Antivirus programs that just seem to NOT work

I see more computers come through here that have nasty infections. The clients always feel like they have done due diligence by installing some antivirus program.  In fact, it seems that many times, their faith has been misplaced.

AVG seems to be very popular, but I get a large number of thoroughly infected computers that have AVG installed. And it seems to slow down computers to a fairly large degree. I worked on a couple business computers a couple months ago with the AVG toolbar running.  The chief complaint was that the pages would just bog down. Granted these were real estate pages with many entries, but it would bring the computer to a complete stop while waiting for the scan to occur.  I just can’t give AVG a nod.

Another popular, for NO good reason, antivirus program is the Symantec/Norton offering.  At one time, this antivirus program was indeed the bomb.  Unfortunately, that day has long passed. It’s now a bloated, costly mess that survives only because of it’s name and former reputation.

UPDATE: Sept 6, 2010: Apparently the current offering HAS made a bit of a comeback – I am easing up on my criticism of Symantec for the time being.  I still like Avast/Vipre myself, but I’ll go easy on them until I hear that it has again turned into a complete fat bloated piece of crapware again. Well, honestly, it IS still fat and bloated, but it does seem to stop viruses…

The first thing I do when I see Symantec on a computer, after alerting the owner, is remove it. This app will rob a computer of about half it’s computing power just by installing it. And God help anyone trying to uninstall some of the versions. Like a tick, pieces of Symantec will cling to your operating system until you get in there with figurative tweezers and remove them.  Symantec does offer a tool that claims to remove thoroughly all pieces of numerous Symantec programs. Even AFTER running their program, there are still traces of it lingering that must be removed with OTHER programs.

Trend Micro – another program that seems to allow an awful lot of virus activity through.
Truthfully, there is no single program that will catch everything. Customers usually come to Lizardwebs when something has gotten through and seems to remain under their particular antivirus’ radar.

When cleaning computers at Lizardwebs, the only truly effective solution is to remove the drive and scan it over and over using a comprehensive array of antivirus programs and antispyware apps. Add a good startup editor to allow removal of startup items and usually that will get the problem fixed. Only very infrequently is a reinstall needed to eradicate the virus. However, sometimes the damage that has been done IS vicious enough to require a reinstall of the operating system.  It frequently takes a lot less time to reinstall than it does to hunt down every little registry entry that one of these viruses has modified and rendered a computer unpleasant or impossible to use.

Slightly off topic: One thing I just laugh at every time I see it is the apparent inability of virus writers to actually spell things right. I saw a virus about a month ago. It was producing popups for some spyware program that the owner just couldn’t seem to stop.  She didn’t know why they were coming up randomly, but they sure DID want her to buy some “antvirus” in a bad way.  All that behind the scenes coding to try to get into a computer system and they can’t manage to spell the header/title correctly. Huh.

Well, next time *I* need some “antvirus”, I’ll just go out to the patio and get it for free. Little monsters seem to like my patio – and I’m sure not going to pay money for it!

Author: Eric Erickson

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