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This might be one of the first indications of a not-so-good trend.

In the “Gadgetwise” column of the N.Y. Times, under the title “Five Controversial Ways to Speed your PC” (link here) writer Paul Boutin suggests uninstalling anti-virus applications as a way to speed up a PC. He also said the threat from viruses and malware was overhyped.

Well, we don’t think it’s ever been overhyped and we REALLY don’t suggest turning off malware protection.

Yes, in recent years, many malware scanners have slowed down, largely because of the vast, exponentially rising surge of new threats. Some of the big name scanners seriously need to be rewritten.

Boutin specifically mentioned in his column that Symantec’s Norton 360 “dragged my Toshiba’s performance to a crawl.”

There is nothing more frustrating than a really slow machine when you’re trying to get something done, and, yes, I remember turning off an anti-virus application many years ago. It was the days before the World Wide Web. Boot-sector viruses were a problem. My machine had no contact with the outside world except for an internal email system and occasional disks. I did turn the scanner back on before I shut down the machine for the day and I didn’t leave disks in the drive. So, I don’t think that was a badly reasoned choice. But, that isn’t true today.

One not infrequently sees estimates that a huge percentage of all the traffic on the Internet is devoted to, well… ahem… viewing photos and videos of people with no clothes on. That means a lot of people are visiting sites that are notorious for the distribution of malware. Even sites where the people in the pictures keep their clothes on have been loaded — intentionally or by hackers — with malware that you can download accidentally. Wanna buy a completely useless AV Scanner for $49.95? Can I interest you in a nice browser plug in that will give you just loads of advertising and show you what a slow machine REALLY looks like?

And, God, don’t even get me started on the crap that people (or botnets) forward in e-mail. A good estimate is that more than 90 percent of e-mail is spam and a frightening amount of that is intended phish your bank account or Paypal account login or anything else with a monetary value that might be on your PC or in your head.

It’s here, it’s weird and it’s coming to a PC near you in a couple of new ways every day.

So, if you’re thinking of joining a trend and turning off your malware scanner to squeeze some more speed out of the old Toshiba, just consider a faster scanner, like Vipre.

Sunbelt Software’s Vipre was written from the ground up last year and achieves its lightening speed from some rad new technology. (Check it out here).

Tom Kelchner