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When a person speaks about anti-virus software, he or she usually is referring a type of computer program that prevents, monitors and removes any type of malicious threat from a computer system. These threats can include Trojan horse programs, worms, viruses, adware and spyware. Anti-virus programs can be downloaded onto a computer system or used via online scanners. Their success rates can depend on the number of accurate virus definitions in their databases.
A serious concern for many computer users is the threat of malicious programs, such as Trojan horse programs, that can install themselves on unsuspecting victims' systems and cause damage. Other computer threats include adware, which is characterized by incessant advertisements, and spyware, which can track a computer user's habits and collect personal information. Several anti-virus software solutions can protect against all of these threats at once.
There are many paid options for anti-virus software. Some companies offer free anti-virus programs for download and use. These programs, however, can come with significant restrictions placed upon them. For example, some free programs can be used only on personal computers. Other programs might not offer real-time scanning, and users can be forced to manually run virus scans on their computer for protection instead of being able to browse the Internet while having automated anti-virus software work in the background.
Anti-virus software also exists on the Internet in the form of online virus scanners. These scanners are hosted on websites and can be invaluable tools for those who have infected computers and are dealing with a virus that does not allow the user to download programs onto his computer. Some online virus scanners can also help with the removal of viruses.
Regardless of the specific anti-virus software chosen, computer users should always look for a few things. Users should always choose programs that regularly update virus definitions so that their programs can catch new virus threats as they arise. Programs that do not update virus definitions can quickly become obsolete and will not protect users from new virus threats. Computer users should keep in mind that new virus threats crop up daily.
When installing anti-virus software, users should be aware that one good program is usually all that they will need. Running more than one anti-virus program on a computer can result in compromised computer performance. Besides slowing down a computer's processes, installing several anti-virus software solutions on a computer can effect functionality, because these programs might take up a lot of space and require many of the same resources to effectively perform.