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FREEWARE
By 12 January 2010 | Categories: freeware

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A PC that has been infected with a virus or malware is one of the most frustrating things you can experience. Your PC becomes erratic, the system slows down, you have trouble opening applications... it’s as if your entire life is coming to an end.

While a complete re-install of your system often solves the issue of viruses, this isn’t always the case. For instance, I re-installed the OS on a problematic computer from scratch five times in succession during my December leave, only to find that I was unintentionally re-installing the same virus from one of my backup discs.

The task of restoring / recovering an infected computer is nothing more than a drain of time, effort and patience. Only once you have experienced a virus attack, do you clearly understand the adage, “prevention is better than cure”.

The following two options are free ways to prevent virus attacks.

Option 1:

The first option, completely free and sure to protect your computer from any virus, is actually a very simple and logical approach to viruses. Do NOT load ANY additional software or files onto your machine. This means:

•    No Internet connection whatsoever
•    No wireless, infra-red, Bluetooth or network connection whatsoever
•    No USB Flash Drive, CD, floppy or other storage medium inserted whatsoever

The advantage of this option is that you do not even need any anti-virus software or anti-virus updates loaded on your computer whatsoever! No anti-virus software running on your computer means that your computer will run optimally and efficiently.

Option 2:

The second option is a little more practical in today’s connected world. It involves the use of free software to monitor, control and possibly prevent infections on your computer before they become active and wreak havoc on your system.

Free Anti-Virus Packages:

Avast

Comodo

AVG Free

Avira

Please note the following though:

  • You should backup all data and applications before installing any anti-virus software. When the anti-virus software is active, it may “remove” / “quarantine” / “exclude” files as part of its cleanup process. Please note that some files that are backed up are actually infected with a virus (as was my situation), and should NEVER be restored if you haven’t run a virus check on them.
     
  • As soon as a new anti-virus has been installed, you should run a full scan of every file on your hard disk, backed-up CDs / DVDs, external USB Flash or portable hard drives etc. This will identify the current state of your files. Also, if the anti-virus doesn’t include a “real-time scan” option, you should re-run the anti-virus after new files have been loaded onto your computer to check these new files.
     
  • The use of anti-virus software is likely to slow down your computer to some extent, since it needs to scan all the files on the disk and may also scan the bytes flowing through the computer while the computer is active (real-time scan). This extra work is likely to have a negative effect on the performance of your computer.
     
  • Normally, FREE anti-virus software does not have all the functionality you get from paid-for anti-virus software (functions may include scheduling scans, scheduling updates, etc). Also, normally no warranty exists with free anti-virus software.
     
  • The use of anti-virus software doesn’t negate the responsibility to check and control “input ports” or incoming channels to your computer. You still need to be cautious regarding suspicious websites, the use of USB Flash or portable hard drives etc.

Summary

I know of many people who use AVG Free Anti-virus and all say it meets their requirements. The only complaint I have encountered is that AVG can slow down your computer noticeably. Check out information and tests and reviews on all these different packages online.

Which free anti-virus software do you run and do you have any hints and tips? Please let us know in the comments below.

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