Since you’re on the Internet, you need an Anti Virus program. You need something to protect your computer. But what should you use? How do you get it? And what’s it going to cost?
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at anti-virus software.
- The Harsh Truth About Anti Virus Software.
- Anti Virus Options.
- Avast Free Anti Virus.
- Buying Anti Virus Software.
- Don’t Ignore Out Of Date Warnings.
- Do Not Have Two Anti Virus Programs Installed.
The Harsh Truth About Anti Virus Software.
The truth about anti-virus software is that it can’t protect you from every single threat that you could run into.
It doesn’t matter what any of the AV companies say on their advertising, on their websites or anywhere else, nothing is 100% secure.
It also doesn’t matter how much you pay for protection, something can and could slip through your defences.
The main reasons for that are first, anti-virus software is always playing catch-up with the virus writers, and second, human error. Yeah, we all make mistakes.
So why use anti-virus software at all? The answer to that is without any protection at all, your computer will get infected, and pretty quickly. But by using an anti-virus, you cut down the risk. You reduce the chances of getting infected.
Anti Virus Options.
With all that said, what options do you have? Well, that depends on whether you want free anti-virus software, or you’re prepared to pay for it.
Generally speaking, paid for software will be better than free software, but that doesn’t mean that free is no good. It all depends on what your needs are.
Free Anti Virus Software.
Here At Home Computer, I like free software, I think we probably all do. So the question is, what anti-virus software can you get for free and is it any good? Simple question, but a complicated answer.
Below I’ll recommend 3 free Anti Virus programs that can all do a decent job in the right circumstances.
Your computer has an anti-virus program called Windows Defender built right into it.
Because Defender is part of Windows, you don’t have to install anything extra, which can benefit certain circumstances.
The other advantage of Defender is that it doesn’t “run out”. There’s no time limit on it. It’s there for as long as you keep your PC.
Using Windows Defender you don’t need to do anything, since it’s already installed. You should check it’s working properly, but there’s not much to do other than that.
Like most anti-virus programs, Windows Defender will update itself. It does this through the regular Windows Updates you receive, so you don’t notice it. Although it’s always worth checking that Windows is up to date.
Windows Defender does a reasonable job of keeping your computer free from viruses and malware.
You can find Windows Defender in the hidden icons area.
Left-click on the upward-facing arrowhead to reveal the hidden icons.
Should You Use Windows Defender?
Should you use Windows Defender as your antivirus solution? That all depends on how you use your computer on the Internet.
If you’re the type of user that sticks mainly to recognised, well-respected websites, you don’t download much and if you do, you download from well-known sites, then yes, Defender can do a good job for you.
Bitdefender Free Edition Anti Virus.
Bitdefender is a well known and respected anti-virus company that offers a free version of their Anti Virus program. The free version lacks many of the features of its paid-for cousin.
Bitdefender Free Edition is a small step up from Windows Defender, but obviously, you’ll need to download and install it.
Also, you need to create an account to activate it. But that’s only a matter of supplying an email address and creating a password for your account.
Having to create an account isn’t ideal and they will use your email address to send you promotional offers for their paid-for software.
But they don’t overdo it. In my opinion, if we’re having something for free, we have to allow for some advertising. it can’t be all-take on our part.
Once installed, Bitdefender Free Edition is a very quiet Anti Virus.
There aren’t any settings that you can change, you can’t even manually update it. Although it does update itself automatically.
Bitdefender Free Edition offers a step up in protection over Windows Defender. It sits in the hidden icons area and other than the odd email, you don’t really notice it’s there, except when somethings wrong. Which is what you want.
Avast Free Anti Virus.
Avast Free Anti Virus is a full-featured virus solution program. It is exactly the same as the paid-for version, but without all the extras that you’d get if you bought it.
With the free edition, you get just the anti-virus part of the program but that’s still a lot, that’s still a powerful AV solution.
With Avast Free AV, you’ll obviously need to download and install it, but you don’t have to register or sign up or create an account.
You do, however, have to be careful when installing Avast because they will encourage you to install components that are part of the paid for version.
It’s not difficult to avoid installing anything you don’t want and I’ve got an At Home Computer Guide here How to Install Avast Free Antivirus
The one thing you will get from Avast Free Anti Virus is notifications on your Desktop of various offers and promotions.
Where Bitdefender collects and uses your email address to promote itself, Avast goes directly to your Desktop.
It’s not over the top, not too much, and if you simply ignore the ads, they will reduce in frequency and disappear over time.
Avast Free Anti Virus is the most powerful program here. Its levels of protection equal or better many paid-for products.
