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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Anti-Virus Traumas

For years I enjoyed a trouble-free experience with my free anti-virus and firewall software. And then, a year ago, I decided to upgrade to the Pro version on the promise of it being more manageable and less intrusive. I can't say the promise was fulfilled, but at any rate it continued to do exactly what it said on the tin in terms of keeping my computer safe.

And then... and then... and then... early last week, with the year of my license almost up and my software running out of time, I began the attempt to renew it. Seemed straightforward enough, just fill up the online form and... well, to begin with, I needed to insert the license number for the existing software. It was one of those numbers with three billion digits, but not to worry, I had it stored safely in my impeccable filing system. Only it didn't work - the number I mean, not the filing system. Large red letters proclaimed INVALID NUMBER! I tried again. Obviously, among the three billion characters were several 0s that might have beenOs and several Os that might have been 0s. I tried every possible combination - and several that shouldn't have been possible. INVALID NUMBER! , INVALID NUMBER! , INVALID NUMBER!. So I crawled down into the bowels of the information file, found the license number secreted there, and cut and pasted it onto the blasted form. INVALID NUMBER! 

Nothing for it, of course, but to email the address (sales@) given on the form, thus to plead for help. The reply came promptly back that (presumably because I was upgrading, not buying from scratch) it was not Sales I required, but Customer Services. Off went another email, this time to the afore-mentioned Customer Services, explaining in some detail the nature of the problem, i.e. that their forms were not accepting my officially supplied License number. The reply informed me that in order to help me they would need the license number of my software. I could go on, but suffice it to say that soon after this I gave up and decided to try another brand altogether.

All went well and the new software was soon downloaded. My plan now was to go off-line whilst I uninstalled the old and installed the new. Uninstalling the old did not go smoothly, it was extremely reluctant to wave me goodbye, and to complicate things further, the new, although it was now on my hard disc, could not be installed off-line. It had to be done remotely. I was at this point, though, offered help in uninstalling the old, and that now went smoothly... except that I was now on-line and unprotected (other than by Windows's own very basic offering). It took a fair while to install the new, so I then decided, my computer having been at risk for that amount of time, to run my brand new virus scan. It reported eventually - over an hour later - that all was well and that no threats had been found. The following morning after booting up it went into download mode again, and again for an hour or so, during which I could not get on to do anything I wanted to do. it was, apparently, downloading the virus scanner! And it has done it every morning since, despite the fact that I have disabled the automatic download facility and elected to download manually.

44 comments:

John Hayes said...

Yikes, what a tale. I've had good results with Zone Alarm Pro, which is a combo firewall/anti-virus/anti-spyware, but the scans really do slow the computer down & do so for a significant amount of time. A sort of damned if you do & damned if you don't scenario.

Mary Ellen said...

Isn't that just the way - progress ends up being regression, and we're worse off than we were in the first place. Story of my life.

Michelle said...

I use Avast...free and it works.

What a pain!

Aniket said...

Those are nasty things the antiviruses. Sometimes they make me think, I'd rather have a virus on computer than them pinging at me: "A threat has been encountered"

And when I say "FIX". It says "It cannot be Fixed"

Then why the hell does it keep telling me that a threat exists if it can't do anything about it. I'd rather stay ignorant. :D

Being a developer myself. I find most of them to be very sorry.

David C. said...

Dave,
I share your frustration. I got into an endless loop of hitting "Fix" and receiving a message "It cannot be fixed" similar to Aniket, whilst (or as we say in the US, while) using the free Mcafee Antivirus program provided by our ISP. Since I was having other issues besides this, I reinstalled Windows Vista, which I can assure you was no picnic. After the reinstall, on the advice of a younger colleague, I installed Avast, the free product recommended by Michelle above, and it seems to work fine. I've also decided to start migrating over to the Mac world, and bought a MacBook Pro laptop, which I am using for most things now. With VMWare Fusion, I can run on the laptop the Windows programs that my work requires.

One of the major problems I was having was that the photo processing programs I was using were hanging up Windows, but the Mac versions of these run much faster with virtually no glitches.

Patrice said...

I prefer to stay in denial. My free Norton software scans - and then tells me I have 230 "threats" or 242 "infections". Huh?

Apparently every cookie is seen as an enemy - and of course, they want me to BUY an upgrade.

The worst problem I ever had was trying to install a new virus scanner. Seemed it behaved quite like a virus itself.

hope said...

Oh Dave, I feel your pain! I've always used Norton on the advice of my "computer geek" who actually speaks computer. Last year I opted for an online upgrade. Although that process wasn't too bad, the "upgrade" was SO on alert it slowed down my every move!

