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Protect Your Computer with Free Antivirus Software
By: James Wise
posted July 9, 2009
TECH TIPS – There are a number of things
everyone should do to keep their computer running problem free. These
things include applying operating system updates, using antivirus
software, using antispyware software, defragmenting your disk drive,
etc… Fortunately, these things can be done easily and there are a
number of free options for these items. Today, we’ll talk quickly about
a few free antivirus programs.
Antivirus software protects your computer from computer programs which
seek to make your computer do something you don’t intend it to do.
Sometimes, these programs can be pretty harmless but that isn’t always
Viruses can spread in a number of ways. Many “infections” can be
avoided by using common sense. For example, be very careful with email
attachments. Many people say, DO NOT OPEN EMAIL ATTACHMENTS FROM
ANYONE!!!! I don’t go quite that far. Generally, I just say to avoid
opening attachments from people you don’t know. However, it is possible
that someone you know gets a virus that emails itself to everyone in
their address book. So, just take care with attachments and think
before you open them.
As an extra layer of protection, I also recommend people use an
antivirus program. If you buy a new PC, chances are that it comes with
some antivirus software pre-installed on it. Often, these programs are
not free programs and only work (or at least get updates) for a year or
less without you paying extra for them. Perhaps worse still, it is
common for antivirus programs to have a yearly licensing fee requiring
you to purchase them again each year. There are certainly some great
paid programs out there and I won’t go over all those programs for now.
If you want avoid buying one of these programs, there are also some
good free options out there (at least for personal use). Here are a few
of the more popular free antivirus programs that I know of.
AVG offers a free edition which I’ve used on my
own PC. Unlike some paid antivirus programs, AVG seems to have a “small
footprint” meaning it doesn’t take up a lot of memory or system
resources causing your computer to slow down.
- I’ve also used Avast for
protection my own PCs. In fact, my Vista PC is using Avast currently.
So far, I’m very happy with it.
- I haven’t used Clamwin myself, but I’ve read
some good things about it.
- I haven’t used Cloud Antivirus yet
either but I recently read about it. It uses an interesting new
approach where virus definitions are constantly updated based on
information from every other computer running the software.
Microsoft is working on a free antivirus/antispyware application called
Microsoft Security Essentials. This is in testing now and should be out
soon so this might be another good option in the near future.
One very important item is that you need to make sure you keep your
virus definitions updated. New viruses are created everyday. I believe
all the above programs will automatically update after you install
them. You might want to double check that from time to time as well.
Usually there is an “about” option within the program that will allow
you to confirm the date of your last antivirus update (which should be
less than a week old in most cases).
You should never use more than one antivirus program. Multiple
antivirus programs could conflict with each other and cause problems.
So, be sure to uninstall any existing antivirus program before
installing a new one (using start, control panel, add/remove programs).
If you do have a problem or want to run an extra scan just to be sure,
there are also some “online” virus scanners you could run manually even
if you have an antivirus program installed on your computer. These are
probably only good options for those with high speed Internet
Do you want to test if your antivirus software is working? If so, a
quick, no risk test is the EICAR test file. All you have to do is run
notepad (start, run, notepad) and copy the following line into the file:
Save the file to your desktop (using file type “all files” instead of
“text document”) with a .com extension (test.com for example but any
name will do). Your antivirus software should catch this file and
trigger a virus alert. Don’t worry, it isn’t a virus. Just delete the
file. You can read more about this here:
I was on vacation this past week so today’s tip didn’t go into a lot of
detail. If you have questions about how to install or run any of the
programs I’ve mentioned above, please email me
and I’ll be happy to help.
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