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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 (http://www.piriform.com/CCLEANER [1]), Adaware (http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php [2]) and, probably the funnest name of the group, Spybot Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/spybotsd/index.html [3]).  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