Gathan Beaga

anti-viral hell

R.’s Mum brought her computer around for me, in my role as family geek, to perform my usual blessings upon.

Fuck I hate anti-virus apps. I wish I knew what were the decent free Windows ones. Even a decent cheap one that doesn’t try to be anything more than just a virus-scanner.

Anyway, we’d previously excised Norton from her computer and installed McAfee, but I’m not sure if it’s any better to use or less intrusive. And the way anti-virus user interfaces continually steer the user towards upgrading (at further expense) is nothing short of outrageous. It’s always made easier to buy a whole new app every year rather than pay for a new subscription for your current application (and in the last few years the prices are starting to converge anyway). And then they’re always trying to shove extra stuff at you that you may not actually need.

For example, McAfee will leave an icon in your system tray that implies your system is not protected unless you “upgrade” to their anti-spam application (not required in this case as the user employs Gmail exclusively: does this mean her computer is less secure?).

There’s several other “upgrades” required before your system may be considered fully “protected”. There are of course some obscure settings that will tell the application to ignore these warnings… but who, except for the family geek, will find those? (Not that they actually worked when I did find them.)

So do I have to explain to R.‘s Mum that she needn’t worry about some of the warnings that her anti-virus has for her? Well, in this case I do. And that’s hardly a good thing.

Of course, perhaps she should have listened when I told her she should buy a Mac. :-)