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How do I Choose the Best Free Security Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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When looking for free security software, consider choosing a program that will update its own database, protect your computer in real-time, and quarantine threats. A feature like scheduled scanning can also regularly make sure that your computer is clean of viruses, and encryption options can help to protect individual files in your hard drive. While comprehensive applications that address most malware are readily available, you can also select a program that only performs one function, such as removing spyware. Referring to computing websites for reviews of software can help you if you need detailed descriptions of particular programs and their features.

Generally, it can be beneficial to choose software that will update its own database. Security threats, including viruses and worms, are created and evolve on a daily basis. Free security software that downloads the latest virus definitions will ensure that your computer stays protected for as long as you use the program.

Selecting a program that offers real-time protection can secure your computer while you're surfing the Internet. Live-scanning provides immediate results for visited websites, prompting you when you have arrived at a potentially harmful page known for promoting phishing schemes or other fraudulent activity. Some software can integrate itself with Internet search results and display icons next to links so that you'll know if a website is dangerous before you even visit it.

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Many of the free security software solutions will also quarantines threats. Quarantining separates a threat from your system and allows you to review it before deleting files from your system. This feature can be advantageous if you have programs running on your computer that accidentally conflict with your security software and can help you to avoid deleting essential programs or files.

There is some software that lets you schedule scans of your computer's hard drive at times that are convenient for you. You can choose to have your computer fully checked at regular intervals either by day, week, or month, or even upon start-up. Automatic scans can run in the background of your computer's processes without interrupting the work that you might be doing on your desktop, though some can slow down the programs. It is often advantageous to schedule these scans for late night or early morning hours to avoid any potential conflicts.

If you want to protect specific files on your computer, try password security software. This type of program will let you scramble your files and apply passwords to them so that hackers will have difficulty reading them. Encryption software can also be useful if you own flash drives or other portable storage media that travels between public computers.

While there are many all-in-one free security software solutions, you may also be interested in downloading a program that can address a singular threat. For example, some applications are designed to only combat spyware, destroy rootkits, or provide firewalls. Others just guard against malware that targets ActiveX™ or Javascript™ processes. Additionally, you can find software that helps to protect standalone programs like email clients, instant messengers, and peer-to-peer (P2P) communicators. Typically, it's better to use a single program rather than several different ones, as multiple applications can vie for access to your hard drive and result in computing conflicts.

Visiting websites that feature professional reviews of free security software will help you if you're still having trouble deciding on a specific program. You're likely to find comprehensive reviews, both by experts and users, on websites that offer freeware and shareware downloads. Be sure that the assessments you read are for genuinely-free products, and not for limited trial versions of proprietary applications.

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