April 2012 best combination of antivirus, antispyware, and anti malware today

     Here we are at 2012 already and was just wondering what the experts recommend for the best package today of antivirus, antispyware, and antimalware and firewalls on the planet. I used to use Panda, Spyware Blaster, Spybot and a few assorted others, but would like some updated recomendations as I know all have changed somewhat, along with the enviroment. Please let me know what you think experts! Thanks!
Who is Participating?
I recently updated this EE Article that addresses what you are asking:
MALWARE - "An Ounce of Prevention..."

Please give serious thought to avoiding free products (other than Microsoft Security Essentials).
Malwarebytes Pro will cost you about US$25 for a lifetime (your lifetime, not the computer) license and is about the best money you can spend. MBAM (free) is a manual update/scan program and is great for cleaning infected systems - NOT - for preventing infections.

Most "free" AV programs require manual updating and scanning and you need 24/7 "On-Access" protection or you don't have any protection.

Please do not EVER run a registry cleaner. Good details here: Registry-Cleaners-Good-or-harmful-to-your-PC
Ashok DewanFreelancerCommented:
Norton 360 would be better.
For Antivirus Microsoft security essentials is one of the prefered antivirus for standalone machine.  really nice for antivirus and antispyware and does not slow machine.
Spybot till date is one of prefered antispyware.
Managing Security & Risk at the Speed of Business

Gartner Research VP, Neil McDonald & AlgoSec CTO, Prof. Avishai Wool, discuss the business-driven approach to automated security policy management, its benefits and how to align security policy management with business processes to address today's security challenges.

I have all three installed on my Windows systems, they are a good combination.

Occasionally Run CCLEANER to cleanup system and registry


Once a week run Malware Bytes for browser problems and other malware:


Avast resides in memory, but can be disabled for minutes, hours, or until the next reboot if needed when installing known-good programs and virus checking simply shows down the process:

Avast Free Antivirus:  http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download

Remove or disable other anti-virus, having more than one at a time is itself a problem and will slow things down.

I hope this helps. I've been using these three for years, and they just get better on each revision.

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Yellow boxes are yellow for a reason - CAUTION.  I would avoid anything from Symantec (which includes Norton).  WAAAAAAY too many bad experiences.

My preference is VIPRE and Malware Bytes for manual removal.  Though KNOWING Windows is the most important thing. If you know Windows, you can use free tools like those from SysInternals to analyze your system and find what doesn't belong because NOTHING is 100% effective.  At best, these days, I would say things are 80% effective.
greywolf01Author Commented:
Lots of good information-Can any of you give me a good opinion on Panda Cloud free antivirus-what do you all think of this?
Not familiar with Panda cloud.

I'm a casual visitor to EE. I like what I use.
Haven't used Panda Cloud before but I've been very impressed with Webroot this year, much more stable than the usual suspects and doesn't slow down you're PC either. In fact if you can pick up a 2011 version on the net for cheap they will upgrade you to 2012 for free. Trend Micro is also good.

As for Spyware and general house keeping, JT92677 is spot on with Malwarebytes (Spyware and Malware scanner) and C Cleaner (Registry cleaner).

Hope this helps
I'll say it again - read the article by MS MVP 'rpggamergirl' for all the reasons NOT to ever use a registry cleaner.
There are no reasons to ever use one and a whole pot full of reasons not to.
I disagree on registry cleaning. It can solve problems, and virus removers have to clean the registry when necessary (which is often if not always). Many programs leave footprints in the registry as well and advanced programs to remove software do a better job of removing programs completely. Alternatively, get VmWare and run new programs in a virtual machine if you want to test something, and use VMware's snapshot feature to restore a virtual system to an earlier version if things don't work as desired.

The free versions of the products I suggested work well, and if the user wishes to upgrade  after using them,  that's a good way to "try before buy" if the developer has a good product and wants you to take a closer look.  But do this only for programs that have very positive reviews.

I was interrupted before I could add these comments to my earlier post, but I see there are lots of opinions, you'll have to investigate for yourself.  I've been doing software development for over 25 years, and while my points here (Experts exchange) are not as many as some others, I don't answer that many questions, but that has no bearing on the validity of any answer.

Try the suggestions.

