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What Are the Different Types of PC Antivirus Software?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jamie Nedderman
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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PC antivirus software is needed to provide protection to the computer from viruses, which spread from computer to computer through executable codes. Various software programs may prevent the virus from infecting the computer or they can also detect viruses once infected. Other forms may perform a combination of the two, or assist with removal. Different types of scans exist, including user-controlled schedules or background executions, and the software should be able to regularly update known viruses to include in the next scheduled search. Users can also take advantage of trials to determine the best software for their circumstances.

One type of PC antivirus software seeks to prevent computer viruses. This may be in the form of Internet security, while automatic versions work by blocking particular sites and downloads. A more manual form may offer prompts or warnings when site security cannot be verified or when an action commonly leading to infection is performed. Users may then decide whether to proceed or stop the action.

Another form of PC antivirus software provides computer protection through detection. Scans of the computer or network can occur at pre-designated times to discover if there are any viruses that have taken residence. Measures may be taken to remove the existing viruses and to prevent their spread to other systems. Removal of malware and spyware may be a feature of detection software, but also may be purchased separately after a virus is known.

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Antivirus software works by scanning the PC's system for viruses. Conventional forms of PC antivirus software are run at the user's request or at scheduled times. The scan is run through disks, directories, and files to search for known threats. Some versions install a program that works in the background, so that scans can be performed while the computer is in use or upon shutdown or start-up. More advanced methods quarantine suspicious activity, although this method isn’t as successful at isolating known versions and may result in false positives.

Different types of protection levels also vary between versions of PC antivirus software. Some scan the computer and its components, while other include detection for Internet use and email. To search for known viruses, software should also be able to regularly update to keep up with newly-created viruses. Many have features where a user can report a suspected virus to be investigated further by the software company.

Users may want to take advantage of free trials offered by many companies. This allows for the exploration of the user interface and various features. The user may also use the trial during regular computer activity to determine whether scanning methods work for individual situations. This also allows a level of real-time comparison for the best possible purchase.

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