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I use and believe in the value of anti-virus software to protect my PC against malware. However, it appears that the full level of protection will soon come to an end, if it hasn’t already.

My home computer of choice is a laptop. It’s not by any means a highly performant, always-on, always-connected server. When I need to use it, I power it up, do what I need to do, then power it down. Mostly I use the web browser – it doesn’t need a whole heap of grunt.

More people are turning to these as their preferred computers. Laptops now outsell desktops. Netbooks are expected to sell like hotcakes.

Unfortunately, the following facts don’t seem to paint a pretty picture for me:

  • During the week, I use the computer for at most a couple of hours per day.
  • The virus scanner takes a couple of hours to run.
  • By default, the scanner does a complete computer scan every day (a practice recommended elsewhere).
  • Over time, I will have more disk to scan (e.g. you can buy about twice the size hard disk for the same money each year).
  • Over time, I will have more files to scan (e.g. browser caches will contain more since more objects appear on each web page every year and HTML5 techniques involve storing data locally).

It has gotten to the point where I turn off the computer prior to the virus scan finishing. The virus scan effectively never completes, so at no point can it assure me that the computer is free of malware.

I can see some solutions to this. None of them are ideal.

Firstly, I will have to give up on daily scans. If it never gets to finish anyway, then why should I pay the price for the massive slow-down that I get from constant scanning?

I could also set the browser to delete all files in the cache when I exit (or at least delete them on a regular basis). However, I suspect most browsers lack this feature today.

Finally, I could use a Mac or a Linux PC instead. Since there is less malware for those platforms, scanning should be much faster.

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