PS:  The free version of avast virus checker updates almost every day, and is excellent  The Pro version has a feature to run things "in a sandbox" using memory access boundary settings that can take advantage of CPU exception handling if a program tries to access memory outside of the sandbox, or that is part of their way of containing a potential threat to you system.
Another opinion, this one includes both Avast and Panda

Panda does get high scores, so you might want to try both Avast and Panda, one at a time of course, and pick the best for your needs.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
NEVER use a registry cleaner.  I've tried them in 9x days... USELESS wastes of money.  I never use them and I don't have problems with my systems or at my clients.  They're like specific supplements to your diet - 99 out of 100 people don't need them and the one that does probably won't notice a benefit anyway.
JT92677 -
Please take this opportunity to learn something about registry cleaners and how they can negatively affect any Windows OS. I realize that you are comparatively new to the IT field, but that's OK. We can all learn from others.

Two different MS MVP's are have provided solid information about this process - one of whom wrote an extensive  EE Article (linked above) detailing the downside.

The simple fact is that I have never heard of anyone who truly understands Windows OS and malware recommend a registry cleaner.

Your suggestion about doing weekly scans is also badly flawed. All a 'scan' will do is find infections. Too often that is far too late in the infection process.

The only true goal for malware advice in this question should be the prevention - and that is not going to happen with the free products. Without 24/7 "On-Access" prevention in place, the danger of infection is vastly multplied.

My guess would be that you have not yet read the article and are basing your comments on nothing more than your own experience and conclusions. Always a bad foundation for giving good advice. Read the article and feel free to post your comments/questions right in the spaces provided.
younghv - how did you conclude that I am new to IT field?

Thanks for your pontifications and erudite commentary on my suggestions.

PS: You don't know anything about my background, what I do, or what I know,
but are quite willing to offer your advice. Yessir, whatever you say sir. Gung Ho
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I suspect younghv did what I would do when I really disagreed with someone... he checked your profile and discovered that according to your profile (we would assume you are not lying), as of your registration date less than 3 years ago, you have less than 1 year of experience.  Both younghv and I have been working professionally in IT for more than 16 years - before there were registries - In that time, I suspect he has found what I have found -- specifically, that registry cleaners are more likely to harm than to help and most likely to be a waste of time and effort.

If you've had a different experience, great... but I'd caution you, it likely won't last.  In the 17+ years as an IT Professional, I've worked with a lot of IT people and these days, I associate with a lot of IT consultants who generally have had a lot more than 4 years of IT experience.  NONE that I've dealt with on mailing lists, in group meetings, and in forums, have recommended registry cleaners.  At best they've not specifically addressed them.  

And since I'm being somewhat nostalgic here, I'll add that the last GOOD Norton product was the Norton Utilities... for Windows 3.1 in my opinion.  I used to recommend McAfee... but over time, they got less effective and more of a resource hog.  I've tried about a dozen other major antivirus products over the years and I've found problems with most of the ones commonly recommended. Now anyone can have a bad experience with any product, but in my experience over the last 3 years or so, VIPRE has proven itself one of the most reliable and effective products to me.

I used to use SpyBot for cleaning... but I found it only marginally effective with more recent infections (7-10 years ago, it was decent... these days, Malware Bytes has proven itself MUCH more effective to me).  Regardless of the DIRECT tools like Malware bytes, an Antivirus, and the like, EXPERT knowledge of Windows is really required if you want to be effective at cleaning systems since the malware writers are winning - they get to modify their software and the anti-malware companies must generally SEE the malware first to figure out how to clean it.
25 years in Software development is hardly inexperienced. Maybe YoungHV should read through comments before telling people off. I've read the article and yes it is interesting but it's merely opinion. There's no real fact backed up by anything in there.

Yes the majority of registry cleaners are a waste of time but c cleaner works quite well and has some very good features.

Anyway as this question is about Antivirus let's just leave it at that and allow the asker to decide on what he wants to try.

I've been looking at this website for years and was always put off joining by know it alls who assume that only their way of thinking is right but finally thought no I'll give it a shot. It's probably just one or two people. One down how many more to go!!!
The comments in this thread are looking remarkably like way too many news/opinion web sites where every numpty with an on-line connection jumps in with both feet and posts their "opinion".

I was referring exactly to the "claim" of 25 years of software development and my response is "so what?". What in the world does that have to do with being qualified to offer OS and malware advice? And for the record, my first graduate level IT courses were in 1973, so "comparitively new" is exactly the phrase I intended to use - although I was attempting to introduce a small level of levity to lighten things up. (That worked out well, didn't it?)

The name of this web site is "Experts-Exchange" - not "Random recommendations from people with a computer".

If you're a software developer, then how about posting in the various "Software Development" Topic Areas where you can focus on your actual expertise. Posting unqualified opinions in OS and Malware Zones can cause more harm than good.

SleekDelite - you registered for this site yesterday and have earned 0 points and answered 0 questions. It is conceivable that you actually have some level of IT knowledge, but so far, your credibility matches your points.

