This page is about the need for antivirus software to secure your pc. Where your firewall software monitors exactly what goes to and comes from the internet, it doesn't prevent getting infected by a virus. Antivirus software scans all incoming files for a virus and prevents getting infected before the virus becomes dangerous for your Windows and personal files! There are many antivirus tools available, some are free (Free AntiVir, AVG Free or Avast) others are well known commercial like McAfee (Network Associates), Norton Anti Virus / Internet Security (Symantec) or Norman. Besides that, there are utilities to detect spyware and adware like Ad-Aware and Windows Defender, discussed elsewhere on this website.
TIP: Whatever virus scan software used, disable the scanning of outgoing e-mail for viruses. If you don't, it happens that presumed send e-mail isn't send at all!
The well known commercial antivirus software have an advantage, they are (probably....) much better in doing their antivirus work Actually, they do their antivirus work so well that they use a lot of system recourses which slows down your computer enormously and makes it difficult to get things done. The price you have to pay is the big disadvantage of commercial antivirus software: you need to pay yearly to keep your pc safe from viruses.
On the other hand there is free antivirus software which are of lower quality but don't use that much of your pc's resources. However, the biggest advantage of free antivirus software: they are 100% free (except for business use)! Three of them are discussed on this website (I prefer AVG):
TIP: The all-in-one Comodo Internet Security contains virus scan software as well!
My personal opinion about antivirus software is that they need regular maintenance and the use of your own brains, else they are almost useless! You probably think that you are (almost) secure with the most expensive antivirus software. This is a big misunderstanding! The most important factor in your security is the person using the pc. You always get infected by the newest and most sophisticated viruses. If the definitions for that viruses aren't available yet in your local virus database, it is highly likely that you get infected by the new viruses!
That's why I always say: use your brains! With every unusual situation, beware that there might be a virus waiting for your confirmation. Most viruses are installed by the user himself! The many infected pc's I have seen (computer help at home service) where running expensive antivirus software, believing they were safe! Keep your virus definitions up to date and run the Windows XP Update/Windows Vista Update regularly, furthermore: only download trustworthy software!
Be aware that the commercial antivirus software like Norton and McAfee are heavy users of the system resources. If you are having an older slower pc, it's not wise to install the latest versions of those on your pc. Save your money if you don't want to get irritated to much because of a slow pc! You can always use the less consuming free antivirus software (AntiVir or Avast).
SECURITY RULES FOR YOURSELF
As said before, a good security starts with yourself. Be careful with downloading unknown software and opening unknown e-mail attachments. Every e-mail with an attachment is suspicious! Attachments with the extension EXE, COM, BAT, JS, VBS, WSH, ... must ring all bells and if you are not sure: don't activate macro's from Office files.
If you have been running your pc for a certain period, you never know whether you are trouble free. Even with the best virus scan software you are not sure. Once you got infected, you will never know if you are clean after removing the virus (what else could be there). There is only one solution that works: imaging the Windows system!!! With an image of your Windows system you can turn back the time to the point you did a clean Windows setup. This can be done with only a few clicks. If you have separated your Windows/software (disk C) and personal data (disk D), you can do this weekly! This website explains how to create a free system imaging boot disk and how to create an image of your Windows system. I can only say: do it at your next Windows setup.
Comodo Internet Security
Installing Windows in 10 steps
Move personal files
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