Anti-virus Programs: Is Running Two Better Than One?

Security Toggle SwitchIt’s well known that some anti-virus programs are better than others at given times. Mostly because of how soon the signatures (tells that are used to identify malware) are updated. There is also a difference between their methods: some use signatures to identify the malware and some use an analysis of the behavior of the computer and the malware to identify anomalies and alert you when they’re found; and a few anti-virus programs use both methods of detection.

So, given that some are better than others at identifying malware, is it a good idea to run more than one anti-virus program for better protection? The answer is no…and maybe.

No, because two anti-virus programs running at the same time will identify each other as malware and try to destroy each other. Also because they will both use up lots of processing power; and try to use the same processes at the same time, bogging down or locking up your computer.

Anti-virus programs are designed to look for any program running on a computer that has administrator privileges (access to any and all files, programs, and processes on a computer), and is trying to control the computer. It so happens that anti-virus programs have these same characteristics so as to protect your computer.

Maybe, because there is one exception to this rule of not running two AV programs at once. That is the Malware Bytes Anti-Malware program. I have no relationship with Malware Bytes except as a customer. It seems to run well with other anti-virus programs already running. Perhaps it was designed to discern an anti-virus program from a virus or other malware.

Consequently, many folks use Malware Bytes to check for any malware that may exist on the computer (and missed by the running AV program) on an ad hoc basis, and not running it continually like the AV program.

Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.

Please comment on this article; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared.

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Remember, personal computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.

Best regards,



I’m also on Twitter, @PaulsInternet.

Images courtesy of and


Filed under Internet Security, malware, software, Warning

6 responses to “Anti-virus Programs: Is Running Two Better Than One?

  1. LS

    I am running AVG Free, and Web-root (Cloud- based). I was told that I could run both, but that it would “slow down my computer”. I had noticed before that one catches trojans that the other misses (before I had installed both), and vice versa. I am wondering if it really matters that my computer is “slower”? AVG is a pain; is it an illusion that I’m more secure?

    • LS,
      No, it’s not an allusion that you seem more safe because not all anti-virus programs get their virus signature files updated at the same time, nor are their signatures equally effective in identification of the viruses and other malware. So, in your case, you’ve probably got better coverage of the above between the two packages. However, we usually don’t recommend more than one AV package on a computer because they will usually identify each other as potential malware because of the very high permissions and access they require. If this is not the case with the two you’re running; I’d say continue as you are.

  2. John Bent

    Hi Paul,

    Came to this via Bill Mullins 🙂

    I have been running Malwarebytes anti malware in real time for a couple of years, in tandem with various antivirus programs. So far, I’ve not encountered any problems with this. I seem to recall reading that Malwarebytes, while good at cleaning in an on-demand state (free version), it is less so in real time. However, running it in conjunction with, say, MSE, is worth the cost to me.

    There are, of course, other options, like running a cloud-based virus checker such as Immunet Protect. Again, this runs quite happily alongside the likes of MSE; it also has the advantage of not relying on definitions being updated. Being of the paranoid persuasion, I’ve even run all three together! Now there’s layered security for you.

    Thanks for the article.

    Kind regards,

    • John,
      Thanks for your comment. I too run Malwarebytes “real time” and I’ve been extremely happy with it’s protection. Being a touch paranoid too (BTW, just because your paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you) 😉 , I also run Sandboxie virtual partitioning…just in case.

  3. Pingback: Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – May 12, 2013 | Bill Mullins' Weblog - Tech Thoughts

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