I like to think of myself as a reasonably competent CPU user so I'm no adventurous link-clicker, but I do download some music as a recent SoundCloud devotee. My Kaspersky antivirus will be expiring shortly and I don't particularly care to renew with that steep of a fee — any advice from fellow thrifts?"

cancel ×

515 comments

Simple (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441483)

Windows: Microsoft Security Essentials, free if you have Microsoft Windows XP or higher, and it does work especially for the technical, not too adventerous link clicker. Gives you that extra layer of protection you seem to want for those 'oh shit' moments.

Re:Simple (5, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#41441577)

I can second this, and I should also add that the functionality is built-in to Windows 8 as Windows Defender. Same functionality as MSE, just relabeled. The old Windows Defender is dead.

Re:Simple (5, Informative)

Nos. (179609) | about 2 years ago | (#41441601)

Not only is it a reasonably good anti-malware tool, its the least intrusive one I've ever used, both as far as annoying popups and abusing system resources. My first download on any new Windows install.

Re:Simple (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41441661)

Not only is it a reasonably good anti-malware tool, its the least intrusive one I've ever used, both as far as annoying popups and abusing system resources. My first download on any new Windows install.

Yup, I recently switched all my Windows boxes to MSE from AVG, as AVG started giving me fits after the v.11 update.

Have yet to find a reason to switch again.

Re:Simple (2)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#41441847)

Not sure if it was AVG but I had to reformat a SSD drive after it started hanging while trying to boot a certain AVG file.

Re:Simple (5, Informative)

brokenin2 (103006) | about 2 years ago | (#41441949)

Yep.. I'm a big-ol M$ hater, and I can say that MSSE is a pretty decent product.. FIrst thing I put on everyone else's computer after I fail to convince them to run Linux..

Re:Simple (4, Informative)

snemarch (1086057) | about 2 years ago | (#41441643)

+1.

I've had MSE detect & clean that one of the other free products (think it might have been Avast?) didn't catch - and MSE is no-nonsense, doesn't get in your way, haven't given me false positives (it does flag stuff like keygens though :)), and isn't too hard on system resources.

Combine that with FireFox + AdBlockPlus + NoScript + Ghostery + Certificate Patrol and some common sense, and you should be pretty well off.

Re:Simple (5, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 2 years ago | (#41441709)

I can second this. I've taken to using the MSE offering for family that are on Windows. Two simple reasons. I can flat out tell them to ignore any web prompts for 'free virus scans' and whatnot. Ignore any prompts to purchase virus scan 'updates', etc,

It also removes the irritating ad-ware that Avast and AVG are pushing out lately. They are doing more and more prompts to 'upgrade' which is confusing to older family members. Considering you're a techy this is probably a non-issue, but I do find comfort in the fact that the MS offering isn't likely to quarantine key OS files as Avast and AVG have done multiple times over the last few years.

Re:Simple (2)

gigaherz (2653757) | about 2 years ago | (#41441755)

Agreed. MSE is the the only free antivirus worth anything. The rest are being monetized and try to trick you into buying the paid ones, if they don't just plain suck. Also the only one I don't feel is slowing down my computer. Before MSE, I just didn't use any, the AV was worse than the rare virus infection.

Re:Simple (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41441825)

Agreed. MSE is the the only free antivirus worth anything.

I've always had an issue of trust with MSE ... the reason to run AV software is I don't trust Microsoft to write a secure OS.

Trusting them to write the AV software has always seemed like quite a leap for me -- if you can spot them, fix the damned OS.

Granted, I've heard people say really nice things about it. But it has always sounded like asking the security guard who keeps leaving the door unlocked to check if the door is unlocked.

Re:Simple (1)

oji-sama (1151023) | about 2 years ago | (#41441841)

Agreed. MSE is the the only free antivirus worth anything. The rest are being monetized and try to trick you into buying the paid ones, if they don't just plain suck. Also the only one I don't feel is slowing down my computer. Before MSE, I just didn't use any, the AV was worse than the rare virus infection.

I had Avast on one computer a while ago. That was actually quite unobtrusive. That or MSE would be my choice.

Re:Simple (2)

phil_aychio (2438214) | about 2 years ago | (#41441933)

I use MSE for signature-based protection, and Threatfire for behavior-based protection. These work well together for me and take up a very small footprint.

