How to choose the best antivirus software for you
With tens of thousands of new online threats being developed and released into the world every single day, it’s never been more important to have strong antivirus protection installed on your computers and other devices.
Without any antivirus protection, you could be at risk of all kinds of attacks, from worms that bury into your network and infect your system over time to ransomware that locks you out of your PC and forces you to pay your own money to take back control.
It’s clear to see that antivirus software is essential for dealing with these attacks, but with so many different forms of software out there, choosing the right one for you can feel like a challenge. So, let’s take a look at some of the key factors to keep in mind when looking for the best antivirus.
One of the first and most important things to focus on when considering which antivirus software or security suite is the right one for you is, of course, how good it actually is at dealing with viruses and malware.
The whole point of installing this kind of software is to provide your device with protection against viruses, so you need to know that it can identify, eliminate, and prevent those viruses from doing you any harm.
Typically, most antivirus programs will offer scans you can run to look for any viruses and then be able to remove or quarantine the infected files.
How do you know which antivirus software options offer the strongest security and best scans? Well, a good way to start is by reading expert reviews that can tell you all you need to know about different brands and options.
When you look for protection for your computer, you should find anti-virus software that can protect against threats and remove threats.
For example, the best anti-virus software should at the very least include:
- Web browsing protection. Your anti-virus should filter through URL links and let you know when they are and are not safe to access. Additionally, anti-virus software should categorize all web pages based on their level of risk.
- Complete system scans. Quality anti-virus software will scan your entire computer for hidden threats. There should be no lurking viruses or Trojans hiding in your files.
- Reactive file scanning. If you download new files, an anti-virus program will evaluate the new files for any risks and let you know if it detects anything.
The above aspects are the basic protections offered by decent anti-virus software. Along with virus detection, you should also employ virus removal to dispose of any viruses that may threaten your computer.
When you are shopping for anti-virus systems, make sure to look for threat removal that offers antivirus software and not just anti-malware. Malware encompasses all types of malicious software and does include computer viruses, but anti-malware may not be equipped to handle self-replicating viruses or viruses that can change their code.
Even the most powerful anti-virus software will not remove viruses if it cannot accurately detect them. So, accuracy is a key component of a quality antivirus system. For virus protection, you want to make sure the program can accurately locate viruses and dispose of them without deleting your files.
To ensure the software can do its job successfully, there are a few features that you should look for:
- Known threat database. Many companies have a comprehensive database of all known computer viruses. When something out of the ordinary is detected, good cyber protection software can compare it to the known threats to see if the abnormality is a virus.
- Good detection rates. A detection rate reflects how well software can accurately identify and remove different types of viruses.
- True positive. This is when a program identifies malware that is in fact a virus. This is ideal.
- True negative. This is when a system determines a file is safe to open and it is.
- False-positive. When a program is too aggressive, it may remove safe files with a false positive.
- False-negative. This is when a program tells you it is okay to open harmful files. A virus will be released on your computer. This is not ideal.
For the best anti-virus programs, you want a system that has true positives and true negatives. When both of these aspects work together, your anti-virus program will run smoothly and keep you safe.
Another important consideration you’ll have to take into account when looking for the best antivirus software is how much you’re willing to pay. In this business, you tend to get what you pay for.
There are plenty of free antivirus options out there, and they do have some benefits and offer at least a basic level of protection, but if you want the maximum standards of safety, you need to be willing to pay up.
Most premium antivirus software packages come with a range of extra features beyond simple scans, such as the ability to optimize your computer, web and email protection for your online communications, VPNs to encrypt your connections, and much more.
Additionally, some antivirus software offers protection for your entire family or multiple computers. If you want to protect your network from dangerous viruses, it may be worth it to look into a subscription that covers multiple computers from cyber-based threats.
Ease of Use
You’ll also want to think about ease of use, although the importance of this factor will vary from one person to the next. If you’re a tech-savvy person who uses computers all the time, you probably won’t need to worry so much about ease of use, but if you’re a beginner when it comes to antivirus software, it helps to find a simple solution.
