How to Select and Install the Appropriate Antivirus Software for Your Computer

January 14, 2009

in privacy & security

by Tina Gasperson

These days, it is completely unadvisable to go online without a currently updated antivirus application running on your Windows-based desktop system. An unprotected computer is vulnerable to all manner of viruses, spyware, and Trojan horse programs that can take over your system without your permission. These unwelcome bits of software enter your computer when you download and run infected applications or visit Web sites that inject the malicious code through your browser. A good antivirus program will run in the background as you browse, protecting you from immediate dangers, and will also scan your entire system on a regular basis, using information from the latest known threats. Your antivirus software can save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs, and reduce the stress associated with losing important files and information stored on your hard drive. So what can you do to insure that your system is protected by a good antivirus program?

Most Windows systems come with either Norton or McAfee antivirus applications pre-installed, so that you are protected from day one. You can check by looking at the programs list under the Start Menu of your Windows desktop. If an antivirus is listed there, open it up and make sure it is scheduled to download the latest virus definitions and to scan your computer daily at some convenient time. Usually early in the morning or late at night is best, since the scanning process can use a large chunk of the computer’s CPU power.

Most antivirus programs are available on a subscription basis, so check to see when your free subscription expires. With a new computer you may only be covered for 30 days, which means you’ll either need to make plans to extend your subscription by paying a monthly fee, or remove the installed antivirus and install a free program, such as AVG Free, ClamWin, or Avast. Each of these programs are easy to install and configure, and will keep you protected while online.

If your system didn’t come to you with an antivirus already installed, then your very first stop on the Internet should be at an antivirus application download page from one of the vendors listed above. Keep your system protected, and you’ll get the most enjoyment from your Windows computer.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.