My Firewall and Antivirus Trek

I have a
problem. My main Windows computer is
running awfully slow. Do anything and
CPU usage hits 100% for almost any application. It is taking for ever to open anything, not to mention boot up. I have formatted and reinstalled XP within
the last 3 months and am on top of all the items that start up using Startup Control Panel. It is not that I am running a PIII with
256megs of RAM. My system is a self
built AMD XP3200+ with 1 Gig of RAM.

Watching
my processes, there looked to be two mail culprits of my issues.

  1. Norton 2006 Antivirus & Firewall (Norton Internet Security Suite, I had the rest of the utilities turned off).

  2. Yahoo Widgets (I had 3 widgets running at start up and it likes to update itself a lot).


It was
simple to turn off the widgets, but what to do regarding Antivirus and a
Firewall? I decided to download trial
versions of some that I have heard are good, yet with small footprints, run
them for a couple of weeks each, and make a decision on which way to go.

So my
first thing to do was to download the SW to try. I did research at PC World, PC Mag, etc… and settled on the following. Note, I decided that they all did what they
are supposed to do, some better than others at different things, but the
program itself is a satisfactory antivirus or firewall. For Antivirus, I did not want any of the BIG
Bloated SW such as Norton, McAfee or Panda, but did want ones that were highly
recommended by the experts. For the
Firewalls, I decided I only wanted to run a free Firewall since I have a router
with built in firewall for incoming. I
just wanted outgoing security.

Antivirus:

Nod32,
Kaspersky, BitDefender

Firewall:

Comodo,
CA, Kerio (now Sunbelt Software) and ZoneAlarm

Some of
the vendors required full registration with an email containing the “key” to
utilize the product during the trial timeframe and/or to download the
software. I found that to be a
pain. Especially in regards to Kaspersky
when the link in the email was incomplete so would not download the
product. I finally noticed in the email
that the “.exe” in the link only showed “.ex” – I added the “e” on the end and
success.

Finally it
was time to do what I considered the hardest part. To uninstall Norton. This could be tricky as I have had issues in
the past getting Norton off of systems. In this case, it uninstalled easily without issue. Unbelievable!

So I went
through the list of programs, installed and noted size of the system resources
installed, boot time, opening of documents, email, web browsers and iTunes to
see how long it would take. I also noted
in the case of the Firewalls, ease of use, especially with my Print Server on
my internal network. Again, I did not
test effectiveness of the antivirus software or the Firewalls, I am assuming
they all basically do what they say they do. Here are some of my findings:

Firewalls:

CA
Firewall is not free, but is only ZoneAlarm repackaged. Installed and uninstalled quickly.

Comodo is
a HUGE for a firewall. To big for my
purposes no matter how good PC Mag loves them.

I have run
Sygate in the past on my laptop and loved it. The new Sygate is not as friendly. Also I could never configure it to allow printing via my print
server. Not good.

ZoneAlarm
installed easy and small with little system resources and cpu usage. Easily worked with my Print Server by
selected it to always allow when the notice popped up. I think this is a keeper.

Antivirus:

They all
ran pretty similarly. I ran Nod32 the
longest. I am not a fan of the interface
(circa 1990), but it was OK. BitDefender slowed things down the most, but I
did like the little activity monitor it added to the desktop. I could tell when it was scanning at a
glance. With Kaspersky, it is small and
it had negligible effect on the speed of opening applications. Interface is easy to understand. It’s tray icon also shows scanning
activity. It is the winner.