This isn't really a cry for help as a story detailing some of my experiences that others may find useful. I posted a version of this on Gizmo's (as I used their security expertise for one of the relevant decisions I made here) but it's a bit in the grey area for them because it's not just freeware I discuss.
I have a Win7SE netbook. It's about five years old now -- an Asus Eee -- and despite the small limitations of having Starter Edition instead of one of the more <cough> expensive versions of Win 7, it's been pretty good and very reliable.
Naturally, being something I carry around with me quite a bit, security's a greater concern than it might be if it was always sitting at home behind my router. It's had various AV packages, paid and free, on it over the years: when I first got it, I used Microsoft Security Essentials, then I discovered that MSE was tying rocks round the ankles of FindAndRunRobot so I extended my desktop's eSet NOD32 license to include it, then after I decided eSet weren't quite the company they used to be, I went to TechSupportAlert's security page looking for the current top two or three picks and, after some thought, went with the free version of Comodo Internet Security.
I've been using it for about a year. It was noisy for a while, as it learnt about its environment, but my main observation of it was that it was a bit demanding for my taste, at update time, in particular: the download of updated signatures takes what it takes but the time to apply them and the CPU usage while it does it (bearing in mind this is an Intel Atom 1.6GHz machine, not exactly a powerhouse) is enough to make me sigh and go and do something else for a while.
There are also occasional onscreen notifications that almost count as advertising. They're not too big of a deal, not frequent, but I'm often slightly grumpy about such things... however, a week or so back, one of these notifications offered me a full license for a year for $5. That's cheap enough that it hardly matters, I thought, and maybe it'll get me a bit more performance and a package that sits quietly in the background more. So I went for it.
I shouldn't have.
First, although it accepted my swiftly-emailed license key, it instantly started reporting problems. With the help of Comodo's support, the (huge!) offline installer for the current product was downloaded, the existing installation uninstalled and reinstalled from the download, configured and installed and everything looked fine again.
Except that I was now using their firewall rather than Windows. It is definitely easier to configure, it looks capable, it's nice and informative, but the performance hit the system has taken since the full Comodo Security Suite was installed and enabled has been noticeable.
This morning, I decided to switch off the Comodo firewall component and go back to Windows firewall.
The product started complaining loudly that I'm at risk, and I can't find a way to tell it to ignore the firewall's "off" status and just focus on the status of the AV engine. Performance instantly improved, at least to pre-upgrade levels, but at the cost of an "at risk" warning in my system tray that, effectively, is a false positive I can't do anything about.
So I chose to remove it all, lock, stock and barrel, and go back to MSE. I might try Comodo on my desktop machine -- Win 8.1 with a much faster dual core cpu -- just so my $5 doesn't go entirely to waste, but I'm not sure right now that I want to...
I've never been completely happy with any sort of software suites: I'd rather choose components that fit my needs rather than hoping that (as in this case) the other bits that get bundled with my antivirus of choice were also fit for purpose. I get the concept of integration, I'm just not sure it ever really delivers on its promises...
My desktop PC is currently "only" protected with Windows' inbuilt security: the firewall and Defender. From what I think I know about Windows 8.1 and the inbuilt security stuff, coupled with the fact that I try to practice what I preach on the subject of sensible web browsing (and I use OpenDNS with their more sensible levels of security chosen and locked into my router) I'm probably okay, and $5 isn't much to lose (to the extent that if I ask for a refund I'll probably just add it to my DC donation for this year!) but I COULD try it on the desktop box...
Anyone got an useful $.02 to chip in?
(This won't be the first time I've wasted cash on security software: I bought a lifetime license for Vipre a while back that was sufficient of a learning experience that I didn't even bother documenting it above