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The Anti-Virus Story


Mike writes:

Is it possible to download and install an anti-virus program to a jump drive and have it be fully operational, allowing me to scan my system for a virus? I’ve read it’s advisable to only have one anti-virus program on your system at a time, but I’ve read in order to remove a virus it is best to run several anti-virus programs in safe mode to remove it.

Hi, Mike. Thanks for the great question.

The answer to your question is that it isn’t possible to run an anti-virus program from an external drive. In order to function correctly, an anti-virus has to install little sub-routines all over your hard drive. This is what makes them so difficult to remove.  Your anti-virus program should be loaded directly onto your hard drive. 

What IS possible is to keep an installer for a small anti-virus program (such as AVG free) on a removable drive if you regularly need to do virus checks on more than one machine.

It is also not advisable to have more than one anti-virus program on your computer at a time. Each program will read the other as a virus because of how deeply embedded they are. As far as running several anti-virus checks go, that really shouldn’t be necessary as long as your anti-virus is something reputable such as AVG or Mcafee or Norton – and not something that you got by clicking on a box that said “YOU ARE INFECTED WITH A VIRUS!  CLICK HERE TO SCAN NOW!”  What is advisable is to use your antivirus in conjunction with a good cleaner and a couple of adware busting programs.  Some good ones include Ccleaner (, Adaware ( and, probably the funnest name of the group, Spybot Search and Destroy (  In each case, upon download, you’ll be prompted to download the latest malware definitions.  Do NOT skip this step.  This is what makes sure that you’re protected from the latest threats.

I hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer

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8 Responses to “The Anti-Virus Story”

  1. Robert Joslin says:

    I found out the hardway that you don’t need more than one anti-virus program. They will conflict like you won’t believe. Windows 7 has a built in firewall,so you don’t need another program with a firewall. You should have a mallware program also.

  2. Hemachandra Babu says:

    I have a 256 mb ram in my system. Whatever anti-virus I install, it slows down my system very badly. I have tried several anti-virus recommended by you but the result is the same. Once I uninstall the anti-virus, my system runs faster. Can you name an antivirus especially for a system with 256 mb ram please? Thanks.

    Hemachandra Babu.D

  3. Ron says:

    I would give a slightly different answer to that question. While you don’t want to install your “always-on” antimalware on an external drive, it is possible.

    Actually, doing that is often recommended. Many anti-malware apps include a “Portable” version that explicitly may be run from an external drive. Many anti-malware apps can also be installed on “bootable” CD / DVD / USB devices.

    The intent of this approach is knowing for sure that the application has not been infected or tampered with by malware. Many malware attacks include disabling or damaging antimalware. Using the external approach you can run a “manual” scan of your system. The key point to remember is that you are going to have to download the latest signature files.

    Actually, running anti-malware scans/repairs from an external drive is often listed as the last resort. The ultimate last resort is to use a tool that boots into Linux to scan your infected HD. That way you can be (almost) absolutely sure that it won’t be infected by malware running in Windows.

  4. richard says:

    clam win antivirus

  5. Eric says:

    I suggest also running Immunet, either free or paid version, at all times. It can be run alongside other AVs.


  6. Mark says:

    Having something that doesn’t run all time such as MalwareBytes in addition to your always checking anti-virus suite is a good idea. You can run the MalwareBytes scan once a week and it will pick things the other one misses. I also keep a current install for it on a CD or thumb drive and install it first thing on any system before I work on it.

  7. Carmelia Godoy says:

    I am using Norton security suite for a couple of years now and I have to claim it is a piece of junk. I would love to pay more money for something that worked much better. This software is slow and doesn’t give any assurance it is guarding my computer. I did find some good thoughts out of your website and will be evaluating them this week. Cheers!

    • Richard Woody says:

      I’m a former Norton user. It was not liked. Viper was found. It has a one time fee that lasts for the life of the computer it is installed on. It does a super job and easy to operate. Along side there is Malwarebytes(purchased from Worldstart). This is also a great program. Runs find with Viper.
      Good luck! Richard

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