Preventing Viruses - Choosing the Best Antivirus

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A solo home office person, an office manager of a small business, or the go to consultant for a larger company, the one piece of software that absolutely needs to be installed on all their computers is an antivirus product. The ever present question is what antivirus product do you choose? Another question that arises is whether the current product you are using is the best and if not, how do you choose a replacement product?
There are not too many of us that can leave cost out as a major consideration. The choice of antivirus products varies widely by consumer type. There are some freeware versions that can do a good job for a home user but would be inadequate for a business. The individual always has to know whether they are comfortable with a freeware solution. Some freeware products may require some installation changes that a less tech savvy person may not be comfortable in doing. A commercial product may better suit their needs.
A consumer looking to buy a replacement or update for their current antivirus product can look at the vendors websites for product cost and features information. A Google search, for reviews of antivirus products, needs to be done with a forewarning; some sites that appear will be looking for those who visit, to click a link for a free virus check. A large number of viruses are being launched from links on malicious pages. If you do not have pop ups disabled then you may also experience dialog boxes that will ask you to click for a free antivirus check. The major vendors like Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky and CA do have free scans but they will not try to trick you with pop ups. Make sure you look for reviews at major tech sites. Some sites that I look at for reviews are Techcrunch, Zdnet, and Lifehacker.
If you are an individual that does choose a freeware product just be aware that they do not update virus definitions as often as a paid product does, in most cases. The vendors that do offer freeware versions also offer upgrades to a paid version. You need to see if the features missing in the freeware version will put you at more risk than you are willing to assume. If you are working with your computer then you need to be in a posture that eliminates as many risks as you can afford. Also, remember the three biggest rules in computing: backup, backup, and yes, backup.
If you are a computer user, make sure you check your operating systems product page for security updates often. Take advantage of any additional security offerings that they provide. A recent visit to the Windows 7 consumer security page showed links to over twenty antivirus vendors. Some of the links from that page led to discounts from the vendors. Be safe out there.
Greg Doig is owner of StratusClick Consulting. Visit him at