Friday, June 04, 2010

What happens to your quarantine file if you switch anti-virus providers (because your ISP offers the switch for free)?

Here’s a question I wonder about. Many service providers offer customers free anti-virus software. Comcast offers Norton; Bank of America offers McAfee, and Best Buy and Geek Squad vary, going between Webroot and Kaspersky. (BestBuy consistently says that the small anti-virus companies are better.)
But if you switch anti-virus software, what about the old quarantine file? I have four “true viruses” in quarantine on Spysweeper now. Will the new product clean them?

The answers available on the web are underwhelming. I found this forum chat on the problem here.

and this account at the University of Missouri about switching from McAfee to Norton, here ("new medicine for your computer").

I also found this posting on how to test your anti-virus software with a “fake virus”, here.

Thoughts anyone?

Update: June 26

Best Buy says that uninstalling the software for a reinstall or for a new antivirus should physically remove the virus-infected files (personal visit).

Later today, Webroot provided this explanation by email:

"If the viruses are in quarantine, then you do not need to worry about them, anything quarantined cannot hurt your computer.


"Once you are sure that the files in quarantine are not false positives, you can clean them out by doing the following.

"On the Home panel click the Manage Quarantine link above the Sweep Now button. You can then put a check mark next the the item you want to permanently delete and then click Delete Selected Items."

It's reasonable that a similar comment applies to other major antivirus vendors (McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, etc).  I'm surprised that little is written about this on the web.

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