Patrick Marshall answers your personal-technology questions each week.
Q: Windows 10 came with Windows Defender, and my computer came with McAfee, which I have renewed annually. Recently, a technician advised me to delete McAfee (or any other AV program), which he said I don’t need and which is slowing down my computer. Yet McAfee claims to have blocked or quarantined over 8,000 threats. What is your advice?
— Jerry Richard, Seattle
A: I’d advise that technician to ask his boss for a session or two of retraining. I advise every computer user to install an anti-virus and anti-malware program. Yes, including even Apple and Linux computer owners. Those platforms aren’t as attractive to virus writers since they have a smaller slice of the market, but they are vulnerable. Apple, in fact, also advises users to install anti-virus software.
And yes, some anti-virus programs can slow down computers, especially if they have conflicts with other programs you might be using. So which anti-virus program to use? Yes, I have heard of more problems with McAfee than with many other anti-virus programs. At the same time, Windows Defender doesn’t generally rank very highly in comparisons. I can’t recommend specific programs unless I’ve recently done a comparative test, which I haven’t. So I recommend checking the websites of major computer publications for recent comparisons.
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Q: You addressed the question of whether Kaspersky Antivirus is a security risk in November 2016, but I wonder if you have anything to add given the latest news.
A: Well, in light of recent news reports, which indicate that Kaspersky anti-virus had a role in the hacking of data about the National Security Administration’s cybersecurity measures, I have to say that I wouldn’t myself install Kaspersky software. Objectively, as a technology reporter, I want to see a thorough analysis of Kaspersky software to determine its reliability. In the meantime, again, I wouldn’t install it.
Q: For the last couple of months, every time I log into my Outlook email account, the screen freezes. Eventually I get a message that there is a long-running script holding things up. This can continue for a minute or two. I see online that many people have a similar problem, but I haven’t found a common solution. Do you have any suggestions?
— Hans Kreigsman
The bad news is that there’s no easy way to determine what the problem is. If you want to continue accessing that website, I’d try disabling all extensions and add-ons in the browser. If the site then works, add the extensions and add-ons back in one-by-one until you find the culprit. If that doesn’t solve the problem, reach out to the webmaster of the site.