Anti Virus Software
Component of the
Home Computer Security Baseline
"Anti virus Software: can't live with it, can't live without it" - The Free Computer Consultant
Why would a computer consultant make a statement like that?
Simple. This software is a system leech. Loading the program at boot time increases the time it takes for the computer to "wake up" and get to the point where you can use it. And once it is fired up and running, depending on the individual antivirus software you choose to install, it can eat up 5 - 35% (some say more) of your computer's power the whole time you use it!
Antivirus is one component of products typically sold as "Internet Security Software"
Unfortunately, I don't see a day coming when we won't need this system hog on our PC's. Unless you have a "closed" system, i.e. a computer with no network access (wired or wireless), no floppy drive, no CD drive, no USB ports, absolutely NO WAY to transfer information to the machine, you NEED protection of this type.
So just because the software claims to be internet security software, don't think it's only for computers connecting to the internet. What we are looking at here is the anti virus component of that software suite.
Do we just go out and buy the #1 rated product?
You could. But that would be a mistake. The Free Computer Consultant is going to save you from making that mistake.
Now it might surprise you to know that the biggest name in internet security software is the one at the high end of that power consumption. It might also surprise you to know that the computers that I am most often asked to clean are "protected" with that biggest name product.
Now, in fairness to the big names, some virus writes will target the biggest names because that's where they get the biggest bang for the buck. How do they target? By actually trying to determine if that product is running on the PC and attempt to disable it or shut it down! They can't look for ALL anti virus products, so they look for the ones most likely to be present.
Keep in mind that all anti virus software will miss certain viruses at one point or another, none is perfect. But when one software, whether reviewed #1 or not, has a history with me of being the one that failed most often AND sucks the most power out of the PC, it shouldn't surprise you that I choose a different product to use.
It also shouldn't surprise you to know that I'm always researching to find a better product than what I have been using! In fact, recently, I may have found a better product...More on that later.
The product I am currently installing on standalone (non-corporate network) computers is Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security. I use the corporate version of this product with my consulting clients and have been very happy with its performance and usability. The home version seems to do a similar job.
(Note: While PC-cillin doesn't necessarily capture top honors every year in current reviews, remember what I said about leap frogging.)
What I'm looking for out of this product is primarily the anti virus component and the software firewall component. It also contains antispam, anti spyware and anti phishing, but those are secondary considerations for me. If you wonder why those issues are secondary, check out proper home computer User Behavior.
Now, whichever anti virus software you are using, this next point is CRITICAL!
Antivirus software is almost USELESS if you do not constantly update the virus definitions!
I see this so many times. The computer comes with a free 30, 90, or even 1 year subscription to some flavor of antivirus software. 2 years later, the PC is infected beyond belief and the user just doesn't understand why.
You MUST keep a current subscription with the vendor so that you can get DAILY updates to the virus definitions file. Anti virus vendors talk about writing code that will recognize new threats based on behavior without an actual definition, but that seems to rarely be the case.
Anti virus software is absolutely dependent on continuous updates of patterns to look for programs that have been identified by humans as being a new threat. Don't let your subscription lapse!
That being said, don't pay through the nose to get that subscription renewed either. That's one reason I recommend Trend Micro. Even though they have recently increased the cost of renewals, many companies essentially charge you all over again each year.
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