AVG Free Anti Virus.
Some of you will either have heard of AVG Free Anti Virus, or maybe you’ve been recommended it by friends, or possibly you’ve even used it.
AVG has been around for as long as I’ve had computers (which is way too long) and has provided good service over the years.
Some years ago, Avast bought out AVG, lock, stock and barrel.
Although you can still download and install AVG, what you actually get is a re-badged version of Avast.
I know it says AVG, but that’s only the badging, it’s Avast that’s doing all the work.
Buying Anti Virus Software.
The final option is, of course, to buy an anti-virus program.
And there are lots of good reasons to pay out for your PC’s protection.
Buying an anti-virus generally gives you a level of protection that you simply can’t get for free. The question is, do you really need it?
And I can’t answer that question for you. Only you can decide that.
But please remember that no matter which antivirus you go for, your not immune to picking up an infection of some sort.
Whether you’re using free or paid for, you can still get infected.
With that said, if I’m pushed to offer my opinion on the best antivirus programs, then the answer is always the same. Norton or Kaspersky.
If you’re going to pay for protection, then buy the best, after all, they all cost around the same amount, so don’t mess about.
Beware Of Auto Renewal.
My one real gripe with paying for anti-virus protection is the auto-renewal option.
It really doesn’t matter which company you buy your antivirus from, they all enrol you in their auto-renewal scheme.
What happens is that when you buy an anti-virus, you’re buying a subscription, which is usually 12 months. After that time, you’ll need to pay again for the next 12 months.
Auto-renewal takes away the hassle of doing that by automatically deducting money from your bank or card at the end of your subscription period to pay for the next 12 months.
The downside is that the price usually goes up. Sometimes double what you paid this year.
To be fair to these companies, everyone that I’ve dealt with, have sent me E-mails telling me what they’re going to charge me and with the option to cancel. Usually around a month before the due date.
But if you miss that E-mail for some reason, you can find that you’re a little short this month.
Don’t Ignore Out Of Date Warnings.
Don’t just ignore your anti-virus software when it complains it’s out of date.
I know what happens, when you get a new computer, it’ll often have a trial version of an anti-virus program already installed on it, or maybe you installed one yourself.
Later you’ll start seeing messages saying your trial is over, or your subscription has expired.
Your not sure what to do, so you just leave it. You ignore it. Don’t do that.
Update it or remove it.
Uninstall old anti-virus programs out of the way.
When an anti-virus program is installed on your PC, it registers itself with Windows Security Centre.
Windows Security then turns Windows Defender off.
That way, you don’t have two anti-virus programs running at the same time.
But here’s the thing, Windows Defender, fully updated, is better than any anti-virus program that is months, or even years out of date.
And the only way to turn Windows Defender back on is to uninstall your current anti-virus program.
So if Kaspersky, Norton, MacAfee, or whatever, is telling you that your subscription is over, your trial has finished, it’s out of date, and you’re not going to renew it, then at least get it out of the way so that Windows Defender can pick up the reins.
Checking Windows Defender Is Working.
If you do uninstall an old anti-virus, it’s worth checking to make sure Windows Defender has kicked in.
On the Taskbar, near the clock, you’ll see an upward-facing arrowhead.
Click the arrowhead and a small window will open. These are the hidden icons.
Click the Windows Defender icon (the shield icon).
The Windows Security window opens.
Turn on any options that are currently turned off.
With that done, click VIRUS & THREAT PROTECTION. It’s the shield icon in the left-hand panel.
On the VIRUS & THREAT PROTECTION page, scroll down a little until you get to the Virus & Threat Protection Updates section.
Click CHECK FOR UPDATES.
The Protection Updates page will open.
Click the Check for Updates button to bring Defender right up to date.
After the updates complete, Windows Defender should be protecting your system.
Do Not Have Two Anti Virus Programs Installed.
You should only ever have one antivirus installed on your computer at any one time.
If you install a second AV, it’ll fight with the first one, and your computer will suffer the consequences.
I’ve lost count of the number of machines that have turned up on my workbench, that won’t start up, simply because there were two anti-virus programs trying to run.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t swap antivirus programs, change from one to another.
That’s perfectly fine, do that, but uninstall the old one first, then install the new one.
Never, ever have two on your computer at the same time.
Should You Uninstall Windows Defender?
NO. Don’t even try to uninstall Windows Defender.
Windows Defender is a special case. It comes with Windows, and as such, you can’t just uninstall it.
When a new anti-virus program is installed on your computer, no matter which one, Windows Defender will automatically be turned off. You don’t need to do anything.
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