Monday, March 8, 2010

Tip: Don't get over zealous with your anti-virus

I recently discovered a family member's computer acting sluggish. When I say sluggish, I am not referring to the kind we have in Seattle, near our office -- the banana-looking, foot-long racing slug. Nope. I mean extremely sluggish. Even moving the mouse was a laborious operation.

The cause of this lethargy was hyper-anti-virus syndrome. If you are reading this blog and it took 5 minutes to get here, or you are on a friend's machine because you wanted to see something in less than an hour, you may be suffering from hyper-anti-virus syndrome.

Have you ever installed one anti-virus program onto a machine that already had one? What happens is not pretty. It is a classic case of too many cops having a turf war. The one anti-virus program notices that the other anti-virus program seems to be carrying around a lot of suspicious looking things.

It starts thinking, "Hey, what is that? Could be dangerous! I need to check it out. In fact, that looks a lot like a love bug virus!” Then it says to the program, “Hand it over. I can't let you continue to do what you are doing."

The other anti-virus program gets similar ideas and begins to apprehend the first. While they are tussling about, totally absorbed in each other…you guessed it.

Well, maybe you didn't. I bet you were thinking a real virus got in to the system and stole your credit card information. Wrong again. Your machine has been so consumed with the battle between the two anti-virus programs that not much else can happen. So you are safe when this situation happens, but very slow.

Your solution is to pick one of the two anti-virus programs as a winner and uninstall the other. It might take a while to do this with your machine running so slowly...but it’s worth it.

Sadly, I have some more bad news. Some anti-virus software doesn't want to be uninstalled. I suspect the authors thought that a virus might do the uninstall itself, and while this is possible, it is quite unlikely. This means you may have a hard time getting the uninstall program to work effectively. There are generally solutions posted on these company's websites…so don't give up hope.

A final word of warning:  Never run your machine without a good anti-virus software program. family member's machine is now running pleasantly. The banana slug has met its bait.