Pretty much every average computer user already knows how important it is to have antivirus software installed on your computer or mobile device. Most of us know that you absolutely have to have antivirus software, otherwise you are running a huge risk and your computer might be in great danger. With the number of new, sophisticated and extremely malicious pieces of malware being thrown out there every single day, you just can’t take that risk.
However, it can be hard to decide which antivirus product to choose and what to look for when choosing one. There are tons of antivirus products out there and if you are not an expert in the field, you might easily get confused.
Here are some of the things that should make it easier for you to pick antivirus software that will protect you and your data, keep malware away and not cause a significant strain on your budget.
This one is pretty obvious and it’s a rule that is applied to any kind of purchase, not just antivirus software. Obviously, you want to buy a product that will not make a huge dent in your budget but you don’t want to buy the cheapest software there is, because a very low price most often means that it is sketchy and unreliable. So, here’s the trick. If you know a thing or two about antivirus software, then by all means, look into more expensive plans and packages and see if they are worth the money. If you are basically clueless in this field, then go for the best-selling product, because it will probably represent the best combination of price, features and reliability.
Not all antivirus software works on all devices. If you have more than one device, for example one desktop, one laptop, one tablet and one smart phone, you want to pick a product that is compatible with those platforms, and also a product that can be used on several devices simultaneously. Many antivirus programs are compatible with more than just one major operating system, so you will definitely want to go with one of them.
Another thing – if you use Windows, make sure the product you are looking to buy is compatible with the exact version of the operating system you are running. You can’t use antivirus designed for Windows 10 if you are using, say, Windows Vista.
3. Malware Scans
Viruses are not the only malicious agents that can put your computer at risk. There are all sorts of different kinds of malware out there and viruses are just one of them, albeit the most serious and dangerous ones. So, you want an antivirus program that scans, detects, and protects you from spyware, ransomware, adware, spam, phishing, etc. Nowadays, most antivirus programs do include this comprehensive malware detection, but you might want to double check on that, just in case.
4. Speed and System Impact
When you install antivirus software, it is supposed to stay on, running silently in the background as you go about your business on your computer. These programs are always doing something – if they are not scanning, they are downloading and installing updates or simply being on guard for viruses and intruders.
Depending on the software, this can put quite a strain on your system and reduce its speed and performance. This is particularly true in the case of scans. Quick scans can be completed in a matter of minutes, but full scans, which should be performed periodically, are heavier and may definitely slow things down. So, look for software that is known for low system impact and speedy scans.
5. E-mail Scanning
You would be surprised how much malware gets into your computer through e-mail. We usually associate viruses with shady websites and downloads and we don’t even think about how safe our e-mail is, but let us tell you – it’s not. We are not talking about e-mails from your boss or your wife, but mostly about spam. Viruses can lurk in links in text body, or in attachments. Spam mail can actually be pretty insidious and look close to legit, so it’s very easy to make the mistake of opening one, maybe even clicking on the link or downloading a file. E-mail scanning is not something that just goes without saying when it comes to antivirus programs, so you should definitely look for software that includes this important feature.
6. Download Scanning
As we said above, a lot of malware gets into your computer through downloads. No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance some virus or spyware will sneak into your system by this route. A good antivirus program protects your computer not just while you are browsing, but also when you are about to download any sort of file, be it from an e-mail or an online source. This is definitely a feature you should look for in antivirus software.
7. Ease of Use
Whether you are a beginner, a casual computer user or an advanced one, you probably want software that is not too demanding or complicated to use. Since an antivirus is something that should be present on every computer, programmers try to make the software as simple and user-friendly as possible. However, not all of them succeed and some programs can be quite hard to master. Basic operations, from download and installation to database updates and scans – these things should be a piece of cake for any kind of user.
8. Free Trial
This is a feature that comes with many antivirus programs but unfortunately not all of them. This is a shame in our opinion since we feel it’s an absolute must. How else are you supposed to know whether particular software works for you or not if you don’t get to test-drive it first? With a free trial – an actual free trial, not one where you required to use your credit card – you can install the program and see how it works, how it feels to you and how reliable it really is. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly long period – a couple of days will do. After that, you can actually make an educated decision whether you’re going to buy the product or keep looking.