Antivirus Software: How to Choose the Best Download
With cybercriminals coming up with new ways to target victims every day, no one can afford to have their computers unprotected. Antivirus software is one of the first lines of defense, but with each offering different features, it can be difficult to know which works best for each type of user. This page refers primarily to software for Windows-based machines. See also the Best Mac Antivirus Software.
What is Antivirus Software?
Antivirus softwareprovides computers and its users a line of protection against the viruses, spyware, Trojans, wormsand other malwarethat invade computers. If infected by a virus, computers and networks are susceptible to corruption and stolen data. Viruses also can use a PC to help spread itself to others via the Internet.
A recent study from McAfee revealed one in every six PCs isn’t protected by antivirus software.
"The freedom to browse the Internet comes with the added risk of unwanted exposure, and cybercriminals are preying on unsuspecting victims," said Steve Petracca, senior vice president and general manager of consumer small business and mobile at McAfee. "With the increasing number of global cyber-attacks affecting consumers, it is critical that the 17 percent of consumers that are unprotected update their virus protection before it's too late."
Choosing the Best Antivirus Software
One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing antivirus software is the scope of its protection. Effective antivirus software should be able to protect computers and networks from traditional viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware, as well as keyloggers, phishing scams, email-borne threats and rootkits.
For those without much computer experience, it's important to consider the ease of installation, setup and use. Since new viruses are being introduced regularly, it is also critical to look for antivirus software that offers routine updates.
It's also important to look for antivirus software that offers an automatic update feature, according to Online Cyber Safety. Since new versions of old viruses can appear daily, Online Cyber Safety notes, it's important that the computer be "vaccinated" regularly against the new variant.
You should also research the types of features each software offers, usability and performance benefits, as well how much help and support is offered for users who run into problems.
Download or Disk?
Most of the best antivirus options offer choices for either installing software or downloading it directly from the company's website. Both choices offer the same protection and advantages.
Best Antivirus Software Products
The best antivirus software options must simultaneously offer tightknit security and be easy to use. McAfee and Symantec, which produces Norton Antivirus, are two of the largest antivirus software companies that together provide security to millions of home users.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is one option that ensures users are covered from every angle. Its Active Virus Control uses proactive measures to monitor all application activity and also protects users from any threats via social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Another highly rated option is Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2012, which includes advanced technologies to detect and prevent new and emerging threats. The software comes with three licenses and works on both laptops and netbooks.
Panda Antivirus Pro also scores well among consumers for providing a system to prevent malware from changing files or entries in the Windows registry. A highlight of this option is that it taps into user data it generates from around the world to quickly identify and contain viruses and send out an antidote.
F-Secure Anti-Virus earns high marks for its innovative interface, while AVG Anti-Virus scores well for using cloud technology to quickly implement defenses against zero-day threats.