Which Antivirus Software Is Right for You?
Marketing is an ugly business. Its mission is to highlight the good points of a product and downplay its bad features. I always marvel at how companies can turn basic products such as toilet paper or chewing gum (spanning two ends of the human spectrum!) and represent them as something more exotic that what they really are.
Marketers do the same with software. And since they can be really clever, it's hard to not be swayed by the influential messages they dangle in front of us simple apes. To that end, I've listed in this chapter some of the most common products that I think are worthy (with a couple of exceptions) that you'll likely encounter in your travels from tree to tree on the Internet. Mixed in for good measure are the freebies I mention in this book so you have a single place to reference them.
As you no doubt know by now, antivirus programs rebuke viruses. Here are software packages you'll probably encounter, in no particular order. When it comes to free antivirus products, there's a decent selection of good ones. Here are three I like.
Don't be fooled by avast!'s media playerlike appearance. Under its shiny metallic skin, it is a feature-packed antivirus program. Novice users will appreciate its intuitive design. To scan your local hard drive, click on the box-like hard drive logo. Likewise, click the CD logo to select your optical drive. Then, click the Play button and avast! scans your computer for viruses. Unfortunately, avast! can only be set to perform automatic system scans when you boot up your computer. It also features email, instant messaging, and P2P scanning.
Paid upgrade: avast! AntiVirus Professional
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Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
Grisoft's AVG Free Edition is the best free antivirus software available. It features a scanner that constantly monitors your system for viruses. It also comes with an email scanner that can check your incoming and outgoing messages for viruses.
The software is set to automatically perform daily updates and scheduled system scans. It's nicely laid out, but could do with some refinements in some of the submenus; still, you can't beat its ability to defend your computer, especially given the price. Highly recommended!
Paid upgrade: AVG Professional Edition
This antivirus program from German software developer H+BEDV Datentechnik (try saying that five times fast at Octoberfest) is another free AV product. With quirky window title names such as Luke Filewalker and menu text that doesn't make grammatical sense, AntiVir is a bit off-beat. Nonetheless, it provides simple antivirus protection to safeguard your computer with a frugal use of memory. The program can be difficult for the beginner, and note that it doesn't automatically check for updates or scan email.
Paid upgrade: AntiVir Personal Edition Premium
*Absolute Beginner's Guide To: Security, Spam, Spyware & Viruses, Andy Walker, 2005
**image from gettyimages.com, avast.com, grisoft.com, free-av.com