Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Multiple anti-virus programs should not be running real-time scans together. They might conflict. I look at what you really need running on your computer.
I purchased a new computer, OS Windows 7. It came with Defender installed, also Norton on trial, but the trial is terminating very soon. I'm thinking of Security Essentials as a download, but I am concerned that it will conflict with Defender or AVG or other anti-virus software downloads. Will both work without conflict? Can you give me advice as to what is the best security for my computer that will not cause problems? Can Defender stand by itself or do I need to add another anti-virus program to my computer?
In this excerpt from Answercast #74, I look at some confusion around "Defender" and versions of Microsoft Security Essentials.
So this is a case where I believe Microsoft has done us a grave disservice in the way they've named things.
The "Defender" that comes with Windows 7 is, in fact, only an anti-spyware product. It is an anti-spyware scanner. So yes, absolutely - you do need something else in addition to that.
That's not true for Windows 8. For people who are reading or listening to this and thinking about Windows 8, Windows 8 comes with something called "Defender." And guess what? It is both an anti-spyware and an anti-virus program. It can pretty much stand on its own.
It is effectively "Microsoft Security Essentials" with a different name.
What I typically recommend for people in your situation (with your Windows 7 machine) is to download and install Microsoft Security Essentials.
That will automatically disable Windows Defender. It knows that Defender is going to be there; it knows that Defender is no longer necessary because Microsoft Security Essentials contains all of that functionality plus anti-virus.
It's a good replacement for Defender, and it will handle it transparently.
Now, as for the other anti-malware programs that you're talking about: Norton and AVG and so forth?
I typically don't recommend that people need all of them. I think one good solution is a great place to be. Microsoft Security Essentials is the solution that I typically recommend for people - and it's the solution I use myself.
Now, if you want to have Norton or AVG or something else on your machine, typically it's OK to have them there.
What's most important is that you not have any of their real-time scanning functions enabled.
It's not the presence of duplicate software that causes the problem, it's the attempt of more than one anti-malware product trying to do real-time scanning at the same time. That's when they can come into conflict.
This could do two things:
It can cause false positives (where they'll both be complaining, or one or the other will be complaining about a problem that really isn't there);
Or worse, they can interfere with each other's ability to detect malware - and malware will go undetected.
So, if you have those tools there, they're fine. You can have them. They're good for on-demand scans. But any of the automatic stuff? I would make serious attempts to be sure you've got them completely disabled.
My most serious attempt is to not even bother having them on the machine!
Microsoft Security Essentials, or AVG, or Norton? Just one of those would be a fine solution to getting your machine protected. I happen to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials.
Then, later, if and when you run into a problem, then you can take a look at saying, "OK, fine. I've got some malware on my machine somehow. Let's get an additional program or two to scan the machine to clean it up."
Those would be "on-demand" scans - without doing the real-time scanning that we know can cause a problem.
So, ultimately, Microsoft Security Essentials will transparently replace Defender, which is exactly what you want.
Regardless of whether you use Microsoft Security Essentials or not, I recommend that you have one good anti-malware package (Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG or any of a number of others) to keep your machine protected.
You do not need to load up on multiple anti-malware tools at once. It will
slow down your machine and potentially cause you a lot of false positives or
worse - missed detection.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 74 - Is real-time anti-malware scanning really needed?
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