How to Improve My Computer's Security

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What are the key features an antivirus software package should offer? Does each package work with any computer? These questions, and many others, are discussed below in this outline of common antivirus software tools and features.

Email protection

Spam mail is responsible for a host of computer problems and a primary task of your antivirus package is to recognize and defend your system against infectious attachments or links designed to attack your computer and cause major disruption - for example by destroying files and/or gaining access to your personal data. Antivirus software will scan your mail and immediately identify potentially harmful items. Forewarned of the threat, you can delete suspicious mail without opening, clicking or otherwise interacting with the message.

Spyware and malware

Rather like digital parasites, these nasty hidden programs can secretly invade and infect your computer whilst you browse online – often only revealing their presence much later by altering settings, installing new programs, and worse. Your online experience will be smoother, and much safer, if your antivirus software scans, detects and protects against such threats.

Download scanning

Online browsing often leads to downloading of files or apps which are then stored or installed on your computer. Regardless of how much you trust the source, these items must also be scanned to keep your system safe and secure. Be sure your antivirus software includes this feature.

Compatibility

To operate efficiently, antivirus software must be compatible with your system. For Windows users this means you must purchase software designed to protect the exact version of the Windows operating system installed on your computer to ensure complete compatibility. Though Apple-Mac systems and software can be slightly more forgiving, it still makes sense to go for a properly matched antivirus package to give you peace of mind.

Privacy and data protection

Having installed antivirus software to keep your data safe, you probably would not really want the company protecting your system to share your personal data. However, the commercial reality is that most organizations do share information, unless they actually state otherwise. Therefore you should read through and compare manufacturer’s privacy policies before signing up to purchase antivirus software, noting how your data will be handled and what opt-outs, if any, are available.

Scan speeds

Antivirus software mostly works unobtrusively behind the scenes – as it should do. However, at times it can be useful to have a quick-scan option available to security-check a particular item. Though less comprehensive than a complete scan, this is a handy safeguard to use when you encounter a slightly suspicious item.

Feedback

With antivirus software running in the background, scan reports can usually be accessed as necessary. Some packages offer further flexibility, for example allowing the creation of user-determined schedules for regular online browsing.

Technical support

It’s not unknown for antivirus software to behave strangely when it encounters more unusual, or specialist applications. Should you experience such difficulties, you will need to consult both support teams to resolve the issue by finding a satisfactory solution which compromises neither security nor software function.

System resources

Well-designed antivirus software does its job off-stage allowing the user free rein to continue working on the system as normal. However, poorly designed packages tie up and slow down normal functions. Thus, when choosing an antivirus package, it is important to establish both that it will not compromise your computer’s functionality and that you have the recommended system resources to run the package trouble-free.

Costs

Some antivirus software is free, whilst other packages can cost hundreds, and there are also subscription deals requiring monthly or annual payments. Many packages offer a free-trial period, allowing you to test-drive the software to ensure it’s right for your system before you finally commit.

 

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