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ClamWin + Clam Sentinel Free Open Source Antivirus for Windows

ClamWin free open source antivirus

I been using ClamWin for a few days, and it is a nice Antivirus scanner. It found 2 viruses in my E-mail folder which all my anti-malware, antispyware, and antivirus I tried did not find. ClamWin only uses about 23MB of RAM during a scan in Windows 7.  ClamWin virus scan do not slow down windows. I can set virus scans to scan my computer at a specific time, or manually scan my memory and drives from the main windows.

The user interface is very easy to use. I can update, scan a drive, memory, and change an option by pressing the buttons on the top row of the main window for ClamWin. I also like the scan button at the bottom of the program.

The preferences window is also very well organized.

ClamAV preferences

ClamWin does not have a active virus shield, but it can remove or quarantine viruses from your computer. Although, there is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook to remove infected attachment automatically from incoming and outgoing mail. I can also use the right click mouse menu in Windows to tell ClamWin to  scan the file for viruses.

Clam Sentinel

There is also a add-on for Clamwin by Clam Sentinel which adds a active virus shield which scans programs which are running with Clamwin. Clam Sentinel is easy to install. I just have to install it, and follow the install wizard. The Clam Sentinel Icon is found in the system tray.

Learn more about Clam Sentinel active shield for Clamwin add-on at clamsentinel.sourceforge.net .

Clam Sentinel also recommends you use a Malware Behavioral Engine like Threat Fire by PC Tools, or Win Patrol by BillP studios for added protection. Clam Sentinel saids you should also use an AntiSpyware with an Active Shield like Windows Defender, but I recommend  the paid version of MalwareBytes, os Spyware Terminator which is free.

I’m currently using ClamWin with Clam Sentinel, Immunet Cloud Companion Antivirus, WinPatrol Free(might get the paid plus version), System Protect, Norton Safe web lite toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox, Sandboxie Free, Clear Cloud DNS and SuperAntiSpyware Premium version.

I uninstalled Microsoft Security Essentials, and am only running the programs I listed above, and my Windows 7 computer seems a lot faster and responsive then it was when it was running MS Security Essentials or any other free antivirus (Comodo, AVG, Antivir, and Avast) . I only have 1GB of RAM and a 1.8 GHz CPU which is kind of slow by todays computer standards for running Windows 7, so any RAM and CPU resource savings is good for me.

The most noticeable speed increases I notice on my computer are Windows start up, shut down, restarts, starting programs, closing programs, and surfing the internet.

Using ClamWin with Clam Sentinel save me from buying a new computer or RAM since most free modern antiviruses feel kind of slow on my computer.

Usually Antiviruses was the most resource hungry application  taking up 30MB or more which was running om my PC. But, ClamWin (3MB)+ Clam Sentinel(3MB) uses 6MBs or more of RAM when idle.

ClamWin also has automatic updates, and you can also manually update ClamWin if your PC is not connected to the internet or Clam AV update does not work for some reason by using another computer to download the update files to a CD or thumb drive and pasting daily.cvd and main.cvd to “C:\ProgramData\.clamwin\db” and letting Windows overwrite the old definition files for Clamwin.

The current virus database for August 20, 2010 can detect over 818 107 viruses since the definition files are open source. The virus definition database is updated several times a day.

ClamWin is used by over 600 000 users worldwide. It works for Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7, Server 2003, Server 2008. ClamWin source code is open source meaning any Python and C++ programmer can improves ClamWin Antivirus.

ClamWin uses the same definition files as ClamAV which is the Linux version of Clam anti-virus which is commonly used in E-mail servers which has a high detection rate according to ClamWin. I agree with ClamWin high detection rate for virus claim since all of the anti-virus (MS Security Essentials, Comodo, Avast, Antivir, AVG, MalwareBytes, SuperAntiSpyware, A2, and Immunet) I tried could not detect two E-mail virus called “HTML.Phishing.Bank-518 FOUND” which was in my Windows live mail e-mail client inbox for months.

My only problem with ClamWin is the Scan speed for the memory scan and full scan took a long time, but most antivirus and antimalware scans are slow on my computer since my PC is not very fast.

ClamWin+Clam Sentinel can be a great free antivirus for Windows 98  computers since Windows 98 is so old that many free antivirus makers don’t make antivirus software for Windows 98 anymore.

ClamWin+Clam Sentinel can also be a good antivirus if you are an online gamer since they both use very little system resources, so you can turn off your regular antivirus, and turn on ClamWin and Clam Sentinel for protecting you while you game online on your computer.

Download ClamWin at clamwin.com

Learn more about Clam Sentinel active shield for Clamwin add-on at clamsentinel.sourceforge.net .

17 comments… add one
  • Guitar March 12, 2011, 4:44 pm

    I would suspect a false positive if ClamWin finds a virus in a file that is not detected by other AV programs, as it has been a bit more prone to false positives than other AVs in the past. With that said, however, the addition of the Clam Sentinel real-time scanner to ClamWin is a welcome improvement. Sentinel scans in real-time using the ClamWin scan engine and signatures. In addition, Sentinel also has its own heuristic system monitor that enables it to detect many new viruses for which ClamWin does not yet have a signature. Sentinel also can be configured to monitor USB drives in real-time, and it uses the ClamWin quarantine folder. The Sentinel real-time add-on, coupled with recent ClamWin improvements, such as quarantine restore and the ability to distinguish between valid/fake digital signatures on files, makes the ClamWin/Clam Sentinel package a reasonable choice for a free but effective antivirus.

  • Rod July 23, 2011, 3:48 pm

    I installed ClamWin and Sentinel on my mother’s Win 98SE machine. It took 3.5 hours to scan the machine the first time. When I tried to shut down the machine it told me I had to stop Windows programs before shutting down and ClamWin was running. I had no scheduled scans in ClamWin but with Sentinel running I understand why ClamWin was running. What I don’t understand is why the machine would not shut down. Can you help me and my mom?

    I have the two running on a similar machine in my office and it works fine.

    Thank You Very Much in Advance.

  • Johnson Yip July 23, 2011, 5:16 pm

    Hi Rod, I’m not sure, how to fix your problem. But, you can try exiting clamwin and clam sentinel in the system tray before you shutdown the computer. Also, click CTRL-Alt-Del to start task manager in Windows 98, and see if there are any programs which are hanging or not responding in Task Manager.

  • Rod July 23, 2011, 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion. Mom is a little new to the computing world at the age of 84 and I am 90 miles away so when I do get there I need a bit more than a list of several things for Mom to do when I am not there.

    When I tried to shut down the system, I got an error message telling me that to shut down Windows I need to have quit all Windows programs and then a dialog box with clamwin still running. I don’t get that same thing with virtually the same computer sitting next to my desk. If I have both clamwin and clam sentinel running and when I shut the system down, it just shuts down as normal – no error messages or dialog boxes. Could it be the order in which I installed the two applications? I noticed clamwin needs to be installed before clam sentinel and maybe I needed to restart between the two???? I may have done that not knowing about sentinel before I installed clamwin on my machine. I had replaced an older version of clamwin on my machine. I replaced the older version on Mom’s machine and sentinel at the same time. I also have two icons for sentinel in the task bar?????

  • Johnson Yip July 23, 2011, 8:29 pm

    I found the Clamwin forum at http://forums.clamwin.com/ . I’m sure the members over there can help you since there probably are a lot of members there which might have run into the same problem as your mother with ClamWin and Sentinel.

    Yes, I think it is recommended to install Clamwin before clam sentinel. You can try uninstalling Clamwin and Clam sentinel and reinstalling Clamwin then clam sentinel.

    You can also try to do a disk defrag on the hard drive since I think Windows 98 uses Fat32 file system which tends to get more fragmented then Windows XP and newer NTFS file system for hard drives. A scan disk might also fix some problems with your hard drive which might make Windows act strangely.

    You can also try doing a disk cleanup with the default Windows disk cleanup program to clean up Temporary internet files for internet explorer and Temporary system files.

    You can try to open Msconfig by opening the run box from the startmenu then typing in msconfig, and pressing the run button. Click on the startup tab, and uncheck programs which you do not need to run during windows startup, and only have clamwin and clam sentinel start up during windows start up.

  • Rod July 23, 2011, 9:02 pm

    Well I see we are of the same mind. The attempt to defrag the drive got me to 10% and hung up at that point. I imagined it was because something was running but I never was able to discover what that might be. Possibly it was the clam sentinel. Since it runs in the background I didn’t even consider that it might be what was stopping the defrag. Defragging maybe should be done in the safe mode which I did not try.

    Using msconfig required me to accept before startup which would be confusing to my mother so I elected to return it to the original configuration. There seemed to me to be no sense in making Mom uncomfortable with both the startup and shutdown operations.

    I will take a look at the forum but I believe it is a place I have already tried. Obviously I didn’t see anyone with the same problem or I would not be trying this route, which seemed to be more to the point than reading all those other experiences first.

  • Johnson Yip July 23, 2011, 10:10 pm

    Could it be a lack of RAM/Memory on a computer causing Windows 98 to slow down during shut down even though clam sentinel, and clamwin don’t use a lot of RAM in my experience?

  • Rod July 24, 2011, 11:53 am

    I found a list of extensions from Texas Tech that are suggested files to check. I think I can pare the scan down to those several types and that might speed things up but that is not the problem for Mom.

    Mom’s problem will be in shut down. She will get an error message and not know what to do. I think I have the solution though. The reason for installing ClamWin other than a scanner for me to use when I am there, is the use of Clam Sentinel. ClamWin does not need to be started (I hope) so I can go into the msconfig and uncheck ClamWin in the start up list. That way Sentinel will have the routine it needs and ClamWin will not be running at shut down.

    I just checked my machine after having done the above and control alt delete does not list ClamWin or Sentinel as running so it should solve the problem.

