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Living without antivirus software

[adsense:728x15:5447199818]Ok, I'll admit it. I've been living dangerously for the last several years.

To be blunt: I refused to install any kind of antivirus or personal firewall software on most of my computers (but see Update 1/1/2012, below.) This included a Windows XP Home system that was used by my children as a web surfing / email / game system. I suffered zero infections during this time. (The only time I ever suffered a malware infection was before, when I did rely on Norton Antivirus to protect the kids' computer.)

Why do I refuse to use these massively popular widely-used products? Simple. I am convinced that in my case, they may cause more harm than good, and that they foster a false sense of security - leading some users to engage in riskier behavior.

Further, antivirus software is almost always behind the curve - by definition, the antivirus people are playing catch-up with the malware writers. It's a good living for them, but I choose not to contribute to it.

As a software developer, I cannot afford any downtime due to buggy software, and yes - antivirus software has bugs. Not long ago, one major antivirus package ran amok, causing widespread damage by deleting harmless user data and programs.

Think about it: antivirus software has to intercept many system functions, monitor, detect and deter malicious activity - even if the software is flawless, which it isn't, it will slow your computer, and consume memory and other system resources. And let's not forget that you must now pay a recurring fee in order to feel safe - it all adds up to one big steaming pile of bullshit.

I have little patience for it. You may feel differently. And of course, some people are unable to protect themselves, and need whatever protection they can get.

Update 1/1/2012
I recommend Microsoft Security Essentials (MSSE) and MalwareBytes' Anti Malware FREE edition. Why? Because they're both freely available, and seem to behave well on most systems. Both offer a low-impact path to reasonable protection when combined with common-sense defensive behavior–therefore, my objections (bloated 'solutions' being worse than the problem) are no longer valid for most situations.

Preinstalled software is evil

Brand new Dell 1501 system tray loaded with with an obscene number of running tasks

Two of my children received inexpensive Dell Inspiron 1501 notebooks for Christmas.

They were loaded up with an incredible amount of preinstalled software, including Norton Internet Security, Google Desktop, Microsoft Office(!) cruft including a version of MS SQL SERVER(!), AOL, QuickTime, ITunes(!), three (!) wireless network 'helper' apps, the damnable Installshield updater, several modem 'helper' apps, some kind of 'digital content discovery application' (whatever that is), a DVD creator application, to name only those that come to mind. No description of what most of these do, when they are needed, or an automated removal tool to put the machine back to a standard XP installation state.

Most of these do absolutely nothing for a new user. We don't want or need the loathsome AOL (which, by the way, hooks itself into your network stack, in order to 'help' AOL repair your internet connection). MS SQL Server? WTF? Required by the latest MS office, I'm sure. Ok, I can see the user wanting a DVD creation application, since XP can't make a DVD without some help.

Point is, when most people buy preconfigured systems they are up against a tangled mass of junk that really should be removed before using the computer in earnest. Does Dell have a clue about the kind of support load they are creating with this stuff? Or do they make money off the misery of the customer victim? I can only assume that Dell (and other vendors) are getting kickbacks or other consideration in exchange for polluting these low-cost systems.

I helped remove most of the garbage from their new systems, naturally. Why start off with an overloaded system?

See: Keep your icons out of my system tray!

How can you live without antivirus software?

Here are the things I've learned over the years:

  • Note: Some of the following items apply only to Windows XP. Windows Vista and Windows 7 offer additional security enhancements that may make the suggested tactic irrelevant.
  • Learn how to tell if your computer is running unnecessary software: this means you must learn how to tell what belongs on your computer, what should be running: download and learn to use the holy trinity: Autoruns, Process Explorer, and RootKit Revealer, all available free from Sysinternals (now owned by Microsoft). They're extremely high quality, and they are absolutely essential tools.
  • Your computer isn't a toaster. If you want to pretend that it is, I expect that you will have a lot of trouble with it. If you own and use a computer, you really ought to learn some of this stuff. It's not that difficult. If you don't want to be bothered, find someone local who really knows about Windows, and pay him or her to help you. In the long run, it's cheaper and more satisfying than paying Symantec or some other company a subscription fee in exchange for partial 'protection'.
  • Install a quality hardware firewall between your internet connection and the rest of your network. Ensure that all incoming ports are blocked. This is one exception to my "no personal firewalls" rule - if I traveled a lot, or used public WiFi hotspots, I'd probably install the simplest, most robust software firewall I could get my hands on - but it would not be something bloated like Norton Internet Security. Try Kerio Personal Firewall (I've not used it in a while, so I don't know if it's still lean and mean.) See this page for recommendations.
  • Run as a non-admin user most of the time. This is known as Least User Access, or LUA. Windows users typically log in with full administrative privileges (at least, in versions up to XP and Server 2003) - exposing those users to severe security risks.

    I log in as an administrator only when necessary to change system configuration or install trusted software. The added hassle actually reminds me that I need to think before I make a change to my system, or install some random software I just downloaded from the 'web.

  • Use good judgment in deciding to install software, visit a web site, or open an email.
  • Periodically run a free, online virus scanner - check your system every once in a while to see if you have an infection.
  • Download and use Ad-Aware or Spybot S&D (or better yet, use both) from time to time - like just after installing a new bit of software on your machine, or just after your kids have visited the latest MySpace or ringtone site.

