You’ll wish it weren’t free so you could ask for a refund
It’s hard not to look a gift horse in the mouth when you’re told it’s a potential thoroughbred capable of racing in the Kentucky Derby, but later find out it’s limping on two legs short of a set and isn’t even fit for making glue. That’s what we think about ClamWin, a free, open-source antivirus program that comes saddled with “gotchas.”
If ClamWin finds a virus, it doesn’t actually eradicate it unless you change the default setting from “Report Only” to “Remove” or “Move to Quarantine Folder.”
The main problem with ClamWin is it doesn’t offer any kind of real-time protection. It’s strictly an on-demand scanner, so your only chance of avoiding infection is to either manually inspect every file you download, or set up a rigorous automated scan schedule. But even that’s a chore, because you have to configure a separate schedule for every drive/partition in your system. And it doesn’t help matters that ClamWin’s scan engine moves at a snail’s pace. Oh, and it won’t bother analyzing files larger than 100MB unless you change the default setting, nor is it configured to actually delete or even quarantine malware by default.
Actually, we should be careful of using the term “malware.” ClamWin cowers under the blanket when you surf the web, leaving you susceptible to spyware, phishing attacks, browser hijacks, adware, worms, and anything else that requires a real-time scanner. And despite the developer’s claims that “you will be as safe as with a commercial antivirus” so long as you scan suspicious files before opening them, ClamWin gave a handful of our virus samples a clean bill of health. Grrr!
If you insist on using ClamWin, if only to support the open-source community, supplement it with Clam Sentinel (free, http://bit.ly/fayEdZ), an add-on that sits in the system tray and offers basic real-time scanning. You also better be rocking Windows Defender or some other antispyware program so you’re not naked on the web.