My computers have never had viruses

So, I’ve been wondering about something.

To my knowledge, I’ve never had anti-virus software activated on any computer I’ve ever owned. (I’m assuming there’s no anti-virus software included with Windows, even of a rudimentary sort. That’s right, right?)

Yet I have never had a virus infect my computer.

I have had some spyware, but nothing that couldn’t be easily taken care of with one of those free spyware removal utilities. And none of it ever caused me any problems within my sense range.

So that’s five or six years of computer usage–computer always on, always connected–with no significant problems with viruses or spyware.

So this makes me wonder–am I just incredibly lucky? Or is the whole virus/spyware/ooo-scary thing a scam? :dubious: :slight_smile:


Some Virus scanners do in fact try and scam you. What they do is you download the free trial version and it scans etc… When it’s done it will say “You have 1300 viruses on your computer !!! Purchase the REAL VERSION to get these off your system.”

In reality you probably don’t have any, or very few anyways. For a real virus scanner that’s free the best one I’ve ever used is avast at this thing does a massive deep scan and is usually right on with results.

If you’ve never run a virus scan, how do you know this? Most viruses don’t pop up a box that says “Ooooo, I’m a big scary computer virus!!!” Often, they won’t give you any indication you’re infected.

As far as freeware antivirus software goes, I recommend AVG.

If I am understanding you correctly, you never owned any anti-virus software yet you claim you never had viruses. If that is what you mean and you have used the internet a fair amount, you have most likely had viruses and just don’t know about them. The vast majority of computer viruses like natural ones don’t actually DO much at all. They don’t reformat your hard drive at night or put nasty nasty messages on your screen. Instead, they replicate and tend to suck up system resources until your system slows and maybe crashes one day for some problem that can’t be determined. They might do other things like send out e-mails that you don’t know about.

In any case, it is about as wise to shun anti-virus software as it is to turn down the complimentary rubber at a discount whorehouse.AVG is a very good anti-virus program and has a 100% free version that I prefer over Norton’s pay software. Download it.

What’s scary about viruses if they’re supposed to do bad things to your computer. If I’ve got one, but it’s not doing anything to my computer, then I don’t see why I should be concerned.

You may be thinking I’m overlooking the possibility that I have one which will do something bad later, though it is just sitting there right now. But that was what I meant when I said I’ve never had a virus–no virus has ever caused harm to my system. (That I could detect, anyway. And if I couldn’t detect it, how could it matter to me?)

Thanks for the freeware recommendations, though, to both of you who offered them. Despite my skepticism, I’ll probably still use them :slight_smile:

My new laptop keeps trying to sign me up with Norton. Will those freeware ones do as well as Norton? Or comparably so?


I’ve corrected the very annoying typo in the first sentence of my post in the above quotation.

So if you had an open agreement with your neighbors that if they need to borrow your car, the keys are under the seat, just put some gas in it when you’re done, and in five or six years nothing bad has ever happened, would you be okay with them borrowing your car in the middle of the night? And you’re not worried about somebody you don’t know about finding the keys and driving off in your car?

Well, I do have anti-virus software, and have never had a virus either. And I know what they look like - I used to support a PC for my daughter’s riding coach, who practiced very unsafe computing, and I cleaned viruses out of her machine.

Really, if you avoid IE, Microsoft LookOut, and don’t fall for dubious attachments, you very likely won’t get any. But anti-virus software is good, just in case.

Malware you get - though I don’t seem to have run into any that are nasty for a while.

Here’s my story: I hooked up to my university’s network in 1998, and surfed without antivirus software for four years. In that time, I caught one virus, but all it did was rename some of my files. I formatted, and it went away.

In 2002, I got a new computer that came with Norton pre-installed. Unlike the computer I had been using previously, this one had enough processing oomph to handle Norton, so I let it be.

One year later, I got a trojan virus from an advertising banner on Norton popped up a window announcing I had gotten it, and that Norton couldn’t do a damn thing about it. I watched it chew my files one by one. System Restore couldn’t get rid of it. Re-installing the operating system couldn’t get rid of it. I had to format, which erased all of the bundled software, partitions, and system restore functionality that had been built into my computer.

I got McAfee. I’ve gotten a couple of notices that I’d contracted a virus and it had been cleaned, since then, but no disasters.

Anyway, the moral of my story is that there are a few seriously nasty things out there, and you never know when they’re going to hit you, so please be prepared.

And don’t use Norton.

Maybe you use a Mac and not a PC. Macs are much less likely to be infected as viruses are written to infect PC’s.