Web Browser or Email specific guidelines

  • Think before you open that email! Your email software should be able to tell you, before you open the email, if the email is bogus. I look at the following bits:
    • Size, attachment, recipient (TO) address, subject, sender (FROM) address
    • If the sender or recipient looks strange, I don't open the message in my email client - I take steps to view the message's raw source (the technique varies depending on the email software) and look for telltale signs of malware. (This is worthy of its own discussion.)
  • Not sure about a web site? Check before visiting - go to and see if the site is a reported malware site. Or, you can visit and see what it has to say about the site.
  • Configure Internet Explorer to use the highest level of security for normal internet browsing (set the 'Internet Zone' is to maximum security) - this will break many web sites that rely on advanced features of Internet Explorer, but this is the price you have to pay - I get around that by manually adding selected, trusted sites (the few critical sites that I really need to visit using Internet Explorer) to the "Trusted Sites Zone"
  • Keep Internet Explorer and Outlook or Outlook Express (or whatever email client you use) up-to-date with the latest patches.
  • Configure Outlook / Outlook Express to read all emails in plain text by default
  • Disable the "preview panel" if you must read email in HTML (rich text) format - the preview panel (combined with un-patched or improperly-configured systems) is one of the most dangerous features of Outlook or Outlook Express, and if you receive a malicious email, it can infect your computer just by appearing in the preview panel.
  • If you want to use the preview panel, or view HTML mails, set Outlook Express to display emails as plain text by default. Check the email information (sender, to:, etc.) before viewing it as HTML. Don't view suspicious emails (especially those having attachments) in HTML format... Just delete the damn things.
  • Configure Outlook / Outlook Express to use the 'Restricted Sites' zone
  • Use the latest FireFox or Mozilla browser as the default browser (thus avoiding Internet Explorer most of the time)
  • Use Mozilla Thunderbird or other email reader as your default email reader.

Aaron Margosis of Microsoft agrees that it's critical to run as a non-administrative user. And my experience proves that it is possible to live, and live comfortably, without the aid of antivirus software.


On our web site

Aaron Margosis:


Norton, Symantec, and Norton Internet Security are trademarks of Symantec.

Anti-Virus Malware

No way! You too? I thought I was the only anti-anti-virus hack out there. I have something like seven or ten computers that I use and/or am responsible for, and I have been chronically negligent in the area of virus protection. My story is the same: The only computers I've had any problems on had anti-virus protection. I've been running my XP lappy now for 18 months in bare naked form, with no problems whatsoever. I think it's about as simple as, "Don't open unsolicited attachments, and Never say YES unless you went looking for what you're about to say yes to." Works for me...

anti-anti virus

I agree to most of your opinion, like you said anti-anti virus sounds better, as of now, i try not to use any anti-anti virus, it makes my computer sick, try it to be vulnerable, the anti-anti virus will get tired some how, or even, i try to dowload different virus, you will never tell how each virus fought to each other inside ur computer......the best choice i ever made, not to use or install anti-anti virus in my whole wide world...

Antivirus/spyware work like magnets

They seem to find loads of viruses/spyware, but I've run my computer for 3 years with no probs. For some reason, Norton 360 (trial) killed my computer and had to reinstall XP again, so lost trust with them altogether.
So long as you can recognise the scams by email and know how to delete the false security scan programs, you can survive. It really depends WHERE you go! You look for dodgy things, you get dodgy things happening to you.
I'm keen to partitioning so if system part dies, the important stuff stays on the other partition. No virus can touch this, as they always aim for system only files.

I am an anti anti-virus too

Its amazing. I do most of what you have stated out there. It really works for me too.
I stopped using anti-virus when it consumed my time and money on updates, yet, my machine was attacked by a mere virus.
I have then been using my pc without anti-virus for nearly three (3) years and since then, I no more suffer from virus infections.
I sometimes copy movies and games from infected PCs but still have mine uninfected.

Thanks for post

I've always wondered about stuffing too much antiviral software into a computer. However, I have had a virus destroy my computer after the subscription expired. But, it was because my young adult son was surfing and downloading around some pretty shady territories. He denies it - but I've got a few thousand emails and a busted computer that shows different. ;)

Anyhoos, in reference to the antivirus software that ran amok, I found a story on it.,1895,1937154,00.asp

Thanks! Cris
[edited 2/15/2007 to use original sources for news reports]

Finally - some sanity

The anti-virus software industry is a far bigger hoax than any spam email I've ever received. I'm amazed how many reviews of anti-virus software never get into how much they slow down/screw-up browsing, installs of OEM software (stuff like printer drivers), and hog up CPU usage.

One more tip for the folks who go commando when it comes to the anti-virus world:
Use an email account at Yahoo or other Google - they scan all email on their servers so you don't have to. You should rarely have to download email to your physical machine.

You know that sound of your hard drive going crazy and you're not even using the computer - that's the sound of anti-virus software slowing you down.


make sure you patch your system...not patching and no antivirus plus a direct unfirewalled connection to the Inet = infection...user interactionless infection

anti-virus software

Can anyone help me?? I have a computer at home but any NOT linked to the internet. I have McAfee antivirus installed on it when it was purchased but now it is telling me i need to 'fix' a problem but it won't 'fix' it cause i am not connected - what do I do????

Try to reinstall your wireless

Try to reinstall your wireless driver

LUA - think twice

Running as a non-admin is a good idea in theory but real-world it doesn't work... some software vendors do all their dev and qa on admin-level accts. I do technical support for a company that uses SQL Server in their training software in such a way that you have to install and run the software under a single admin account.
Programmers are really bad about writing and modifying system-wide info with abandon.

