Why I decided to uninstall my Antivirus software

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 19, 2007
Updated • Apr 21, 2014
Antivirus, Security

I have been using Antivirus software for a very long time and even though I kept it up to date it never caught a single virus, worm or Trojan. It did however slow down system startup and the scan of new files also used system resources. This let to my conclusion that I did not need a Antivirus software, because frankly, Antivirus software is basically only there to prevent the user from doing something stupid.

It either stops the user from downloading and executing an infected file or prevents the opening of malicious files that were send to the user by mail, on disc or Instant Messenger. Even more troubling is the fact, that no Antivirus software is perfect. Their recognition rate lies anywhere between 80-99% of known viruses and Trojans.

Yes that is right, if the virus is not known they probably let it slip through. It happens though that I come upon a questionable file and I decided to use online scanners for those files instead. They quickly scan the file and let me know if a virus or trojan is attached to it.

To make this work I have to be careful of what I download and where I download it. I would probably run a Antivirus scanner all the time if I did download a lot from Rapidshare, P2P or questionable websites. Some basic rules that I follow:

  • If someone sends me a file by email or IM I ignore it unless it was send by a friend of mine.
  • I download software from reputable download sites who scan the files before they put them online
  • I do not use P2P software, nor IRC, nor IM
  • The system itself has to be up to date with the latest security patches. This is also important for the third party software installed.

I do download an Antivirus software from time to time, update it, let it scan my entire system and uninstall it afterwards. What do you use to secure your computer system?

Update: That does not mean that I'm not using other security software to help protect my system. I run anti-exploit software for example, on-demand scanners that I use to scan the system regularly, and proper security products that allow me to sandbox applications among other things.


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  1. eric said on March 17, 2012 at 12:23 am

    i haven’t used a anti-virus for a very long time.never been hit with anything.got a fake warning saying my pc was infected with win 32 trojans,rootkits etc.clicked the cancel button and of course it started the fake scan and listed all the bogus crap.silly malware .not bashing anyones choice of operating system but i have no win 32 files of any kind on my system.i use Ubuntu Linux.i laughed.

  2. zzzZZZzzz said on March 14, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Well, sometimes ago I decided to uninstall the antivirus for the same reasons. BUT, some day a friend of mine give me some photos on his usb key And on the key there was a virus which copied itself to the computer without any intervention. I just plugged the key and the virus was there. The autorun is disabled on my computer… So there always is a risk… you may want to reconsider your decision.

  3. Edgar said on November 27, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I completley agree 100% with this post.

    I’ve been a user of AVG for years, until I started using Norton 2007. It got to the point that my booting into windows took up to 7 minutes!!! I hated it but kept it because, on occasion, a message would pop up saying “A recent attack was blocked” or something.

    It assured me I was protected, but then again I still hated it. So I uninstall it, and configured my router to act as a firewall. That’s all I use. On occasion I run Spyware scans. In all the years I’ve been using a computer I have never catched any virus of any kind.

    What’s the deal with it anyways? I am now running my SONY VAIO virus and firewall free and enjoying the speed boost. My boot time is now 5 seconds! Would I sacrifice this for “insurance?” Hell no! I’m careful of what I open, over the years we all know what something fishy looks like, and quickly discard it. We all use Firefox and Thunderbird, and configure internet protection, so why use an AV? Forget it…

    I could install Norton 2007 anytime, like I just did on my father’s labtop, but then againt he’s not “enlightned” (kidding). I don’t see myself installing another AV for some time.

  4. bmunch said on November 24, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Gizmo from 46 freeware has also being advocating a more proactive approach by using sandbox environment. If you do that, then antivirus will be quite irrelevant to your machine.

  5. Benóný said on November 22, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Martin, I understand very well that you don’t see the need of using an AV Software. I myself have never gotten an Virus or Trojan before but my friend (who’s cpu I’m fixing know) had quite a few, and he doesn’t know shit on computers.

    I have always used Avast Pro, M$ Firewall, and now recently you did a blog about ZoneAlarm, so know I use the ZoneAlarm Anti-Spyware. (I have everything else turned off on ZoneAlarm.

  6. Syber said on November 21, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I disagree with you this time, I have some anti-viru and other anti-something softwares on my computer. As you say, I have never find any single virus,trojans but sometimes it warned me (mistake). I think this article maybe only for a geek who knew what he doing, and how to protect himself online, but that is not for most computer users who surfing online with different websites all the time. How do you know a website is 100% safe? I am also using online scanner for some reasons. I download a lot of softwares for test either, my system also seems slow, but I always think slow system is better than system sticked. Antivirus software protect you even while you take nap online, but you must have it. You can use naked computer go around the internet.
    BTW, when I wrote or introduce an article which talk about change system setting I always warned reader to be careful, because many readers are not geek.

