I'm anti-anti-virus software.
I have been for a long time, for reasons I'm sure anyone can
appreciate: anti-virus software costs money, and it can make your
computer run slower.
Need proof? Look no further than the Anti-Virus Average Time in Boot chart
posted to Soluto's Facebook page. It shows eight of the most
popular anti-virus programs and how many seconds they add to the
average PC's boot time.
The range: 12 seconds to a whopping 61.8 seconds. Yep, your
anti-virus program alone could be costing you a full minute every
time you start your PC.
Feel free to take this with a few grains of salt. Soluto
reported nothing about the computer(s) or operating system(s) used
for this testing, what the conditions were, or how the boot times
What's more, the company is in the business of selling
IT-oriented computer management software that, among other things,
promises to improve boot speed.
That said, these numbers don't surprise me in the slightest,
which is why I've always favored a minimalist approach to PC
security: a handful of free tools and a good helping of common
The tools I use are those built right into Windows and my Web
browser. The former (specifically, Windows 8) has baked-in
anti-virus and anti-malware in the form of Windows Defender, plus a
fairly robust firewall (which, paired my router's hardware-based
firewall, keeps any and all attackers at bay).
My browser (Google Chrome, though Internet Explorer and
Firefox are similarly equipped) detects unsafe sites and warns me
before letting me click through to them. It protects me from
phishing sites and those that attempt to install malware on my
For an added measure of browser-based security (your Web
browser is where the vast majority of security incursions are going
to take place), I use Web of Trust
, an add-on that shows which links are
safe to click and which might be unsafe. (It also has optional
parental controls that can block sites unsuitable for
Finally, I think before I click. If I receive an e-mail
warning me that my "account has been compromised" or my "package is
waiting to be delivered," I don't click any link until I've asked
myself some key questions. Do I even have an account with the
company that's supposedly trying to warn me? And was I expecting a
Even if the answers to both were yes, I could open my browser
and sign into my accounts directly, then check for any warnings or
notifications. Clicking iffy links in e-mail is a sure-fire way to
run into virus and/or identify-theft trouble.
Total cost to me for all this: zero. Total impact on my
computer's performance: zero (or close to it; Web of Trust may make
Web searches a tad slower).
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Thus, if your computer is slow to boot, consider ditching your
anti-virus software in favor of the free tools already built into
Windows and your browser. I've been operating this way for as long
as I can remember. Total number of security problems I've
encountered: zero.Veteran technology writer Rick Broida
is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his
money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC