How to pick antivirus software | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

Q: I have a Windows laptop with McAfee antivirus through CenturyLink and twice it has been compromised. Also, I have two computers with a McAfee subscription. I am concerned it is not a good antivirus protection. What antivirus software do you recommend?

—Karen Little

THE: I wish there was a clear answer to your question. A recent review of antivirus software, for example, listed 10 different “best” products. One was cited as “best overall,” another as “best for speedy scans,” another as “best for techies,” etc.

You get the idea. The answer is that it depends on your priorities.

Unfortunately, there’s little agreement among lab tests about just how effective the various antivirus programs are. Viruses and other malware are constantly evolving, so no product can provide 100% protection. And the rating of various products depends on the kinds of malware the products are tested against.

What do I use? I use the antivirus protection that comes free with Windows: Windows Defender.

Yes, the review I mentioned above dinged Defender for three things: a poor phishing detection score, its protection against malicious websites only works with Microsoft browsers, and system scans are awkward to schedule.

I also use Malwarebytes, because Defender has fallen a bit short in detecting phishing attempts and because in my business I deal with a great deal of emails from unknown sources. Malwarebytes has a history of providing better protection against a wide array of malware and phishing attempts.

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McAfee Antivirus Plus, by the way, was judged as “best for multidevice households” because it allows you to invite other unprotected devices using your network to install it.

Whatever antimalware solution you choose, remember two things. First, no product offers 100% protection. Second, the best protection against all kinds of malware is smart online behavior. Don’t open suspicious emails and certainly don’t click on links in those emails. Don’t visit untrusted websites and, again, especially don’t click on links in those websites.

Finally, be careful about installing multiple antimalware programs. I’ve had no problems running Antimalware alongside Windows Defender, but many antimalware programs can conflict with each other.

Q: I have a widescreen laptop, and since updating to Windows 11 I have found it aggravating that I can’t move the Task Bar/Start Menu to the left side of the screen. Because the screen is so “shallow,” the lower bar pops up on a regular basis as I’m working on documents, reading email, scrolling through webpages, you name it. Windows 10 had this option, but I’ve only been able to find a few solutions in Windows chat rooms that entail installing third-party software. This is so tempting, but it makes me a nervous, too. Do you know of any solutions that would let me move the entire bar over to the left-hand side of the screen?

— J. Civille.

THE: Yes, Microsoft changed the taskbar controls with Windows 11, and you can no longer move the taskbar to the left, right or top of the display.

You’ll have to install a third-party program to do that. Fortunately, free options are available. You can watch a video on YouTube that demonstrates how to use a program called Explorer Patcher that you can download from The program is widely used, and I haven’t heard of any users having problems with it.

Note: In response to a recent reader’s question about playing Classical KING-FM on Windows Media Player, KING IT director Terrill McKinney offers the following URLs to enter in the “Open URL” field. For the Classical channel: For the Evergreen channel:

The exact steps to the “Open URL” field vary with version of Windows Media Player you’re using. In the current version, click on the down arrow next to the “Open Files” button and select “Open URL.”

For those using the VLC media player, click on the “Media” menu option, then select “Open network stream.”

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