  7. Doug Woodall said on November 20, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    I agree. Those programs that are resource hogs are unfortunately the widest used it seems.
    Sadly, Unless you’re really good with computer security, you need AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, and a reliable Firewall. The casual user will not be able to stop their system from becoming vulnerable.

  8. tullius said on November 20, 2007 at 11:57 am

    use NOD 32
    no system slowdown, and a great antivirus
    even antispyware nowadays

  9. Oliver Alexander said on November 20, 2007 at 10:38 am

    CAREFUL! Yes, Martin, I am also a great simplyfier.

    Just a few days ago I installed a new XP/SP2 plus MS Office 2007 and no Antivirus (where I prefer the free-av.com Avira), and no additional KBs (MS Knowledge Base bug fixes). In no time the “Stanit” virus munuched almost half of my system – apart from my Internet connection carking it every hour, requiring a reboot.

    I know where you are coming from, but the common user better sticks with anti-virus. If they are like me and you who know how to recover any system in no time and even think that this is a fun challenge and an gives us an opportunity for an energetic display of our status as power users, go for it!

    The rest may want to stick to at least the most basic precautions in order to save themselves from a catastrophe that might even require an expensive visit to the computer shop.

  10. RG said on November 20, 2007 at 5:21 am

    Mosey, I have been doing that exact thing for a while now, if you are careful (not use IE, usual stuff about email attachments, etc.) those firewalls should do.

  11. Mosey said on November 20, 2007 at 2:52 am

    I have to admit that I don’t mind my AVG antivirus… am wondering if it would be ok to survive without a firewall other than that supplied by router software and XP?

  12. Sam said on November 20, 2007 at 1:26 am

    I’m not an experienced user, and I was glad to see this article. I’ve been thinking of ditching the AV (AVG Free), myself, because in the past few years (i.e., my entire time on Windows), the only thing it’s caught turned out to be a false positive.

    In Firefox, I’m running NoScript and SiteAdvisor, and blocking some things with either AdBlock or BlockSite. I check my email primarily through webmail interfaces, and I don’t use P2P. The only reason I can see for keeping the AV around is the compulsive need to scan before extracting/executing stuff that I’ve downloaded.

  13. Martin said on November 19, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    I knew that this post would create some controversy. I’m not advocating that every user gets rid of Antivirus software.

    What I merely wanted to say is that experienced users could get rid of it and have (almost) the same level of security.

    I have been without an Antivirus software for two months now and did not catch a virus in that time.

    But each to his own.

  14. Joe said on November 19, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    I’m not clear to whom you’re talking to by writing this kind of stuff?
    It seems to me you are telling’ us how you’re neat and nifty by not using any filesharing services, illegal, misleading (or even close to it) stuff on the net. One thing you’re forgetting is how many people visiting your blog know about all methods and years of experience needed to just listen to your simple advice to switch of antivirus software. By advising it publicly, you’re actually exposing thousands of users to great danger of getting their machines infected and possibly loosing all important files. Just cause they made wrong click. I’m fine with dozens of useless feeds, but this one prompts me to react. I hope you will stop posting senseless posts or you will force me to unsubscribe from your feeds. Good Luck!

    PS. Maybe you should consider advising some more safe OS like Linux.

  15. rruben said on November 19, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    First I used nod 32 but it did not catch a trojan in a file I knew there was a trojan in. Now I use kaspersky and it works great. I had some keygens, but kaspersky did not saw any virusses but after some months when the Trojans activated, kaspersky catched them immediately and saved me from hell. So yes I need a scanner because I download much. And if you have a fast pc, use kaspersky instead of nod 32. Its better and nod doesn’t have a firewall. But off course if you don’t download anything, than I don’t know were you get the viruses from. So I understand Martin.

  16. Return said on November 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    I agree with “me”…a lot of the time it is because your antivirus is running that you do not get anything…I feel that your “being careful what and where” philosophy limits someone…I would have never found this site if I did not feel safe enough to browse around the web because of my internet security…I use Dr. Web online scanner plugin for Firefox, but even then it is a lot of work to scan every link (you do know of malicious code that can be hidden in trusted sites) where my Avira AntiVir, my Symantec Corporate, and my Spyware Terminator (plus Windows Defender), and yes, on Vista, have caused no slow downs. To each his own, but maybe your system was just set up wrong to begin with, causing the slowdown, or maybe, just maybe, it was a virus, haha.

