All of this said Ė Iím seeking objective advice and constructive suggestions as it relates to the selection of Anti-Virus/Firewall/Security software suites for Windows operating systems.
Over the past 15+ years, Iíve been using either Norton/Symantec Anti-Virus & Internet Security ĖOR- McAfee Antivirus / Internet Security Suite. While I have mixed feelings about BOTH of these products Ė overall, they have both served me and my clients well over the years Ė providing solid protection on all of the Windows-based PCs where Iíve installed, maintained and supported these products. Over several years, Iíve only experienced 2-5 malware/virus infections which required manual removal while using these products.
Norton/Symantec AV/NIS has detected and blocked SEVERAL Internet-based attacks on my personal PC Ė allowing me to not only permanently BLOCK the attackerís IP address, but graphically TRACE this address to the geographic location and specific ISP the offending user was using. Norton NIS also includes email spam protection, parental controls, privacy controls, script blocking and selectively allow users to control which programs have access to the Internet Ė down to the IP Port level. In addition, Norton provides constant virus signature and program updates automatically using the LiveUpdate feature.
McAfee Internet Security offers similar features to Norton Ė although I donít find McAfee blocking as many Internet attacks. McAfee does a good job of indentifying viruses and adware ďon-the-flyĒ allowing the user to remove these threats as their found. McAfee Internet Security Suite has become even more desirable because MOST of my clients use Comcast as their broadband ISP. McAfee is offered for free to Comcast subscribers so the combination of my positive experiences with McAfee coupled with the fact that my clients have free use of this software makes it a desirable choice.
Despite all of these positive attributes, I have issues with BOTH products for various reasons. Iíve found Norton AV/NIS to be a resource HOG in terms of the CPU cycles and memory it consumes. The multiple drivers, services and executables Norton AV/NIS invokes upon startup cause most PCs to take several minutes to boot and become responsive after a user logs in. When installed and configured properly, Norton NIS works well; but if ANYTHING goes wrong (botched update, incomplete startup) or if you attempt to uninstall, reinstall or upgrade Norton NIS Ė Iíve consistently found that resolving these issues can be extremely difficult and time consuming. Generally, these situations involve having to manually delete program files, alter registry entries, removing application settings in the user profile folders as well as downloading and running product-specific CLEANUP tools from Symantecís support site. If youíre lucky, after several steps and multiple re-boots Ė you MIGHT be able to re-install the old product or upgrade to the new version of the product. While Symantecís support site offers GREAT help in documenting and offering removal help with specific viruses Ė it does a poor job when offering support for all of the software corruption, uninstall, reinstall and upgrade issues that plague their software.
McAfee doesnít have install, uninstall and upgrade problems I've experienced with Norton. McAfee is also noticeably faster than Norton. Unfortunately, McAfee doesnít seem to offer the same level of protection as Norton. Also Ė McAfee DOES NOT offer bootable media for rescue and boot-up scans. This is a SERIOUS problem since so many of the most destructive malware/viruses infect the boot process, preventing Windows from successfully loading.
All things considered, BOTH of these security suites have done a pretty good job of protecting all of the PCs Iíve used them on over the years. Again, I can only recall a small handful of malware infections that required manual intervention to remove.
Ideally, I would like to find software that would offer the same or better degree of protection without all the problems Iíve consistently experienced with McAfee and Norton. Does something like this exist? Should I stick with what Iím using now?
Any constructive feedback regarding this would be MOST appreciated.