At this stage of the At Home Computer Beginners Course I thought it would be helpful to give a little advice about anti virus software. There is an awful lot of rubbish written about AV software. It’s all over the ‘net. Just try Googling “best anti virus” and you’ll be inundated with top tens lists, all recommending something different.
The truth is that many of these websites get paid when you install/buy one of the programs that they list. They’re simply not independent.
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 in 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.
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 isn’t any good. It all depends on what your needs are.
Your computer has an anti-virus program called Windows Security (it used to be called Windows Defender) built right into it.
Previous attempts by Microsoft to produce effective protection for Windows have failed abysmally, but since the introduction of Windows Defender, things have gotten better. Much better.
Windows Security/Defender can be considered a very viable anti-virus option for most people.
Windows Security is “free” with Windows 10 and 11. You don’t need to install anything extra and it will update itself through Windows Updates.
You should, however, check that it is working properly.
We have already covered Windows Security here Microsoft Windows Security Anti-Virus.
Third Party Anti-Virus.
You can, of course, use a third-party anti-virus solution. There are many AV software companies out there to choose from. Some offer free versions of their software alongside the paid-for versions.
Generally speaking, the free versions are the exact same anti-virus software as their paid-for cousins. The main difference is that the paid-for versions will have extra protection added to them such as a firewall, software updater, browser protection etc.
For a lot of home computer users, it’s just the AV component that you need. The extras are useful but will rarely be used.
Beware Of Auto-Renewal.
If you are going to pay for an anti-virus program, then be aware that you will automatically be enrolled into what’s called Auto-Renewal.
When you buy an AV, you’re usually buying it for 12 months (although there are longer deals available). After the 12 month period, you’ll need to pay again. Which is where Auto-renewal kicks in.
Auto-renewal will automatically deduct money from your bank or card at the end of your subscription period to pay for the next 12 months.
I often get asked which AV software I’d recommend, but this is increasingly a difficult question to answer. Personally, I use Norton on my main machine and Windows Security on all the others.
I’ll supplement that with a program called Malwarebytes, which I use as an “on-demand scanner”. If you’re interested in Malwarebytes then please check this guide to setting it up How To Scan Your Computer With Malwarebytes.
Given that no AV solution is going to be perfect, I think it’s much more important to concentrate on having effective and up-to-date backups of both your files and your computer.