Antivirus for Your Home Computer: How do you Pick the Right One?

Most of us understand the need for an antivirus program on our work PC. Business information is valuable in a way we all understand. But what about your home computer?

There are many different types of antivirus (AV) software available. Free ones, paid ones, active monitoring ones, and those that only scan on demand. How does one make sense of the options? We’re here to help!

What is Antivirus Software and What Does it Do?

Antivirus software has been around for several decades now. In fact, the very first attempt at antivirus was made in the 1970s. As bad actors have gotten more sophisticated over the years, so too have our efforts to fight back. The first attempts were viruses designed to spot and remove other viruses. Deployed after an infection was spotted, they spread through the system and removed the specific virus they were made to fight.

These days, antivirus is usually a program installed on a PC, rather than a worm designed to clean up after bad actors. Generally speaking, the program searches through your installed data to make sure nothing you have saved is going to do harm to your PC. The very best programs monitor your actions in real-time. They often warn if you’re visiting a suspicious website. Real-time monitoring can even prevent clicking on a link that might download malware.

Even the best monitoring software can make a mistake, of course, so most modern antivirus also runs periodic scans. This helps identify suspect files and isolate or remove them. Removal before damage is done isn’t as good as stopping the malware from being installed, but it’s a good second best. The very best modern AV software will allow outside monitoring — alerting a trusted computer repair tech if something dangerous has appeared on your PC.

Why Does this Matter at Home?

At home, the data you have is not generally of monetary value. Though important on a personal level, we often don’t think about our pictures or music collections as data that could be lost. Most people only start worrying about protecting their home computer once it’s too late. A virus, a worm, or ransomware could erase those memories in an instant. At which point, most of us would be willing to pay nearly anything to get it back.

How do I Pick Good Antivirus Software?

These days, the antivirus market is flooded. We’re spoiled for choice. Back in the Wild West days of the 1990s internet, there were two credible choices: McAfee and Norton. Oh how the mighty have fallen. These days, both programs have become so bloated that they actually harm computer performance. They’re also no better at monitoring (and often worse) than some of their lesser-known counterparts.

At home, due to budget concerns, many people stick with free antivirus. There are tons of options out there, of course, and many of them are somewhat useful. Microsoft Security Essentials is the example most people think of. But being well-known doesn’t always mean something is the best. In fact, the antivirus we recommend is Avast. They do offer a highly ranked free version, but for ultimate peace of mind, we recommend the paid version.

Avast antivirus logo. Orange amoeba shaped blob with a lower-case letter "a" in the middle, followed by the word "avast" in black text.

Paid versions of antivirus often offer advantages over their free counterparts. In the case of Avast, those advantages include protecting your webcam from outside spying and allowing a trusted PC repair technician (like ourselves) to remote in with your permission. Repairs and virus removals that used to require your PC and your tech to be in the same place can be accomplished remotely.

Avast is affordable, reliable, and well-trusted. The developers are constantly updating, providing new virus definitions and more reliable operations. It has been trusted for 30 years to stay on top of malware and other threats. There is a reason Avast has more clients worldwide than any other AV company. We would be happy to work with you to get your PC protected by Avast. Call today for a tune-up, and let us install peace of mind on your PC.

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