Tom from Canton, OH writes:
I am one of those Windows XP holdouts and have tried a few of the PC cleaner programs in addition to the Avast free version for virus protection. I have used a trial of PC Cleaner and I am currently using a trial of Winzip PC Care, which costs $39.95 plus tax. What would you recommend as the top 3 software programs to help protect my computer from viruses, malware or any other destructive software. Will one do it all, if so, which ones? Each one I have used gives me very different results at the end of a scan. I find Winsip is constantly asking me to reboot my computer after the fixes have been completed. which is tedious. Thank you for your help.
Tom, I feel like you’ve just asked me what the safest neighborhood to live in for someone who doesn’t plan on locking their doors. None of these programs is going to be able to protect your computer fully from threats.
Microsoft is no longer supporting XP. Before support ended, you had a team of Microsoft security professionals who worked continually to counter threats affecting XP. There were a lot of them, as XP was never a particularly secure operating system and was the most frequent subject of attacks. Those experts shared the fixes for these issues with the makers of security software. To permanently patch vulnerabilities in XP, you need access to the operating system on its most basic level and without the input from Microsoft it just can’t be done.
Right now, most security programs can address vulnerabilities that were known in XP before support ended in April, but cannot protect you from anything new that’s come along since then. And if your computer is infected with something that’s come along since then, you may not even know it. Malware could be stealing your personal information or sending out infected e-mail to contacts or even using your computer to store illegal images.
I can’t recommend any security provider to keep XP safe. My suggestions are to keep XP offline, period. I would also suggest perhaps setting up a dual boot with a Linux-based OS such as Ubuntu and using that system for any online activity and making changes to your administrator privileges to prevent viruses or malware from taking control of your computer.