I am the furthest thing from a "know it all", having stated publicly and frequently that I learn more here every day then I teach, but at least I put in the time and effort to learn from those (such as leew and rpggamergirl) who know far more than I do.

You might do well to go check their profiles, then go on-line to MS MVP and you will find both of them up there. They are each among the most qualified people on the entire planet and understand far better than anyone else posting in this thread the potential damage of "Registry Cleaners".

As for the comment about the Registry Cleaner Article being "...but it's merely opinion.", I can only shake my head at your lack of knowledge of the EE Articles process.

I was not going to respond to the off-topic comments, but I think it is important for both the asker and the new experts to understand that all of us need to be very careful about not only what kind of advice we post, but in which Topic Areas we post. If you are not truly an "Expert" on a topic, then you really do need to do more reading than writing.

Final note - for those who need/want it, leew or I can set up an EE "Private Discussion" to take all of this conversation out of the view of other members and have a full and open chat.
No comment.
younhg - I don't just "run registry cleaners" -- but CCleaner (if you have run it) has a number of useful features, including suspected registry issues. It does more than just scan the registry. But you obviously have not run it, or if you have, didn't explore it's features.

I'm not going to reread all the posts, but I recall one said something like "I tried registry cleaners in (years past)..." so that hardly represents a full understanding of what's out there, and what features these "registry cleaners" provide. That's probably why CCleaner is not called a registry cleaner, but that is one of the features. In fact, it saves any changes it makes to the registry in a .REG file so the qualified user can review the changes with notepad or a text editor, and either reinstall them by opening the reg file, or editing the reg file and adding them back into the registry easily.  The idea that a program has to make changes to the registry is part of the uninstall process in Windows. The clear fact that some programs leave bits and pieces strewn here and there is also a source of problems. I'd explain, but not sure you'd believe it. In fact, I just finished solving a problem of downgrading a program to one that works better, but the newer version kept the earlier one from properly installing without a complete removal of every mention of the newer program in the registry, and elsewhere. Sometimes editing the registry is necessary to fix things, and a registry scanner can help understand some of the registry issues, that's why I use them to scan, and sometime remove registry entries, or I'll do it manually.

CCleaner also lets the user see all the junk files that are using up disk space, it shows all the available restore points with comments, and has numerous settings. It has lots of settings, but like any tool, give a child a hammer, and you'll soon find that it works on the coffee table as well as anything. I agree that blindly letting some unknown program "clean" a registry is a bad idea, but they are not all the same. Your view is the basis of other sorts of unacceptible bias, you see an instance of something or someone makes a broad suggestion, and then mistakenly assume that it applies to all related instances. Like racism, a good example of broad brushed responses to some attribute that is wrong.

Malwarebytes is another useful program. I suggested running it often because not all virus checkers catch everything. There are viruses with a payload that does not appear right away, sort of a time bomb, so the best defense is to review things often, especially if the user does a lot of install, uninstall, and running anything that is sent to them by "a friend" including photos, docs, etc. I don't use the real-time malwarebytes pro -- I use the avast instead.

I think Avast is one of the best AV programs. It has lots of settings, it has features that others don't have, and has caught a number of problems over the years.

If you want some higher level Zone Advisor to help you justify your personal innuendo against me, and the sarcasm, by all means, ask them to review your posts to see if they qualify as helpful, or boastful and sarcastic.  I'll leave that to you since you are clearly one of the big whigs in EE.

In the future, don't assume you know everything.  That might make your responses, the "exchange" part of "EE" far more helpful, and remove  your personal biases based on how many years some helper has on EE. Maybe more years on EE means more conformity to the gospel as adopted by the imams, and the license it gives them to belittle those of us who have been working for a living DOING computer software, working with hardware, OS, etc. and more importantly, with customers and users.

Have fun

Well said Jeff, good night all. :-)
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
First of all EVERYONE should remember that the asker specifically requested: Please let me know what you think experts!

Further, in my opinion, discussion and debate is fine - and I think should be encouraged.  I'm stubborn... but it's not impossible to change my mind.  CONVINCE me.  And if you don't convince me, maybe you'll convince someone else.  I enjoy presenting my opinions and helping people succeed as much as I have in various areas.  SO LONG AS THERE IS NO NAME CALLING and obvious disrespect, I think it's both fair and appropriate to argue the merits of your methods. (What a person considers obvious and/or disrespectful is not always clear - it too, is an opinion and if you should choose to be offended by something someone types (which you should be as painfully aware as I am can be difficult to discern tone from reading a comment), then you should be adult and civil in your offended reaction and give the person an opportunity to clarify and apologize).  That said, there are occasions where we ALL fail to take the high road... stepping back and recognizing that is important.

