A lot of the blog posts start as discussions on Facebook and then grow into something I think may have general audience appeal. This post started that way, as a discussion on cleaning a system after infection, and now has evolved into a discussion/review of anti-virus products.
My baseline security is Windows Firewall combined with MSE; also with the NoScript and AdBlocker filters in Firefox, and just AdBlocker in Chrome. I only use IE for the RVCC site and some Microsoft corporate contacts. Once you get a basic install up and running you should image that, and use it as the baseline for future restores. I run full-system images on a monthly basis with snapshots on some of the mission-critical stuff (some directories are on every-4-hour replication!).
Free AV = generally loss-leader advertising for the full product; MSE is the only real-time freeware AV I know of which does not function as beggarware. Clam-AV doesn’t make the grade as it is a batch scanner only.
MSE = Microsoft Security Essentials = free (as in beer) basic antivirus protection; low impact on host system; does its job quietly without a lot of fuss.
Clam-AV = batch-mode anti-virus scanner; no real-time component; thus it is useful as a recovery tool or on an email or webserver to test uploaded items.
The rest of these comments reflect my experience with the paid versions of AV products. I have or have had paid subscriptions with all of the following:
AVG = big, bloated, really trying to outdo Norton and McAfee for useless but cute features, and growing more expensive all the time.
Avast = cute but often behind the times on virus definitions; starts begging for renewal at the 40% mark; gets hyper over normal traffic when using the firewall product.
Norton = McAfee = Trend Micro = bloatware. The fact all of these require a special “removal tool” should suffice as a warning not to get these products.
Kaspersky = when it works, it works well. When it works. And therein lies the problem and the reason I can’t recommend it.
Zone Alarm = when it first came out, this was a decent product. BUT the company had no real business plan and eventually sold out to Checkpoint, who turned it into the hyper-active scare-ware typical of most consumer firewalls. IF properly configured it works well, at least until it is broken by the next update.