Dump Norton and McAfee Anti-Virus?
I got a new computer and my friend is telling me that the first thing I should do is remove the Norton antivirus software that came with it. He calls it 'bloatware' and recommends some free program instead. I've always used Norton or McAfee for security, so I'm nervous about switching. What is your opinion?
Is It Time to Uninstall Norton and McAfee?
Norton Antivirus and McAfee Antivirus are the two leading names in consumer antivirus software. But Norton has been losing market share in recent years, slipping from 57 per cent in 2007 to 46 per cent in 2010. McAfee has been struggling in the consumer realm, too. Should you consider ditching McAfee or Norton in favor of a free antivirus solution?
There are problems associated with being Number One in your industry. Norton, and to a lesser extent McAfee, have been on top of the antivirus heap for so long that they've lost touch with their users, argue some critics. Instead of being concerned with the end-user, the two companies have focused on making deals with computer makers to preinstall their software on virtually every Windows PC shipped. McAfee went so far as to sell itself to Intel Corp. in 2010, for an estimated $7.7 billion.
Then there's "feature bloat," a common complaint levied against market-leading software including Microsoft Windows. Norton Antivirus and McAfee Antivirus spent years adding new levels of protection to their products, even when users complained that they didn't know what the features did or how to turn them on or off. Both antivirus programs suffered withering criticisms that they slowed down other computer operations intolerably. In some cases, an excess of zeal to snare every suspected malware program caused Norton and McAfee to disable legitimate programs, sometimes causing thousands of computers to lock up.
Another complaint about Norton, in particular, is the difficulty of uninstalling its products completely. The Windows Add/Remove Programs feature leaves behind many registry settings and files which can interfere with the operation of other antivirus programs and regular applications. Some users find that they cannot get rid of Norton or McAfee without reformatting their hard drives and re-installing Windows.
Bigger Is Not Always Better
Customer service also tends to suffer with success. There are innumerable complaints of long hold times with Norton and McAfee customer support; lengthy sessions with overseas customer service reps that did not fix problems; and even charges for extended support that did nothing.
Hackers write their malware with the biggest targets in mind. Many malware payloads specifically look for Norton and McAfee products, seeking to disable them or exploit known vulnerabilities in obsolete versions. The latter tactic works because many end users don't bother to keep their antivirus software up to date.
You should know there are several software vendors that provide Internet security tools for free. Avira, AVG and Microsoft all have effective anti-virus and anti-spyware offerings that can be downloaded at no charge. My article Free Anti-Virus Programs lists several more than you can check out.
Norton and McAfee charge $30 to $60 per year for updates of their programs and antivirus definition databases. Their products score highly in effectiveness, and provide protection to millions of PCs. If money is not a factor, and you're not experiencing any of the problems that many people have with Norton and McAfee, there may not be much incentive to switch.
But in my opinion, the free anti-virus programs provide excellent protection. I dumped Norton 7 years ago and have never regretted it. Tens of millions of users worldwide use free anti-virus programs to protect their computers, so why pay good money for something you can get for free?
Have you dumped Norton or McAfee? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Apr 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Dump Norton and McAfee Anti-Virus? (Posted: 1 Apr 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved