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Good guys gone bad – Why anti-virus software stinks

If you’re like me, you’ve tried (or been forced to try) any number of anti-virus software packages in the course of your techno-life.  There doesn’t seem to be an end to the level of “protection” that these programs claim to afford: anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-malware, anti-dishware…no that’s Dawn.  What do you do, though, when these programs turn out to be the source of your problems?

Let me start off by saying which company’s software I’ve used over the years.  In no particular order:

Trend Micro
Microsoft (Defender)
..and far too many others that I don’t have time to mention

Guess what, I think they all stink.  Why?  It’s simple really.  Let me break it down for a number of reasons:

1) They don’t protect you from everything…or even the majority of problems you can inflict upon yourself
2) Most all of them consume too many resources to do what little they do
3) They all require frequent updating to even hold a prayer of working correctly
4) They are almost all difficult to manage across a business network

While all of these things are enough to make my stomach sour, the biggest reason I hate these kinds of programs is this: They sometimes create problems rather than prevent them.

Grisoft’s AVG, for example, has this nasty little bug of allocating kernel memory on a server OS until the pool is empty.  Once this happens, nothing on the server works.  A hard-reboot is required.  Trend Micro, and I’m sure others, have released definition file updates that take CPU kernel time to 100% and peg it there.  Again, the only fix is a hard reboot.  Symantec doesn’t exclude certain default files/directories on servers, so it’ll grind SQL or Exchange to a complete halt if you install it on such a system.  Kaspersky Labs product consumes so many resources on a system after installation, for days at a time, that the system is basically unusable.

This is, of course, a short list of some of the more obvious problems.  I’m sure you could add more…many more.

So, the question becomes, what am I going to do about it.  The answer is simple: abstain.

What?  Run your computer…on the Internet…browsing web sites….with no protection?  Yes, of course!  I’ve been running that way for years and years…more than I can remember.  My reasoning goes beyond this post, but suffice it to say that the only reason people get virii and the like is because they ask for it.

I know that’s offensive to people, but it’s the truth.  Why are my workstations as clean as a whistle when my clients systems are constantly getting infected, even though they have the supposed “protection” installed?  It’s simple, I don’t do stupid things with my computers.

The next time you think about anti-virus software, ask yourself if you could get away without it if only you were a little smarter.