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The Complete Guide to Choosing Antivirus Software for Your Computer

published 6/6/2022

Your computer is your lifeline to the internet and all of its wonders. It's also home to all of your personal information. For that reason, it's important to have antivirus software installed on your computer to protect you from online threats.

According to research, about 87% of the US population believes that data protection is a human right. Still, over 40% of them reuse passwords, save their credit card information online, use public WiFi, and overlook antivirus software.

Antivirus is especially important, but choosing antivirus software for your needs can be overwhelming. There are so many options on the market, and they all claim to be the best.

Not to worry, we're here to help. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about antivirus software so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

What's the Usability and Reliability Like?

Antivirus software should be designed for the average person to use. If it's not, you're likely to run into problems. The best antivirus software is easy to use and reliable. It doesn't cause your computer to crash or slow down.

When choosing antivirus software, always check reviews from other users. You want to be sure that you're choosing a program that is well-liked and has few complaints.

Additionally, make sure the program you choose is compatible with the operating system you're using.

If you use multiple devices, look for a multi-device protection program. This way, you can protect all of your devices with one subscription.

Does It Have Optimum Malware Protection?

According to research, about 560,000 new pieces of malware are detected every day. That's a lot of malware to sift through and protect your computer from.

The best antivirus software will have a heuristic engine that can detect new, unknown viruses based on their behavior rather than their digital signature.

It'll also have a sandboxing environment that runs risky programs in a separate area, so they can't harm your computer if they turn out to be malicious. A rollback feature that can undo changes made by malware and restore your files to their previous state is also integral.

Even better, if you can find an antivirus that features a malicious website blocker that can prevent you from accidentally visiting a site known to host malware, you'll be better off.

The type of program you need depends on what you're using your computer for and how much protection you want or need. For example, if you conduct a lot of business online, you might want more comprehensive protection against viruses, worms, Trojan horses, keyloggers, and rootkits.

On the other hand, if you use your computer primarily for personal use and don't store sensitive information on it, you might get away with a less comprehensive program.

What Are the Included Features?

There are numerous antivirus software options, most of which are very different. Some common features you might want to look for include:

Real-time scanning: Scanning your computer is quite integral. This feature looks for threats as they happen and prevents them from infecting your system.

Scheduled scanning: This feature runs scans at regular intervals (daily, weekly, etc.) to ensure that your system is always protected.

On-demand scanning: This feature lets you run manual scans whenever you want. This is useful if you think your system might be infected or if you want to check for vulnerabilities before installing new software.

Vulnerability scanning: This feature looks for weaknesses in your system that malware could exploit.

Application control: This feature prevents unknown or untrusted applications from running on your system.

Web filtering: This feature blocks access to malicious or phishing websites.

Email filtering: This feature blocks email attachments that could contain malware.

Firewall protection: This feature prevents unauthorized access to your system.

What's the Update Frequency?

Your antivirus software is only as good as its last update. As new threats emerge, your program must have the most recent data to identify and protect against them.

Older programs can leave you vulnerable because they don't have the definitions necessary to identify and stop newer malware.

If you're choosing between two programs and one updates more frequently, it's usually the better option.

Consider how often your computer is used and if you need that level of protection. For example, if you leave your computer on all the time and browse the internet frequently, you'll want software that offers regular software updates. If you use your computer less often, you might be able to get away with updates that aren't as frequent.

What System Resources Does It Utilize?

When choosing an antivirus software provider, you'll want to ensure that it doesn't bog down your system. Some programs are more resource-intensive than others and can slow down your computer's processing speed, making it difficult to perform even basic tasks.

You can assess a program's impact on system resources by reading online customer reviews or checking the system requirements. In general, programs that have a smaller footprint are less likely to slow down your computer.

You'll also want to be sure that the software you choose doesn't negatively impact battery life. Laptop users, in particular, should pay attention to this aspect, as it can be frustrating to have your battery drain quickly when you're on the go.

Pricing

Of course, you'll also want to consider the cost of the software.

There are free and paid options available, and both have their pros and cons. In general, free antivirus software is less comprehensive than paid options but can still offer basic protection.

Paid antivirus software is usually more comprehensive but can be costly. Some suites even come with additional features like identity theft protection or parental controls.

You'll need to decide what level of protection you need and whether you're willing to pay for it.

For paid software, comparing software costs can help you get the best deal. Many companies offer discounts for multiple licenses, so if you have more than one device, it's worth looking into.

You should also consider whether the company offers a free trial. This can be helpful if you're not sure if you want to commit to a paid subscription.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Antivirus Software

Choosing antivirus software doesn't have to be a daunting task. By understanding your needs and doing some research, you can find a program that offers the protection you need without breaking the bank.

If you keep your software up-to-date and conduct regular scans, you can rest assured that your computer is safe from the latest threats.

Now you know the ins and outs of choosing antivirus software. Check our free help center for even more informative answers to computer problems.