If you’re anything like me, this time of year is an unpleasant one for your immune system. Colds and flus seem to be touching everyone within a fifty-mile radius. When it comes to contracting a virus – we’ve all been there. The only thing to do is wait it out with a healthy dose of self-pity and chicken noodle soup but eventually, it will pass. Unfortunately, computers don’t work the same way.
When a computer contracts a virus, it won’t go away unless you do something about it. Computer viruses come in many forms and each one is unique in the damage it causes. Adware viruses put annoying unwanted pop-ups on your screen while slowing down your computer to snail’s pace. Trojan viruses hide among legitimate software in an attempt to steal your data. Lastly, Ransomware (the popular virus for hackers) will lock up your computer screen and demand money. Regardless of the form it takes, you never want a virus to affect your computer and data.
I could broadcast that there’s this great software called an Anti-Virus (AV) on the market, but that wouldn’t be news to most consumers. Anti-Virus software has been on the market since PCs have been in the home. However, the variety of software today has quite a few more features that most people may not even realize they need. Not only is basic computer protection a must, but features such as email and web browsing require protection, too. So, what is the best tool to use? There are free programs, paid ones, and a myriad of others inbetween. Instead of researching down a rabbit hole, let’s comparing the two main types of Anti-Virus programs you see online. Those two are active and passive scanners.
Firstly, passive Anti-Virus scanners. These tools are great at quarantining potential malware and cleaning up your computer so that it can run like new. Some passive scanners will also perform scans to clean up areas of your registry and hard drive fragmentation to optimize performance. A good example of a passive scanner is Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes exists in both a free trial and paid version. Unfortunately the main downside to a passive Anti-Virus is that it has to be run manually. The software cannot be scheduled to run on its own and the software is incapable of proactively stopping malware from being downloaded. Of course, that is arguably the most important requirement, which is why active anti-virus software is usually the preferable option.
Active Anti-Virus scanners can provide all the features of passive scanners plus the added benefit of intelligently checking your computer and web browsing against possible malware. Active AV is a layer of defense that protects users who might be tricked by viruses such as Trojan horses that are disguised as legitimate software. You’ve probably heard of some examples of this type of software too. McAfee, Symantec, Webroot, and Avast are a few of the more common programs. If you ask an IT pro which to choose, they will each give a different answer. To put it in perspective, each AV will accomplish the same thing. There are many commonalities between each one so no matter which you choose, they will tackle the main responsibility. The difference all comes down to price and personal preference. Some computers may handle a particular vendor better than others and you may find that some vendors are cheaper or have a sale.
All in all, you may be left with more questions than answers. How do I know if the software is right for my computer? Why bother with passive Anti-Virus scanning? Can I just throw my computer out and do all my communication and billing via pigeon to avoid all this? My personal recommendation would be to choose an active Anti-Virus that suits your needs. For added defense, pair it with a complementary passive scanner for extra assurance. My job is to diagnose the virus and find the appropriate cure. At the end of the day, your AV is like medication for your computer. We make sure it’s taking the right dosage. Are you looking for personal tech support or virus removal, contact us today!