- Keeps your computer safe
- Depending on the level of protection, blocks malicious emails & downloads
- Gives you peace of mind
- Kills your computer’s processing ability (e.g. speed)
- Gets in the way of some legitimate software
- Depending on the level of protection, the firewall can cause major headaches
Antivirus software was developed to keep people who didn’t know much about the internet and people who lose sight of what’s malicious and what isn’t out of trouble. Essentially, you can protect yourself against viruses without antivirus software if you use common sense when browsing the internet and reading email. If something looks to good to be true, it probably is. If you’re downloading software and there’s a gazillion download buttons on the page, look carefully for the one that actually appears to be a part of the website. All of the others are ads that will lead you to download malicious content. If you got an email from someone asking to change your password by clicking on a link, check the link by hovering over it and looking to the bottom of your browser (if you’re reading email in a web browser). If the link leads to something other than yourbankhere.com (e.g. bankofamerica.com, wellsfargo.com, capitalone.com), don’t click on it and delete the email immediately.
It turns out that using common sense can be pretty effective at fighting viruses on the big bad internet. However, we’re not saying you should just uninstall any and all antivirus software and go tarzan on the internet pretending like you’re invincible now that you’ve read this article. What you should do is stop paying for your subscription, wait until it expires, and then remove the antivirus software from your computer. Now, we don’t like the idea of leaving you without protection, so we recommend Malwarebytes as a stopgap solution. Malwarebytes offers a premium service that actively protects your computer, but if you use the common sense outlined above, you don’t need active monitoring and thus your computer performance isn’t impacted by an antivirus software constantly monitoring your actions.
You can get Malwarebytes from here (You checked that link before you clicked on it didn’t you? Excellent! You’re already getting the hang of it.). During the installation process, when you reach the end it will have two checkboxes, one asking if you’d like to enable the free trial and one asking if you’d like to launch the software. Uncheck the one asking if you’d like to enable the free trial and then click finish. Malwarebytes will guide you through updating the database for the first time and running your first scan. We like to think Malwarebytes is the best antivirus scanner out there and chances are you’ll like it too after it finds a crapload of unwanted advertising (PUP) programs that have been causing your browser to do weird things.
After the scan is done, you’re all set, just close Malwarebytes and be responsible on the internet. We’d recommend you run Malwarebytes at least once a month just to check for viruses. In the mean time, if you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, you have Windows Defender as basic active protection from viruses. If you’re running Windows 7, we recommend you install Microsoft Security Essentials as basic protection. All Microsoft antivirus products have a relatively low memory footprint and don’t use too much CPU power (because they also offer little to no protection).
Now for the part of the article that covers those folks who just can’t seem to stop infecting their computer with viruses. It’s okay, we understand it’s hard to identify potential threats on the internet and we have a solution for you. We do recommend Malwarebytes as an effective solution, you can purchase Malwarebytes if you like, however there is another program that offers active protection for free and is something we use here at the office for repeat virus offenders. It’s called Bitdefender and it’s available here. You’ll have to register for an account to keep the software running, but other than that Bitdefender does a pretty good job of actively protecting your computer. It has a lower memory footprint than most commercially available antivirus software out there and does just as well if not better. Bitdefender is even on par with Malwarebytes in terms of detection.
If you’ve found this article helpful in changing the way you browse the internet, let us know in the comments! Safe browsing, folks.