Would You Recommend That a Novice User Install an Antivirus Program?

There is definitely no shortage of opinions when it comes to antivirus programs. Some users see them as a necessity while others see them as not really worth all the trouble. And recent news is reporting that some antivirus programs have critical vulnerability that can be exploited very easily.

This leads us to novice users. Should they be introduced to such software? Is it better for them to be safe or is that too much of a risk for people who may not understand what’s going on with their computers? We asked our experts at Make Tech Easier, “Would you recommend that a novice user install an antivirus program?”

Our writers are split on this issue. Christopher feels that Windows Defender is integrated into the OS and that it is “by far the least intrusive/performance-draining.” Although he warns that users should still keep Malwarebytes to perform period scans and has found that the two have been “more than enough to secure my system.”

As a Linux user Derrik would rather novice users just install Ubuntu and not have to deal with viruses. He believes a malware scanner or robust firewall and good permission sets would do more than a virus scanner. He doesn’t believe antivirus programs offer any real protection and feels they are just placebos.

Novice-Antivirus-Writers-Opinion-Virus-Detected

Damien agrees and says he would rather educate a novice user on what they should and should not open rather than rely on antivirus. As a Mac user Phil agrees, since viruses aren’t so much of a problem on Macs. But he warns that users should still be aware so that you don’t become a carrier and “pollute the water” for everyone. For that reason he uses Avast, as Christopher has, since there are Windows users sharing things with him.

I look at it this way. I think of my mother using her Windows computer. She was suckered into using an antivirus program that was actually a scam, and it caused her years of trouble on her system as she didn’t have the education to know what she was dealing with. Like Damien, I’d rather educate those users so that they know how to proceed with safe computing for themselves and their system.

Let us know how you feel about this topic. What are your feelings about novice users and antivirus programs? Are you a novice user yourself and unsure what you should do? Or are you an expert with definite opinions on the subject? Would you recommend that a novice user install an antivirus program? Let us know in the comments section below.

12 comments

  1. Absolutely EVERY single user should be using an AV/malware scanner on their computer. Education is a start, but is not the end. Anyone and everyone can get malware. They can even come in through ad networks on websites that display ads, even when both the ad providers and ad servers feel they have a secure stream…AND you’re not surfing where you shouldn’t. (nudge-nudge, wink-wink…)

    I run both Mac and Windows systems; and while the Windows systems are more virus prone, its clear that Macs are now actively being targeted. There’s no safe platform any longer. I agree that the right package needs to be found and installed so that you get the right balance of performance and protection; but platform default scanners like Windows Defender aren’t going to catch everything. You can’t rely on them alone, and waiting to scan with a secondary tool (as MalwareBytes is usually used) until you suspect you have something is WAY too late.

    I think its better to be safe than sorry. Install the malware/AV scanner… you’ll sleep better at night. Its worth the performance hit (provided you install the right package…)

  2. “Would You Recommend That a Novice User Install an Antivirus Program?”
    No, I would recommend that ALL users install an AV program!

    “Christopher feels that Windows Defender is integrated into the OS and that it is “by far the least intrusive/performance-draining.” ”
    Does Christopher want AV protection or does he want as little impact on his system performance as possible? Windows Defender impacts performance so little because it does very little.

    “As a Linux user Derrik would rather novice users just install Ubuntu and not have to deal with viruses”
    Ubuntu users don’t have to deal with viruses but the do have to deal with spying by Canonical and Amazon.

    “Damien agrees and says he would rather educate a novice user on what they should and should not open ”
    Education is as effective at preventing malware as the Rhythm Method is at preventing pregnancies. Human nature being what it is, education will be overcome by curiosity and people will open what they shouldn’t.

    “She was suckered into using an antivirus program that was actually a scam”
    As a good daughter who is wise to the ways of the computer, you should have installed the correct AV program for her. Instead you just educated her and she made the wrong choice.

    • It is NOT true that Linux users don’t have to deal with viruses. They are out there… BUT, there are very few of them. So while they are less likely to be targeted or get a virus, they still can. Have seen it happen.

  3. I feel like novice Windows users should at least use Windows Defender or Avast! Free. I find that many users get roped into paying for McAffee or Norton because it came preinstalled on their computer and told them that if they didn’t pay, their computers would be open to viruses and attacks.
    I also believe that novice users should be taught how to recognize suspicious websites, emails, etc. and how to avoid malware that way as well.
    As for Mac users, there is malware for Mac. Apple does a damn good job at patching the OS to render vulnerabilities useless and block many pieces of malware on an OS level, however they can easily become carriers for windows viruses by downloading, for instance, a tainted PDF and sending it to their friends. I use Avast! and some common sense to keep from poisoning my Apple or mucking up my friends’ PCs.

    • Still is a great tool. By UPGRADING you get extra tools.

      I question why you are bitching about it. You expect them to work for free? Do YOU work for free? Betcha ya don’t. Back into the hole with your mates the Orcs.

      • Malwarebytes was a great tool… I answer not bitching. I expect everyone to work for free. I volunteer when I feel it will help. And, I’ve always been more of a fraggle rock type. Hole, away!

  4. ” Christopher feels that Windows Defender is integrated into the OS and that it is “by far the least intrusive/performance-draining.” Although he warns that users should still keep Malwarebytes to perform period scans and has found that the two have been “more than enough to secure my system.” I totally agree with this with one minute proviso: make sure to use Defender or Microsoft Sec. Essentials, is augmented by the Internet Explorer Safe Screen Filter. IESSF is very strong combined with Defender or MSSE, and I have experienced just how great it is.

    • ” make sure to use Defender or Microsoft Sec. Essentials, is augmented by the Internet Explorer Safe Screen Filter.”
      Using that combination of programs is like using a screen door to keep out the rain. Most of the rain may bounce of the screen but enough will get through to make you wet.

  5. This argument is very old, it goes back to people who hate MS because of MS’ vicious sales tactics. It will not be solved, the people soured on MS are not to be sweetened. Please note that I advocate for MSSE or Windows Defender, augmented by all the security options of IE, especially the IE Safe Screen Filter. In addition I advocate Malware Bytes and Adblockers. I use these items, all of them, and it is a quality Internet Suite. I hope that our subscribers are neutral enough to at least test these recommendations. In my personal experience, BitDefender, Comodo and the As (Avira et al) will, given time, cause unacceptable issues, and a vast degree of trouble. Please, please give MS a chance to demonstrate its virtues. Thanks!

    • Sorry Rob,

      But I am not going to try all the recommendations mentioned in this article. Why? I don’t want any virus in my system. Using the recommendations in this article is setting thee door wide open.

      IMHO every user MUST install some decent protection as described by Dragonmouth. In this I agree with Murphy. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong on the most unexpected moment and leaving you with a computer that will not work. Even pc’s from expert that have used PC’s for over more than 20 years can get infected.

      Windows was the first target because it was very open for it’s kind and time. Linux was not a target as it was not used that much and only by experts in their area. No Mac has become the new target. next to follow is Linux because more and more common people are going to use it. and don’t say Linus cannot be infected. it can and will be as it is a very open OS.

  6. Of course Linus can be infected. He’s a person… any person can become infected with oooooooooooooh, you meant Linux???

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