@Guest Re: anti-virus software

I don't know where to start :)

You are just so wrong

Yes you are just so wrong mate. In some case this is true. I have computers don't have any antivirus.
My office computers if dont have an antivirus, it will screw up big time coz we are constantly exchanging files. And the antivirus catches virus all the time. And I mean real virus, not false positives.
Im also a blackhat who have to run shady programs often from other developers. Antivirus pick up a few bad stuffs.
So to sum up, yes in some occasions, if you know what you are doing, you dont need antivirus. But to say that Antivirus is hoax is just so screwed up.


I never said Antivirus was a hoax (although one commenter did). I said they are, in my judgment, a cure worse than the disease, if you are competent and vigilant. If you aren't, or if like to play in dirty sandboxes, then, yes, antivirus might help prevent an infection. Maybe. Or not. Good luck with that.

Yes, most office computers need an antivirus / antimalware package, because office environments are sometimes polluted with poorly-maintained machines operated by people with little or no regard to security measures.

If you must operate your computer in an untrusted environment, then sure, you might benefit from such software.

But: When discussing the merits of any product or technology, one must assess the cost/benefit ratio, and I've decided that the continuous cost of 'buying', installing, running and maintaining (along with the periodic ransom payments for signature/software updates) is just too high a tax to pay.

So: I'll continue "living dangerously" (and being very careful about the software I install and web sites I visit).

RE: You are just so wrong

If you need to run "shady" programs, why not try virtualization to enable a "sandbox". Obviously I don't know whether this is practical in your work environment/setup so don't blast me for my comment.

I fully endorse the author and have been preaching this to anyone I have helped. On too many countless occasions, anti-virus (especially big-name commercial ones) programs have been completely useless and contribute to the problem more than the solution. The amount of energy and waste generated just by running terrible anti-virus programs probably adds up to more energy and waste generated by small countries. :-)

I find that, on the subject

I find that, on the subject of bad websites, etc, that instead of visiting, you could instead set your DNS entries to the ones specified at OpenDNS ( They have automatic filtering of phishing and malware websites, and have been able to block the latest 'Conficker' infection. You can also use it to restrict which sites and categories of sites are viewable from yoru machine/network.

Good article. It's a major pity that I can't run this way here at work. Stupid (L)users :-(

Gud ONE!

The same I Do... Login as Admin when you want to install and uninstall the softwares on the PC. being a user is the best way to avoid the gud virus program by any user.

Plz check if I am correct.

Create a user with limited access(do not have rights to install/uninstall softwares, create files on C: drive and Windows/system folder)

Login into user account and open regedit and right click on all the keys HKEYS and select Permission >> set "Read" option for user.

That is all.. Now the virus program will not effect anything if you willingly click or execute the virus program on your PC (When logged in as user) GURANTEE..!!

The power behind virus program is Windows Registry. I hope I have contributed to NO ANTIVIRUS software lovers who do not want to waste money and efforts by installing the craps..

Thank you - I absolutely agree!

A very valuable article you've written there, thank you.

Antivirus software definitely does more bad than good, and is the Top 1 reason why customers call me because of computer problems. One also cannot emphasize enough the EXTREME slowness it brings to computers. On average, I'd say that computers go 2 to 3 (three!) TIMES slower when running the average anti-virus software. There are exceptions, for example, I've seen offices who ran KASPERSKY, and their computers (running intensive CAD applications over the network etc.) were COMPLETELY UNUSABLE until I uninstalled KASPERSKY.

The bottom line: Run as non-priviliged user, use Firefox, don't use E-Mail, use AUTOMATIC UPDATES at all times, and if "possible", don't visit MySpace, filesharing networks, or MSN/ICQ and the other crap that nobody needs.

Using FireFox? Don't forget NoScript!

Thanks for the feedback!

If you are using FireFox as a way to increase browsing safety please install and use the excellent NoScript FireFox extension for an added level of protection. It disables all web site scripts by default, until you enable them on a per-site basis.


SysInternal, Firefox, NoScripts

I also feel "living without antivirus in own PC" is better for me after I was familiar with MS Sysinternal suite for PC and Firefox+noscript add-on for net.

Sometimes I don't know about a new site, new files or file extension, I Google first and check what is happening about that on the Net. But most of the people those without knowing how to use these tools and techniques, how to remove unnecessary programs and services in the Task Manager (for Windows users) may still need to use those Anti-Virus softwares.

In my opinion, innocent users are just the battle ground between Virus creators and Anti-Virus developers. Another thing we should consider is we cannot see the real relations between those Virus creators and Anti-Virus developers. (Anyone can be an Anti-Virus developer at Office and Virus creator at Home ;-) . )

Without antivirus does not mean dangerously

Linux (Ubuntu flavor), Firefox and not running anything as root keeps me antivirus - free for a couple of years now. Well, I mean, I can still pass it onto Windows users in an emails of course, but that's another story

Anti virus stuff

I agree that stuffing your home pc with these programs can seem like it leads to probs but like Mike says if you art careful and don't download crap it should be ok. A def. must though for any office environment - people just don't care there.

Living without antivirus software

Mike,coming from an antivirus company I must say that I agree with you in principle. Skilled users who know how to maintain their machines and do not open file attachments like "clickonme.exe" etc will not have many problems. Malware is getting more and more intelligent by the minute, second or whatever. The fact remains that it is impossible for any AV vendor to claim that they have 100% detection. Maybe it's similar to having a bulletproof vest. There are bullets that can kill you even when wearing one, but it gives you peace of mind. I think the AV industry should move towards a peace of mind industry where we produce, easy, fast and simple to use software that protect those users that feel they need it. Those users that do not feel they need it should not use it. It's as a simple as that.