Re:Simple (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | about 2 years ago | (#41441895)

Agreed.

It should be pointed out though, Antivirus will have nothing to do with preserving the liftime of your PC. A virus (usually) can't damage the PC, it might destroy the data on it, but you can just reinstall in a worst case scenario.

* There have been some viruses in the ancient past that could damage a PC, such as forcing the hard drive to bash it's heads against the parking zone, or writing to some bizarre register in the bios that could cause some kind of hardware damage, but 99.99999% of viruses today just want to steal your identity and get at your bank account.

Unless of course you're an iranian uranium enrichment facility, then all bets are off.

Re:Simple (2)

thsths (31372) | about 2 years ago | (#41441901)

Seconded, MSE works just great, without any hassle. The other product that I use is Panda Cloud Antivirus. It does occasionally try to persuade you to buy the full version, but otherwise it just works, and it is lighter on the CPU than MSE. I used to be a bit fan of Avira Antivirus, but it got too annoying, and had too many false positives for comfort.

Re:Simple (3, Insightful)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41441931)

Hate to deviate from the bandwagon, but there is a big downside to MSE. MSE is the program that every piece of malware tries to disguise itself as when they do their "a threat has been found! Click this button to remove it, then restart your computer!" routine to try and install themselves and take over your OS. It's a lot easier to tell the fake warnings from the real warnings when the fake warnings are claiming to be a program you don't even use.

Re:Simple (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#41441975)

No Adware/Spyware Bullshit, gotta love that. Microsoft finally did something right for once, but for extra protection, I would also get Malwarebytes.

Winblows, LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441487)

Use Linux you fucking retard.

Re:Winblows, LOL (0, Flamebait)

vettemph (540399) | about 2 years ago | (#41441813)

Troll? Maybe not spoken as eloquent as some of us but certainly the best advice so far.

  Linux is professional grade software. It powers the most vital and powerful systems on and off the internet. It is written by scientists and engineers in a collaborative environment. It doesn't catch a cold everytime it comes in contact with other PCs. There are volumes of 'Graphic User Interface' applications for most all of your needs. If you are serious, you will try it. If you are smart, it will feel very natural. Welcome to the long bus.

Re:Winblows, LOL (1)

lengau (817416) | about 2 years ago | (#41441983)

I agree, but only if OP understands both the positives and negatives of using Linux on a daily basis. Unless you're a gamer, anything you absolutely need Windows for can be done in a virtual machine or under WINE (and many games also run pretty well under WINE). I personally use Linux at home for everything, starting in high school all the way through the completion of my university degree, and I've needed WINE for precisely two things: LTSpice (really, nothing else I've been able to find is anywhere near as good) and a few games.

Microsoft Security Essentials (5, Informative)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#41441495)

For a free, Windows antivirus, it is hard to beat. Not the greatest, but it works and updates automatically from windows update.

Re:Microsoft Security Essentials (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441569)

Keep in mind MSE is only free for organizations for under 10 people...

Re:Microsoft Security Essentials (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41441591)

And considering his answer was to someone wanting it for their personal laptop, I'm sure it'll be fine.

Re:Microsoft Security Essentials (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41441625)

That is my recommendation too. It gets the job done, dont nag you, and seems to use not much resources. I use it on my windows installations. I never taught I would recommend a microsoft product in my life... but there it is.

Flamewar on the way? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441497)

I'd recommend Avast! or AVG, but I'm sure this "Ask Slashdot" is going to start a flame war.

Oh, and first post!

Re:Flamewar on the way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441917)

Another thoroughly-pleased Avast user here. Coupled with ad-blocking, script-blocking, and a moderately decent blacklist for the dangerously clueless amongst your family, all brought together within a modern, well-maintained browser... you're as close to "safe" as you can be without unplugging.

Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441499)

Linux

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441637)

+ Disable all browser plug-ins (especially including Flash and Java Applets)

Re:Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441657)

-1 Troll.

Knock it off with the Linux evangelism BS. He clearly wants to run whatever (unspecified) OS he has installed. An OS is just a tool for accomplishing a task (i.e., operating the fscking computer). For certain programs, the submitter's current OS perhaps does the job better for him than Linux would. I hate it when people on here don't answer the fscking question and instead scream "Linux" like an uneducated zombie.