In my opinion CCleaner is NOT a registry cleaner.  It is not unreasonable to run it.  HOWEVER, I would generally avoid using the registry cleaning functions.  Why?  As I said before, 99% of the time, it does nothing REALLY useful and the 1% it might, the end users are probably not going to notice it's "enhancements".  Further, I think most experienced IT people recognize and greatly respect Mark Russinovich.  He's not perfect, of course, no one is.  But I've seen him speak twice now read his stuff from time to time.  I find it difficult to believe any knowledgeable person would dismiss his comments without some serious thought about them first.  rpggamergirl quotes one of Mark's blog entries where he specifically states: "...I haven't and never will implement a Registry cleaner since it's of little practical use on anything other than Win2K terminal servers and developing one that's both safe and effective requires a huge amount of application-specific knowledge." Indeed, I've been involved in conversations with developers at Microsoft when the question was asked about why Microsoft doesn't come up with a registry cleaner.  The answer, as I recall, was essentially that it was way too difficult to create one that they could feel confident wouldn't do more harm than good.  Can they do good?  Sure, under the right circumstances and in the right hands... the problem is most people TAKE NO CARE in their use.  And odds are they won't do much good to begin with.

@JT92677 specifically - I said "I've tried [registry cleaners] in 9x days..." and given my experience and discussions and reading of the opinions of highly respected experts on Microsoft software, I see no reason to suggest I change my opinion.  In your comment (ID 37824160) you describe how you use registry cleaners.  Which to me, sounds appropriate.  You have more faith in your application developers than I; I only do things manually until I've proved what needs to be done, then I script it.  The problem is, and I think both you and younghv have gone to opposite extremes here, you have to keep in mind that people reading this question - even if the author is an expert - may not be experts.  Rather than biting each other's heads off, you should both be acknowledging what frankly I think you're both saying and what rpggamergirl's article even says - "Using a registry cleaner might be okay for an advanced user who knows exactly what he is doing."

That said, I do not use use CCleaner.  It's really (from what I see of it) a program designed not so much to keep a system running optimally (though there may be some minimal benefit and intent to do that), but rather, it's a program primarily intended to obscure a person's identity on the machine, removing history, cookies, temporary internet files, and related things for web browser and general computer usage.  I'm just not that paranoid about the systems that ONLY I use.  

My opinion of Webroot - a client had it and it started causing crashes of the system after an update.  Their support was awful.  My opinion of Trend - they seem to make a decent product... so long as you never, EVER want to change the systems roles.  If you do, you better be an expert in Trend or the error messages you see will make you start thinking you're infected with something or Windows is broken.  I've solved MANY network issues for clients by removing Trend.

Uninstaller programs are not registry cleaners and I'd be more willing to entertain them - but even those, I don't bother with personally.  Uninstallers just do a better job ensuring they remove things that a setup program adds... many setup programs are HORRIBLE about properly cleaning up after themselves.

Using a virtual machine to try applications first is an excellent recommendation.  One I first made at least 3 years ago in a presentation I did.

As for Avast, as I recall it's nag ware when using the free version.  I see no reason to recommend it over Microsoft's Security Essentials.  And besides that, it's for home use.  If you're a consultant, you should not be using it to clean a client's system unless you're buying an appropriate license.

I also don't trust the countless reviews of malware products online.  Most are by people or companies that have don't relatively minimal and very controlled testing.  I rely on personal experience and the personal experience of others.  That's real-world experience.  Further, it's important to look at a company's track record.  Among the reasons I won't use Symantec even if they resolve their issues with a current version is that to me, they've proved time and again to fail to maintain that quality.  I can design a settings and configuration screen much like the ones used in Symantec antivirus products.  Doesn't mean my product will WORK just because you check a checkbox or adjust a value.

Saw a brief presentation on Panda a couple years back.  I wasn't impressed.  And I wasn't underwhelmed either.  It was another product that showed me nothing special.

I'm going to partially disagree with younghv with regards to his comment "Always a bad foundation for giving good advice" - It's bad to do that AND disregard other professionals and their arguments to the contrary.  If you can't keep an open mind enough to read the articles/comments, THEN it's a bad foundation for giving good advice.  If you can read the articles and comments, and intelligently explain your reasoning for disregarding them, you may persuade others.  Otherwise, it just demonstrates stubbornness to me.
Leew - So we're getting somewhere I think.

