Choosing Anti-virus SoftwareChoosing which antivirus package to use can be a daunting task. But thatís not a good reason to delay getting antivirus software onto your PC. Any antivirus software is better than no antivirus software.
Which EditionAntivirus software falls into two basic camps, corporate and home-user/small office. The corporate versions usually have less bells and whistles than the home-users version, but are designed to be managed centrally, with settings and virus updated distributed from a central server. If you only have a small office, with no-one to manage your IT day-to-day, then the standard home editions are recommended as they are designed to be run by end users and are almost self managing.
What to look forWhen choosing antivirus software, it's important to check out what features each package offers.
Many antivirus vendors are now bundling their home-user/small office editions with firewall, anti-spam and browser protection software, making them very good value for money. We are only going to cover home-user/small business editions in this guide.
- Frequency of virus updates - Some packages only provide monthly updates, which in the event of a new virus outbreak, is woefully inadequate.
- Automatic of Manual Updates - Does the package automatically retrieve updates, and if so how often, or does it require user intervention? Being able to manually instruct it to fetch updates is good, but automatic updates are better for most users, as they often forget, or keep putting it off until later.
- Integration with your email software - In order to catch viruses as soon as possible, so they cause as little damage as possible it's best if the antivirus software can integrate with your email software. If you use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, then the package should be able to integrate easily. If you use different email software, you may have to check how well the two work together.
- Manual Scans - When you are transfering software or documents from a floppy disk, or downloading from the internet, being able to manually scan the files adds a sense of re-assurance to the protection.
Free or Payed for SoftwareThere are Antivirus packages available that are free for non-commercial use, as well as the standard payed for packages (such as Norton or McAfee). Some are written by individuals, others by companies, and all offer differing levels of features and support. Generally, those packages that are provided by companies who charge for commercial use of their antivirus software will have the resources to provide hopefully faster updates and more features in their free versions, than software written by individuals. We would recommend evaluating free antivirus software with the same criteria as payed for software before making a decision.
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