Note: anonymous because I'm just too lazy to register for a ./ account. I ain't skeered.

Re:Linux (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41441889)

I agree, Linux. If you want to be free of viruses, buy a Mac or install Linux or BSD. Your AV isn't going to do a damned thing when you get hit by a zero-day exploit, and Windows is the only PC OS with viruses in the wild. Whoever modded the AC "troll" should never get mod points; it was insightful (as another moderator noted). If you're worried about viruses, you shouldn't be running Windows.

That said, there are vew actual viruses out there, most are trojans, so I don't worry too much about my W7 notebook. But I don't worry at all about my Linux tower.

Blasphemy (5, Informative)

Diomedes01 (173241) | about 2 years ago | (#41441501)

But if you're running Windows, you could actually do a lot worse than Microsoft Security Essentials...

Re:Blasphemy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441809)

Excuse me if this off the subject a little bit, but just take a guess at how much I can bench press. Come on, what do you think? Take a guess. 315 pounds, at the top of my game, maxing out at 500!

You want ad-blocking, not AV (4, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 years ago | (#41441503)

One of the primary causes of malware is drive-by intrusion via compromised or unmaintained ad servers. Instead of worrying about free antivirus (which by definition rarely catches real 0-day threats), I'd get an ad blocker, or a utility like the paid version of Malwarebytes which blocks malicious website IPs.

Block the IPs and what spits out the malware, don't bother playing whack-a-mole against the latest polymorphic stuff.

As for antivirus, just go with MSE. It usually is in the middle of the pack, is lightweight, and the price is right.

Re:You want ad-blocking, not AV (2, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#41441665)

Don't want a virus? Do the following:

1. Remove all adobe products. Flash is ok with flashblock.
2. Keep firefox or chrome up to date, don't use IE.
3. Remove java plugin.
4. Install adblock and noscript.
5. Have a router, block everything inbound.

The number of things that can infect you with that setup is about 0.

Re:You want ad-blocking, not AV (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#41441689)

Also:

Spybot: http://www.safer-networking.org/ [safer-networking.org]
Even if you don't use the active registry monitor, you can use it to scrub your registry now and then. And you can 'innoculate' your system with it too by adding read-only junk registry entries for many pieces of spywire, so the spyware itself can't dig their fingers into your machine.

Re:You want ad-blocking, not AV (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 years ago | (#41441843)

Spybot is a good choice as well.

Of course, there is always Sandboxie which does help with limiting what access a program has. I don't know how well it can deal with a determined 0-day exploit that has ways of getting Admin rights from a user context, but it does redirect all writes from the filesystem and Registry into a safe location [1].

[1]: From personal experience, keep the Sandboxie sandbox on a different partition than normal stuff. That way, should something try something malicious or just keep writing 0 byte files in the filesystem, cleaning it is just a format command away.

MSE has low footprint (2)

alphax45 (675119) | about 2 years ago | (#41441507)

I assume your on Windows and that MSE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Security_Essentials) is available. Seems to work fine for most and MS seems to have not made it a huge resource hog.

Linux (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441511)

I'm not even joking. Gets practically no viruses, costs nothing, ever.

Re:Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441581)

I think he wants to be able to run common software, too.

Re:Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441629)

I've got all the common software I need on my Linux machines. I haven't even had machines with other OSs for at least 8 years.

Re:Linux (2)

spazdor (902907) | about 2 years ago | (#41441967)

Well, I'm certain your computing needs are identical to everyone else's.

Microsoft Security Essentials (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441519)

I know it is Microsoft, but it is reliable, has a small footprints, updates along with Windows updates, and is free.

Face + Palm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441525)

Really? REALLY??

Is this the current state of affairs? No "I'm building a robot what are the best SDKs" or "What's the best open source reporting framework"

There's no such thing as a dumb question but there are THOUSANDS of answers to this question you can find on dozens of security focused forums.

Re:Face + Palm (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#41441703)

Mabye we should be building Beowolf Clusters of something?

Re:Face + Palm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441787)

Beowulf Cluster of college students that are competent "CPU" users?

You might be able to power a light bulb.

Re:Face + Palm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441887)

The light bulb would have to be a low power usage CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb, and even that may prove difficult.

My favorite free one (4, Informative)

UconnGuy (562899) | about 2 years ago | (#41441527)

Avast. Used to use AVG, but Avast seems to work better.