After four months of using language none of us would approve of when I turned on the computer, I contacted Norton. Turns out the new stuff doesn't care for Mozilla Firefox...and I do. I will say they are a great company for they helped me uninstall what I had, go back to the upgraded version of what I use to have and added the remaining 6 months of my subscription onto the new purchase.

The only freebie I use with confidence is Spybot Search & Destroy, which sniffs out spyware and the like [but not viruses].

Hope it's clear sailing for you now. :)

Derrick said...

It's true, Dave. These programmes all work in a slightly different way and don't like to be dumped!

"My" computer man used to recommend Bullguard, which is what I use on my laptop, so far without incident. Now he recommends ESET, which is on another laptop I use and it, too, seems to just get on with things.

There has to be a way to stop your software doing a full scan every day. But you may have to go back to the helpdesk to achieve it!

A Cuban In London said...

You're lucky, mate. At least it did not give you any nasty swine flu. That would have been one virus too many :-).

Greetings from London.

Helen said...

Mornin' Dave ... I feel your pain as I have recently gone through a virus mess. My son recommended I remove Trend Micro, upgrade Spybot and install AVG. I've discovered Mozilla Firefox (new download)is superior to Internet Explorer (in terms of consistent use ... though there are a few applications I use that aren't compatible...so I switch back and forth a bit. Everything running OK at the moment.

Your account was fun to read ~ as usual. You have a wonderful way with words!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dave - dare I say as a mere woman that most of your blog today is gobbledegook to me. I am of the
persuasion that if I can't understand it I can't do it, so ring round several people who are much better than I am at dealing with computers and get them to do it. So far (touch wood) it has worked admirably. I shall keep my fingers crossed that it continues to do so.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

Computers have joined cars in my world: "things I love to hate or hate to love."

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Your problems seem so typical of an industry bent on deliberate obfuscation in their attempt to extract every damn penny they can; seems like a cultural psychosis to my mind.

Linda Sue said...

ARRRRGGGHHHH!I employ so many inventive swear words now that I have a computer- sorry for your pain- I truly empathize!

Starlene said...

Wow. What a mess. It's the sort of thing that makes you want to develop your own (if only you knew how) just to avoid dealing with the hassle. I sympathize emphatically and based on experience recommend AGV. It's free and I've never had any issues with it. I also have an I.T. guy for a husband so that may be the reason for its ease of use...I'm not sure.

Dick said...

Go Mac.

Carl said...

Yep! My staff and I are responsible for AV solutions and security on 2000+ computers. Sometimes it goes fine and othertimes I want be candle maker or Insert your favorite non technical job here.

I feel your pain Dave. Sory it has been such a bummer.

lakeviewer said...

Modern woes to send us begging for the good old days.

splynch said...

I still maintain that the whole virus thing is just a protection racket. Ask yourself "cui bon?".

David Cranmer said...

I've had more trouble with renewing stuff like that than you can shake a stick at. I leave all those issues to my wife who handles them quite well.

ScarletTd1ar1es said...

lol....somehow i don have those kinda probs....i live in a hostel with 300 other people n most of em know more about downloads n anti viruses then i do.....must say enjoyed readin it thou....

Annie said...

What a horror story! Reminds me of the time I was renewing my professional license on line. When I entered my name, which had been on my license for years, I was informed that it was not a valid name. When I telephoned for help, I was told I could not use my name because someone else had that name. At that point, I handed the telephone to my husband and covered my ears.

Karen said...

Aargh! I've been there with uninstalling programs. They don't seem to want to let go!

I hope you figure this one out.

Dave King said...

John I used Zone Alarm for a long while, but not alone. I got rid of it when I changed my main anti-virus and the two clashed. It never struck me that I could use it as a stand alone.

Mary Mine too.

Michelle Sounds tempting, thanks.

Aniket Been there, thought that! Makes you want to spit.

David Interesting... why did you bin Windows Vista in the first place?

Patrice I rather fancy that's what's happening with my new scanner. Interesting.

Hope I started with Norton way back, but binned it when I tried to renew and it wouldn't let me pay for it! I have also used Spybot - with Zone Alarm, see answer to John. Thanks for the good wish.

Derrick I'm not sure its doing a full scan, I suspect its uploading another scanner!!

A Cuban in London Not yet.

Helen Hi - It's a good morning, so far. I used Mozilla as my preferred browser for ages, but AVG appeared not to like it (see Hope comment), and am now using Google Chrome which I thoroughly recommend.

The Weaver of Grass You are just damned lucky you haven't asked me!

