Avast! Fails, Google Pack Wins

I’ve been battling viruses/trojans on my computer the past few days. I think I was using an outdated copy of Norton. The worst thing is that I think I got infected when I borrowed a software CD from a friend. There’s something especially sinister about a CD with a virus burned onto it.

I while back I used AVG. I like to use free software when I can. But then it failed me and I got infected with something or other, so I abandoned it.

Most recently I tried avast!. At first I was impressed by the quality of the free software, and I’ve got nothing but respect for the pirate connection. Avast! cleaned up my system a bit, but there was a trojan or two it could detect but couldn’t eliminate. So then it was just constantly warning me, running boot scans, and failing every time.

I put up with it for a while. It wasn’t crippling my system as far as I could tell. It seems like a lot of users in China just don’t worry about “benign” virus infections. But eventually I just had to exterminate the infestation completely.

Finally what worked was the combination of Norton Security and Spyware Doctor that come with Google Pack. Norton Security only found 1 item that needed attention, but then Spyware Doctor fixed over 200 issues (including those pesky trojans). Best of all, it’s free!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. The guy that worked on my system recently recommended AVG. He also gave me a 15 day trial version of SpyCounter. This is a good one for identifying those various processes that you see running but can’t identify by their alphabet soup names. It tells you the .exe file name & what’s trying to run it. You can allow it or block it.

    I’ll ck out the Google Pack tho. More protection is always better. Noel told me that the average time for infection after logging into the net is 8 SECONDS!

  2. My personal experiense with Norton is that it sucks 🙂

    I have help arrange planty of LANs and every time someone will show up with an infested PC think it is clean, because they use Norton. It simply doesn’t do it well enough. Everyone I know that has used Norton always tells of some trouble. Either it hugs your memory or CPU or it is just crap at detecting and removing viruses.

    At these LANs we alway used Panda combined with a backup healer (Norman), which in 99% of the cases is enough to get rid of viruses (spybots may be another case). Unfortunately Panda is not freeware, so can’t really use it more than that one time (boot CD).

    I use AVG too, and have had no problems so far, but you never know.

    Anyway, you mentioned Norton and got my blood boiling 🙂 Just happy that it helped you a bit in the end.

  3. I switched from PC to Mac OSX nearly one year ago. My GF and I currently have 3 Macs at home, two iMacs and a MacBookPro. None of them has an antivirus installed. None of them had ANY trouble and we’re using them on a daily basis, plus they’re all connected 24/7 to the Internet.

    Need a special app you have on PC ? Fire up Parallels or VMware and voila, you have all of your important PC stuff running within a protected virtual machine, completely separated from OSX …

    Don’t you think it’s time to spend a couple of $ more and switch to Mac OSX as well ? 😉



  4. Some Mac Guy Says: August 15, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Actually, you spend less money switching to OSX if you factor in time.

    Total time I spent in the last 5 years securing and removing infections from the 15 Mac’s we have in our China office = 0 minutes

    Total time I spent in the last 5 years securing and removing infections from the 3 PC’s we have in our China office = Afraid to know….

    Could go on and on, but nobody really cares.

  5. Please, there’s plenty of other web sites for nerdy Mac evangelism.

    But my understanding is that AVG is an anti-virus program, not a spyware program. So you should also get, say, Ad-Aware, to check for that.

    In honesty it’s maybe 5 minutes to set up protection on a PC, I’ve never had problem and I pirate like a mother-father. The bigger problem is it slows down the computer a bit.

  6. DISCLAIMER: I’m an avid Mac user at home, Linux/UNIX at the office

    If you think Macaholics are bad, you should hang out in some of the Linux/UNIX forums some time! Then you’ll see true evangelism.

    The whole OS debate reminds me of a somewhat funny book by Neil Stephenson called “In the Beginning…was the Command Line”. It’s a bit dated now, but still an amusing read (well, amusing to some).