However, one of the most important systems to have on antivirus software is automatic updates. Instead of having to manually update your antivirus software, you should look for a brand that will automatically install the latest updates for computer protection. Because viruses are continuously adapting, this feature may be one of the most important parts of antivirus software.
Additionally, a simple interface also makes or breaks software. While some people can easily navigate the software, most of us are not computer experts. So, look for software that makes it easy for you to understand your level of risk as well as the state of your computer.
Certain antivirus packages are really well-designed, able to basically do all they need to do automatically, running in the background without any need for interaction from the user and doing what they need to do to keep your computer safe while you go about your regular business.
Other packages can be a little trickier to use and come with all kinds of advanced features and extras that might confuse amateur users but could be helpful for more intermediate or advanced users, which brings us to some of our next points.
Maintain Efficient Computer Speeds
While some anti-virus programs protect your computer from threats, they may slow down your normal computer processes. When searching for the best anti-virus software, look for programs that are designed to work in the background of your computer without slowing down your normal processes.
If a program can run effectively without slowing down the following computer tasks, that anti-virus software will be a good investment.
Quality antivirus software should not affect:
- Web browsing
- Copying of files
- Archiving and unarchiving files
- Installing and uninstalling computer or mobile applications
- Launching applications
- Downloading files
However, choosing to download anti-virus software that slows down computer tasks is better than having no protection on your computer. So if your only options are to choose an inexpensive software that may make some things slower, do it for the protection.
It’s also important to note that not all quality anti-virus software will perform the same in this area. While some may be more efficient during web browsing, it may take longer under that same software to download items. To figure out which software is best at operating well with computer tasks, try reading customer reviews. Or better yet, check out our expert guides to see how different programs compare.
When looking for the best overall security suite for dealing with viruses and malware, it’s also wise to take a look at what extra features your chosen provider is able to offer.
Some antivirus software options are pretty simple. They run scans and remove viruses, offering little more than that. Others, however, are packed with extra features.
If you’re a casual user who simply uses their device to visit safe sites and send some emails, you might not need all those extra features, but advanced users can find a lot of use in all the extras.
However, more features can offer extra protection and you may want more features as you learn about virus protection.
Additionally, most software systems offer different features, so if there is a certain type of password protection you are looking for or you want extra cloud storage, look for systems that offer that feature.
Some of the more common extra features that may be included in a premium antivirus plan include, but are not limited to:
- Password protection
- Virtual private network (VPN)
- System performance cleanup and optimization
- Wi-Fi monitoring for your home
- Online account data leakage monitoring
- Threat ranking systems
- Proactive URL, email scam, and attachment blocking
- Firewalls and spam protection
- Secure browsers
- Parental content control systems
- Secure deletion of files, browsing history, credit information, and passwords
- Cloud storage and backup
While it may not be the first feature that comes to mind, good customer support is important for all computer software. If you encounter problems with your system or have trouble downloading the newest update, there should be an easily accessible customer support system to contact.
While the best type of customer support is a 24/7 call system because you can access personalized help at any time, many companies will operate during business hours, have an email that users can submit questions to, have a live chat feature, and incorporate a user-friendly frequently asked questions page on their website.
The last area to consider is which devices, as well as the brand, that you want to cover. While most antivirus will cover computers and laptops, other plans will also cover mobile phones and tablets. If you have a family that has multiple devices or you use several devices to go about your daily business, you may want to consider getting coverage for all.
Moreover, some products may be better suited for Mac, PC, iOS, or Android. So before you purchase antivirus, make sure the system works well for your specific device and brand.
Overall, finding the right antivirus software for you might take some time. It’s not as easy as diving right in and getting the first security suite you find, and it may take some time for you to do the necessary research, read some reviews, compare your options, and find the right antivirus to meet your needs. Be sure to bear the above factors in mind when making your decision.