Virus scanners protect wary computer users against the evils that lurk online in big business. In 2012 alone, it is estimated that companies spent more than $3 billion on antivirus programming, according to an article in Wired. And that doesn’t even include consumer users!
Since antivirus software is such big business, several companies have cropped up in recent years, all claiming that their software will protect you better than anyone else. But is there any difference between all the different virus scanner choices? And what should consumers be looking for?
Look for Extra Features
The main job of virus scanner software is to run periodic checks on your computer for malware, spyware and, of course, viruses. All current virus scanners perform these duties. However, a select few have additional features that you should look for.
Real-time web shields scan your computer as you are browsing the web and they block websites with known issues to keep the viruses away from your computer before they have the chance to be downloaded. Mail shields scan email that comes through a mail handling service like Thunderbird or Outlook and ensure that emails with suspicious content are not downloaded. Compare the unique features between software companies, and see which ones sound like they would be the most useful for you and your usage habits.
Do Your Homework on Virus Scanner Performance
Though every virus scanner manufacturer claims that their software is the best, consumers should do their own research when it comes to verifying these claims about performance. One of the most well-known software testing companies is AV-Test. This company not only measures the effectiveness of virus scanner software, but it also presents objective data about individual features that consumers can use to compare and contrast different products. Look not only for the effectiveness of the software, but also things like the scanner speed and available memory usage. You want to look for scanning software that is effective, but also light on your computer and fast enough not to interfere with your everyday browsing habits.
Assess your Browsing Security Needs
It may sound a little counter-intuitive, but it is certainly possible to have too much security. Some large security programs offer things like server scanning, continuous updates and cloud protection. However, if you are only accessing the web to access things like social media and email, you don’t need these additional features. Not only will they cost more, but they will also likely take up much more of your computer’s memory, which will slow down your machine.
If you are looking for an antivirus program that will suit light to moderate Internet usage, make sure you look for consumer-focused programs, and stay away from business or enterprise-focused software.
Of course, 24/7 support is a must for any virus scanning software. Though you might like to think you won’t have any problems during installation or will know exactly what to do if an infection is found, unfortunately, things happen. And it is vital that someone from the company that manufactured the software is available to assist you, no matter what time it is. Also make sure that 24/7 support is available by phone (and not just email) as you may not be able to access the web if you are having severe problems with your service and/or computer.
A Quick Note About Free Software…
There are a lot of free antivirus software choices on the Internet and some of them are actually quite good. Services like Avast and AVG offer award-winning virus protection at no cost to users. However, this virus protection is intended to protect only the most basic of users, and if you visit more than four or five websites regularly, you might want to either upgrade to the “paid” version of these products, or look into other options.
Virus scanner software doesn’t always have to be expensive, but you don’t want to automatically look for the cheapest option. Paying a little now for decent antivirus software is a lot better than paying for a whole new computer later should a virus strike your system. If you do decide to try out a free option, make sure it is from a reputable company, as it is possible to download a virus masquerading as antivirus software.
It can be tough looking for the right virus scanner software, but by doing a little research and assessing your own personal needs, you can find software that fits into your computing life and budget. Though good antivirus software always comes with a price, if you look at things like added features, support availability and performance, there is sure to be one that meets your needs (without breaking the bank).
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