I’d forgotten how intrusive the major anti-virus programs are.

So, when I was helping a friend and working on his PC, I was surprised when the machine locked up.  I looked around, and saw an icon indicating that the computer had just downloaded the automatic update of the virus list.  I cannot remember if it was McAfee  or Norton, but it was one of the two.

I asked what was going on, and my friend said that whenever the virus update comes, he takes a break because the anti-virus program takes over his computer.  The program rescans the hot spots on his disk to make sure that they hadn’t been infected with any of the viruses that it now knew about, and no other work can be done.  He said that starting his computer takes an extra couple minutes, too, because the anti-virus program runs a similar scan when the PC boots.

As we were working, we got warning messages every so many minutes about possible problems or actions we might — or might not — want to take.  Again, it was the “anti-virus” computer security program flexing its security center muscle.  The alerts weren’t about actually finding anything, but the security software seemed nervous that my friend’s style of computing was not safe enough for its standards.  He opened email attachments, for example, and he went to unapproved web sites.  I don’t remember his exact crimes, but the nervous Nelly security program seemed to act like a Harpie, stealing his machine and preventing him from using his computer the way he wanted.

But, if you use Norton or McAfee, you know what I’m talking about. Both of those programs are big bullies. They want to run your computer their way, keeping you safe, keeping you slow.

I removed my Norton and my McAfee years ago.  I just couldn’t stand the slowness those programs caused as they intruded on my computing. With Norton, the daily (or more frequent) updating of the virus database was painful. I had to stop working while Norton re-scanned my critical computer files.

In place of the major anti-virus hogs, I installed a program called Smart Security with NOD32 anti-virus by a company called ESET. I heard about this alternative while listening to Leo Laporte’s radio show. He was recommending NOD32 to callers, even as he acknowledged that ESET were advertisers. I checked out what industry gatekeepers like CNET said about the ESET security suite. Everything I saw was positive, so I downloaded the free 30-day trial.

I have never gone back.

The anti-virus scans that had locked up my computer for minutes now took less than a minute AND I could use the computer at the same time. I did have to persuade the security version of ESET’s product to stop scanning my incoming mail for spam characteristics (I can figure that out myself, thank you). But, the ESET program has been far, far less bossy than any other security program than I had used.

If you’re ready to reclaim your ownership of your computer, consider, dumping McAffie and Norton… at least don’t renew them when you’re subscription runs out. Check out ESET and NOD32 instead.