I use Linux, and even though I'm not pretending my system is virus-free, it's generally accepted that even an aggressive firewall is not a requirement.

I want to install Windows 7 on a machine which I will use strictly for playing games. Browsing on it may even be discarded, if necessary.

So, for the two to three hours a week I'll be using the OS - making it effectively a console - do I really need anti virus software, or can I do without the annoyance of advertisements, scans etc.?

  • Where will you get your games from?
    – Philipp
    Apr 12, 2014 at 23:13
  • I don't play much non foss games but I would get those from friends and unofficial sites, yes. Should I make sure they were scanned first then?
    – sinekonata
    Apr 13, 2014 at 1:35

9 Answers 9


When you are going to play games you downloaded from the internet, you should definitely get a virus scanner. This is especially a concern when you download pirated copies, because these are bundled with malware from time to time. But even when you stick to legal downloads there is a certain risk involved. There were cases of renowned download portals getting compromised and spreading malware attached to their files.

Note that downloading the games under Linux will not protect you. When you download a Windows-executable infested with Windows-malware, Linux will not care. When you then execute the file you downloaded with Linux on Windows, your Windows system will get infected.

Maybe you think "What do I care? I don't have any important files on my Windows partition, so when I catch a virus, I will just reinstall". Keep in mind that your Linux volumes aren't safe from malware. Just because Windows can't read their filesystem doesn't mean ransomware can't delete them with direct hardware access.

  • Plus the fact that my computer is likely used to later infect others.
    – sinekonata
    Apr 13, 2014 at 1:37

If you don't browse, and if you get your games from official places, you can skip the antivirus.

If you browse, or if you get your games through illegal download, then it has to be considered like a traditional PC and protected appropriately, from OS to browser level. If you don't use an antivirus, at least the Microsoft Security Essentials and things like Noscript with your browser should be used. Also, running in a user session is definitely not an option.

  • I'd update to change browse to "connect to the internet or a network". There are enough worms traversing networks that I'd want that level of protection. Also, "Use thumb drives that have connected to other computers" should be considered. Jan 16, 2018 at 15:40

Yes you definitely should install anti virus software. However you should always remember that even with the best protection you can still get infected by malware.

A few months ago security researcher described how malware spread in Steam gaming platform.

Basically gamers were receiving a message on Steam that looks like "WTF?????" linked to a JPEG image called "screenshot,".

The link leads not to a strange picture, but rather to an executable SCR file.

Once they clicked, the file were downloaded and installed automatically on theirs machine. This particular SCR file targeted Steam, meaning it may be able to steal your login and financial information.

The most interesting part was that only about half of antivirus products was capable of detecting this malware.

In summary yes you should definitely install anti virus program but also use common sense regarding computer security.


You should install an anti-virus. Some online games automatically download user generated content, and I have seen some that use an in-game browser to display a server's MOTD.

Mods are also a danger too, some have included bitcoin miners or keyloggers.

Another thing to consider is that USB drives could be infected.


If your PC is going to be online at any point (which in all likelihood it will be) then it is recommended to use virus protection. There is plenty of free and light software that will be sufficient. For installation and continuous scanning, try Microsoft Security Essentials


As long as the pc is connected to the Internet (or any network for that matter) an antivirus and a firewall is a must. If you don't browse the net from windows then a free antivirus should be enough. Still, you should have one installed.

  • Why? Without some concrete examples, this just looks like fear-mongering. Aug 6, 2015 at 14:30

Don't bother. Not only are you unlikely to need the protection, but A/V software imposes a significant penalty on performance. It will be even worse if you boot into windows just for games, because many packages will detect that no scan has been performed in a while and immediately start a full scan of your system, hurting performance even more. Yes, technically you are slightly more at risk, but what do you have to loose? You don't have any data on that PC to be stolen, and while malware might have an adverse impact on performance you can guarantee that an A/V package will

Further reading: http://blog.codinghorror.com/trojans-rootkits-and-the-culture-of-fear/ http://blog.codinghorror.com/choosing-anti-anti-virus-software/

  • There are hidden risks to consider: stored credentials, credit card details for purchasing DLC or subscriptions, etc. AV packages vary on their performance hit, and it isn't fair to paint them all with the same brush.
    – schroeder
    Aug 6, 2015 at 16:48

Risks are always a tricky thing to calculate and you are asking the right questions.

While I understand that AV software can pose performance risks, you could consider using a Live CD during the downtime of the box/VM. You get full and comprehensive AV coverage, but 0 performance hit during gaming sessions. It's a little more management to handle, but you get the best of all worlds.


Yes, install anti virus, and do Windows Update and all of that good stuff. Two reasons, your system is an entry into your network for malware, just because the system that gets infected has no information other systems probably do. Also any accounts like steam and the like will also have to be set up there. Second reason, just because right now you say you won't use it for other things you will, you won't want to be bothered to switch systems, someone else may visit and you let them use it, Windows is a good terminal for any Linux system, you may end up using it as a second terminal for your main system etc. Better safe than sorry, practice safe computing.

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