How to evaluate anti-virus software (and choose the right one for you)

The reason for using anti-virus software is simple: Anti-virus software is one of the best ways to protect your computer against – you guessed it – viruses.

What’s less simple is deciding which anti-virus software to use.

However, there are certain features that may help you decide which software is best for you. two people look puzzled, against a background of shields with cursor arrows on them

Here’s a guide for how you can evaluate which anti-virus software is best. In general, anti-virus software can help in three areas: Scanning and removing known malware, protecting you from malicious websites and monitoring the behaviour of programs on your computer to be able to flag threats.

Does it scan for known malware?

Most anti-virus software regularly scans for malicious software (known as malware). It does this, for the most part, by identifying known signatures, which are kind of like fingerprints, of malicious software.

The anti-virus software then takes these files from your system, disables the files or programs, and deletes them.

This is the simplest and best way to keep your computer safe. If your anti-virus software can do a good job of rooting out known threats, it will go a long way toward keeping your device safe.

Does it protect you from malicious websites?

A lot of viruses come from websites. Cyber criminals are skilled at using a variety of techniques to trick you into visiting malicious websites that try to convince you to download malware onto your computer. A malicious website can also use drive-by downloads, which means that you may infect your computer just by browsing the website or clicking on a pop-up window.

The best way to avoid getting these sorts of files on your computer? Avoiding those websites in the first place.

Good anti-virus software identifies these sites and lets you know they are potentially malicious.

Does it monitor for and flag suspicious program behaviour?

Most anti-virus software is adept at scanning for known malware.

What separates some anti-virus software, though, is the ability to detect suspicious or unusual behaviour that may indicate new or unknown malware signatures.

For example: Some software can identify when your computer is sending information over an unauthorized port – a potential sign that you could be infected with malware.

Anti-virus software that detects unusual behaviour will go a long way towards keeping your devices secure.
No one wants to be the first victim of a new cyber threat.

Is it free?

Free is frequently great! Who doesn’t want something for free?

With anti-virus software, though, free isn’t always the best route to take. Anti-virus software that claims to be free can frequently be an excuse for cyber criminals to install malware, junk software or tracking information – exactly the sort of thing you downloaded anti-virus software to avoid in the first place!

This isn’t to say that free doesn’t always work. But if you’re thinking of going in that direction, make sure you do your research and choose an option that’s actually going to do what it says it will.


Anti-virus software is one of the best ways to secure yourself against cyber threats.

By following the above guidelines, you can settle on anti-virus software that is right for you.


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