Every once in a while, someone will come up to me and say – “hey, good news! I paid for the latest anti-virus software renewal updates, just like you said!” At that point, I like to turn an odd shade of red and say … “Never. Ever. Pay. For Anti-Virus.” If you think about it, it’s the equivalent of regular blackmail. “Keep paying us for ‘protection’ … or someone might get hurt.”
Anti-virus/anti-spyware software should be free, and always has been available in free forms from reputable companies. The best current free offering is from Microsoft, a company you clearly already know and trust. (If you didn’t know and trust them, would you be using Windows or Office?) Microsoft includes anti-spyware software in Windows 7 and Vista, called Microsoft Windows Defender. Their free anti-virus software, Microsoft Security Essentials, includes the anti-virus and anti-spyware components. It works great on Windows 7/Vista/XP, doesn’t slow down your computer, scans whenever you’d like it to, updates regularly for no additional charge.
When I get a new computer, or work on someone else’s, I immediately uninstall whatever anti-virus or anti-spyware software in on there, whether it’s 14 day trial or a “free year” subscription. This includes anything called Norton, McAfee, or anything else you see with “Live-Update” or “Anti-Virus” in the title.
So, make sure to never pay for anti-virus or anti-spyware software again. And if you have, call your credit card company and demand a refund.
(Bonus tip – Microsoft Security Essentials and Internet Explorer 8 prevent almost all viruses. Install that combination, and you’ll be on your way.)