Published Date
01 - Dec - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2006
Anti-virus protection of some sort is essential for every PC to survive in the "wild wild world" situation of today's networked world!

Questions To Ask
Will it hog system resources?
Virus scanning takes place in the background and you may find that  it is tedious to do any other work while this activity is going on. This is an important negative, and you can find out more about which anti-viruses consume more resources if you research a bit online.

Is it capable of scanning archives?
Most anti-viruses are capable of scanning files contained in archives such as ZIP files. Some support more formats, and this is a desirable feature.

Does it allow customised scanning?
Custom scanning is the ability to scan files of certain types or scan a certain location. Scanning from the context menu is another time-saving feature.

Can it scan at Windows startup, and does it have an on-access scanner?
An anti-virus that can start with Windows can stop viruses that load into memory at startup. An on-access scanner is an anti-virus that always runs in the background. This is useful for computers that are on a LAN or connected to the Internet. In contrast, an on-demand scanner is one that you need to manually use, that is, you ask it to scan a file and it does the job. The latter find use on computers that never connect to a network and only occasionally accept files from CDs or floppies. On-demand scanners don't run in the background, and hence are light on system resources.

What kind of a license should I get?
Anti-virus manufacturers offer different licensing schemes. If you are a home user, you can purchase a single-user license or a "home" edition of the anti-virus. If you have a SoHo setup with a number of computers that need to be protected, you can buy a site license, which is cheaper than buying a license for each PC.

Usage Tips

Update your virus definitions

Virus definitions are what the anti-virus software will use to determine whether or not a file is infected. Obviously, the better updated the definitions are, the better the chances of you being able to prevent your computer from getting infected.

Auto-updating of virus definitions

Viruses tend to spread quickly, and it is a good thing to have virus definitions updated automatically. Automatic updates not only ensure that your virus definitions are up-to-date, they eliminate the possibility of you forgetting to update them.

Configure the software to check for updates whenever you go online
Your computer can become infected by a virus anytime you go online, whether you are checking your mail or just browsing sites. Configure the anti-virus software to check for updates when go online, if the feature is available.

Scan 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 set up the anti-virus to perform automatic scans of your entire hard disk on a regular basis.

What To Look For

E-mail Scanning
Most anti-virus software specify that they can scan e-mails. The thing to pay attention to here is whether they state they can scan Web e-mails or mails in e-mail clients. Web e-mails can be scanned by all anti-virus software that are capable of scanning the content of browsers. You should opt for anti-virus software that can scan POP- and IMAP-based e-mail clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, etc. These scan not only incoming e-mails and attachments, they also scan outgoing mail.

Monitoring IM Clients
Instant Messengers (IM clients) have the potential of transmitting viruses because most of them support file transfers.

Free Online Updates
To combat threats arising from newer breeds of viruses and malware, an anti-virus should be kept updated with the latest virus definitions. These virus definitions are available for free download with certain anti-virus software, but some charge a premium to do the same thing-and you end up paying a lot in terms of subscription fees.
A Bundled Firewall
Some anti-viruses come with a firewall. Although these are usually basic and do not offer much in terms of customisability, they do offer some protection, and are worth considering. They're usually better than Windows' Internet Connection Firewall.

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