We agree more than you might think


I agree that some users do need help. My original post is written from my point of view, and that is certainly not the same as a typical consumer perspective. My goal was to get people to think about the true price they pay for using the typical (popular) antivirus/firewall suites:

  1. The purchase price (if any) and subscription fees (if any)
  2. the performance degradation during everyday use
  3. being lulled into a false sense of security encourages people to download and install whatever they like, or answer 'yes' to any prompt they get while browsing the internet

Do typical users need tools and education to protect themselves against malware? Yes!

Will I use anti-malware software to protect myself when necessary? Yes!

Will I rely on heavyweight anti-virus and 'internet firewall' suites to do so? No! (at least not on my daily use systems...)

I became far less willing to use Symantec and other mainstream antivirus vendor systems when the switched to a subscription-based model. I understand why they did it, and they have every right to do so, but I choose not to be one of their subscribers. That move, along with the monstrous bloat and unacceptable performance hits caused me to rethink my reasons for using these systems in the first place, and to learn more about securing my daily-use systems.

So: If one wants (some) peace of mind, and wants to delegate responsibility for system integrity and security to someone else, and live with the costs and consequences of that delegation, I encourage you to do so. Just don't be surprised that it turns out to be a mixed blessing.


Or, you could just install Linux and not worry about viruses or security exploits. Way better and easier than installing anti-virus software or being always extra careful (of course, you still should be careful on Linux, but you can put a lot of your guard down).

Would be nice..

I can just see the typical Windows user, trying to deal with Linux. Has Linux become so easy to use that they'll never have to open and edit some obscure configuration file?

I think Windows and Microsoft are in a long, slow decline, and at some point Microsloth will be irrelevant. I don't think we're there just yet.

As for myself, I've been doing LAMP development for several years, and have abandoned Microsoft's Office applications in favor of OpenOffice. The only thing keeping me on Windows for the time being is the lack of viable alternative applications to replace some of the other ones I'm still using in Windows.

I've decided not to support Microsoft any more than I must in order to earn a living.

Anti Virus divorce

I had Avast! and then i didn't download the currrent version etc. All of a sudden i got this message from Personal Security......god what a nightmare. Finally i disconnected from the internet and was able to delete it. Now I deleted Avast and have nothing as anti virus and the computer is running fast and no problems.


Excellent article.

(Yes, ok, we all know we could use Linux, or just get Unix with GUI aka Apple. But we're talking PCs here, which, like a super hot chick, is prone to lots of viruses but has sufficient redeeming qualities that we're willing to deal.)

My only contention is to recommend Malwarebytes. Spybot S&D has sadly become dated.

Thank you very much for this

Thank you very much for this article! I actually don't use antivirus software either, for the same reasons stated. I've been without an antivirus for three years on my laptop now, and with special care and proper maintenance, haven't gotten a virus since.

I think the BEST piece of advice this article has to offer is simply: "Use good judgment in deciding to install software, visit a web site, or open an email."

Virus Removal

Firewalls are great - but kinda not needed on an individual workstation. Unless it's a laptop & you use mobile broadband!!!

In a network your router will generally be the firewall :)

Further to last comment

Firewalls on PC's usually give me more grief & i disable them - this isnt for everyone though.

i am so enlightened with all

i am so enlightened with all these comments and agree No to AV .... and just be an alert responsible user. just maximize all windows "protection" has to offer, use firewall, security options. Anyways emails have their latest improved filtering of messages too like suspecting emails and attachments that goes to spam or junk folders. AVs are majority to keep up their business in this industry. Now you have the power to choose (wisely), like here in the Philippines, i choose and will be observing no antivrus software in my laptop. godbless :-)

I hate them too but!

I hate antivirus + firewall software that slows down my computer. I try to go for the ones that are less memory dependant.

Symantec Norton internet security is a no go for me but their Endpoint Protection is very good since it is based upon sygate internet security 2004, which now belongs to Symantec.

This is quiet a shock that

This is quiet a shock that your computer isn't protected by anti-virus software. People keep advising me how I should protect my laptop and add-on God knows what kinds of software. I did happen to listen to them dumbfounded but the result was my laptop became pathetically slow. I guess I could agree with you that such software provide a false sense of security which doesn't exist.

Excellent Tips

I follow the same "doctrine", if you want to call it that. I have been stunned by how useless most anti-virus (especially commercial) programs are incapable of detecting or removing most common threats. More times than I can count, I have had to remove Norton or McAfee MANUALLY (removal tools get stumped rather easily if virus has been able to play with them).

I have seen Norton Firewall DISABLE peoples internet and you have to have internet access to perform add/remove programs on it. Catch-22 if you ask me. I briefly used AVG when it was very young but have since found no need for an anti-virus. Real time scanning drains enough from a system but the real bane is scheduled file scans that most people arent even aware of.

Good practices (such as your suggestions) have enabled me to remain virus free, even as I use my computer to remove viruses from other peoples computers, for a decade.

One thing you should add is suggesting disabling autorun/autoplay for removable drives. Seems to be a popular route these days for people to keep re-infecting themselves.

Thank you for the post

Your post made me feel a lot better about uninstalling Norton from my old PC. I'm so tired of putting up with the charges, inadequacy, and back-door methods of these stupid Anti-Virus companies. I'm excited to start learning about how to protect my computer myself- all I needed was your little push!
Thanks again.

I unistalled McAfee because

I uninstalled McAfee because having it on my laptop caused worse problems than an actual virus. Since then my laptop runs, starts and closes better than my brothers and mothers who both got their laptops after me. Plain and simple; computers work better without anti-virus software.


