Antivirus software can be a powerful tool to keep your computer safe, but there is some information that you should consider before making a purchase. Most antivirus software comes as a suite of several programs, such as firewalls, virus and malware scanners, parental controls and other options. Before you buy antivirus software, determine which programs and features you actually need. It also is important to choose a suite that is regularly updated, because new viruses and other malicious software will appear on a regular basis. Another factor to consider before you buy antivirus software is that a free security suite might be able to meet your needs.
The main purpose of antivirus software is to scan a computer for malicious code and then either quarantine it or remove it. These programs rely on databases of information about known viruses, so if a particular virus was created only recently, it might slip past even the best antivirus scanner. Before you buy antivirus software, it typically is a good idea to check into how comprehensive the virus database is and how often it is updated. If an antivirus program has an outdated or poorly maintained database, it might not offer the type of protection for which you are looking.
Many antivirus suites also include a variety of other programs in addition to basic virus scanning. Before you buy antivirus software, you should identify the security programs that you need or in which you are interested. One common option is a software firewall, which is a program that can regulate the flow of information into and out of your computer by preventing unauthorized connections. Another option that you might be offered is malware protection, which can deal with a variety of spyware, adware and other threats for which most simple virus scanners do not look. Some security suites also come with parental access controls, which can be helpful if you have children and want to regulate their access to the Internet.
In addition to the various antivirus suites that are available commercially, there are many free options as well. Before you buy antivirus software, check the features that are available from free security suites to see whether they are able to meet your needs. It also is important to check into any option before you settle on it, because there are some malicious programs that are advertised as legitimate antivirus software. Some of these programs can actively infect your computer with additional viruses, so it is always important to deal with reputable software outlets when buying antivirus software.