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Antivirus Software: What You Should Know

Virus Protection Basics

Just a few decades ago, antivirus was almost nonexistent. That changed in 1988 when the Morris worm afflicted over 2,000 computers, and caused damage estimated at up to $10 million dollars. Today computer users must also be concerned with spyware, Trojan attacks, malware and malicious programs created to steal information or just wreak havoc, many of which are able to sneak undetected onto your computer.

That's why procuring a virus scan for Mac computers and PCs alike is a good idea in order to keep your personal information safe. Antivirus software will help block threats, while also helping to warn you about risky websites and dangerous downloads, stop hacking, and protect your identity and privacy.

The Best Antivirus: How to Choose

Depending on the level of protection you need, you can solve your concerns with either an antivirus program, or a full Internet security suite that includes a virus scan, but also has additional components like antispyware, antimalware, intrusion detection, e-mail protection, antispam, antiphishing, Web security, parental controls and computer optimization tools. You can install them onto your computer via digital download, electronic download or with a DVD/CD, to either work locally on your computer, or in a cloud, which eliminates strain on your device's response time. And you can purchase protection good for a set amount of time, or you can get an Internet security subscription, which will typically include automatic updates as they are introduced.

Another option is using a free antivirus program, which will probably take care of the major antivirus tasks you need, but will likely include fewer features, won't have tech support and can, in some cases, allow the company to collect and sell your data.

Other Antivirus Tips

Though you may be tempted, it's best not to run more than one antivirus program on your computer at the same time because each software will attempt to block and remove the other, will fight over viruses, sending you repeated reports and notifications, and will likely sap your power by conducting memory scans and related operations. On the other hand, installing other programs like your favorite tax software or Microsoft Office should not pose a problem, though you may have to adjust the security settings.

If you have an external hard drive, your antivirus protection will cover its contents as long as it's connected to your computer. However, if you connect it to another computer, it won't automatically be protected.