I'm excited to start learning about how to protect my computer myself- all I needed was your little push!
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I fully endorse the author

I fully endorse the author and have been preaching this to anyone I have helped. On too many countless occasions, anti-virus (especially big-name commercial ones) programs have been completely useless and contribute to the problem more than the solution. The amount of energy and waste generated just by running terrible anti-virus programs probably adds up to more energy and waste generated by small countries. :-)

Ridiculous. I'm sure you have

Ridiculous. I'm sure you have viruses if you used a proper scan.

What's a proper scan?

What do you consider a 'proper scan'? I'd like to ensure that my systems are all infection-free.

No PC antivirus

Hi, I've been running XP SP1 with no antivirus and no firewall for months with
no problems. I also visit questionable sites--you know what I mean, and haven't
had any infections. However--, I have an SMC wireless router/cable modem combo
that cost me plenty from Rogers Communications and as far as I know it has
a hardware firewall built into it. Also, sometimes I get an email from Rogers
saying they caught an email virus BEFORE it even reached me (my inbox or whatever).
I believe that even though you don't antivirus on your pc, you are STILL protected
in some form or another. Just my two cents.

All Well and Good for the PC Savvy but...

As editor of a web site for the 'not-so PC savvy' computer user, Antivirus-BUYability, I wonder how many people are really going to make the effort to understand their machines enough to completely do away with their antivirus subscriptions?

A reliable antivirus product is always going to be a better option for the average man in the street, especially those who have no interest whatsoever in learning how the damn thing works and perhaps need their machines to be more like the toaster you say it isn't!

And that was a big part of my original point...

.. that people who treat their computers as toasters aren't likely to be all that happy with the outcome.

Adding prophylactic software won't make the computer a toaster. Yes, it might make you a bit safer, but then again, it might not.

I agree there is a large class of computer users that will need to rely on AV software. They have my sincerest wishes for good luck and good outcomes. It's just that I've seen the dark side of an over-reliance on AV software.

well my idea is that the anti

well my idea is that the anti virus commpanys are the ones making the viruses wouldn't you think i mean if no one was making viruses then there would be no need for an anti virus right so

Don't use A/V installed on computer

I agree. I think way too much fear from Security companies has been done to Windows users. I use Windows 7 and except for tracking cookies my anti virus I used to use never found anything else. I tried several free ones and they all had side effects. They either slowed my computer, caused issues with other programs, or just plain were never any real help. I use a online Anti virus such as Trend Micro's Housecall or Microsoft's online scanner. I use it about once a month unless I suspect a issue. People don't need more security they need better education on web surfing safely.

If the computer behave strange - Does it mean = virus???

In many cases I think it's not more than a good excuse for "I did not really had enough knowledge in dealing with my PC or accidently used software that messed it up"


Should all strange behaviours in our PC's come from virus or other malicious activities because we don't want to admit that we sometimes make mistakes on our own??? No it wasn't my fault cause I never do anything wrong:)
So then it sounds better say "I've been striked by a virus again"

And what happen when people around the world repeats this mantra infront of each other & spreading this news that "I've been hit by a virus"....
Of course, it makes us believe and trust on this. When someone telling it's a threat and something is dangerous we wants to stay safe and protecting our selfs. By then we knows it's stupid to not use anti virus, antispyware & anti malware software so we go and get it in stay as safe we can.

If we consider that the "myth" above is like a recruitment for make new users to begin using these sorts of software mainly by the feeling of fear in what might happen. Let's take a look what comes next, many knows about that backside effect.

False positives...{:-(
That's the second problem and another thing that has the ability in change the truth to something else than what it actually are. What happen when these security suites warning us. Of course, we believe the threat are real.
How many hasn't destroyed their system or lost important files in a moment like that? Besides, it also provides people with even more suspicious thoughts from something we think is a threat but is that the real truth in all cases. Certainly not.

//Someone mentioned virtual setups, I give a + for that. It's a good recommendation to run unknown apps in that kind of protected emvironment.

//Another good tip is to take care of the first sessions after recently made a new clean install of the system. Take backups or make clones in having saved on a extra drive somewhere. If something occure that's your 100% full protection in get back to a original clean state and there will never exist a security software in this world that can repair the computer in the same way.

//Using UAC or working under non admin mode, + for that as well.

Keep an eye on internet settings/ remote settings / running services / installed drivers / processes that runs in the background. Nirsoft & Sysinternals has great tools for this. Start get used to read hashes, a great help when compare files inner content. There is lot of tools for this purpose.

//Another one, visit abelhadigital & download the tool HostsMan, it's the most easiest alternative I found myself in handle blocked content when connect the browser or other software to internet and in protect the PC from bad websites or url/ip addresses online. All this can be done by open HOSTS inside:
C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc It doesn't need more than a text editor but to get the signatures try HostsMan. By this date aproximately 134 000 host names in the blocklist.

//CCleaner, another great companion which taking care of cleaning up temporary internet files, cookies, flash cookies, + 50 other places in make the system more stable and secure. Has an quite decent registry cleaner too. Feature for uninstall apps and the best of all the wipertool that provides the most known solutions in working with just folders or also cleaning out whole drives by write it all over in make files on the harddisk unreachable.

An simple reformat of the drive doesn't mean that the files are gone on the harddisk. That's another big living myth that has existed for years. It only cleans out the Master file table & the Partition table:)

//When install something on the PC it's recommended to take use from "Portable setups", doesn't mess it up in Windows registry like many other installers do.

Goodbye PC & live long! */

Thanks for a interesting article!

