My personal philosophy when it comes to anti-viruses is, so long as you follow a few simple rules they shouldn’t be necessary. Most of the big name commercial anti-virus packages are what I call “bloat-ware”. They slow down even the newest computers and in my experience either lull people into a false sense of security or bombard their owners with too many “false positives”. As a result I actually don’t load them on my personal computers as a general rule.
My primary computer is a Mac and I browse with Firefox and while this far from makes me bullet proof as some fanboys would exclaim, it does keep a lot of the viruses that target Windows and Internet Explorer users at bay. I also avoid opening email attachments I’m not expecting or clicking links that I don’t trust. Anti-virus programs are still good tools though and there are situations where I employ them or suggest employing them.
People who aren’t as familiar with computers and ways to minimize your risk should definitely put a good anti-virus to use. There are dozens of programs for the PC to chose from though. In this post I will be looking at a program exclusively for the PC. I recommend that you install the product from AVG called AVG Free.
I know, I know, a free anti-virus program? Yes. It works and in general it does so as well as the big boys. A recent review on CNet gives it four and a half stars. While it will cause your system to boot up a few seconds slower, it doesn’t impact overall performance in comparison to other similar programs.
The thing that impresses me most about their free product is that they use the same scan engine as their paid version. That means that you get the same protection from viruses regardless of the version. They also include a link scanner with the free version. (There is also a version of the link scanner available for the Mac OS.) This product takes a look at links that you might see on sites like Facebook or your favorite search engine and lets you know if they’re safe or not. That’s a lot packed into something free.
There are additional features you can get from AVG for a price. Their full package scans downloads before they hit your computer. That’s a feature available from all paid anti-virus software and one that may be useful for some of you. If you do a lot of downloading from sites you don’t trust then it may be worth your money. It also scans links in chat. Perhaps the most valuable tool you receive for the money though is the customer support. If you run into serious problems that you can’t solve, someone from AVG can connect to your computer and help you.
If you do choose AVG, there are a few things worth remembering.
1) Update. Update. Update. – It is vital to keep both your scan engine and your anti-virus definition files up to date. How to do this varies from program to program, but make sure it’s happening. Most programs will allow you to set them to check for updates automatically.
2) No single anti-virus will protect you one hundred percent. – If you get a virus and the software you have won’t get rid of it, you may have to use something like the AVG Rescue Disk or Vipre Rescue.
3) An infected computer is typically not the computer’s or the software’s fault. – Nine times out of ten when I’ve had to rescue a computer from the clutches of a serious virus they’ve admitted to downloading something questionable. If you avoid installing things like toolbars for you browser or pirated software you will eliminate many risks.
Regardless of what choice you make though, we at the Nifty Tech Blog wish you happy and safe surfing!