Buying Antivirus Software

Antivirus applications do much more than detect viruses. Most antivirus applications can detect and neutralize multiple types of malware, including viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware, and even phishing attacks. Each antivirus application has its own methods of detecting and attacking viruses. Most current antivirus software uses a combination of a database of known viruses and a heuristic engine. What differentiates them is ease of use, and the accuracy and frequency of program updates. Antivirus software should be able to detect and, at a minimum, quarantine infected or suspicious files, to keep a virus from spreading. Even better is software that can eliminate a virus completely.

Antivirus software generally works in one of two ways: as an application that is always running in the background, to ensure that no virus gains access, or as an application or online service that runs in batch mode. Many batch mode systems let you select a predetermined time to run the application, usually at system bootup or shutdown. Batch processing may be a good choice for older computer systems that lack sufficient memory or processor power to continuously run antivirus software. It also helps avoid conflicts with other applications and application installers. Some antivirus programs offer you the choice of running them in the background or in batch mode.

Some antivirus software offers additional features, such as the ability to detect and remove spyware. With the expansion of spyware, this is an important feature, although dedicated anti-spyware programs are also available. Families with young children may need parental control features. Another common feature is spam filtering. Many newer email clients have built-in spam filters, so this feature is not critical.

Hardly a week goes by without a new virus, Trojan horse, worm, spyware, or other form of malware. Protecting your computer from malicious intruders requires a healthy dose of attention and a great help from antivirus software.