Re:My favorite free one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441613)

Same here, Ive used Avast for a couple years now. Its unobtrusive, easy on the processor, and when used in combination with a spyware blocker has yet to let a threat through.

Use a Mac (-1, Flamebait)

johanwanderer (1078391) | about 2 years ago | (#41441531)

As we all know, Mac do not get viruses.

Re:Use a Mac (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41441615)

They just get trojans.

Re:Use a Mac (3, Insightful)

cgt (1976654) | about 2 years ago | (#41441621)

You should be downvoted for the reasons stated below: 1. He said his budget is tight 2. He just bought a new Acer laptop 3. Macs do actually get viruses (though there are significantly less viruses for Mac OS X than for Windows) Short story shorter: You're a jerk.

Re:Use a Mac (1)

Lyrata (1900038) | about 2 years ago | (#41441911)

Shortest story: Whoosh.

Re:Use a Mac (1)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | about 2 years ago | (#41441817)

I would label "radical optimism" as a virus.

Microsoft Security Essentials (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441533)

It doesn't bug you to upgrade (like programs with paid versions - I'm looking at you, AVG)

It doesn't hog resources

It has an easy to use interface

Avira or AVG (4, Informative)

EvilGrin5000 (951851) | about 2 years ago | (#41441535)

I've always found

AVG Free http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage [avg.com]
or
Avira Free http://www.avira.com/en/avira-free-antivirus [avira.com]

To be good free solutions.

Re:Avira or AVG (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41441679)

I'm losing patience with AVG. It used to be really good.

Now it wants to inform me when I'm going to do an update and reboot (I'll tell you when you can reboot), and it wants to push me towards the paid version, and it wants to install a bunch of extra crap all the time.

I'm in the market for a replacement for AVG myself. It has really gone down hill since I started using it in terms of overall experience. It has started to be like the Oracle Java installer where you have to read very carefully to keep all the extra shit it wants to install away.

null (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441539)

null

Seriously. I don't run any whenever I can get away with it. I don't need it and its a maintenance headache.

Just pay the 44$ for a year of updates (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441541)

Antivirus charging for subscription makes sense because they need to be on their toes for updates and zero days. 44$ for a renewal isn't bad because you gotta figure your tempdata and reinstalling software is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Just one save in a year and the antivirus pays for itself. I just renewed mine today interestingly enough.

Re:Just pay the 44$ for a year of updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441713)

A quick hint; if you're not a shill for the AV companies, you sound exactly like one. If you are, well, you're being too obvious. Either way, may want to look at that.

Check with your university (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441543)

Most universities will have free anti-virus software for their students to use on their personal laptops. Check with your school's helpdesk.

Microsoft Security Essentials (1)

jrronimo (978486) | about 2 years ago | (#41441547)

I'm a big fan of Microsoft Security Essentials [microsoft.com] . I know it's cool to dislike Microsoft products, but MSE does its job pretty well without being annoying.

I've used AVG in the past, but it has a history of deciding things like iTunes or Windows dlls are viruses and screwing things up, so I avoid it. I used Avira in the past as well, but I think it had ads suggesting I upgrade often.

In the end, I settled on MSE and have had a perfectly cromulent experience with it; no complaints.

Re:Microsoft Security Essentials (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441857)

But what if you don't want tour anti-virus application uploading a lot of information to Microsoft?

Security essentials or free avg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441551)

I have used both mostly security essentials lately. it's light weight and it works!

Simple (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41441553)

MSE or AVG Free. Both work, and have low cpu utilization. AVG gives you more config options, MSE in my experience is accepted by more VPN setups.

AVG Free (1)

0racle (667029) | about 2 years ago | (#41441571)

I put AVG Free on the wife's computer. Just make sure to turn off (or don't install) that damn safesearch thing they have.

Low cost? Virus free? Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441575)

Honestly, unless you really need to play games or something Windows-specific I'd do a full Linux partition.

Microsoft Security Essentials (3, Informative)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#41441587)

As others have stated, MSE does a very good job. It easily outclasses the other freebies, and most of the non-free ones as well. For example, I've seen it clean up machines that got infested while under AVG's watch.

And it doesn't slow your machine down to a crawl, which is nice.

I smell something funny... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441605)

"...reasonably competent CPU user"

Using 'CPU' in this incorrect context is a pet peeve.

