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Antivirus Software Buyers Guide

As the internet continues to feature so prominently in our day to day lives, antivirus software is more important than ever to protect your computer from malicious intruders that are lurking all over email and the net. Malware comes in the form of viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware and phishing attacks and the majority of antivirus software can detect and neutralise the majority of threats. The methods different antivirus packages use tend to fit into one of two camps and there are benefits and drawbacks of each style of detection.

The first style is a heuristic system that detects virus structures and activities. Its advantages include the fact that it rarely needs to be update and can respond to new and original attacks. The heuristic engines do, however, have a habit of producing false positives, meaning files are flagged that aren’t actually viruses.

The second style will very rarely produce false positives as files are compared to a database of known malicious files and software. This style, however, needs regular updates to keep on top of the latest viruses although this often automated. The best antivirus software will use a combination of the two. Lately there has been the emergence of online virus detection, which can be found in Panda’s new Cloud Antivirus edition. The software takes advantage of always on broadband, continually gathering the latest antivirus information from a variety of users.

At the very least your antivirus package should be able to detect and quarantine malicious software although the majority will in fact eliminate threats completely. When buying an antivirus package don’t just consider the basic detection/neutralisation features but look for parental control, firewalls, spyware removal and spam filtering. Whilst these are all available separate from an antivirus package, they’re handy extras to keep everything running smoothly and safely!

Ease of use is also a very important factor in deciding which antivirus package to buy. Microsoft Security Essentials 1.0 is known for its simple user interface but look at AVG 9.0 and Avast for alternatives. This coincides somewhat with performance. When you’re running a full scan, you shouldn’t be able to tell. That is to say your computer should not begin running slow. To be fair, any well known brand will offer this. The time it actually takes for each piece of software will vary between around half an hour to an hour with AVG 9.0 known for being fairly rapid.

When actually buying antivirus software, be careful you’re actually getting something for your money. The likes of Avast are actually completely free and, even though more comprehensive programmes are available, the majority of home users will find free antivirus software sufficed. For home use, prices are typically under £20. For small businesses, antivirus packages that fit onto a router may be a suitable alternative in offices where there are multiple computers. McAfee and Norton offer comprehensive business antivirus solutions.





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