Shoveling out the installs

Reprinted from Valentine’s Day:

[T]he Playboy Advisor once took on a three-pronged question from a reader who was (1) worried about sexually-transmitted diseases, (2) suffering from premature ejaculation, and (3) dissatisfied with the size of the unit. The Advisor recommended:

  1. Wear a condom.
  2. Wear two condoms.
  3. Wear three condoms.

This sort of additive protection, as it were, does not work on PCs. After reviewing some of the more questionable decisions made by our end users, we have determined that the efficiency of one’s antivirus protection varies inversely with the square of the number of antivirus products installed on any one box.

In other words, if you have two AV programs running, you have one-fourth the protection; three of them, one-ninth. (Spyware detectors and such interact differently, and cannot be so easily quantified.)

And no, you don’t want to know how many we found on [description of machine redacted].


  1. sya »

    1 November 2006 · 2:14 pm

    On my old laptop before it died, I once had two anti-virus programs running on it at the same time. But of course, that didn’t last for very long since the two programs were trying to duke it out with each other rather than scanning for viruses and were causing all sorts of side problems.

  2. CGHill »

    1 November 2006 · 2:25 pm

    Which is one (but just one) of the problems we identified on the offending machine. Competing programs work at cross purposes. (In fact, we were quite cross when we figured this out.)

  3. McGehee »

    1 November 2006 · 10:12 pm

    But you just know that if you tell somebody that more anti-virus products makes their machines less safe, some idiot will decide that no anti-virus products will make his machine invulnerable.

  4. CGHill »

    2 November 2006 · 10:30 am

    There’s a metalaw to the effect that while you can make things foolproof, you can’t make them damnfoolproof — and there is, alas, no shortage of damn fools.

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