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Saturday, 9 October 2010

What to Look For In Anti-Virus Software

Of all the software products that are installed on our computers, from the web browsers and email programs, to word processors, database and spreadsheet programs, none has a higher importance than a quality anti-virus program. Without a good quality, frequently updated anti-virus program running on your computer, your valuable data, and even your personal financial information, is at constant risk.

If you're not already taking steps to protect your valuable data, then read on and learn what you should look for in anti-virus software.

Many computer users choose an anti virus software product by price alone, or simply stick with the product that came preloaded on their computer. Neither approach is the best way to way to choose an anti virus product, and it is important to look at several different products before making your final decision.

Look at existing options

Now that doesn't mean that you can't start with the anti-virus software that came with your PC. In fact, getting that software up and running on a new computer should be a priority. It's vital that your PC is running solid anti-virus protection before you plug it into the internet, so running the product that came with your PC is a good way to get started.

Just be sure to go online and update the software as soon as you are connected to the Internet. Chances are there have been a lot of new threats and viruses introduced since your computer left the factory. So updating this software is the best way to keep your computer protected against these new online dangers.

After you've used the anti-virus software that came with your PC for a few days, it is a good idea to make a list of what you like - and don't like - about it. Is it easy to update? Is it user friendly? Is it easy to see any problems? Does the software notify you if the update could not be completed? Are updates made available on a daily basis? Does is scan your computer on a regular basis?

After you know what you like about your current software, and what you don't, it will be much easier to evaluate the other virus protection programs that are out there. Check out the latest reviews of the anti-virus software that are available. Look at the comparisons of features and see which ones best suit your needs.

But don't just pick the best one in the review and buy that. Even the top rated programs will have their downsides. E.g. some of the best known anti-virus programs take up far too much processor time whenever they run a scan. And it can be really frustrating if you're in the middle of something and suddenly find you can't use your computer for the next half an hour.

Now most anti-virus companies make their software available in trial versions, so choose a few which you think would best suit your needs and trial them for yourself. Find out for yourself which one you prefer.

What about the updates?

When you're evaluating the cost of anti-virus software, it is important to pay attention to how the updates are handled. Some anti-virus vendors require users to pay yearly subscriptions, or to pay for updates, in order to keep getting those important virus signature updates. So it's important to take the full cost into consideration when you compare different products.

Of course, it's the protection that's provided and not just the cost that should be the determining factor in what type of anti-virus software you will use to protect yourself and your data. It's vital that you only deal with quality, reliable companies when you're shopping for software that's this important.

Pay careful attention to how often their virus signatures are updated - a good company will update these on a daily basis. Also be sure that the company enjoys a solid reputation in the industry. If you are unsure about the reputation of a particular software company, be sure to ask a tech savvy friend for advice. After all, anti-virus software is perhaps the most important component of your computer. So it's important to give this decision the importance and the weight it deserves.

David McKone has been involved with network security for several years, providing secure networks for both small businesses and large corporate clients. Sign up for my free newsletter and receive my special report "Computer Security" absolutely free at []


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