A computer virus can be defined as a self-replicating program that spreads by copying itself into the legitimate code of programs or documents. Many viruses are merely annoying while others can cause severe damage to data. In any event, here are a few things to know to ensure protection against viruses:
The majority of viruses now are spread through e-mail, though Internet browsing and downloads are the source of many as well. Thus, it’s always a good idea to delete any suspicious e-mails before opening them. Certain programs, called anti-virus programs, can stop viruses on your computer before they spread. As common as computer viruses are, it is imperative that computers have some sort of anti-virus program running. Here are three common solutions:
1) Norton Anti-Virus: NAV is probably the most popular of anti-virus software packages and for good reason. It’s intuitive interface is the most user friendly of the three listed here, and it’s extensive knowledge base of viruses prevents almost all viruses from penetrating through to your computer. NAV, however, is commonly criticized for using more computer resources (memory, etc.) while running than other anti-virus programs.
2) McAfee Virus Scan: Another solutions comparable to NAV, though not as user friendly.
3) AVG Anti-Virus: AVG is free to home users, which makes it an attractive pick. It may not be as user friendly as the others, but its ability to protect should not be underestimated.
Also, it should be noted that anti-virus software is only as good as its latest “definitions.” Definitions refer to the internal database of the anti-virus program installed on your computer that must be updated every few days to account for new viruses that are created daily. All three of the programs listed above include an automatic updater, though both Norton and McAfee usually include only one year of updates with their products. This requires you to renew your subscription with them on a yearly basis. In other words, if you think you’re protected because your computer – which you purchased a few years ago – came with anti-virus software, you may be only as protected as the definitions of a couple years ago (meaning that your computer could be susceptible to any viruses created in the last couple years). It’s always good to periodically check when your subscription runs out.
If you suspect you have a virus and would like to check before committing yourself to a purchase or download, click here for a free scan of your computer. Also, there may be other anti-virus solutions not listed there that can adequately protect your computer.