But anyway, MSE (as other have said) and AdBlocker and/or NoScript for your browser. Assuming you're using anything other than IE. If you're using IE switch to a better condom!

Huh? (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#41441607)

I like to think of myself as a reasonably competent CPU user

What the hell does that even mean? Do you mean computer?

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41441641)

He's a reasonably competent CPU user, but he needs to learn to use his memory, especially the part remembering all the acronyms out there.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441707)

i was thinking the same thing, and also thinking, well... the competence that he's claiming to have, he doesn't have quite so much as he thinks...

AVG is my choice for free Anti-Virus (1)

Amigan (25469) | about 2 years ago | (#41441611)

My son and I (on my Windows partition) have been users of the free version of AVG since 2006. We are both currently running Windows XP, and am glad that AVG continues to support it along with newer flavors of Windows. Free AVG [avg.com] is the download site, and it also includes ad blocking and other features.

Re:AVG is my choice for free Anti-Virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441785)

No no no.

AVG gives too many false positives, and stops proper software working.

It's a waste of bits.

Re:AVG is my choice for free Anti-Virus (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about 2 years ago | (#41441915)

Agreed, used to be great when it was acting in the same way that MSE does now; small, quick, light and unlike Symantec/McAfee didn't attempt to upsell you on 400 other programs to install to make your PC run better. Now it's just as bloated and ineffective as the big guys.

Slashdot Cruiser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441619)

Protects against grits

ClamWin (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#41441645)

It's free (as in beer) and open-source. It's also very light-weight and works and updates without a hitch.

Re:ClamWin (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441757)

Unfortunately, also doesn't do any resident background protection, network monitoring or link scanning, which all major antivirus tools do nowadays. The only reason to put ClamWin on a Windows machine if it is running 2000 or earlier, which is about the only current AV that will run on those systems.

Microsoft Security Essentials (4, Insightful)

amaupin (721551) | about 2 years ago | (#41441649)

First I used Avast, but after a while it began bugging me to to buy the paid version, and slowed down my PC with ill-timed, intensive scans.

I switched to AVG, but after a while it began bugging me to to buy the paid version, and slowed down my PC with ill-timed, intensive scans.

Now I use Microsoft Security Essentials, which is surprisingly good. So far.

Complement with a Spybot Search and Destroy scan every now and then and you're good to go.

Avira for me (1)

dieu1979 (993752) | about 2 years ago | (#41441655)

i test a couple of free antivirus and i finish using avira the footprint is not bad and he doesn't clog the cpu too much. Just the nag to buy the full version when you update but for the rest i have nothing bad to said about it

Check with your University (1)

wbav (223901) | about 2 years ago | (#41441673)

Most universities offer virus protection and support for free. I'd go there first.

If for some reason they don't offer anything, I've had reasonable success with AVG.

No Microsoft, Yes Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441675)

First thing is use anything but Internet Explorer. And like everyone else is saying MSE is the top, far superior to AVG. It is light, user friendly, and not very intrusive. It's what i use to clean up after my companies corporate, trend antivirus fails.

MSE (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41441683)

I used to use AVG, but I found it gradually became slower and slower, and stopped actually catching viruses.

Microsoft Security Essentials has the downside of being made by Microsoft, but the plus side of being extremely low-footprint and actually catching things. I pair it with the occasional MBAM scan out of paranoia (MBAM is good at finding and removing infections, but terrible at actively stopping them).

Finally, yeah, throw some AdBlock on there. Almost all the viruses I've caught in the past few years (ie. both of them) have come from malicious ads. Adblock tends to stop a fair number - it's not solid protection alone, but it's good for defense-in-depth.

As many others have said so far...... (2)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | about 2 years ago | (#41441719)

Microsoft Security Essentials.

What I would add, however, is the inclusion of the MVPS hosts file additions.
http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm [mvps.org]

Basically, block 95% of popups and ads with this list of compiles hosts that you can dump into your existing HOSTS file.

Run Linux (1, Offtopic)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41441723)

Just run Linux. Linux was fully featured enough to get me through college over a decade ago. Should work for you now. If you have apps that require Windows, put it on a VM which is used for nothing else. Problem solved.

