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Choose The Right Antivirus
Answer three simple questions to determine which antivirus can meet your specific needs.

STEP 1

What is your operating system?

STEP 2

Do you need online protection?

STEP 3

How much are you willing to spend per year?

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FAQ

? What are computer viruses?

Computer viruses are very similar to “natural” viruses or microorganisms that attack the human body and cause illness. The main similarity is the fact they are able to replicate themselves and invade the entire system (whether we’re talking about the human body or a computer), causing disease and malfunction. Computer viruses are basically pieces of code that duplicate themselves to a detrimental effect, which can range from minor nuisances to major problems such as complete breakdown and personal data and identity theft.

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?What is antivirus software?

Antivirus software is obviously software that aims to identify, isolate and destroy computer viruses. Most AV programs provide active protection against incoming threats, but they also search the system for viruses that have already infiltrated and started corrupting files throughout it. This passive form of protection, in form of scans, can be scheduled for the purposes of prevention, and can be performed on demand, whenever the user suspects there might be something wrong with the system.

Most antivirus software uses a database of virus signatures, which is how they are able to not only detect the known viruses but also to make assumptions and warnings about suspicious files.
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? How does antivirus software work?

An antivirus program can either work quietly in the background, checking the incoming information, or it can work through a scan. In both cases, it searches for known viruses, using the virus signature database, but more importantly, it also works heuristically, meaning it looks for files or pieces of code that exhibit some form of bad behavior and can therefore be considered malicious.

On-access scanning, which means intercepting incoming viruses, is usually enough in terms of protection, but it’s recommended to perform occasional full system scans, especially after you have just installed an antivirus program.

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? What types of antivirus software exist?

Most antivirus software nowadays uses similar virus identification and neutralization techniques and methods. Some programs only use one or two of them and some use all of them. These methods include signature-based detection (the most common method), heuristics (essential against brand new viruses), rootkit detection (used against rootkits which are usually able to bypass other common forms of AV protection) and real-time protection (a.k.a. resident shield, background guard, autoprotect, etc, used against viruses already in the system but not yet activated).

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? Do I need antivirus software?

Absolutely. Everyone who owns a computer, regardless of the amount of time spent online, should and must get some kind of antivirus protection. Computer viruses are created at an astounding rate and just when we think we got a hold of the existing ones, new ones emerge. Virus creators also learned how to make them mutate, which makes the antivirus struggle even more difficult. The second you go online, your computer gets attacked by hundreds, if not thousands of viruses, which is why it’s vital to install an antivirus program on your computer before you go online for the first time. It’s also important to keep the databases updated regularly and to perform periodical full system scans.

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? How do I get antivirus software?

There are dozens of great antivirus companies with different types of antivirus software, from programs for basic users to advanced software for large companies. Some antivirus programs are free and some are per pay, with prices that range from very affordable to quite expensive. It’s recommended to do some research and see which are the best AV companies out there right now. Once you install your antivirus software, you are pretty much set, if not for good, then for a long while, since most AV software gets updated automatically and all you have to do is to make sure it’s always on.

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? What is the difference between viruses, malware and spyware?

Malware is actually an umbrella term, composed of the words “malicious” and “software.” It includes viruses, spyware, Trojans, worms, adware, etc. The term “virus” used to be generic but today means specifically a piece of code able to replicate itself. A worm is also self-replicating, but unlike a virus, it does not attach itself to a Windows program or process and instead runs in the background. A Trojan is a piece of software that appears to be something else, something familiar and harmless, but turns out to be malicious.

Spyware is a different category, as the name refers not to the nature of malware, but to its action. Spyware is malware that monitors your activity and basically steals your data.

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? I have a Mac, do I need an antivirus?

Contrary to the popular belief, yes, you do. Perhaps there was a time when Apple computers were immune to viruses and other malware, but unfortunately that’s no longer the case. Apple computers are still way less susceptible to malware compared to Windows ones, and they are usually not susceptible to the viruses designed for Windows, but today we have malware created specifically with the purpose of invading OS devices.

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? Does antivirus software protect me online?

Most antivirus programs used these days include some sort of internet security suite. This extra form of protection is supposed to stop malware before it even reaches your computer. In addition to this build-in online protection, there are also various browser add-ons and programs such as anti-spyware, anti-adware, e-mail protection and spam filters. It’s recommended you check the list of features and look for internet security before you buy or download an antivirus program.

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? How much does antivirus software cost?

Antivirus software prices range anywhere from free to affordable to very expensive. What kind of AV protection you are going to go for and how much you will pay depends on your specific needs. In many cases, free AV software will work just fine, but some users, especially professionals, businesses and companies with a lot of computers, servers and data, require more advanced and therefore more expensive protection. If you opt for paid antivirus, you will basically be paying not for the software itself, but for the permission to use the antivirus database, and you will be making regular payments, usually on a yearly basis.

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? How do I pick the best antivirus software?