You Have Skills

You are truly skilled to survive without anti virus software. I can't take the chance after being taken down by a site I reviewed in a Google alert.

No guarantee, even with AV software

I've started using Microsoft Security Essentials and MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanner on some of our computers.

Why? Simple. First, I trust the MS Security Essentials software to behave well, even it if won't catch everything. I simply trust Microsoft to know what they are doing in their own playground. Second, I don't have to pay an annual ransom to protect my computer; both products are free.

I've said it before: you can still (and will) get hit with a virus or malware even though you have your chosen AV software installed. So there is only one rational approach to this: lock down your systems, use whatever software helpers you feel will help, and be careful what sites you visit and emails you open. Even then, you're still exposed. Just like in real life diseases, there are no perfect preventative measures. That's life.


The main reason why you should install an anti-virus firewall software is to ensure that your computer systems are well protected.



Re anti virus for Windows XP.

I have recently bought a Windows XP netbook. And I do not have any anti virus programs on my Windows XP and I do not intend to have in the future. I also have a Windows 7 laptop and I have not got any anti virus software on that either.Windows 7 and Windows XP both have got Windows Defender which I use. This scans and removes spyware if it finds any but is not an anti virus program. And does not take over your computer the way anti virus does.There is also Malicious Software Removal Tool-MRT for short. that is on both Windows XP and Windows 7. which is installed through windows update. this can remove any virus it finds. So with Windows Defender and MRT you do not need an ant virus program.I will never install one on my computers. Andrea Borman.

Microsoft Security Essentials worth using?

Good for you.

You should consider using MalwareBytes Anti-Malware scanner as well.

Another free antivirus scanner worth investigating: Microsoft Security Essentials. It seems to integrate well into Windows, and it's not as bloated as some of the others. It's weak when it comes to zero-day exploits, apparently.

No Antivirus here either

You are absolutely correct about this... I've run my personal system for over 4 years without any protection. And I visit sites like noone else. Of course I'm an IT pro so when I do see something i know what to do (usually kill the service or crash IE).

Antivirus protection is a hoax to me, they live off the fear that 99% of people have.... "Im going to get infected with a virus if I dont have good protection"

And I think sometimes companies like Symantec or McAfee has their own little division of "hackers" that write malware, and then they give the "fix" to the company and Norton says "Look, we have the guard against this new malware!"
maybe, maybe not....

two PC's?


I'm about to buy a new PC and would like its performance to be as good as possible for photo editing. I'd be ready to use it only for this purpose and keep it offline, and do anything related to internet on another computer. Obviously this has a lot of downsides too but seeing as I don't know much about computers, it would be hard for me to learn to protect my PC without installing any antivirus. Are there other forums or websites that can show me how to do so? Somewhere where I can understand a bit better how to manage admin/non-admin users, change privileges for each... Or should I stick with my plan, and use my old PC for the internet. If so, doesn't the fact that I will certainly be exchanging files (photos, program files) between the two PCs make this idea pointless? Should I simply limit my connection to the internet to when I'm uploading photos/downloading program files and software updates?


Difficult situation

I don't know of any sites that provide detailed information on managing this kind of configuration. Yes, keeping the photo editing machine clean and off the internet is a good first step. Enabling the built-in administrator account (and configuring a secure password), then setting your daily user account to be a "normal user" is also essential. Using the internet-connected machine as a place to download files and scan for viruses/malware is a good first step. But remember that no antivirus software can detect all viruses (google for "zero day exploit"), you will always have some exposure.

I'm sorry to say that you may be better off using some kind of minimal antivirus (MS Security Essentials combined with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware is but one example) on both machines, assuming both are behind an internet firewall/router.

The key is to minimize the impact of having anti-malware protection, and if possible, avoid the annual subscription fees (some call it a ransom) charged by most AV vendors.

If you aren't deeply knowledgeable about Windows security and eternally vigilant when it comes to security issues, you'll probably end up with some kind of infection if you download and install any software on the photo editing system or share files between the two.

This is one reason why regular backups are critical. You simply must have a disaster recovery plan. I have been using Windows Home Server to back up all my stuff automatically to a central server. You can use an online backup system, if you like. Just be sure to keep things backed up, on a regular basis.

I'd love to be able to offer more helpful advice but this is a deep subject and not for the faint of heart.

no antivirus

neat article.i dont use them either.of course ubuntu linux makes that very easy to do.

Used to have this same

Used to have this same mentality before. I didn't install antivirus software since I had sufficient knowledge with dealing viruses and manually removing them. I later took to antivirus software for reliance cause .exe file infectors are real sneaky. You will never know if your .exe installer is attached with one. Moreover, you can't even see traces of these type of malware in your process manager.

Using antivirus software or firewall don't really mean false sense of security to me. It aids as a foresight against potential danger, minimizing future downtime and damages. The cpu and memory resource used by an antivirus software is justifiable enough against suffering a system downtime. Well, you might not actually experience system downtime if the one infecting your system is a silent trojan logging all your usernames and passwords. I'm paranoid too so I try to avoid those kind of pests running in the background.

I know these softwares are not perfect but they offer you better security combined vigilance and user education against these threats than just relying on knowledge and instinct. Unless you disconnect the power plug of your pc forever, you can never be really secure in this world.

I'm changing my tune

My main complaint was about bloated, costly (subscription-based) AV products.

Things have changed a bit since my original post.

There are numerous free and lightweight alternatives, and, though not perfect, the are "good enough". No AV product can prevent all attacks, as I've discussed before, so there is no perfect protection.

