I regularly receive email messages from well meaning individuals concerning an alert about some New Killer Virus that is going around and will do everything including causing your PC to Blow Up. Well actually the most exciting claim was that it will burn a hole in your Hard Drive. Almost without exception, No Software can cause Hardware Damage. In fact even if they could do that, they wouldn’t. You see, unlike the very early viruses that were written by juvenile programmers, most modern infections are written by people who don’t want you to know that you are infected. They mostly want to use your machine as a drone to send out spam email to make money. If you machine is incapacitated, they won’t benefit from its use! By the time most users (including the journalists and pseudo-journalists) know about a specific malware the AV companies will have already known about it and have updated their Virus signatures. That’s why it is important to stay current with your AV signature updates.
Also Quite often I get calls for my Computer Expertise that involve suspected infections of an individual PC. One of the first things that some sophisticated malware does is disable or at least cripple the anti-virus software that is installed on the machine. That’s the main reason I always recommend a third party online scan if I think the installed Antivirus Program is compromised. I use and trust these two. (Updated 9-27-11)
If you are running a Windows Machine for personal use, I recommend using Microsoft Security Tools for your regular Anti-virus and malware scanning. It’s not bloated the way some of the large & popular AV companies software is. In fact some I.T. pros would say that the most popular AV software IS Mal-ware.
Microsoft doesn’t sell AV software so it doesn’t have to compete with the other companies on the same level. The other companies like to boast about how many “infections” they can find. If one finds more than another most users will assume it is better. However this has lead to the AV software companies to create software that is more prone to false positives as well as pointing out some really insignificant items like Recently Used Lists along with the truly dangerous. With Microsoft, since they aren’t selling the tool, they have no incentive to do such things. In fact the opposite is true. They only want to make sure their software (Windows) runs well. Isn’t that what we all want?
Free Antivirus Programs
For most folks the free programs are jsut fine. In fact some are better than the popular paid programs! Check out my article Best Free Antivirus Progams.