Prevent Your Anti-Virus Software From Choking on Zip Files

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Reader Monika is hoping for help with this hassle:

"My virus scan program (McAfee) gets hung up on scanning zip files for hours, which slows my computer considerably, sometimes freezing up if I try to open/close other programs."

Because you didn't give me quite enough information, Monika, like the full name and version number of the McAfee program and details about your operating system, I'm forced to provide broad suggestions rather than specific ones. (Just a gentle reminder to readers: Without sufficient details, it's that much harder for me to find solutions to your hassles.)

It's not uncommon for virus scanners to choke on Zip files, which can be quite large. As a result, system performance can take a major hit during the scanning process. That's just unacceptable.

Fortunately, most anti-virus utilities let you exclude certain files and/or file types, meaning it should be possible to configure your McAfee product to bypass Zip files. Here's an example of how that might look, as shown in my AV program of choice, Microsoft Security Essentials:

Now, Monika told me she already tried to "program [McAfee] to skip over these files, to no avail." Assuming you configured it properly, that leaves me with one conclusion: time to switch anti-virus programs. Seriously, there are enough good products out there that there's no sense wasting any more time or energy on one that's causing you grief. Do a full uninstall of McAfee, reboot, then install something else.

Again, I'm partial to Microsoft Security Essentials, which just so happens to be free, but the latest version of Norton Internet Security (which you can also get free, if you don't mind mailing in a rebate form) has received almost universal praise (starting right here at PC World).

One other option I neglected to mention: You could get in touch with McAfee and ask for help. After all, that's one of the key advantages of paying for security software, right?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.

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