I have been a community member for a long time, and have read thousands of posts. None of what I am going to say will come as a surprise to the experienced troubleshooter.
I have seen users with identical hardware and software, where one user’s system is stable and the other user’s system is not. Identical software? Well, almost identical.
Let’s say that the hardware is identical (processor, memory, HDD, SSD, etc. And, that the OS is identical, including service packs and updates. And, let’s go as far as saying the drivers are the same and at the same revision. So, everything is identical, yet one system is stable and the other is not.
We tend to overlook, perhaps ignore, one important issue: Anti-malware software. Anti-malware software IS our weak link. There are more than one hundred providers of anti-malware software, although we typically think in terms of those in the top 10 or top 20. Some systems come with a product pre-installed, with a preset configuration. Some systems use the integrated anti-malware (i.e. Windows 8 and greater), some systems use whatever the user’s favorite is (which is installed by the user). Hopefully, when changing anti-malware products the user follows the correct procedure for uninstalling and installing.
We hear about the big faux pas: McAfee April 2010, BitDefender March 2010, McAfee 2006, Symantec/Norton 2007, etc. Rarely, if ever, do we hear about the small ones, or do we see any evaluation of problems caused by the anti-malware product. This is probably due to these anti-malware products being buried “deep” within the system and will never show themselves as the cause of the problems, including major performance issues. Making matters worse is their attempts to “tune” your system and delete “unnecessary” programs. Additionally, if the anti-malware product manufacturer does become aware of a problem caused by their software, they are likely not interested in advertising it. This is the case for both paid and free products.
I have my favorite anti-malware product. When I have seen users on the forum with the same (or similar) configurations I have with my equipment, and they are having problems, I always wonder what product they are using. This is not to say that my equipment is immune to problems or that my anti-malware product never causes problems. What I am saying is that because these anti-malware products embed themselves in the OS and other software at many levels, using code that is not prepared for the thousands of thousands of permutations of hardware and software configurations, something will be encountered that will cause a failure.
My point is anti-malware products can and do cause problems, including the usage of their own firewall. But, if we do not start identifying which product(s) are the cause of the failures we see in the community forum, and raise the issue to the anti-malware product manufacturers, these issues will continue to plague us. It is difficult for anti-malware product manufacturers to keep up with malware. It is probably more difficult for them to keep up with hardware and software, and a changing OS environment.
If I could wave a magic wand over every post on the community forum, it would be to have all users state what anti-malware product(s) they are using. And, if they are using more than one real-time anti-malware product, my magic wand would remove all but one.
Multiple real-time anti-malware products can and do cause problems. You will hear those who say “I have never had a problem with X and Y running together”. Well, you will, eventually. And, when you do, please let us know.
So, community members, please add to your post what anti-malware product you are using. It cannot hurt and may even help identify the cause to some of the problems encountered.