MSE + Secunia PSI (2)

Liquidretro (1590189) | about 2 years ago | (#41441743)

MSE is great, for the money, and its pretty light weight. I would add Secunia PSI to the list http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/ [secunia.com] It's also free and scans the computer for out of date and vulnerable software. Malwares Favorite place to get in is unpatched software. This includes stuff you installed once and forgot about, stuff that came with your computer that you never use, etc. A totally patched system (including all the forgotten about stuff) is the best way to stay clean in addition to the not clicking on random stuff. In addition, if you don't need it uninstall it. A good example of this is Java. Most people don't acutally need it but have it installed on their computers. Just get rid of it and then you don't have to worry if it's not a secure program. Soundcloud should be clean but it's all the other places to be concerned about.

Keep good backups (2)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#41441767)

It's not what you asked, but it's at least as important:

Keep good, usable, uninfected backups of anything that's important to you.

Also, have a means to restore your computer to a known good state and have the ability to re-install applications you want.

Re:Keep good backups (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41441985)

Keep good, usable, uninfected backups of anything that's important to you.

I have a policy of no data on windows partitions/drives/images/machines. Everything valuable belongs on the cloud or a LAN server. Wipe windows at any time if necessary.

OPs best purchase would be a really big external hard drive connected by usb or fw or whatever and a linux "live" boot disk / USB key.

Before he gets owned, assuming he isn't already, dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/usborwhatever/my_backup_image.img (wait a couple hours?)

After he gets owned, dd if=/dev/usborwhatever/my_backup_image.img of=/dev/sda (wait a couple hours, remove linux boot device, reboot, and its back to the future)

You can keep multiple backup images, and you should. Also might be a good idea to see if md5adm /dev/usborwhatever/my_backup and md5adm /dev/sda match.

Translation: I am a cheapskate (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41441775)

Translation: "Hi I want to do a number of things, but am unwilling to accept the cost and consequences of my choices. How can I avoid responsibility?"

Ubuntu? (0, Troll)

gQuigs (913879) | about 2 years ago | (#41441797)

If you actually care about your security you've almost got to go with a Linux distro, use NoScript and no plugins at all. Initially, in most cases, security is a tradeoff with convenience. Anti-virus is a never ending game because it is trying to keep the convenience part (well minus the performance losses), while usually not changing user behavior at all (there are exceptions like SiteAdvisor but I've found they are worse than the viruses they are preventing).

But seriously, random slashdot poster, what's keeping you from Tux?

Re:Ubuntu? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441881)

Morons like you that answer "ubuntu" to every fucking question.

MSE + MBAM (1)

Dude163299 (906461) | about 2 years ago | (#41441799)

I personally would use MSE for antivirus and Windows Firewall I prefer to keep things simple and this updates regularly on it's own and doesn't require you to stop and instal the program again when there is a new version or something along those lines. So your not going to be out of date, which is usually the biggest problem I see with people with antivirus programs, heck I will own up I use to do that sometimes because quite frankly I was too busy with school work to bother taking the few minutes to do that in the past. Than you use Malwabytes Anti Malware (MBAM) to block the IPs of known bad websites and the exact way the real time protection works is made to work well with antiviruses like MBAM so it will go nicely with MSE, and it is something like $20-30 for a lifetime lisence which you can transfer from one computer to another after you take one or two steps to do so. Though the things I mentioned only work on the Pro or paid version the free version is just the scanner. Also just a heads up when your computer slows down which most people contribute to "age" and "viruses, malware" it usually is actually from the computer auto booting too many programs and eating up resources. Quick way to fix it is to go into MSCONFIG under "Startup" and unselect the programs you don't want to start up when the computer boots up just double check things if you don't recognize it as it may be a driver or something important you need which may make a program crash.

It's not only about the antivirus (5, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#41441851)

Try to use a non-admin account for your daily stuff. An escalated admin account when you do need to install stuff is just 2 clicks away (start -> change user)

I've had my computer-illiterate parents on a non-admin account for 20 years now, they still haven't gotten a virus. And yes, they're still computer-illiterate ^^

Comodo (1)

neghvar1 (1705616) | about 2 years ago | (#41441879)

I have been using Comodo Internet Security Suite for years now and have been quite pleased with it. In fact its the only free anti-virus that I can install on Server 2008 R2. Only downside in my opinion is that it does not like game trainers. However, I have been hearing a lot of positives about the WSE.

