Introduction to Antivirus Software (Including Recommendations)

Dangers loom everywhere on the internet, and when surfing the net, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Even though you may not intentionally visit suspicious websites, one wrong click to a seemingly innocent site can still leave your computer infected with a malicious computer virus or malware. Once on your computer, these harmful programs can steal your sensitive information and destroy your files. Often, infected machines need to have their hard drives wiped completely clean in order to truly eradicate the virus. This results in the loss of files, photos and other vital data.

Computer Websites Being HackedHackers and other miscreants are constantly churning out new viruses and malware that is designed to steal financial information, website passwords and other sensitive information from innocent victims. Millions of new viruses pop up each year and new threats are discovered every day. In this constantly changing environment, it is impossible to completely avoid the threat of viruses, but using trustworthy antivirus software can minimize your risk for infection and the damage done.

What Is Antivirus Software?

Antivirus software is a program that is designed to find and neutralize malware and viruses. These programs are able to scan your computer’s hard drive and identify files that are malicious or suspicious. The antivirus software can attempt to delete, quarantine, or trigger an alert when it detects files that are harmful. Additionally, many antivirus software suites also have settings that can prevent your computer from downloading or executing harmful files in the first place.

Use Caution When Choosing Antivirus Software

Unfortunately, in the world of antivirus software, not all products provide equal protection. As awareness of antivirus software has spread, even antivirus programs have become the target of unscrupulous hackers and attackers. As a result, there are many programs on the internet that appear to be legitimate antivirus suites, yet they are really malicious programs designed to steal information and infect machines. This all-too-common scenario makes it even more important to choose a trustworthy antivirus software solution.

Thankfully, there are many trustworthy companies that produce antivirus software. These products have a wide range of features and a wide range of costs, but the available options provide a large scope of legitimate software suites to choose from.

Choosing the Best Antivirus Solution

The first aspect to consider when choosing antivirus software is typically cost. Full featured suites can cost a pretty penny, but there are also free options that provide adequate coverage for home computer users. The most popular free option is Microsoft Security Essentials.

Microsoft entered the antivirus arena in 2009, with its Microsoft Security Essentials product. Offered for free, this product provides a good level of support and protection for users of Microsoft Windows products. MSE has received rave reviews since its release, and it is currently the most popular antivirus software used in North America and the second most popular antivirus software used worldwide.

The product is easy to download and install, and is an excellent choice for those who are not computer savvy. Due to these factors, MSE is a full-featured suite that can be safely recommended for the vast majority of computer users. It can be downloaded here.

However, MSE can only be used on legally licensed Windows computers. For those who wish to seek other options here is a short list of the top software providers for both free and premium antivirus suites. While this list may not include all trustworthy antivirus vendors, it includes a good variety of different programs that should meet the needs of most computer users.

Free Antivirus Software Products
AVG Antivirus: http://free.avg.com
Avast!: http://www.avast.com

Premium Antivirus Software Products
McAfee VirusScan: http://www.mcafee.com
Symantic: http://www.symantic.com
Trend Micro: http://www.trendmicro.com
Kaspersky: http://www.kaspersky.com

Keeping Your Computer Safe

It is important to remember that even though antivirus software provides protection from malicious files, it is not foolproof. While the products available do an excellent job of detecting known viruses, there is always the potential of becoming infected with a piece of malware that is not yet detectable. The best way to avoid this scenario is to practice overall safe computing habits combined with your antivirus software.

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