In my computer tech support ministry, I still run into people with notions carved in stone from before the introduction of Windows. It arises from the bureaucratic mindset seeping into the wider society: Invent once; never progress. Do you know that the number one reason for running some major brand of anti-virus on computers is to avoid being fired? “If something goes wrong, make sure your ass is covered.” We call that “CYA.” It doesn’t matter that your corporate choice of AV is utterly, truculently stupid, and the computers consistently get hijacked and leak all your corporate data, as long as you follow the rules they can’t easily fire you.
For one thing, the MacAfee/Norton duality should have died long ago. Back when Mr. MacAfee and Mr. Norton still ran their namesake companies, they had good software. When those two men sold their companies, it all went downhill. These two are now the worst AV products available, worse than having nothing at all. They both create problems you didn’t already have, and solve precious little new trouble. And they will nag you to death about things that don’t matter except to their bottom line.
But in recent months, it seems all the other AV vendors are struggling. Right now, it’s Catch-22, because installing AV means increasing the number of ways you can be attacked. A good AV worms it’s way into your system like a virus in the first place, but tries to keep other malware out. And with Microsoft becoming increasing our-way-or-no-way, I’ve lately begun recommending folks just stick with Microsoft Security Essentials. That is, it stays out of your way and it does not increase the paths by which your system can be attacked, because it’s just another part of the Operating System, not an add-on. It drops into place without opening new holes.
I am surprised by the number of people who, fighting to keep Win7, have simply turned off system updates altogether since that big mess to keep Win10 from hijacking their system. While I can’t blame them, it’s hard to know where you can and should draw the line. I’m not giving advice on this, but I can observe dispassionately that MS is struggling to take over computer use itself. I’m convinced they will someday introduce forced subscriptions. Meanwhile, it seems their current plan is to make Windows 10 the last upgrade. From now on, it’s a rolling update/upgrade in place, and it’s already all-or-nothing for system updates. It will be like your smartphone from the cell provider: You take what they offer or pay a huge price to escape their plans.
Sure, buy a Chromebook. It’s just like the majority of smartphones. It runs an OS indistinguishable from Android and you can’t keep hardly any files on your system; it’s all in the cloud. You do everything through the browser. The only difference is that Chromebooks don’t make cell calls… for now. You have precious little choice what kind of additional software you can install, and the stuff you are most likely to need costs extra. Not bad for an alleged derivative of Open Source Linux, eh? All supported by advertising and user tracking. Oh, wait; MS has forced advertising into the mix on Win10. Maybe that’s how MS will do their subscription thing — you will use Windows and you will endure the advertising. The newest Win10 devices are increasingly like Chromebooks, especially the ones MS sells directly.
A lot of Linux users have begun investing in high-grade used hardware. It’s still powerful enough to run the latest versions of Linux, plus there’s no OS lock-in crap. Meanwhile, it’s cheap because the machines simply won’t run Windows 10; some won’t even run Win7. Commercial grade Vista era machines are a really good deal right now on eBay. You’d be amazed at the vast array of hardware, both inside the box and peripherals, for which Win7 has no drivers and MS refuses to provide them. For example, on a wide array of very good graphics chipsets, you only get a minimal display resolution, but Linux supports them at full resolution.
If you still need Windows 7 and run into something that requires a reinstall, I recommend WSUS Offline Update. It’s officially approved by the MS techies and it bypasses the issue that typically requires days to catch up on the updates after a fresh reinstall. It does this by incrementally pulling in certain required updates first. It still takes long enough, but it’s more like a few hours versus two or three days. I’ve used this myself and it’s about the only way to get it done and keep your sanity. Oh, and you’ll still have more updates when it’s finished, but they’ll install at the normal speed of things.