What to Look for in Antivirus Software Programs

Viruses are among the most real and constant threats to the safety and security of the information contained in our computers. What's worse, for most of us, acquiring a virus is not a question of how, but when. That is why anti virus software is so critical.

Although most operating systems are now equipped with virus removal programs, they can quickly become out of date. The best and only way of keeping harmful viruses at bay is by using quality software. Here are some tips on what to look for when in the market for antivirus programs.

1. Associated Costs

This might seem straightforward enough - check the prices of the software you're considering purchasing, and use that to compare with others. In reality, however, the picture is much more complex.

Unlike other types of software, antivirus software must be updated regularly in order to be useful, as it must adapt to the ever-evolving world of computer viruses. In some cases, an entirely new version of the program must be purchased. The cost of upgrades and license renewals vary widely - so be sure to do your research.

2. Verifiable Protection from Wild Threats

In order for your computer to be properly protected, your antivirus software must be able to detect all existing "in-the-wild-threats". Because this kind of information cannot be determined by the consumer alone, there are agencies (such as AV-Test.org) that exist exclusively to determine which programs are able to do so. Be sure to use them before you make a purchase.

3. Automated Updates/Scans

The ability to create a system of scheduled virus scans is one that is included on most antivirus software. What varies is how flexible the program is in adhering to this schedule.

In addition, it is imperative that your antivirus program be able to detect when updates are available. Most will automatically connect with the vendor site and download new updates regularly. This is imperative to keeping your virus protection up-to-date.

4. Additional Features

What additional features your system might require depends on what types of functions you most commonly perform on your computer. For example, if you are frequently using your computer for the purposes of social networking (i.e. chat rooms, instant messaging, and email) you will need a software program that offers protection for these applications.

On the other hand, these might not be necessary if your system is older or you do not use these types of functions.

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