I’m currently using NOD32 Antivirus (best of breed, according to Virus Bulletin) and the one complaint I have about it is the balloon tip that pops up every time the virus definitions update. It’s much better than having a window pop up and interrupt whatever I’m doing, but it’s still a little distracting.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to turn it off – simply double-click the NOD32 icon in your system tray, choose NOD32 System Setup (under NOD32 System Tools), click the Setup button and tick Enable silent mode. You’ll still get warning messages when a virus is detected unless you’ve explicitly turned them off, but if you want to be extra sure, you can set up notifications via email and/or Messenger Service* popups through the Notification tab. If you’d like to safely simulate a virus infection, you can download the EICAR standard antivirus test file.
While I’m very happy with NOD32, it’s not the most memory-conservative antivirus solution out there. It uses around 20MB of RAM on my machine (with unnecessary features such as Office document protection, Outlook email protection and “Internet protection”, as well as the custom user interface, disabled), which is still better than a lot of the AV packages aimed at the home user, but still bloated compared to F-Prot which uses around a fifth of that. Having said that, as long as you’re running with more than 512MB of RAM, 20MB is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
* Note that the Messenger Service is nothing to do with MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger.