Antivirus software is synonymous with computer security. Even though Windows comes with its own in-built security features, there is always the likelihood that your computer could get infected from infected downloads, Internet browsing or infected memory devices such as flash drives and SD cards.
It is for this reason that you should install an antivirus program just in case a nefarious program manages to get through Windows defenses.
The challenge to get a good program begins when you carry out an Internet search. There are so many options available. In fact there are literally hundreds on computer security companies offering a free antivirus downloads. And, with every security company claiming to have the best product, you soon become confused. How do you separate the good from the bad? How do you identify a good product?
This antivirus buying guide will help you sort through the maze and get the best value for money.
1. Malware detection
There are different types of malware that can infect your computer. They include, viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, spyware and many more. A good antivirus program has a large database of known malware which is updated on a daily basis to include new variants. The best way to know how good an antivirus is at detecting malware is to check independent testing websites. Simply conduct an Internet search using the terms “antivirus testing”. These sites test programs to see how good they are at threat detection. Malware detection must also be tempered by no false positives. Some antivirus programs will wrongly detect a good program as a virus.
2. Performance and compatibility
Your computer hardware resources must match the system requirements of the antivirus program. Thus, you must first check your system configuration. If you have an older PC with less than 2GB of RAM, your antivirus options will be limited. But, even if you have a state-of-the-art computer, you should still opt for an antivirus software that doesn’t hog system resources. Preserve your system’s resources to keep your computer nimble.
These days, all antivirus programs come with the following basic features:
- Email security
- Removable device scanning
- Scheduled scans
- Web security
However, you should go for an antivirus that goes above and beyond basic protections and offers threat detection capabilities for:
- Root kits
- …and much more
The email protection capabilities should also have the additional protection for the following:
- A boot-able Rescue CD
- Auto-cleaning ability for infected files
- Blocking of dangerous websites
- Instant messaging
- Other features that you should check for include:
- Parental control
- Quarantine of infected files
- Registry Startup Protection
- Scanning of compressed Files
When installing an antivirus program, something could go wrong. For example, the antivirus may end up not being compatible with a program you have already installed. In such a situation, the tech support of the computer security company comes in handy. Thus, you should make sure the company offers three levels of support, namely;
- A dedicated help section on the program – this is the first thing you should. If this is missing, you should think twice.
- Online help – this includes a help page, FAQ and knowledgebase on the website. There should also be video tutorials.
- Direct support – the company must offer all of the following:
- Telephone support – including remote technical assistance where a technician accesses your computer and fixes any problems.
- Online chat – available 24 hours a day or at least 12 hours a day.
Price should be your last concern. Once you are satisfied with points one through to four above, go with the cheapest option that offers a free trial. A free trial allows you to take the software out for a test drive and see if it works as claimed by the company. It also allows you to check if the software is easy to use. The interface must be intuitive; you must be comfortable using it. If you don’t like it, cancel the subscription and get your money back once the free trial is over.
These five tips are the road map to software buying success. The best antivirus is one that; has a good malware detection rate, is compatible with your system resources, has advanced features and offers technical support. After these criteria are met, the price is the final consideration.