How To Choose an Antivirus or Virus Scan Program

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Computer viruses have always been surrounded by mystery. With the vast number of viruses circulating the online world these days, people are always wondering where they come from or what they are. Viruses have the potential of causing a considerable amount of damage to your computer if your system becomes infected. The viruses themselves are written for one main reason--to reproduce. It does so by typically spreading from one computer to another. They are generally designed to cause damage by deleting data and performing malicious acts such as changing or inserting data on your computer.

The threat of computer viruses is constantly growing, which makes it ever more important that when you choose an anti-virus program for your computer, you choose the right one. There are many anti-virus programs available with some more popular than others but popularity is not essentially what should be factored in when choosing an anti-virus program for your computer.  Knowing the importance of anti-virus software, there are several things that should be considered when choosing one for your computer: 

  1. How frequently are virus definitions updated?  Virus definitions are what the anti-virus software will use to determine whether or not your computer has been infected. Obviously, the more updated the virus definitions are, the better the chances are of you being able to prevent your computer from becoming infected. So, you definitely want to choose an anti-virus program that updates the virus definitions frequently and quickly. 
  2. Does the software automatically update the virus definitions?  Generally, there is nothing wrong with manually updating the virus definitions. However, since viruses tend to spread quickly, it is much better to have the virus definitions updated automatically. Having them updated automatically not only ensures that your virus definitions are being updated but it eliminates the possibility of you forgetting to manually update them. 
  3. Can you configure the software to check for updates whenever you go online?  Your computer can become infected by a virus any time you go online, whether you are checking your email or just logging onto a website. Naturally, the best way to protect your computer from viruses when you go online is to choose anti-virus software that can be configured to check for updates when you do go online.   Can the software scan incoming and outgoing email automatically?  A lot of viruses can be spread via email without the sender or recipient even knowing about it. If you use an email program such as Microsoft Outlook, it is best to choose an anti-virus program that will automatically check all incoming and outgoing email for viruses.  
  4. Can the software be configured to automatically scan your computer on a regular basis?  Often, a computer can be infected by a virus without causing any apparent damage, which makes it seem as if the computer is virus-free. The best way to ensure your computer really has no viruses is to have an anti-virus program where you can set it up to perform automatic scans of your entire computer on a regular basis.  Does the software provide a way to "clean out" any viruses it detects?  It is certainly not uncommon for a virus to infect a computer. If your computer does become infected, you don't necessarily need to panic as long as you have a way to get rid of the virus. Some anti-virus software will only detect viruses and not provide a way to get rid of them. It is a much better idea to choose an anti-virus program that actually does provide a way to rid your computer of any viruses it finds.

The three most popular anti-virus programs available today are Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus, and Trend Micro's PC-cillin. Some other anti-virus options are Sophos Antivirus and AVG Antivirus. The three top anti-virus programs meet all of the above criteria and more. Sophos and AVG are similar but they tend to not provide virus definition updates as quickly as the others.   Nonetheless, when you are choosing an anti-virus program for your computer you should be able to choose the right one if you consider all of the above criteria and also research each software option to see which one will meet your needs best.  


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