Hmmm, I just noticed that you said you run Windows. Never mind.

I work in IT so the answer to this seems obvious to me but I will try to give a general explanation. Computers are remarkably intolerant of faults. One misplaced character out of 1 million will render software inoperable. One screwed up driver can bring down a system. It is true that most viruses don’t actually do much but some can render a system useless and others just lie in waiting ready to screw something up. This isn’t hypothetical. I have seen it happen to countless people.

The more guaranteed result is that spyware and viruses will consume system resources and mess with your e-mail, browser, system files, MS Office applications and slow the whole thing down and make it a mess. If something really goes wrong, it may be extremely difficult or impossible to fix it and you may have to resort to wiping the drive and reinstalling everything while possibly losing critical files. This process can cost much time and/or money.

There is no reason not to have one at all especially since a good one is free. Virus warning aren’t scare tactics, they are very real.

I’ve got a PC at home running Windows 98 that’s never had a virus. It’s been running with a broadband cable modem connection for the last 4 years. I have AVG and some anti-spyware, but don’t have them running normally - I just do a check every 6 months or so.

Here’s a method to keep a PC clean:

  • use a firewall - I’ve got a wireless router that also acts as a firewall, and keeps almost every port closed
    - use Firefox or Mozilla instead of internet explorer. Ideally use a non-Microsoft email client, although I use Outlook Express.
    - keep the system patched - I’ve got all the Microsoft updates (not to many more coming for Windows 98, though!)
    • Don’t download screen savers, “punch the monkey” ads, etc. This PC is only used for reading news, SDMB, wikipedia, weather underground, IMDB, and other harmless websites. Don’t click on banners, don’t subscribe to things like “free jokes”, don’t install “free mouse cursors”, etc. etc.
    • Don’t click on any links received in email - most email links are phishing attempts nowadays. The email account used on this machine is fairly spam-free so far, which helps.

I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning off relative’s PCs, and them setting them up with AVG, Spysweeper, etc. I’ve noticed that they still get viruses, spyware, etc. anyway. It seems like user behaviour is more to blame than anything else. It doesn’t matter how much protection the PC has if the user is constantly downloading and clicking on garbage.


Most anti-virus software is not a scam. Viruses are everywhere. People’s computers get so clogged up with viruses and spyware they actually buy new computers.

Either you’re blindly lucky or you’re smart. The main things you do to get viruses is run Windows, install every little toolbar, screensaver, and smiley face you find on the Internet, browse with Internet Explorer, or open e-mail attachments.

It depends. If you have no software/hardware firewall, you’re always downloading cracked games off of p2p, swapping Word documents with your colleagues and open all those ‘funny emails’, then you’d have a problem inside of a day. If you’re careful of where you get software, use unaffected productivity applications, and rarely use the internet, then you can be quite safe.

I’m somewhat perturbed that you’re unconcerned by virii that you “can’t detect”. Early virii were the product of individuals bent on destruction or notoriety, meaning a virus was inherently detectable by it’s actions.

These days groups of programmers may create a virus, the most popular reason to create Zombie PCs. They control these typically to either send spam or to cripple a website with bogus traffic in a blackmail bid, sometimes in connection to organized crime. (Some stats on infections).

I figured plenty of people didn’t know their PCs were being used for illegal ends, but I didn’t know that some of them didn’t care. :dubious:

I agree about user behavior. If you’re behind a firewall, update Windows regularly (perhaps automatically), and you don’t download and install programs, it’s very likely that you’ve never had a virus. A lot of people use their computer for surfing the internet, listening to music, watching DVDs, typing, etc. This is not high risk behavior.

If your computer is connected directly to a cable or DSL modem and you haven’t been diligently patching windows, it is almost certain that you have one or more viruses in the form of the endemic internet worms. At last test, I believe, an unpatched XP system connected directly to the modem will be infected with SASSER in approximately 3 minutes. **Do you fall into this catagory? **

Heck, it’s worse than that. At perhaps 15 minutes left in the XP install process, the network system is brought up. Unfortunately, the firewall doesn’t come up for a bit more, and the system is unpatched anyhow. I’ve seen at least one case of someone having their PC infected with Sasser before Windows had even finished installing.

(This is why you should never have your PC directly connected to a cable modem during install. It’s not such a great idea for afterwards either…)

My parents (w/o and antivirius software) had there internet connection shut down becuase their computer was doing some mass mailing, or it was part of a DOS attack or some such thing. They never had a clue.