Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anti-Virus Programs

"I have an Anti-virus program, why is my computer getting viruses?"

Let's take a look at anti-virus programs. Are they needed?. There are some people who don't have AV (anti-virus) and they say they are fine. There are also people who tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon without a net. Most of these guys who walk a tight rope do not fall. But....  I, personally, have an anti-virus program on my computer.

How do viruses get on computers? There are lots of ways. Sometimes you just have to be in the wrong place at the right time. Sometimes you click on something because it looks too good to be true (and 99.99% of the time, it is not true and now you have a virus.)

The biggest reason you end up with a virus on your computer is because your AV definitions are not up to date. What are AV definitions? AV definitions are snippets of code that you find in viruses. Let's step back and see how an AV program works.

Viruses are computer programs. They are made up of code. The code could possibly look like this:
Hello world()
{ scan computer;
   find interesting files;
  copy those files;
  delete everything; }
Ok, so maybe a bit more complicated that this. What AV programs do is look for the code in the virus. The AV program scans your computer and finds programs that match the code snippets in their definition files. When they find one, the AV program takes that program and puts it in a quarantine area and then deletes it for you. And then it tells you that it did its job. (Good AV program. pat. pat. here's your treat)

Do AV programs catch all viruses? No. There will always be some not caught. Mostly because a virus has to be known about in order to be protected against. But once it is on the radar, the AV community gets that information shared.

So, if your virus definitions are not up to date.....well, then your AV program doesn't know that there are more viruses out there. Most AV programs automatically update the definitions as soon as you are connected to the Internet. Some ask you, and if they do~~say YES please!

Here is another concern with AV programs. Go back and look at that code. What does it say the virus does? Scan your computer, look for files, and delete them. Now, look at what an AV does. Oh, right....scan your computer, look for files, and delete them. Let's say that you have two AV programs on your computer. What do you think they will do when they see the other AV program scanning your computer. Right! They freak out. And then they start having a virtual boxing match. So what are real viruses doing? Walking right on by while the AV programs are duking it out and proceed to do their damage. The other thing happening here is that both those AV programs are taking up computer time. And when they are fighting, they take up more computer time.....times two. And now your computer is slow as well as not so protected.

If you have more than one AV program on your computer, you need to pick one and uninstall the others. Even if the other AV programs are not running, you still need to get rid of them. Here is how:

  • Open your Control Panel.
  • Click the drop down arrow in the upper right corner and choose one of the icon options (or find the link to switch to Classic view).
  • Find the Programs and Features icon (or the Add and Remove Programs icon).
  • Double click it to open. Sometimes this takes a minute for all the programs to show up. Be patient.
  • Find the AV program that you want to get rid of and click on it once (or you can right-click on the program).
  • Up on the top of the list you will see a Uninstall option. (If you don't, you will see a Change option).
  • Click on Uninstall (or Change).
  • Then follow the directions to uninstall the program. A note here. the Installer is used to Uninstall. Quite often, you will be asked if you want to install the program. Say yes. If it asks if you are sure. Say yes. If it asks you why you are leaving, you can answer. I usually don't. Keep going until it is finished. 
  • Find the next, and uninstall it too.
  • Close the Control Panel when you are finished.

Now I know you are going to ask me which is the best AV program out there.

There are tons. There are a few great free programs. Avast! is one, so is Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). Do you need to buy a program? No. If you want to, you can. Just make sure that whatever program you chose, is one that you understand how it works. I like to recommend MSE to people who don't want a lot of fuss when running the program. MSE runs quietly in the background and does a good job keeping your computer virus free. I will also say that TrendMicro, Panda, ESET, Sophos, and Kaspersky are all good programs. My personal onion (very personal and very vocal) is that if you have Norton 360, pick another one. I know that I make some people very angry that I said this, but, more than 80% of the computers I removed viruses from, had Norton 360. (Do you need to panic? no. Do you need to remove it before the subscription is up? probably not.)

If you need additional help. Feel free to comment. I will try to get back to you quickly. If you need even more help, I may suggest professional help (could be me, I can make some other recommendations depending on where you live) but know that you will be spending some money.

Keep the BugOff!

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