Computer Security & Viruses/Computer protection software


QUESTION: Hey Maury,

Hope you're well.

My computer runs Windows 8.
Could you help recommend a good FREE AV program, a good anti-spyware program and a good anti-malware program?
What do you think about AVG, Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Crap Cleanser?

Is there anything else that I need to stay protected?


ANSWER: This is a very subjective topic. So many products so many opinions.

I will talk about products I have tried myself and am comfortable with what they deliver and I will offer my "opinion".

All the products you have listed will work as advertised. The thing to know is that these type of tools are only good as long as they have been updated to the current protection updates. Now with that said they are only going to protect you if the risk you are trying to protect yourself from is a know issue. Like a human flu these "badwares" can mutate and change and it takes time for these companies to update their products to protect you. As an example the most recent Internet Explorer exploit that could have allowed a hacker to control your PC took Microsoft over 2 weeks to release a patch, and only if you applied this patch are you now safe.
So what I do to mitigate these risks is I use a "freeze" product. It basically sets your entire operating system drive into a frozen state and nothing can permanently write to it unless you disable the freezing. It runs everything in a "sandbox" and any changes that are made to your system are rolled back/erased upon reboot.

So here are some "free" tools I that I have tried and liked. Tho I have migrated to some pay tools that I like and have chosen to support the developer.

1. Malwarebytes
2. Panda Cloud Antivirus - works well with frozen PC's and consumes much less resources than most
3. Ad block Plus  -
4. Returnil
5. Sandboxie

You sound like a more advanced user so if you opt for a "freeze" product you may prefer Sandboxie as it just sandboxes your web browser and not your whole PC.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick reply.

I don't know what you mean by advanced user. I am a home user, and use Chrome.
Returnil seems to be an AV and malware protection program.
Panda Cloud seems just an AV program.
Malwarebytes seems just an anti-malware program.
I don't know what Sandboxie is.

I just installed Ad block plus.
Should I install ALL the remaining?
I've read that having more than 1 AV program is not recommended.

It would be nice if you could spell out the core function of each of the "tools" that you've mentioned.


ANSWER: When I said advanced user I meant that as a compliment. The fact you have even heard of and are using some of the products you asked about puts you way ahead of a average home user.

I highly recommend you have a layers of protection as not any one tool is perfect, this will greatly reduce your risk. As to should you use some or all of the tools I listed? I do and I have not had to rebuild my PC because of some type of malware or virus infection in over 4 years. And I have been hit by plenty of malware :-)

You are absolutely correct on most of your points.

Panda Cloud Antivirus is just a Antivirus tool. I like Panda because it is "cloud" based. I have found locally installed AV (IE: AVG)take up many resources and slow my PC down. With cloud based AV a lot of the resource utilization happens on the AV developers servers and I install a small agent on my PC. Also When a new threat is found I do not have to wait and install updates as this is all stored and used from the cloud (Cloud = on the Internet).

Malwarebytes is just an anti-malware program. I use it and I like it. If you are on the Internet sooner or later you will get malware. The limitation of the free version is that it's reactive you can only use it to remove malware once your already infected. The pay version will actively monitor your PC and trey to prevent it from getting on at all.

Then lastly is Returnil and Sandboxie. These both do much the same thing and are much more than a AV/Malware tool. Sandboxie is a better choice if you like to try new programs a lot and do a lot of installing a removals.
This a a great line of defense when all the other tools fail you.
I like these type of tools because they "freeze" your "c" drive. It basically sets your entire operating system drive into a frozen state and nothing can permanently write to it unless you disable the freezing. You can install a program as normal or get infected with a virus or malware, but because your "c" drive where your windows is installed is "Write protected" everything that is installed will be removed on a reboot. You can turn this protection off if you want to install a program that you want to keep and then turn it back on when the install is complete.
The nice thing about these "freeze" tools is if you don't spend a lot of time trouble shooting what has infected your PC,  A simple reboot will restore your PC to a working state.

So these are the tools I use to protect my PC. I installed these tools on my own mothers PC so she could get herself out of PC trouble with a reboot and not have to call me! :-)

Please feel to ask if I missed anything.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hey Maury,

Thanks for the 'advanced user' compliment; I didn't mean to sound rude. Sorry.

I just downloaded Panda Cloud AV, and I like it; however, I can't seem to locate the icon on my PC's desktop.
Does it automatically get updates or would I need to check for them manually?

Should I install both, Returnil and Sandboxie, or either one?

What do you think about Crap Cleaner?

We've talked about AV and anti-malware.
What about anti-spyware?

Thanks again!

The Panda Icon should show up by your clock. Yes it automatically is updated because as long as you are internet connected it gets its antivirus info from the internet cloud automatically. Nothing more for you to do!

I have never tried Crap Cleaner. The one I have tried and I see many great reviews for is CCleaner..

Anti-malware is just a term to cover most bad stuff on the internet including anti-spyware. Malwarebytes is by far my favourite and will remove most spyware, but I have used spybot on occasion.

Once your PC is clean of all spyware or viruses, then you may want to use Returnil or Sandboxie.
You only need to choose one as they both work very similar. The beauty of either of these programs is it makes you PC like teflon...  Nothing sticks!!!  get a virus or spyware.  Just reboot!  poof gone.

The primary difference is Returnil will freeze your entire "C" drive so you would need to disable it everytime you wanted to install a new application and turn it back on once the new app is installed and you also need to use a feature it has to create some "unfrozen" space (D Drive)to store your data on.  With Sandboxie it only freezes your Web browser so this maybe a better choice to try first to see how you like it.

Sandboxie just "freezes" your web browsers, so all you need to do if you get spyware is close your browser and reopen it. you do not need to disable it to install new applications. But if you were to get a virus or malware say from a USB stick then Sandboxie will not protect you, you would need to rely on Panda and Malwarebytes which is fine.

I just prefer to "freeze" my whole "c" drive because I very rarely install any new applications and I am lazy and like the ability to get rid of any spyware or viruses with a reboot :-)  

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Maury Kosh


I have Knowledge in Large Enterprise architecture and design and I am able to answer most of your security, antivirus, and operating system questions.


Over 20 years in the IT industry. 12 of them in Architecture and design in Large heterogeneous networks. I have spent the last 10 years of my career working in the healthcare industry where the security of patient data is of vital importance.

Trained in: Microsoft Cisco Citrix Virtualization (VMWARE, Citrix) SAN (EMC, Netapp) Several firewall technologies Ethical Hacking Multiple Enterprise case server vendors Backup and recovery technologies

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