They're all late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441893)

Considering that ALL virus-protection schemes are "after-the-fact", that is to say that they detect threats that are known, and that most virus/malware writers run their work through banks of computers that have the latest AV software on them in order to verify nothing will catch them, the AV software that updates the most often and has the best sources for catching new infections will best serve you. In short, they're all weak, but some are better then others.

All of that being said, Microsoft Security Essentials has all the other AV software beat hands-down for one reason alone--There are more Microsoft Operating Systems out there then any other operating system and they are all gathering virus/malware data, data that is used by Microsoft to create up-to-date AV signature updates. Their competitors are far less capable of gathering data with which to improve their detection rates. The fact that it essentially uses other aspects of the OS to do it's job make things even brighter--it uses the existing Windows Update for it's own updates requiring one less process running at all times. It also doesn't beg you for money every time your in the middle of a WoW raid. It's also free--completely. You get the fully-functioning version, not some ham-strung, whiney application that is more sales-pitch then product.

As others noted, AV software is your last resort--it catches the stuff you didn't. YOU can catch most of the stuff by using certain tools to keep the infections away in the first place. Use Firefox with the add-ons No-Script, AdBlocker Plus and Ghostery. Once you become familiar with those tools (No-script being, by far, the most important), those infections will be stopped at the front door.

Now, don't peg me as a MS fanboi--I'm not. I despise some of the choices MS has made in the past, but after fucking around with "free" AV software for years I've discovered that the best one came free with my OS.

University Supplied Anti-Virus (1)

Zobber (2525090) | about 2 years ago | (#41441925)

Hey paperclipman! Microsoft Security Essentials is a good free option if you want decent protection. But since you're in college, I'm sure your school offers a free copy of one of the "enterprise" level anti-virus solutions. My university offers Symantec Endpoint to all of it's faculty/staff/students. So you should definitely check out your schools IT Support website to see if they offer anything. I mean you are sorta paying for it :P

Your post reads like bad market research (5, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | about 2 years ago | (#41441943)

Have you tried Common Sense 2012? I hear it works well in most sensible cases. Other than that on the cheap : Microsoft Security Essentials. It seems a bit contradictory to let MS handle anti-virus software, but at least it doesn't hog your system as badly as most other products.

reasonably competent CPU user

Yes, I know how you feel. I like to think of myself a I/O aficionado. I have a friend who's a memory expert. We know a guy who was pretty much a BIOS guru, but he's not feeling too well lately after hearing about the UEFI thing.

but I do download some music as a recent SoundCloud devotee

I hardly know anyone who downloads their music from SoundCloud. Most tracks are either demos (with a link to itunes, amazon, juno or whatever). And the few amateurs that are serious about their music have already joined one of the many netlabels where you can usually download entire albums from their own site or bandcamp.

Are you by any chance doing market research, trying to infiltrate into the tech crowd while looking young, hip, dynamic and social 2.0 web networking? You're doing a splendid job, I might add. However, please forgive my sarcasm if you're not, your post seems to read like a 55 year old police officer going under cover "buyin' da ganja mon, totally down with da 'erb an' ting".

Best Freebies (1)

inkrypted (1579407) | about 2 years ago | (#41441947)

Avast! and Malwarebytes or use one of the many Linux flavors out there. I myself use openSUSE Linux.

Virus Bulletin comparison chart (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 2 years ago | (#41441965)

Here's a link to Virus Bulletin [virusbtn.com] for a comparison of free and paid packages. I'd also recommend a multi-tiered strategy of OpenDNS [opendns.com] and and a hosts file [mvps.org] to block bad sites, MalwareBytes [malwarebytes.org] to scan and check for malware (paid version provides real-time protection), and I also use Tracking Protection Lists [microsoft.com] . Takes all the joy out of it, doesn't it.

I really dont want to flame..buttt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441979)

Read this question and ask your self if this person is really "a reasonably competent CPU". Also, those tags are horrible. Ubuntu? Slow news day huh lol. In lieu of any further trolling. MS Security Essentials. Don't EVER pay for anti virus, unless you are a medium sized business owner. Don't watch too much porn either. I know your a college student. Sometimes we get lonely when the girls are out (hopefully) studying or (worse case) with the other dudes lol. Enjoy your free knowledge and pass it on.

When did slashdot become google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41441981)

When did slashdot become google?

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