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Anti-virus Software – Advice

While performing computer M.O.Ts for people, I find that a lot of them have some form of malware (malicious software) or even virus on them (the difference between the terms ‘virus’, ‘malware’, ‘adware’ and so on is a subject for another post!). ┬áThe computers/laptops almost always have an anti-virus program installed on them and so the question that the customer will ask me is: “How did it get in? I have an anti-virus program on there!”. I then explain that no anti-virus program, paid for or free, can be 100% effective – it just is not possible. New viruses and malware are released everyday so even a very regularly updated anti-virus program can not catch absolutely everything. Not all forms of malware are automatically classified as ‘malware’ by an anti-virus program, some are what are called ‘Potentially Unwanted Programs’ (i.e. programs that have been installed on your computer when you were installing something else as part of an advertising campaign – see my last post for more information and how to avoid them).

The next question that some customers ask is, very reasonably, “What is the point of having an anti-virus program then if viruses still get in?”. The answer is that it can be compared to your house – you can lock all of your doors and windows, have a burglar alarm fitted, and take all reasonable precautions and if a burglar really wants to get into your house, they will get in. This is similar to an anti-virus program: they will protect you from a lot of malicious software but some determined viruses will still get into your computer, even with updated anti-virus software. If you don’t install any anti-virus software at all then you could say that it is like leaving the front door to your house unlocked so more people can get in more easily.

If an anti-virus program is needed (and for all but the most experienced users who are not using Microsoft Windows, it definitely is), then which one to go for? There is a huge range available, from paid to free, from simply providing virus protection to offering lots of other extras (firewalls, data back-up, etc.). Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” solution. However, if you are using an older computer then look for something that is relatively light on resources. A reasonable, free solution is Microsoft Security Essentials (if you are using Windows 7 or below) or Windows Defender which comes installed as part of Windows 8/8.1. Importantly, always keep your anti-virus program and definitions up to date.

If you are looking for an anti-virus program then I can advise you on a solution that is appropriate for your computer, and can often provide and configure a free anti-virus program for you. Simply contact me for a discussion or to receive a quote.

If you have a virus on your computer already and are having difficulty removing it, then I can remove it for you. Contact me for a quote, and while there I can advise you on anti-virus software and how to avoid viruses in the future.

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