7 Things to look for when buying an Antivirus

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Viruses bugging you huh? Trust me, we’ve all been there. But before you go ahead and sink your heard-earned cash into that Antivirus software, don’t you think you should check to see if such a software would be beneficial to you in any way int he long run? Here’s seven things you should look for:

  1. Realtime Scanner
    A realtime scanner, in essence, scans files as the computer accesses them. Any antivirus worth its salt comes with a real-time scanner, just in case there are viruses on your PC that are dormant waiting for when you double-clickt hem to activate themselves. Good examples of this kind of threat are Trojan Horses, hanging out in files waiting for someone to open them so they can go memory-resident. Realtime Scanners catch them before they get into your computer and muck up the works
  2. On Demand Scanner
    You think you have a virus? Where? Just tell the On Demand Scanner where to look for it (or if you have no clue, tell the scanner to scan the entire drive). On Demand Scanners give the user the ability to intiate his/her scan at his/her own scheduled pace and time. It’s the other half of the scan team (the Realtime Scan being the first half). Together they make for a great all-around protection system. Almost all antiviruses these days come with these features, so including them here is just for explanation’s sake.
  3. Heuristics
    A big word with a simple meaning. Basically, Heuristics are the “predictive” part of an antivirus system. They have a database of generic virus types and scan files to see if they match any of the headers contained in those virus prototype descriptions. If they do find something, they flag it, because at the rate viruses are coming out, it pays to be well informed and up to date. Heuristics limit the damage that new viruses cause by taking them out of action before they can cause any unwanted side effects.
  4. Compressed File Scanner
    The single most effective way of transmitting viruses over the internet is via compressed archives. A ZIP or RAR Archive makes file sizes smaller by snipping out useless bits and packing. The danger in these files is that you can’t see what’s in them until you open the file. However, since these files are being used with increasing frequency, Antivirus makers have included Compressed Archive Scanners into their products, so you can scan the archive before it’s opened. This handy little feature has saved me from many a Trojan Horse.
  5. Script Blocking
    A Script is a series of commands scheduled to run in a browser or program when the time comes for it to be called. Many websites use safe and certified scripts, but every once in a while you get a site with a malicious bit of scripting. Antiviruses that have script blockers stop these annoying pests from infecting, limiting and redirecting your browser to places you don’t want to go.
  6. Email Scanning
    All antivirus programs come with a POP3 email plugin for whatever program you’re using. A good antivirus comes with webmail scanning as well. Face it, because of the sheer trouble one has to set up Outlook or Outlook Express on one’s Windows machine, it’s easier to just check the mail online. However, some antiviruses don’t scan webmail applications and that’s a doorway for incoming viruses. This is something you need to check if you’re a webmail user.
  7. Automatic Updates
    You have to stay current or else before you know it, there will be strange things happening to your PC, and neither you nor your antivirus will know what’s going on. Both the virus definition file and the program files that the antivirus client uses need to be updated regularly (I update mine once a week). If you can’t be bothered to manually update your antivirus, please ensure that it has an automatic update function and that said function is turned on. We don’t want to be running around with outdated databases do we?

I’d go about telling you which Antivirus I use, but they don’t pay me for advertising, so all I can say is follow the guidelines when you’re checking for your new antivirus. Chances are you’ll be able to save yourself some headache in the future.


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