Virus/malware removal tools

Hi all,

My cousin brought his MacBook Air to me to take a look at, because “it’s not acting right.” He admits that he’s been poking around on porn sights, and may have downloaded something here or there. Know things, my plan is to scan his computer with Sophos (and other products) in an attempt to identify anything that might be infecting it, remove it, backup his data to an external thumb drive, wipe the drive, and reinstall everything. To that end, are there any products out there that you recommend for finding and removing viruses/malware?


I recommend the free version of Malwarebytes to start.

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Thanks Adam. I’ll check it out!

They are all effective, just that some take longer to run and are questionably more thorough in looking for older malware that might have been lingering for a long time, but are no longer doing anything malicious.

I personally work with the developers of DetectX Swift, Malwarebytes and ClamXAV and would recommend at least a trial of any or all of them at this time. I have tested a few others in the past but have little or no current experience with them.

I forgot about ClamAV. I haven’t used it in years. I ran both Malwarebytes and Sophos, and nothing at all was found. I also ran Onyx and Disk Utility, which did find and fix some issues in Recovery Mode. I’m thinking I’m gonna call it macaroni and give it back to him now.

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I can tell you that when I hear from a user that their Mac is running terribly, the number one cause has been having Sophos installed. It’s attractive because it is free, but it definitely isn’t a good deal. I’d avoid it like the plague.

There is a new breed of anti-virus program available right now. These programs will do a scan that takes all of less than 20 seconds and tell you that they “look for everything.” I don’t believe it. Maybe they can convince you that they do a thorough scan of your entire hard drive in 15 seconds. I’ll believe it when some believable third party does a test and certifies that it actually pulls off this miracle.

Unfortunately there are no longer any unimpeachable authoritative sources that do comparison tests of AV software to tell you which AV software is best. (And, no, since moving to the Web I don’t believe that Macworld is such an entity.) Or even if this new breed of AV software is looking for any malware at all. Also, you may want to use something like EasyFind to look at how many components a product like MalwareBytes is installing on your Mac. I’ve seen as many as 22. What do you think that all of these components are doing?

What used to be considered the best AV software out there, and the winner of the last few believable comparison tests done a few years back, is Intego’s VirusBarrier. VirusBarrier comes from one of the very few companies that only makes Macintosh software, so you know that their product isn’t a port of a Windows product from a company that doesn’t really understand the Mac. And there is a free version available:

VirusBarrier Free Edition (free)

This is a full version of Intego’s anti-virus program VirusBarrier [usually $40/year] minus some [but not all] of the automated scanning features in the commercial version.

Have a look at the results of the last comparison test done by this respected review site a few years back: