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I don't really know how to do either, but I was wondering if it was possible to have multiple firewalls / virus scanners installed at once, and use a 3rd party program to specify which one is running at a time. Example, if someone were penetration testing or something of that nature, one firewalls / scanner might pick up things that others do not, and vice versa.

I think this would be a great idea, but I know that having multiple virus scanner at once can mess up a computer, and I would have no idea how to remove a service pack for an OS like Windows XP or Vista. Would this be possible at all, or would it just be easier to use a Virtual Machine? I just think it would be more practical to have a physical machine if you're at home messing around, but the virtual machine would look the same over the network if this is being done remotely. Any answers would be much appreciated!

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It would be quite useless to install them at the same time because they will interfere with eachother. Most of the firewall and AV software have components you can't always shut off.

It is better to make a virtual machine you want to test on, clone this VM and then install other AV/firewall software on everyone of them. Then you can do different tests and see which one has a higher detection rate. I find this would be the most practical way as you can easily run multiple virtual machines on one physical machine.

By the way, if you want to check how different AV perform against each other, you can use https://www.virustotal.com/. You can upload a file and it will scan it with different AV's, after that it returns a list of AV that found something and which didn't.

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