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Computer Virus Scan is it a Scam?

As it is almost Back to School that means that most of the virus checking software in my house is about to expire (maybe in  your house too? Better check). The entire virus scan/Internet safety/firewall industry seems to be at times running their own “shell game” on their customers.

In our house we have been using Norton Anti-Virus ( the 360 product) and it seems to work fine in terms of protecting us from viruses and such (whether the software is a huge system hog, I will leave to other folks to discuss). I bought the package last year for my daughter’s computer that she was taking off to University and it came with a 3 computer license (i.e. I can put this 1 piece of software on 3 separate computers), so I put Norton 360 on two other computers in our house (seemed like a good deal at the time).

Time has passed and the year’s subscription is about to expire, how do I know that? The Norton software kindly reminds me every day (when you are within two weeks of expiration), which is good for forgetful folks like me, to make sure our machines are not infected with nasty malware (remember if you are connected to the web, you must have protection).

The problem I have is these reminders aim me directly at a Norton web site, where I can conveniently use my credit card and my subscription will be renewed, however, the price I pay is much more than I paid for the 3 computer software the previous year. If I look at Best Buy, Tiger Direct, Future Shop or Staples on line I can see that I can buy the software “off the shelf” for less than this renewal fee, which I think is a bit of a dirty trick.

With this in mind I started looking around at the various Anti-Virus software out there, and I decided to change my allegiances for this year and try out McAfee’s Anti-virus type software, so I went out and bought a 3 license software CD, for much less than a single renewal with Norton, and it all seems to work just fine.

I realize that this kind of practice is attempting to catch Lazy consumers at their weakest moment (when they feel they will be inconvenienced by having to think or shop around) but it still seems like a dirty trick (my opinion).

You should run antivirus software (unless your computer never ever connects to the Internet and  you never install software on  your computer), and I think most of the manufacturers do a good job with their product, so your major differentiating point must now be price, although check with friends in the know about whether there is any performance hits for installing the software is another good point as well.

I am happy with my decision (saved me about $100 at the end of it, if I had gone with the Lazy solution), but only time will tell whether McAfee is better or the same as Norton (but it sure was cheaper for me).

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I consider myself computer-literate, having built my computer six years ago now. I have never installed a virus scan program on to it over it’s life. It has been running smoothly the entire time, needing it’s first part replacement last month (new power supply that burnt out).
    I can remember twice when the computer felt to be getting bogged down. It could’ve been spyware, malware, other types of ware, or just rusty joints. I put in the Windows Disk and reformatted the hard drive (after backing up the important information).
    It may be luck, or it may be diligent avoidance of email forwards, but an extra $100 in drinking money is worth it for me.

  2. I gotta go with Avast, although I am moving over to Apple or Linux machines as fast as I can. Paid anti-virus software is a scam and just bogs down your machine.

  3. I have used AVG, and it is will not catch any worms or trojans..might catch the odd virus..hence why I pay for IS stuff is free for a reason, it dosent work well.

  4. As some other comments point out, there are several free alternatives that are just as good if not better than Norton/McAfee. I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would pay for an anti-virus program. The free alternatives work just as well and allow you to avoid the whole question of renewal fees altogether.

  5. Avast Home Edition is free and has always caught those nasty trojans trying to slip by when my software decides to auto-update itself.

  6. $100 per year times 5 years… why continue feeding that beast your time and money?
    get a Mac, no virus, no problem.
    when it’s time for an upgrade or when you’re just fed-up with all that virus sh*t have a look in any Apple store. let them show you the benefits so you can decide. i think you’ll find it’s really worth it!

  7. When we were running PC’s exclusively, I also used Norton AV. I felt the same way about their renewals and often bought new software every year. Now, we run Apple computers. AV software? What’s that? We still have one PC and I also use AVG for it, but it is so rarely used now.

  8. You could also try Antivirus Grisoft’s “AVG Free”, which is a basic antivirus package. Also Nod32 is frequently recommended as being the best of the best, but I like free. Just thought I’d give you a heads up.

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