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Old 08-29-2012, 09:34 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 81
Default Good free anti-malware for macs?

Hi all,
First off, if the tone of this post comes off frustrated, I apologize. I've been running into some walls with this and getting a lot of well-meaning people giving me useless advice. I turn my lonely eyes to you, Anandtechers. Please help.

My husband's macbook (not pro) from 2008 is being ridiculously slow. It used to be the only computer in the house we could stream Netflix on, and now it's unwatchable, it's so herky jerky. I have long suspected it picked up malware. Maybe a virus, maybe something else.

So far, all requests for advice on good anti-malware for macs has been met with one of two of the following responses:
1) "You know, people don't make a lot of viruses for macs, so you don't really need an antivirus for them."
2) "Sure, I recommend <insert name of really effective anti-malware program that only works on pcs>."

I could probably spend a little on a program if I wait til October, when I get my financial aid, so if there are no free programs, please recommend a pay one.

Many, many thanks in advance to anyone who avoids #1 & 2 and gives me a good lead.

- Sophia
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:45 PM   #2
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I confess that I can't give you an "I know a good answer" type answer since I don't really deal with MACs very often, but this might be a good place to start:

Also, Avast is a good free option for PCs so I assume that their MAC version would work as well:
"I did RC5, but I didn't flush." - Bill Clinton
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Old 08-30-2012, 12:11 AM   #3
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Well, #1 really is true, but if you suspect something is in your machine, then you still want to check! I totally understand, and there are some free options. Having used OS X since it first came out, my gut tells me it's most likely something else, but certainly no harm in checking.

I'd start with ClamXAV. It has a Mac graphical front-end, along with the unix back-end of the popular clamav program. You can get it here for free: http://www.clamxav.com/

Before I'd even bother running it, though, go into Applications->Utilities and fire up Disk Utility. First Verify the drive. If it finds problems, you'll need to reboot from another disk to repair them. (For what it's worth, the last time I had a Mac that started getting really sluggish, the Hitachi hard drive I put in was failing; replacing it solved the problem. So make sure you have a backup of your important stuff!)

If Disk Utility gives you the green light that no repairs are needed, then next run the Repair Permissions command; that often can solve slowdowns, as the machine will really drag trying to open a file that it should be able to work on, but can't due to a permissions misconfiguration. (It's not something you did; it's usually badly-written Installer programs that cause this.)

If all that checks out OK, then go ahead and run ClamXAV and see if it finds anything.

If it doesn't, the next troubleshooting step I'd try is creating a new user account, logging out of your husband's account, and logging into the new one. (Even the Guest account will work fine for this purpose.) Does that fix the jerkiness? If so, then there's something specific to husband's user account. Maybe some software that's set to auto-launch that's dragging things down?

Trying the system with a fresh, clean user account will do half the work, because you'll be able to figure out if it's something in the OS or hardware (which will carry over to the clean account), or something specific to his account (which will go away on the clean account).

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-30-2012, 04:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CA19100 View Post
Well, #1 really is true,
No it isn't.
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:07 PM   #5
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Your problem sounds more like a failing HDD, or even just a bandwidth issue, than any kind of malware.

Though I will say that, compared to Windows at least, Mac OS X is a very unpopular target. That does seem to be changing more rapidly of late, so while I would say it's probably still a little premature to start jumping on the AV bandwagon (and malware is a different class of threat from viruses, worms, and trojans [different threat classes in and of themselves] which AV programs tend to do very poorly at detecting), it is certainly prudent to be aware of what options are out there.
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:25 PM   #6
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Is anything free in MacWorld?
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rickon66 View Post
Is anything free in MacWorld?
Quite a bit. Xcode and all that is built around the GNU tool chain, including GCC. So even if Apple decided to make Xcode a commercial product like VisualStudio, people could still make programs for Mac OS X using an IDE like Eclipse for example (which is free BTW, both libre and gratis).
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:30 PM   #8
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Location: Michigan
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I'm not sure if it's free or not, but I have Sophos Anti-virus on my MBP
2700k @ 4.7ghz || ASUS P8P67 Pro || Arctic Accelero Extreme III R9 290 + RX 480
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Old 09-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I'm trying out some of the steps CA19100 advised and I'll come back around if that doesn't work. Thanks again for responding.
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Old 09-02-2012, 03:45 PM   #10
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Here is another Antivirus program for an Apple Mac. I have not tried it, am just aware of it.

Comodo Antivirus for Mac
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anti-spyware, antivirus, mac, malware, virus

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