I like ccleaner because it has several useful features that involve identifying "crap" (the first C in CCleaner) and I think it's helpful to have such a utility to help list and identify files on a computer that may or may not be useful. One useful feature shows all the restore points and comments and does so quickly. It has an installer built in. It has numerous cleaning features that let the user pick and choose what to keep, what to remove, but even then, it always lists what it might remove so the user can decide whether or not to proceed, but at least the user is informed about what might not be worth keeping. It doesn't just do things without confirmation. I've tried other so-called registry cleaners that ransack the registry and offer little opportunity to review what they've done, which is a good reason to have either VMware in which to run a virtual OS, or create a restore point before trying anything. I don't normally use a registry cleaner, but I do run an analysis of registry entries to get a listing of potential problems which can be useful as I explained earlier when trying to uninstall a new version of a program, and go back to the earlier version.

Avast has a free version. Thanks for noting that I should not use my version for a customer's problem. In fact,  I don't' use MY version for customers, I have them install their own, which is completely within Avast's distribution  scheme, and it is a helpful program. It has updates daily, sometimes more than one, it does NOT nag the user, at least I haven't seen it, unless you're running the "trial" version of their "pro" version, which is a nice set of added features but not obligatory.

Anti-mailware does it's own scanning of browser help objects, and other suspicious software, and it has a good report at the end of what it found, if anything. It can be setup to scan one or more drives along with things to ignore, etc.

Here's my bottom line on these utilities: They provide the user with information, and if the information can be used to clean out junk from a system, why not. At least CCleaner allows me to store any deleted registry entries in a .reg file that can easily be re-submitted to the registry by simply opening the file and confirming the question "do you want to add these items to the registry".

Information is a valuable part of keeping a computer clear of problems. As to running these things routinely, I don't personally run them routinely unless I've recently installed a program, or uninstalled one, or hit a website that looked suspicious. it  is as much to find out what's on a machine as it is to remind users of the importance of avoiding problems. It's both a technical issue and a behavioral issue. How many times do we all remind users to never RUN anything they get in an email, including an invite to "check this out, it's really clever" or "you gotta see this" type links. I usually ignore such things until I've asked the sender exactly what it was, and even then might open a virtual machine and open the e-mail there to see the friend's link, if for no other reason than to warn a sender of the link leads to problems.  The avast is always running and catches potential problems, giving me a chance to review what it finds before either agreeing or disagreeing with their call as to what needs to be put in a sandbox and what does not.

Also, turning on the status line in a browser, and looking at the contents when mousing over a link is helpful. It can signal right away whether or not the text in the link resembles the URL that clicking on the text will be submitted to the browser.

The original question asked is what I answered. I didn't think it was reasonable to write a thesis on the risks of using ANY tools in Windows. In fact, the joke for years that still sticks is that the biggest virus on the planet is Windows operating system. It sends information from the computer to Microsoft, it adds things to your computer without much notice, it modifies the OS at times -- these are things we expect a virus to do -- hopefully the changes microsoft makes are beneficial, but in my experience, not all of their updates are useful, valuable, or desirable.

So here we are, the user asked a question, answers have been provided, and a couple of "experts" with lots of points and time on EE have taken it upon themselves to correct, or discipline another lowly expert (based on points or time on EE) that may in fact have more experience in the real world than the expert on EE. I've been doing this for a long time, but not so much on EE. This is a place to be helpful, not to try to build up points to impress others or think having more points gives me a license to lecture to other experts.

An answer of this length to the original question would not be needed, not requested, and take too long to write anyway unless the questioner wants more detail.

Have fun leew - and thanks for taking the time to explain your views without offering an opinion about my credentials <<grin>>


Sleekdelite -- thanks for your positive comments too.
greywolf01Author Commented:
Wow!!! What a group of answers! I had no Idea I would get such a response or had asked such a wide open question! I'm going to have to read through all of this again about three times to award points because I'm not sure really who said what yet. Very interesting and entertaining though. Anybody got any more comments? I will let this run one more day for anyone else's ideas-Thank you all very much!
Greywolf - bottom line is people get sort of nervous when the issue of viruses, worms, trojans, you name it, come up, and so far, even the most careful people can be fooled by some of these virus developers. I suggested three items that I use, but as mentioned, beware of ANY utility that alleges it can "fix" your computer and keep it working.

Take a look at VMware do things in a virtual machine if you like to browse without worrying too much about websites. If you use VMware, you will hardly realize what you're doing is on a virtual machine, especially if you run in full screen mode. But even this approach can be problematic for clever virus developers who can bridge the gap between the virtual and underlying host computer unless you really isolate the virtual system from the host.

Yes, it was a wide open question !!  Enjoy the reading <<grin>>

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

All Courses

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.