    I always think of these things when I should be sleeping. They come to me at 3:00 AM a lot of the time. I guess I need to have no distractions.

    Thanks and maybe someone else has a similar problem that my discovery might help.

  • Johnson Yip July 24, 2011, 4:03 pm

    Thanks for all the useful suggestions on fixing ClamWin, and Sentinel on your mothers Windows 98 computer. Hopefully, your suggestions also will help someone with the same problem with Windows 98 and Clam Sentinel + Clamwin in the future by reading your suggestions on your blog comments. I wish you the best in fixing your mothers Windows 98 Clamwin + Clam Sentinel Shutdown problem.

  • Haris K. September 16, 2011, 2:26 am

    All this huge list of Microsoft Security Essentials substitutes you use (ClamWin with Clam Sentinel, Immunet Cloud Companion Antivirus, WinPatrol Free, System Protect, Norton Safe web lite toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox, Sandboxie Free, Clear Cloud DNS and SuperAntiSpyware Premium version.) use less memory and the pc works faster?
    I confess this (huge) list is not very attractive to me, I think I will continue using MSE and Malware Antimalware.
    Thank you for this info!

  • Johnson Yip September 16, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Indeed, Haris, computer security software can use a lot of memory, but with newer computers with 4GB and more RAM and a dual or quad core CPU. The increase load is not very noticeable.

  • Robert Scroggins December 2, 2011, 9:32 am

    Here is my list of extensions for Clam Sentinel to scan:

    I have ClamWin scan only dll, exe, sys, scr, pif, inf, com, bat, cmd, vbs, vbe, jse, wsf, wsh, msc, msg, cpl, crt, ocx, lnk, job, nt, pdf, js, tmp, zip, rar, and jar.

    With my daily scheduled ClamWin scan, I scan memory, the users folder (docs and settings on older computers) and the System 32 folders. You are most likely to find malware in these places.

    If you use Clam Sentinel with another AV, exclude the other AV’s program folder, quarantine folder, signature folder, and temp scan file (if you know it) from Sentinel, and from the other AV’s scans, exclude the Sentinel and ClamWin program folders, ClamWin’s quarantine folder, ClamWin’s signature folder, and the ClamWin *.clamtmp temp files. Set the Sentinel system monitor to detect suspicious files only–do not let it also warn about system changes. The other Sentinel default configuration items are okay.

    Clam Sentinel will detect an average of about 70% of Windows PE viruses (not PDF, JS, flash, html) with its own system monitor heuristics. If you use ClamWin and Clam Sentinel as your only AV, also run a daily scan with Malwarebytes free and Kaspersky’s free TDSSKiller antirootkit program.

    Finally, keep your firewall turned on, your browser updated, Windows updated, and run File Hippo’s little Update Checker to keep everything else updated.


  • Johnson Yip December 2, 2011, 6:04 pm

    Hi Robert, thanks for your detailed explanation on how to use ClamWin and Clam Sentinel more effectively to stop viruses and Malware.

  • Robert Scroggins February 8, 2012, 11:50 pm

    ClamWin does not have to be active for Clam Sentinel to use it in real-time scanning, but you do need to update the ClamWin signatures ocasionally. This can be used to good advantage on a portable version. Read the Clam Sentinel simple guide for instructions.

    By using about 30 extensions for Sentinel to scan instead of the 120 or so default extensions, I reduced my time to quarantine a file by quite a bit–it only takes 1/4 of the time it would take using the default extension set. This is more important on older computers, of course. The only problem is deciding which extensions, but those I mentioned give good coverage of the most common malware.

    The Sentinel heuristcs have been expanded significantly in the upcoming version 1.18, which could be ready in late February or March, 2012.


  • Johnson Yip February 9, 2012, 7:21 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Robbert. I never knew ClamWin have to be active for Sentinel to work. This would help people who use older computers, run file and web servers which they need as much free system resources as possible when doing system resource intensive tasks.

    It is great that ClamWin and Clam Sentinel is still making their software compatible for older Windows computers while the popular Antivirus stop supporting ME/98/95 a long time ago.

  • Graham February 26, 2012, 3:44 am

    On older compuiters try using a lightweigh Linux distro like Puppy Linux. Has much better AV resistance than an old Windows install and no need for all that extra software :o)

  • Johnson Yip February 26, 2012, 6:18 pm

    I agree Puppy Linux, Tiny Core Linux, and Gentoo are better for older computers since they are very hard for the common user to infect with a virus since Linux has almost no viruses, and if you stick to the app store/software center or use SourceForge and other trusted download sites there is very little chance of downloading a bad program.

    If your computer has 512MB of RAM, a 1GHz CPU, and 10GB hard drive Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Xubuntu and Lubuntu can be also great operating system for computers made in 2000-2012 or older.

    Windows will always have the most viruses since I feel MS makes Windows easy to use, and give up a little bit of security by giving users Full Administrative accounts by default.

    Using Windows with a Regular User Account, and using Google Chrome can also reduce the risk of virus infections if you use Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.

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