You must be wary at all times, even with the "best" AV products installed.

yes to no anti-virus!

The author is correct. Anti-virus software is not the best way to secure a personal computer. Not only do most of them not work all that well, they take a severe toll on the system and usability.

A good hardware firewall (even just a NAT'd router) offers a lot of protection. Most can be configured to monitor and/or block outbound connections as well, although it can take some time and effort to know what to allow.

There are some good software firewalls also, which are good to use on a laptop. Unfortunately many vendors have gotten the 'bundling' disease, and it is increasingly hard to find a good standalone software firewall.

However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using an 'old' one. They still work.

I am often called by friends and family to 'fix' or 'clean' their comptuers. They almost all have Norton or MacAfee running, the 'Windows Firewall', automatic updates on, and they are constantly getting infected with malware.

They also use IE, usually have ActiveX enabled, cookies unblocked, almost always have Flash installed, have one or more IM clients running, often have Google, Yahoo and other toolbars, smiley-face crapola, etc etc.

When I view their process list it goes on and on with junk that runs in the background all the time, especially 'updaters'.

After I clean them up, I advise them to use Firefox or Opera, avoid Flash, use an alternative PDF reader instead of Acrobat, don't do bit torrents, don't use Outlook (Thunderbird works quite well, and turn off HTML), run a good firewall if they don't have a NAT'd router setup or h/w firewall, learn to use malware scanners, and don't install anything that they don't thoroughly understand.

Of course a few months later they call again, having ignored most or all the sage advice. Like the author says, or at least implies, you can't have it both ways. You want all the junk, you pay the price.

I find that avoiding websites which 'require' persistent cookies or Flash or don't render on real browsers is not a harsh price at all; I don't miss what they have to offer.

And if you're doing anything financial online, you deserve to be robbed.

The only issue I have with the author's post is that to characterize his practice as 'living dangerously'. But as he well knows, that was just rhetoric.

Living Dangerously

Indeed, I used the phrase "living dangerously" rhetorically.

Actually, it was meant to go with the photo accompanying the article. :D

We have been brainwashed

The Security companies have virtually brainwashed users into the "Sky is falling" mentality of the internet. If even for a second you have anti virus on your computer you will be attacked. That is simply not the case. People need to realize that most malware and viruses are invited onto the computer by the user. The Anti virus simply tries to correct the users error. If you are a smart user and don't make those errors and know what is on your computer. Then you have stopped a large percentage of the Malware. It all depends on how paranoid you are? I personally recommend a least once a month to scan through a free program or a online free scanner to make sure you have no bad stuff on your computer. Also monitor sites that report on activity and if it gets more of a problem through a major outbreak then maybe consider a live monitoring option until it passes. By all means keep up with updates from plug ins and OS updates.

Anti-virus software, for me,

Anti-virus software, for me, has caused tremendously more problems than provide protection. In reality, it is my firm conviction that anti-viruses are viruses themselves, deeply submerged, penetrated, infiltrated in every nook and cranny of a system, just lying in wait to ambush the enemy. To be able to do this, these programs take up far too much resource and often slow down PC performance to annoying levels. I don't think any largescale research has been carried out to find out how much time a person loses, say over a year,working on a PC with anti-virus installed as opposed to working on one without an anti-virus. I think its going to be significant. I have hardly ever had virus infection in my PC (how do I know this ? Answer : I have installed anti-viruses to detect them, and hardly ever have I had anything detected). But because these programs slow down my PC significantly, I get rid of them, as deeply as possible, but that's when I have had biggest problems of all - THESE PROGRAMS JUST DON'T WANT TO GO AWAY !!!

NoScript all the way

Running antivirus software is like keeping a baseball bat under your bed so that you can fight intruders. In some cases, it might work, but I wish there was more emphasis on *locking the door* instead.

I use & love the NoScript addon. My view is that blocking active web content by default will close the holes that can't be filled just by being smart. You can be careful about what you do with emails, or use webmail, but you can't research every Google search result before clicking on it (and with what will you research it?). Using NoScript cleans up that mess by making sites static and read-only until you choose to trust them.

NoScript rocks!

Yes, do install and use NoScript! It's on all of my systems, and my family members are getting their first taste of NoScript.

It's one more (strong) lock on the door...

bare naked experiment

Wow this article is old... anyway coming out of linux, I am trying to experiment on some stuff on windows; a barenaked machine(not so much)

Windows 7 Sp1 (with latest updates installed)
- An admin and a limited user account (using the limited one, of course)
- Installed SuRun on it
- Turned-off AutoPlay on all drives
- No Anti-Virus. Windows Defender not even configured

To Do:
- Be very friendly with people I know that do own a flash drive
- Visit sites that are heavily laden with ads (streaming sites etc...)

let's see what _it_ can do...

Not sure what you are trying to accomplish...

Your To Do list seems to indicate a desire to test certain types of risky activity. If that's the case, I wonder how long it'll be before you get hit? Please do let us know!

Regarding the article's age, well, yes, it is. I've revised my recommendations to include using a combination of Microsoft's Security Essentials and regular scans using MalwareBytes' Anti Malware scanner.

still clean...

yep, i did install the MSE

plus i do install all the updates immediately, specially on the .net on which i develop...

surprisingly, it is still clean. with all those questionable user behaviours i did.

wha'dyou know... windows 7 may be a keeper...

take that windows XP.

I would love to live without

I would love to live without an antivirus program. Although I would never live without a firewall since Windows Firewall doesn't work. Problem is that I download cracked software. So I am at a much higher risk of infection. That accounts for the majority of the population. Guess they are still in business.