  17. BGM said on November 19, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Dear Martin,
    You are computer professional, you can manage not get a virus from internet, but what about the average ‘not so geeky’ internet user? Majority of internet users in this world open their pc to check their emails and play their DVDs. They do need a good antivirus otherwise i am sure they will catch a virus/spyware with in a month.

    Now answering the question you asked in your post,
    I am a geeky nerdish doc who knows some tech tips just enough to survive in the cruel online world, not more.. And i prefer to use a light weight antivirus like AVG/Avira. I used to run McAfee and Kaspersky Pro edition but they slowed own my pc heavily. I also used to have Zone alarm Pro Friewall+Antispy but i uninstalled it and now happy with the default windows firewall and AdAware.

    I agree most worms have inbuilt codes to fool most of the popular antiviruses, but still i prefer to have some software installed in my pc for an assurance, thats all. :) Just to have a feeling that some is there to help if some thing goes wrong. (I format my pc once in 2 month though)

    Regards, BGM

  18. Me said on November 19, 2007 at 12:29 pm


    Yes, I understood what you mean, and that’s why I say you’re wrong. You’re wrong, you’re wrong ! Your argument is exactly the same as the one of the dude you won’t wear a helmet just because he never had an accident.
    How can such a clever guy like you think this way ?

    By the way, like Midnite said, I don’t feel any slow down of the system. I use AVG free.

    Martin, install an Antivirus on your motorbike and wear your helmet when you compute. NOW !

  19. Martin said on November 19, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Obi I’m using Skype only, no IM installed but for testing purposes. I wanted the rules to be universal which is why I did include IM in there although I do not use one.

  20. Obi-Wahn said on November 19, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Hi Martin!

    The Rules you follow are a litle bit oppositional, aren’t they?!?

    1st Law: …by email or IM I ignore it unless…
    3rd Law: I do not use … nor IM

    So, you getting Files over IM by your Ghost in the Machine? (Sorry, I watched “I, Robot” yesterday :) )

    However, I thing, only because your AV Scanner hasn’t detected anything, it doesn’t mean, there’s no threat outside in the Virtual World…

    However, accordingly to your Question:
    I’m using a Up-to-Date version of Avast! AV, M$ Firewall and a Hardware-Firewall.
    All Software controlled by my Personal favourite Tool: Brain 1.1b

  21. Midnite said on November 19, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I use NOD 32 antivirus and the resident protection is set only for executable extensions. I don’t feel any system slow down.

  22. Martin said on November 19, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Anonymous I write ;)

    Me, I have been using Antivirus applications for the last 10 years and never found a single virus or trojan on my system. The last virus that was found was on my Amiga 500, way back, hehe.

    What I want to say is that it does not make sense to use Antivirus software in my case because it did not find a virus in the last ten years and because they – that is the Antivirus applications, are not perfect. I’m confident that I wont catch a virus in the next ten years. It can happen sure but it is highly unlikely and it could also happen with Antivirus applications installed.

    This cannot be compared to driving a motorbike without a helmet which is insanity.

  23. Me said on November 19, 2007 at 10:44 am

    “It slows down system startup and the scan of new files also used system resources”.
    Yes. Is that a problem ? Not for me.

    “It never catched a single virus, worm or Trojan.”
    MINE DID ! You cannot trust sites you have never visited, and you visit new sites if you use internet. You can catch a trojan just viewing a web page.

    “Their recognition rate lies anywhere between 80-99% of known viruses and Trojans. ”
    So they protect you from 80-99% of them. Isn’t it very useful ?

    Martin, your argument is WRONG. You’re saying that since you never crashed with your motorbike, you don’t need to wear a helmet. You are wrong !

    Ooooohhhhoooooh Martin ! Ooooohhoooooohhhhh……

  24. Anonymous said on November 19, 2007 at 10:35 am

    >I do not use P2P software, nor IRC, nor IM

    Wow, so what do you do at your computert? Only work and emails?

  25. Quasimodo said on November 19, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I only use antivirus apps for manual scanning.
    The background scanners tend to mess up my system.

    Configure your network system airtight (www.dingens.org , http://www.sniff-em.com/hardenit.shtml)
    -> no need for “personal firewalls”
    (including the windows firewall)

    Disable the preview of emails and delete any email from unknown source without reading it.

    Don’t use the internet explorer as every day browser, only for windows updates.
    Don’t use any outlook version for emails.

    Disable any kind of scripting or plugins for your every day browser. Enable it only for sites you think you can trust.

    Use an OS and applications you understand and can handle and use your brain.

    I’m a heavy p2p and irc user, online 24/7 and NEVER caught any malware for over 5 years.

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