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Ditch the Antivirus?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Security Help
 
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Q:
Often times when I’m installing a new piece of software, it tells me to turn my antivirus program off while I do so. Why does it do that? And when is it safe to turn it back on? Please explain!

A:
Ooooh, what a great question! I’m sure all of you have been in this situation before. You know, you order a new piece of software and as soon as you go to install it, you’re told to turn your antivirus program off. That doesn’t seem right, does it? I mean, your antivirus program is there to protect you and if you turn it off, who knows what could happen. Well, even though it seems like an odd request, it really is legit. Keep reading for all the details!

First of all, I want to make it clear that this type of thing can happen with any security type program you have installed on your computer (antivirus, anti-spyware, etc). If your new software only asks you to turn off one of them, it’s best if you disable them all. All of those programs work as a group to scan your computer for threats and you need to keep them all together, even if turning them off is what you’re doing.

Now, when you install a new program on your computer, the setup process goes through many different steps and it’s possible it will do a lot of new things to your system. Some of those include:

  • Writing program files and sticking them in your Windows folders.

  • Creating new entries in your Registry Editor.

  • Adding “auto-start” entries to your system that will automatically launch the program whenever you start up your computer.

  • Starting, stopping and installing other Windows services.

  • Deleting files that relate to the new program, but are from older versions.

Those are just a few examples, but here’s the point I’m trying to make. All of those things are somewhat similar to what a piece of malware does when trying to infect your computer. And since a lot of antivirus programs aren’t always accurate when telling the difference, it could end up blocking something your new program needs in order to work properly. In that case, you would end up with a failed install or a successful install that doesn’t even really work right.

So, as you can see, if the new software you’re installing asks you to turn your antivirus program off, you should do it. By doing that, you’ll avoid numerous install problems or any trouble you may have on down the road. But let me make it clear that when the install is done, you should turn your antivirus program back on immediately. Again, as soon as you know the install is complete, you need to turn all of your protective software programs back on. That’s very important. Otherwise, you’ll be using an unprotected computer and that’s just bad news!

~ Erin

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