What is a Computer Virus?

In modern times, most people are aware to one degree or another of computer viruses. But exactly what are computer viruses? (Continued here).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What to do about Computer Viruses

How to Deal with Computer Viruses

There are many ways in which a virus can infect your PC. But regardless of weather it is a harmful virus or an annoying "practical joke," it is dangerous to let one loose on your system, and it should be dealt with immediately.

Whether you are connected to the Internet or not, it is safest to have an antivirus program installed on your computer. If you are connected to the Internet, it is basically a must.

Types of Antivirus Programs

There are two types of anti virus programs. Both do more or less the same thing, but use different methods. Both types of programs are constantly on the lookout for viruses on your computer, but they do so in different ways.

The first one keeps a list of known viruses and virus types, called "virus definitions." This list of virus definitions is called a virus library. It constantly looks through your computer, checking to see if anything coming into your computer is a virus. It does so by comparing all things coming in with what it has stored in its "virus library".

Any file, document, or program coming into your computer is inspected and compared to this library to see if it matches any of the "virus definitions." One disadvantage of this system is that if a new virus comes out that is different than the viruses stored in your library, this type of antivirus program will not detect it and will allow it onto your computer.

When using such a program, it is important to have a subscription, and to be connected to the Internet, so that your virus definitions are constantly updated. New viruses come out every day. If you choose such a program, one of the things to check for is how often the virus definitions are updated. This will play an important role in keeping your computer safe.

The second type of anti-virus program is called a HEURISTIC program. "Heuristic" means "learning by discovery or trail and error." It comes from the Greek word "heuriskin," which means "to discover".

In other words, the program is capable of discovering new viruses not already known. It is written in such a way that it is able to learn and discover new viruses, without having to refer to a library. This program will most likely also have a library of virus definitions. But in addition to detecting already known viruses, it is able to detect new viruses, and is therefore a more secure program.

Will My Antivirus Program Drain my Computer of Energy?

One final thing to take into account, when choosing an anti-virus program, is how much computer power your anti-virus program uses. It is all fine to have the biggest antivirus program in the world, but that might not leave much computer power left for you to run your other programs. This is an important factors for you to take into account. Otherwise, you may run into a situation where, instead of viruses slowing your computer down, your antivirus program is slowing your computer down!

Some of the common Antivirus programs are as follows:

Kaspersky Antivirus

AVG Free Anti-Virus

Panda Software Anti-Virus Products

Trend Micro


Panda Software Anti-Virus Products

For reviews of these antivirus programs and my own experience with them, please see the post here:

Reviews of Antivirus Programs


angel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
muhammad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gembel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marinda Beukes said...

Hello Anna

I have a question: Should I be worried that 64 bit antivirus software like bitdefender will make my computer slow down? I have Windows XP running on a 1 GHz AMD Duron with 448 MB Ram and I currently use PC Tools antivirus.

Anna said...

Dear Marinda,

Thanks for your question.

It really depends on what you use your computer for. If you have other programs running that require a lot of processing power and memory it might become a problem. Such programs would usually be graphics processing and RD stuff for example. However if you use your computer for administrative purposes like word processing and spread sheets I cant imagine that it would be much of a problem.

But if I am right that program comes free or at least with a free trail. So it will cost you nothing to try it out. If you notice a slow down you can always uninstall and nothing is lost. I personally use Kaspersky , and have found it for the most part very satisfactory, its not free, but it sure works.

- Anna

Anonymous said...

Dear Marinda, I just checked out the site you linked. I must say it's very suspicious. I say this as there is no program too download from the site. There is only the google adds offering free virus programs.

In other words that site is setup to make money through adds. The person putting up the site has just made one page of adds and added text around it. The only place you can link through is the adds.

Very smart of him in actual fact, unfortunately he is not an anti virus expert. And I really doubt that those phone numbers on his site work. Notice too that there is a very obvious disclaimer in the site stating he takes no responsibility for the content and advice of his site.

I do agree with the basic idea that viruses are made to scary. But at the same time the do happen and they are around. I have never found free programs as effective as paid for programs, and in fact I don't allow free programs on my computers at work. Nothing wrong with something free, but look if I said I would give you a free cars that were much better than the main car manufacturers like Ford, BMW or Mercedes. I think you would doubt me.

Sorry for going on a roll here, I was just outraged by that link from that website you sent as it is just a money making sham, by someone putting up no concrete information, only his personal opinion.



Marinda Beukes said...

Thank you Anna for the information. And thank to anonymous as well. I actually know the owner of the site and just gave him a link to help his ranking in Google. I told him what you wrote and he agreed that it is clever but he intends to put up more information in future.
Anna, I have heard a lot of Kaspersky and might try out their internet security trial some day.

Anelly said...

I really enjoyed reading your article because was very informative about anti virus programs. I didn't know that there were two type of anti virus. My mistake was that i installed an anti-virus on my computer that indeed slowed my computer activity and i ended up by closing it. I got no protection and viruses too.

Anna said...

Great Anelly - thanks for your feedback. I'm very glad this could help you!

Ryan said...

I liked the specially when you said "instead of viruses slowing your computer down, your antivirus program is slowing your computer down!".
I believe Kaspersky to be the best..
What about you?