Are you using a free Anti Virus program?

I am often asked to repair computers and laptops. When I ask the owner what symptoms their computer is displaying the answers are frequently the same so I expect to hear any one of 14 possible answers...

Typical symptoms described to me when I take in a compuer for repair are:

  1. It is running very slowly
  2. Sometimes it won't boot up
  3. I get a lot of pop-up windows
  4. The Internet is very slow
  5. Some of my programs won't start anymore
  6. Some of my programs have disappeared
  7. Some of my personal files have disappeared
  8. My browser often shows pages I haven't requested
  9. My Anti Virus program has disappeared or stopped working
  10. Some of my games say they are missing library files and won't start
  11. My computer restarts on its own and I lose work
  12. I get unusual error messages that make no sense
  13. My computer takes a very long time to start up
  14. My computer frequently crashes

Whenever I hear any of the above when taking in a computer for repair my first question is:

"Do you have any Anti-Virus or Security programs installed?"

Now, over the last 2 years at least, the answer to that question is invariably:

"Yes, I have the Free AVG (or Mcafee or similar free products) installed"

When I hear that reply I do despair! There is NO such thing as a good free anti-virus or security program - at best they may catch 30% of the viruses, Trojans, Keyloggers and other malware that have reached the machine. So I know right away the computer is infected, and that the time it will take me to clean it out and make it safe again will cost the owner far more than if they had just installed a GOOD anti-virus/security system in the first place.

Sometimes the computer has been brought to me before the infection has got too bad, and in those cases I can usually clean it up in a few hours - and of course remove the useless free AntiVirus the user has installed, and recommend a decent one to keep them safe in future.

Sometimes the infection can be so bad the only possible route to cleaning it is to format the hard drive and re-install Windows from scratch - this in itself does not take too long - but the time then to bring it up to date with Windows Updates takes AGES! And of course the owner loses any personal files they have not backed up to an external drive. However, even if they have backed up files to an external drive - that drive is almost certainly infected too, and so also needs "treatment" - which adds to the expense!

So take a look at your computer right now - do you have a free antivurus or security prgram installed - such as AVG, Avast or Mcafee?

If you do then it is only a matter of time before your computer starts displaying the symptoms above, because at best, your program will only catch 3 in 10 of the "nasties" trying to infect your machine. This means that in the long term the repairs/cleaning that will be required will cost you more that a good security program would have done.

So take a tip:

Stop what you are doing, uninstall the free (useless) program you are using and go out right now and buy yourself decent protection...

On all our machines we use and recommend ESET Smart Security, which includes anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam and firewall, all on one package.

Typical cost to protect one computer per year is £39.99 - but if you have more than one computer you can by a multi-license and make savings...

i.e. typical cost for 3 computers per year is £49.99 (around £16.66 per computer per year)

You can buy ESET Smart Security for Home use here: 

So there you have it - although I don't mind earning the extra money fixing these issues for local contacts, it does sadden me when they lose their personal files due to relying on garbage free software.

NOTE: Business users have to pay quite a bit more, so if you wish to cover computers in a commercial environment try here: (and expect to pay a lot more per machine).

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