I hear so many complaints about antivirus programs. "They slow my system down!", I'm told. "They don't work - a virus got into my system anyway!". "The antivirus companies are the ones writing all the viruses, anyway!".
I'll admit, there's no such thing as a perfect antivirus. Antivirus programs are more of a reactive solution than a proactive one. When someone comes up with an ingenious way of exploiting a computer, the antivirus companies have to find a way to stop them. Kind of like the little boy with his finger in the dike. There's really no sense in putting your finger in the dike, if there's no hole yet.
The newer antivirus programs use a feature called heuristics to be a little more proactive than the older programs. Heuristics is an approach where the antivirus program looks for virus like features in a running program. If the program exhibits the right type of features, it's classified as a virus. Unfortunately, this can lead to other problems, as not all virus-like activity is caused by a virus. So, occasionally, a program that isn't a virus gets classified (usually only temporarily) as a virus - leading to more angry comments from users.
Also unfortunately, the use of heuristics to find viruses takes a lot more computing power, so yes, the antivirus program may slow your machine down - especially if it's an "older" machine. The term older can be used to describe any computer over about 6 months, nowadays...
Whether the antivirus companies are the ones writing the viruses in the first place or not is not something I have time or space to discuss here. Regardless of whether they are or not, you really, really need to have one to protect your computer. From password stealing to identity theft, to just plain annoying, viruses are a real threat.
Get yourself an antivirus program! AVG and Avira put out good free antivirus programs. For more features and, in my opinion, better protection, there are lots of choices out there. Norton Antivirus, McAfee, Trend Micro are all pretty good. My personal favourites are NOD32 by Eset, and Kaspersky Antivirus. Whichever route you decide to go, anything is better than nothing!
Thanks for reading! Hope this helps you with your next computer purchase.
Until next week, I'm Computer Dave
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