2007/09/28

Simultaneous Scanning for Malware

Windows computer users should clean up their system and thoroughly scan for malware at least monthly, in addition to regularly backing up data and using other safe computing practices.

Thoroughly scanning for malware means you use several anti-malware programs because none of them are 100% effective. One program will occasionally find malware the other ones don't. In the past I always ran anti-malware programs one at a time, simply because I never considered running these programs simultaneously.

At NEW NET this week (Northeast Wisconsin Network for Economy and Technology issues), Luke W. and Andy M. told me they run several malware scanners at the same time. Luke runs two at a time, and Andy runs more than that simultaneously. This is a typical example of why I enjoy the weekly NEW NET meetings. Valuable new tech info is shared at each tech enthusiast gathering.

The primary caution about running several malware scanners at the same time is that they can be resource hogs. If interested in reducing computer 'maintenance' time by simultaneously scanning with multiple anti-malware programs, you should try different combinations of programs to see what works best for your computer system.

The malware scanners I normally use are Spybot, Ad-Aware, AVG and a-squared. Over the next few weeks, I will gather data about the total time to do malware scans in several different scenarios: one at a time, different combinations of two at a time, and all four at once. I'll report back with those times in a future blog post.

Some of the other anti-malware programs Andy and Luke use are Avast, HijackThis, IceSword, Spy Sweeper, What'sRunning and Process Explorer. What'sRunning and IceSword are two programs I'd never heard of before this week's NEW NET meeting. IceSword is an anti-rootkit program Luke recently used for the first time and found quite handy for stopping a maliciously pernicious and persistent program or process dead in its tracks. An icy sword through the scurrilious blackguard's heart, so to speak...

Of course, if you don't want to be bothered with malware scanning and removal you could switch to a Mac or Linux computer, but the vast majority of the world is running on Windows...

So if you run Windows and want to save some time when inspecting your computer for unwanted visitors, use simultaneous scanning for malware next time you do housekeeping on your computer.

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