This weekend my one-year license for Trend Micro Internet Security Pro 2009 expired. Really, it shouldn’t be because I had Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 last year which didn’t expire until late November, but when I got 2009 last October, I thought I could go ahead and install it and keep the same expiration date. But because the Pro version is different than the regular version, there was no such deal and it was like throwing away six weeks of my purchase (free after rebates).
Knowing the expiration was coming up (it won’t let you forget), I have been keeping an eye on Fry’s ads to see when the new version would come out and if I could get it for free after rebate again. So far only the regular version seems to be out and it is $5 after rebates. I think I can do better. But what to do in the meantime? I knew Trend would stop downloading the latest virus definitions and software updates, but I didn’t realize it wouldn’t even scan my hard drive anymore. So I felt like I needed a stopgap and figured I would try some free software.
So I downloaded AVG antivirus which has been around for a while and gets good ratings from CNET. First I uninstalled Trend, but when I tried to install AVG it told me I already had antivirus software installed and there could be conflicts. I have had to uninstall and reinstall Trend several times because it would get buggy, so I thought it uninstalled pretty well. I went to the Windows Security control panel and under antivirus it told me that I was being protected by McAfee. I haven’t had McAfee for about two years.
So I looked around for how I could get Windows Security to forget about McAfee. I found a place that said to go into the Registry and do a search on “McAfee” and delete everything associated with it, then it named 10 other McAfee-specific words to look for and do the same with. I started that and quickly found about 20 instances. It didn’t seem like it would ever end. Fortunately, McAfee makes a utility that will wipe past installations of McAfee off of your system, so I ran that and it took care of everything a lot easier than hunting through the Registry.
Next it was time to install AVG, but I got some kind of funky error about not having access to a registry key. So I look for solutions on this and found another utility on the AVG discussion boards that resets permissions in the registry so that AVG can install. No telling what all that did, but hopefully it didn’t leave a big security hole.
Now I get to install AVG and it went on fairly well, except that the 890k installer actually had to download about 30 MB of files to no telling where on my hard drive. It also wants to install a browser toolbar which tells what websites are safe, but also includes Yahoo search. Under the toolbar’s options you can get rid of the Yahoo search box, but when you check that box, Yahoo’s search box is still there. That’s annoying, but you can at least change the search box to Wikipedia which seemed kind of useful (I already have a Google search box in my browser’s menu bar).
So now I want to do an initial scan. On my laptop this took over two hours. I don’t mind that for a thorough initial scan, but I don’t want to wait that long every time and, by the way, AVG wants to do a scan every day instead of once a week like I had Trend doing.
I looked in Consumer Reports to see what they were recommending and they have a “free suite” of three different free products that they feel is competitive with paid software. One was Microsoft Windows Defender which comes with Vista. Another was Avira which I’d never heard of but they said it was the second year in a row they had recommened it. After the two-hour scan, I decided that might be worth it. I also started an online Microsoft security scan on my desktop which took about four hours to scan.
Anyway, since my laptop has Vista and Defender on it, I decided to uninstall AVG from there and put Avira on there. It went fairly quickly, no toolbar in my browser, but it is not nearly as polished as AVG seemed to be. I like that I was able to download the whole 30 MB installation file at once and can re-use it on my other computer instead of downloading again like I did with AVG. I ran its initial scan and while it started out quite quickly, it still wound up taking just over an hour and a half. None of these scans found anything significant (Microsoft’s online thing said it found something and I told it to deal with it, but it never told me what it was), just some tracking cookies.
Looking further for more reviews, I found some people saying Trend wasn’t as good as it once was and I should be looking at Norton or McAfee. Given how many times I had to uninstall and reinstall it over the last year (6-10 times), I wouldn’t mind finding something else. But Grant has Norton 2009 and says it has bogged down his computer at times. I’ll keep an eye on Avira on my laptop and AVG on my desktop and see how it goes for a little while.