There are a wide range of types of web security software available to download or buy today. To decide which is best for you, you should first understand what the different types of software do and which you need. You should then look at the way each system operates to make sure it will be useful in practice.
There are four main functions of web security software. Different packages will offer some or all of the functions. Those which offer all the functions will normally be the best choice unless they have performance shortfalls. In some cases you may find your best solution is to use a paid option for some functions and free options for others.
The first function, the firewall, is the software equivalent to a doorman or bouncer and controls what data is allowed to enter your computer from the Internet, and what data is allowed to leave your computer to the Internet. Anti-virus software covers a host of threats, and most commonly works by scanning files to make sure the do not pose a security risk. A web scanner will examine web pages you are attempting to visit for security threats and may even scan the pages which links on your screen point to before you click on them. Finally, an e-mail scanner will check links which appear in your received e-mails and scan any attached files to identify potential risks.
For most people, the price of web security software will be a major factor. The majority of paid options are better than the majority of free options. That said, there are some free packages which work very well and some paid options which don't do enough to justify the cost. In both cases, it's usually best to look for established brand names which get good reviews from independent sites and in the media. Be wary of reviews from lesser known sites as the writers may be working on a commission which can influence their reviews.
When choosing web security software, there are two main performance issues to assess. One is the frequency with which the software is updated, which will determine how well it can cope with newly developed viruses and other security threats. The other is the amount of computer memory the software uses both while actively scanning your computer and while running in the background. In some cases, security software can use so much memory as to severely impact your computer's performance.