Patrick Marshall recommends prioritizing and avoiding potential conflicts when picking anti-virus and anti-malware software. He also addresses a question about an anti-malware program that seems to be working inconsistently.

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Q: I have a new Microsoft Surface Book running Windows 10. I’m running AVG Free, Malwarebytes, and SuperAntiSpyware — all at different times (two hours apart) each night. I’ve never had any virus or malware problems that I know of.

The other day I was having trouble running an obscure website ( that streams a Canadian TV series, and it started acting funny so I ran an AVG scan right away. The AVG scan got stuck at zero percent and I couldn’t stop it or close it.

I tried to uninstall it and it wouldn’t uninstall, either. I finally got it to uninstall while waiting on hold for AVG tech support people. They ran some diagnostics on my computer and found some files that needed cleaning up. They said I can’t run AVG, Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware on the same PC, even if they are running at different times. They said they block each other and reduce effectiveness of each of them.

Do you agree with AVG that I shouldn’t be running all three of these programs? I’m pretty sure I have all three because you recommended each of them at one time or another.

And do you still recommend AVG Free as a product? What do you think of the AVG PC Tune-up module? Are there other anti-virus programs you would recommend over AVG?

— Tracy Bell, Seattle

A: In general, it’s possible that any programs that look for suspicious computer activity can conflict with another, even if the programs are not running at the same time.

That’s for two reasons. First, the programs may have modules that are running all the time, even if you haven’t launched the program. Second, some security software looks for changes in files on the drive.

That’s definitely the case with anti-virus software. You don’t want to run two anti-virus programs on the same computer. At the same time, I’ve never run into problems running an anti-virus program and an anti-malware program on the same computer.

That said, the more programs you load in, the more likely conflicts are to occur. So I recommend prioritizing. First, select your anti-virus program. If it doesn’t include anti-malware tools, select one anti-malware program. If either program advises you not to run it with other security software, I’d follow their recommendation. (And perhaps look for another program that doesn’t have conflicts.)

To clarify, though, I’ve never recommended AVG or SuperAntiSpyware. I don’t recommend products I haven’t tested recently, and I’ve never tested either of those products.

Q: I have a question regarding Malwarebytes Antimalware. I have used this on my PC for a few years based on your recommendation. Though not 100 percent effective on all of the spam emails out there, it appears to work pretty well, as I do not receive a large amount of “junk” mail.

My wife, on the other hand, receives many of these every day. My question: When I downloaded the app should I have downloaded to her email as well? Is the download I did for Malwarebytes specific to the PC, or do I need to download for each email address on my PC?

— Ted Williams

A: You need to download and install Malwarebytes Antimalware on each computer you want to protect against malware. The Malwarebytes software protects the computer, not an email account.

Specifically, the Malwarebyte’s product does not block spam email. You don’t mention what email program you’re using, but virtually all email clients these days have junk-mail filters that will catch some of the spam coming your way.

Sadly, I’ve not found any junk-mail filter to be really efficient at blocking spam while allowing through all legitimate mail.