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Why Do You Need Anti-Virus Software?

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Publication Number: P3184
View as PDF: P3184.pdf

You may have heard the old saying, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” The same could be said for internet security. Computers are continuously in need of anti-virus software. Hackers who wish to gain access to your information are more and more common in today’s tech-savvy world. Anti-virus software is a great asset that can help prevent these attacks. Antivirus software protects your computer from online threats.

What Does Anti-Virus Software Protect Against?

Anti-virus software helps to prevent malware from being installed on your computer. It also removes any malware that is already on your computer. Malware is any malicious software installed on your computer by outside parties. Anti-virus software can protect you from a variety of threats, including infected email attachments, spyware, and corrupt websites.

Anti-virus software scans your machine for potential viruses and other software such as adware, Trojans, worms, and more. If you connect your computer to the internet and do not have any type of anti-virus software, your machine will most likely be infected within minutes.

Preventive Measures

Practicing smart and safe browsing habits can help protect you from threats such as viruses and malware. It is always a good idea to be proactive in keeping your web browsers updated to the latest version. Be extremely careful about what you download from the internet to your computer; only download programs from trusted websites. Set your anti-virus software to run regular scans for malware. New viruses appear all the time. It is important to keep your anti-virus software and your operating system updated.

Having a backup is a great way to defend yourself and your computer in the event that your data is lost or corrupted. There are many backup options. Some include external hard drives, USB flash drives, and online cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, and iCloud.

Choosing a good password is also vital to safe internet surfing. The wireless network that you connect to should be password-protected. Email accounts, online banking sites, social media sites, and other online portals that you visit should be password-protected. A good password should not be predictable, and it should be somewhat lengthy. Choose a combination of letters (both upper- and lowercase), numbers, and symbols.

Anti-Virus Software Options

There are many anti-virus software options to choose from. Below are several choices.

If your computer is running Windows 7 or older, you will need to download anti-virus software. Windows 8 and newer include an anti-virus component called Windows Defender; however, if you are looking for more than basic protection, it may be a good idea to download another anti-virus software.

When choosing an anti-virus software, you should read all that you can about the product you are interested in purchasing. Some products can be right for beginners, while others are better for more advanced computer users. Purchase your security software from a reputable company. Reputation matters!

Basic Functions of Anti-Virus Software

  • Scan files for malware or known malicious patterns.
  • Set an automatic schedule to scan your computer.
  • Scan specific files on your computer or other drives at any time.
  • Remove malicious software that is detected on your computer—the software may notify you of an infection and ask if you want to clean the file, or it may automatically remove the file for you.
  • Show the “health” status of your computer.

Internet security is a serious matter. As long as we use computers, viruses are going to be an issue. We should strive for security software that is as close to perfect as possible. There are a lot of anti-virus software options to choose from, so pick the one that is going to provide the best protection for your computer.


Paul, I. (2017). Best antivirus: Keep your Windows PC safe from spyware, Trojans, malware, and more. PCworld, 35(12), 56.

Rubenking, N.J. (2016). Multi-platform virus protection for all your devices. PC Magazine, 91.

Publication 3184 (POD-02-18)

By Jamie Varner, Extension Instructor, Extension Center for Technology Outreach.

Department: Extension Center for Tech Outreach
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