Cecil/DreamCreateRepeat I have to say I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with mine.

Stephen Mm, I wouldn't disagree with a word of that.

Linda Sue Yes, I do believe that using a computer has increased my vocabulary.

Starlene It was AVG that served me so well until I started to pay for it, then it fell out with my browser - and finally wouldn't let me renew my account.

Dick If only... but it's outside my budget. perhaps when this one joins the great network in the sky....

Carl Those words are somewhat reassuring.

lakeviewer Wouldn't be without it though!!!

splynch Welcome to my blog. The thought has passed through my mind...

David Welcome. Wouldn't work for me, but thanks for the suggestion!

Scarlet Welcome and thanks for replying. Maybe I'll try a hostel next...

Annie I've just made a similar error, setting up an account for Doreen on a new laptop (she is new to computing) I put in my email address, as she didn't have one at that point. Now it won't let me use it.

Karen I was hoping that given time it might figure itself out!

Shadow said...

good grief, so you're downloading a lotta stuff... i heard this happening so often, it's downright frustrating!

Dave King said...

ShadowI think I am, but whatever it is, you're right, it's frustrating!

Phoenix said...

And you would have thought upgrading / enhancing would have made life simpler!

Jenn said...

Ugh, gotta love technology AND customer service huh? Irony is absolutely one of my favorite things in the world but I can only imagine the number of times you heard yourself say "but that is what I am CALLING for..." At least you're online and it seems to be working now. Good luck for the stoppage of automatic download!

Sandra said...

I echo Dick, get a Mac when you are able. One of the better decisions I have made.

Dave King said...

Phoenix Welcome to my blog, and yup, that is how it's supposed to work!

Jenn Thanks for those sympathetic words. I am now manually updating and scanning before I close. It's worked so far - but it's early days. I'm not holding my breath.

Sandra Thanks, I don't doubt the wisdom. Only just sported out for a laptop, though.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Eeek! These stories always make me nervous, Dave. How did we become so reliant upon this technology and the web?

Jeanne said...

Are you sure it's downloading the scanner and not just performing a daily scan? (There should be a schedule page somewhere that tells you when it's scheduled to run.)

David C. said...

Dave,
I'm not entirely sure what you mean when you ask "Why did you bin Windows Vista in the first place?" I assume that means dispose of, as in throw in the dustbin (which we in America would call a trashcan or wastebasket). Isn't it great to be two cultures separated by a common language?
Anyway, Windows was performing very poorly after I tried to run Nikon ViewNX and CaptureNX2 on the PC for photo processing and nothing seemed to help the situation. Also, I had the perpetual error messages from the Mcafee Antivirus Program. At that point, I did the reinstall. Hope that answers your question.

Sarah Laurence said...

Sorry to hear about your computer woes. I fear computers waste as much time as they save.

jinksy said...

My son is an IT whiz, and he recommended Avast. It seems to have worked well, and updates itself each day. When you tried to renew your security initially, were you inputting the same sign on information? If you were usung your email address, and that had changed over the past year, perhaps the system didn't recognise you as you? Just a thought - I'm not a computer buff at all...

Tom Atkins said...

Too common a tale. Makes me sad and mad at the same time.

Art Durkee said...

I still use AVG free version with no problems. It's been quite good and reliable for me. I wonder why the paid version did this to you. Very strange.

It could also an OD issue, of course.

I use Win XP Pro on my music studio computer. It's been nothing but stable and good. The most stable Win I've used, in fact. I have no plans to change to Vista, about which I've heard there are lots of problems.

Cloudia said...

This is why folks go APPLE (I haven't, but consider it).
Best wishes taming the unruly web!
Aloha

Sorlil said...

I hate all this computery stuff, leave it all to my husband to sort out!

Dave King said...

Conda I like your EeeK! I think that expresses my feelings as well as anything. I don't know the answer to your question, I am beginning to envy the folk who don't know anything about it at all. They seem to survive the best.

Jeanne No, I'm not sure, not sure of anything, but the little animated icon appears which is supposed to indicate that it's downloading. There is a different icon to indicate that a scan is being run. Haven't come across a schedule page yet, though I did have one on the AVG.

David You are crrect in what you supposed I meant. I'm actually running XP on the P.C. but have Vista on the laptop. Yes, thanks for that. All understood.

Sarah Very true.

Jinksy Thanks for that, no Email was not implicated at all, it was simply their inability to recognise my license number as the one issued to me.

Tom I think at the time my emphasis was on the mad.

Cloudia I am even beginning to think in terms of a second hand Apple. Thanks for your best wishes.

Sorlil Ah, sadly, I don't have a husband!

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