  7. Jeff this has nothing to do with evangelism. And I’m not a nerd at all (otherwise I would probably have talked about Linux instead, which is still a little bit too complicated for my personal use and for the level of my computer skills, even if it’s getting easier to install and use).

    I’ve been using PC’s for nearly 20 years before I switched to Mac OS, and I’m not saying “PCs suck, Mac OS rule”. I’m just saying that it might be worth considering other options. Cause in the end, it’s not about which OS is better, it’s about how much time do you really want to spend trying to fix things instead of either being more efficient at work, or spend that time having fun 😉

    Windows has made a long way since its inception, and it’s a great product. But OSX is objectively more secure and less targetted by viruses, vulnerabilities, threats etc. than Windows at present.

    Bao zhong.


    (PS : sorry for my bad English, my mother tongue is French)

  8. Heh, funny how these comments have turned into a Mac ad.

    @Tim P: More protection isn’t always better. Continuously running multiple anti-virus software can cause conflicts, not to mention taxing your system resources.

    @iS: My wife has a Mac, and I’ve used it. I’m kind of ambivalent now, but I might possibly get a Mac eventually.

  9. I’ve been using winpatrol for about two years and it protects my computer better than most giant security programs.

  10. You should try out Nod 32 its got a high detection rate and low memory usage.

  11. @John : the real problem with Macs, and it’s not a joke, is the fact that you sort of become an addict, and when working in a full-PC environment at work, it’s really hard to accept the idea of working with PC’s when you feel safer and more efficient with Macs …

    Since everyone else uses PCs within my company, I had to buy my own MacBookPro, with my own money … I couldn’t imagine asking my boss to spen USD 2’500 for MY computer, when everyone else got a USD 1’200 PC computer that “does the job” … not to mention that in several companies, IT managers would simply refuse to let you use your Mac within “their” PC environment …

    The only reason why I launch Windows on my Mac is that I need Outlook to share agendas with my colleagues …

    It took me only a few weeks to be able to do everything I did on my PCs on my new Macs, so if money is not an issue, I suggest you borrow your wife’s Mac … but once again beware of addiction 😉

    Kind Regards from Switzerland.



  12. AVG also does a spyware programme, also available as a free download, but not bundled with the free version of AVG antivirus, so if you’re of Scottish decent like me, you have to download it separately. You also have to remember to manually update it and run a scan regularly once the one month free trial is up, but apart from that it works really well. Or so far as I can tell, it does.

  13. I would recommend NOD32, best anti-virus program bars none!! It has the best detection algorithm due to their emphasis on unpacker technology (it can look inside files that are compress, encrypted far more than any other anti-virus program)

    But really, what you REALLY need to do, is to “image” (disk cloning) your hard drive regularly. Imaging hard drive practically makes you invulnerable to any virus on earth, past, present and the future!! Many large institutions such universities, governments, and large corporate offices nowadays use imaging as first and last line of defence against virus, because if a computer got infected, they simply retore the hard disk image. It is that simple.

    There are quite a few imaging software around.. the most famous is Norton Ghost (although it is much harder to use)

    I highly recommend Acronis True Image… it is the simpliest one button imaging solution.

  14. Antivirus software gets some of the job done, but the most important thing is to get a decent personal firewall. I’m not talking about the firewall that comes with your router (though that is nice), but a software firewall like the one that comes with Windows XP. However, the XP firewall isn’t very effective.

    I personally recommend Sunbelt Personal Firewall. It’s very full-featured even in the free version, the most important feature being that it can block a never-before-seen program from doing anything. So if/when you download a virus onto your machine, it can’t execute until you give it permission to through Sunbelt. The virus also won’t be able to download/upload anything. Even if it somehow gets the same name/path as a legitimate program, Sunbelt will still block it (it can detect when a legitimate program has been replaced by a fake one). The only problem with Sunbelt is that it’s not as easy to use and configure as competing products, and if you aren’t using it correctly then you may as well not use a firewall at all.

  15. Yeah Norton sucks.

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