Cracked software

I know you know this, but I'll say it for the benefit of others: downloading and installing cracked software (or any software of dubious origin) is a fine way for malware to find its way onto your computer.

Or, put another way: it's a giant gaping infection vector.

Wonderful Tips But..

Wonderful post, I have bookmarked it so that I can practice it later but I think that after following such tips one could not be 100% sure about the cleanliness of PC therefore, one should use Antivirus to provide an overall protection to computer. I am currently using Immunet. For further details click at

i find the norton 360 edition

i find the norton 360 edition 'light' on my laptop. I also like the identity safe feature with automatic logins to websites where i make payments to prevent against keylogging. For my rogue sites, I would say that i visit youporn and download movies off kickasstorrent once in a while, and also stream live soccer.

Thanks for painting the reality with AV. Couple of times Norton blocked a few high risk level intrusions and I always felt 100% safe. Love the tips on using non-admin user, and the mozilla add-on. will do that right now.

Will be more careful from now on. My 'toaster' just turned into a digital microwave! woohoo

norton 360 is costly. Use

norton 360 is costly. Use MSE. Good one.

MSE is ok for home user

1. use windows update regularly
2. use windows firewall
3. Use MSE
4. always scan usb drives, cds etc before using
5. be a limited user

That's all you need for a fast, protected system.

As I am a supporter of using

As I am a supporter of using antivirus software, so getting confused by reading this stuff. Your logic is clear and to some extent inspired me in that direction. But the programs for virus and other malicious activities now too complex to be get a faint hint. So in my view most users have to use one as most of them are little knowledgeable about the process and running of computers. They hardly tell whether the problem aroused is due to virus or some fault in system function.

Norton Internet Security

I don't go looking out for bad places to go on the Internet but I don't always want to be worried about clicking on the next link. It's not always possible to know where it will lead. For that reason, I'll be keeping my security suite. I've run without any AV program or firewall, so I know how my computer behaves without it. Having NIS installed doesn't make a difference to the performance as far as I can tell. I believe this could depend on the specification of the computer it's run on though.

Norton has much improved since the 2009 version and is now lighter on resources. However, I don't think it will ever be able to overcome the 'resource hog' reputation that previous versions had.

I also run my browsers and open any file attachments inside Sandboxie. I suppose it could then be argued that I shouldn't need any monitoring programs because nothing is likely to get out of the sandbox. My reason for still using Norton is that IF something was to get out, I want a realtime monitoring program with good detection rates to tell me. I might not be made aware of it otherwise. From the research I've done, NIS is as good as any other program and better than some for this purpose. If the price is an off-putter, it really isn't very expensive per year if you shop around.

Anti-Virus Sucks

Hi, excellent article.
I use computer without anti-virus since Windows Xp era.
AntiVirus by now are a hoax.
I am a computer security consultant, i test antivirus quality.
I owned every antivirus i tested (my own viruses). You can check my tweeter images and see what i mean.

Education and knowing your tools are the keys to a clean system.

Uninstall your antivirus NOW

I noticed that many of your posters are saying 'Ive been running without antivirus for xxxxxxxxxx months', and in my case I have never used it throughout my entire Windows experience, since the birth of Windows. I have absolutely no fear what so ever of a virus infection sent by the boogey man to destroy my computer. Let me lay out some points that underscore my experience of the last 15 years running without protection:

1) I download warez and cracked programs constantly. I rely on ratings to determine if there is a bomb in the warez. Obviously, you avoid keygenerators and small executables.

2) I download movies and music constantly without issues.

3) I use Firefox with adblock installed. I never use Internet Explorer.

4) I use a physical firewall, I disable the software firewall.

5) I visit questionable websites frequently.

6) I dont open quarantined emails that spam assassin has deemed garbage.

7) I disallow images and html opening on my machines email.

8) I never open an email from family and friends that has clearly been hijacked.

WOW and I thought i was the only one to

i've started with 8088 processor, and later faster pc's with Windows installed. I never ran an on-access real-time virus scanner. And in +10 years I've never been affected by malware, virusses, trojans nor I'm part of a botnet.

Simply because on-access real time virus scanners slow down the pc. and will protect you from your own stupidity. It's just the psychological effect of my virusscanner is online, it's fully updated, and all is fine. Yeah right.

My current install is a Windows 7 computer. It has been running without real time antivirus for over 1.5 years. Its superfast and clean.

How did I protect this (besides the usefull tips that the blogger already posted)

- disable the windows scripting engine. You won't miss it
- only use firefox in combination with ghost, or mannually diasble java script.
- configureer the windows inbound EN outbound firewall. It's excellent. only your have to create and apply the rules mannually, which is a small draw back for some
- disable all services you don't need. (blackvipers site is a good startingpoint for that.
- use a limited user account
- Use another limited user account to run firefox less restrictive. You can use the runas option for that to start it from your own limited useraccount.
- Don't use the usual windows apps for mail and media. But use something like thunderbird and media player classic or MHP. and adjust your file associations.
- scan files that your download with clamwin. You can create a small bat script in your send:to shell to make it easier for yourself. (rightclick and then send to that bat script that scans the file)
- Don't be stupid and use no warez, keygens or weird plugins.
- disable autorun for all your media like cdrom, usbsticks.

And last but not least USE your brain. :)

Nice to read that I am not the only one that follows these procedures.

greetings Mike


*NOTE: All information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only. Exodus Development, Inc. disclaims all liability for use or misuse of the information presented herein or on external web sites. Use your own good judgement, ask an expert first. Proceed at your own risk.