First of all, you need to figure out what your needs are. If you are spending a reasonable amount of time online and have no super-important data on your computer that needs protection, you can probably go for a more affordable type of antivirus software that has all the basic features and not much of the advanced stuff. However, if you have higher security needs, you should opt for a package that offers better, more customizable protection at a higher cost. Always check all the features in a package and make sure all the essentials are there. Also, always go for well-known, reliable and experienced AV companies.

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? Can I use two antivirus programs at the same time?

Technically, you can, but it’s not recommended. It would seem logical that doubling the safeguards means doubling the protection, but that’s not really the case. Two AV programs running simultaneously can not only confuse each other but may also clash and reduce each other’s efficiency. That’s why it’s recommended to install any new AV software only after you have uninstalled any previously used ones.

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? Will antivirus software slow my computer down?

Even though an antivirus program is going to run continuously in the background, it doesn’t mean it will slow down your computer, affect your internet speed or anything like that. These programs are designed so that you forget they’re even there until they warn you of a threat. As for the scans, they tend to be more demanding, especially full system and in-depth scans, but even if they do affect your computer speed, it will be only a minor slowdown, and it will only last for a bit.

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? Is there antivirus software available for mobile devices?

Yes. With the ever-increasing popularity of mobile devices, the number of viruses and other forms of malware targeting smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed. Most popular and trustworthy AV companies offer antivirus protection for mobile devices, often in the same package as the software for computers, as a free bonus or available upon payment of a small fee.

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? What is Internet security software?

Put simply, Internet security software are programs that keep you safe and protected from malware during your online sessions. When you browse the web, download sites, stream media and so on, you are exposed to malware. It can compromise the integrity of your computer or your personal information and privacy.

These programs take care of the security of your browser, of all the data that comes in and out through your network, as well as authentication and protection processes through special Internet protocols. Antivirus, anti-spyware and other anti-malware programs, as well as firewalls and advanced encryption are the main and the most common forms of Internet security available to users these days.

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? How can I safely browse the Internet?

Phishing, identity theft, infection with viruses, spyware, ransomware, Trojans and other malware – these are the most common dangers that lurk from the web from the very first moment you connect. The best way to protect yourself, your privacy, identity and precious data, as well as your computer, is to get some sort of Internet security or anti-malware software.

After you get a reliable Internet security suite, make sure to keep it updated and running all the time. Never ever access the Internet without this sort of protection. Second, keep your eye open for suspicious websites, ads and pop-ups. Only give your personal info to websites you absolutely trust and be particularly careful with online shopping and banking.

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? How can I protect my e-mail?

E-mails get hacked all the time. Sometimes it’s a minor nuisance, a virus that starts sending spam to your contacts, but sometimes it can cause serious, even irreparable damage, since many forms of malware actually enter through e-mail. The best way to protect your e-mail is to get an Internet security suite that includes strong and reliable e-mail protection for all your devices. It should also include anti-malware, anti-phishing, anti-spyware and anti-spam protection

Besides that, you should make sure that you are using a strong password – a combination of letters and numbers, with both lower and upper case letters. Also, beware of public PCs and open Wi-Fi connections. Do not give your e-mail address to just anyone and don’t post it all around the web, on forums, comments and social media. Log out when you are not using your e-mail and keep your desktop locked when you are away. It is also best to avoid opening attachments from unknown sources.

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? What is parental control?

These days, children start using computers and accessing the Internet at a much earlier age than before. Naturally, as a parent, you want to protect them from inappropriate content, online predators and other dangerous, damaging stuff that lurks in the Internet’s darkest corners. That’s where parental control comes into play.

Depending on the brand and the product, parental control allows you to block the access of your children to certain websites, whichever you deem inappropriate, by choosing different categories or making website blacklists. Furthermore, it keeps track of your children’s online activity so you can actually see the websites and the content they have been accessing, even if they are sneaky enough to delete browsing history. Parental control is today included in many comprehensive and advanced Internet security and antivirus software packages.

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? What is a password manager?

A password manager is a software application that helps you keep track of all those different passwords of yours. An average Internet user has at least three different passwords in use, and many people have dozens of different ones. An offline password manager helps you to store, organize and sometimes even to remember all your passwords, keeping them encrypted. This means, in most cases, that you need to create a master password, one that will open up the vault where all the other passwords are stored. This master password needs to be very, very strong, naturally.

Online password managers are usually browser plug-ins that securely store your login details. They offer to store your password and the next time you want to make the same login, they offer to automatically fill in the password for you.

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? Do I need antivirus software as a gamer?

Some gamers are reluctant to use antivirus software when they play, for a number of reasons, mostly because they feel that the software is affecting their computer’s performance and hence their game. However, it is still highly recommended to use an antivirus program even in these occasions, especially if you are a Windows user, and especially if we are talking about online games. There are a lot of antivirus programs on the market that have a minimal impact on your performance and you won’t even notice they’re on, even during gaming sessions.
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