What is an antivirus? The definition and the top 5 examples

Antivirus software

Computer viruses share many similarities with real life viruses, which is why they were named. However, while the flu season begins in late fall and ends in February, the computer virus season is in full swing throughout the year. To protect your body from viruses, you only need to get vaccinated once a year, at the beginning of the flu season. On the other hand, to keep your computer and files safe from viruses and other threats, you need to use antivirus software that will provide you with full protection at any time.

Summary: Antivirus software is a standalone application or set of programs that detects and removes viruses from computers and networks. Modern antivirus software also protects your devices against all types of malware without affecting speed and performance. Read on about the top three types of antivirus software and find out which are the five best antivirus programs.

  • The definition
  • What types are there?
  • Top 5 examples
  • How to choose antivirus software?

What is an antivirus?
As its name suggests, antivirus software is an application or a set of programs that finds and removes viruses from computers and networks. Along with viruses, most programs today are also capable of detecting and removing other types of malicious software, including worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, ransomware, browser hijackers, keyloggers, and rootkits. Besides being able to identify and eliminate these threats, the best antivirus software can also prevent them from infecting your system.

When you run a virus scanner, your antivirus program will scan your hard drive and all currently connected storage devices for potential threats. The program will inspect each file individually and simultaneously search its database for known viruses to detect a possible threat. Doing so, depending on the severity of the threat, will either delete, quarantine, or repair the infected file. The program will also monitor the behavior of all the software on your computer for any alarm signals.

Whereas in the past you had to scan manually, most of today’s antivirus programs allow you to run automatic scanners and program controls to best suit your needs. As a rule, it is recommended to perform an automatic scan every week. In addition, you can also perform manual scanners on your computer, and also on specific files and directories. Antivirus scanners are designed as background processes, which means that they shouldn’t use up a lot of your computational resources or slow down your computer.

As computer viruses are a constant threat on all platforms, today’s antivirus software is designed to offer protection on all operating systems and all devices connected to the internet. This includes desktop and laptop computers that use Microsoft Windows and macOS, as well as smartphones that use iOS and Android. Statistics show that more than 360,000 malware components are released every day. For maximum security, the best antivirus software for Mac will also automatically update virus definitions at least once a day.

What types of antivirus software are there?
All antivirus programs can be organized into the following three categories:

Standalone antivirus software
Standalone antivirus software is a specialized tool, designed to detect and remove certain viruses. It is commonly known as portable antivirus software because it can also be installed on a USB stick and can be used by administrators to perform emergency scans of an infected system. However, most portable programs are not designed to provide real-time protection and download new definitions daily, which is why they cannot replace internet security packages that include a large variety of extras.

Security software packages
As the title indicates, security software packages are more than antivirus programs. In addition to being able to detect and remove viruses, they are also equipped to fight all other malicious software and provide absolute protection at all times for your computer and files. Most of these software packages include antispyware, firewalls, and parental control components. Some also include an added feature like password management, VPN (virtual private network), and even a standalone antivirus program built into the package.

Antivirus software in the cloud
Cloud Antivirus Software is a new type of antivirus technology that scans your files in the cloud instead of on your computer, in order to free up your computing resources and allow a faster response. These programs are normally made up of two parts; the client that is installed on your computer and performs periodic virus and malware scanners, without taking up too much memory, and the web service that processes the data collected by the client and inspects it for matches with viruses and malware from its database.

Top 5 Antivirus Software Examples
With millions of active viruses and malicious software costing the global economy millions of dollars in losses each year, it is not surprising that there are a large number of antivirus programs available on the market. They are different in terms of price, the platform for which they are designed, functionality, as well as the additional components.

Some of the best antivirus programs currently available include the following:

Bitdefender
Bitdefender Total Security is a comprehensive and comprehensive security suite that offers optimal protection against viruses and all other types of malicious software. It is compatible with the four major operating systems and with smart homes. This easy-to-use antivirus software also includes a free VPN with 200MB daily limit, parental control, webcam protection, password manager, and a tool specifically designed to fight ransomware. This security package is very competitively priced and will give you full protection on up to five devices.

Read our full review here .

Norton
Symantec’s Norton has been around for almost three decades and is undoubtedly one of the most recognized names in cybersecurity. Your Norton Security Premium security software suite is compatible with all four major platforms, as well as smart homes, and includes a number of excellent components. Although it does not include a free VPN service, it does offer parental control and a huge 25GB online storage space. This is very positive for multi-device owners, as one license protects up to 10 devices.

Read our full review here .

Panda
Panda is another excellent antivirus program that offers optimal protection from all known cyber threats. Famous for its fast performance, this antivirus software is only compatible with Windows, macOS, and Android. Despite this disadvantage, the package includes a VPN service with a daily limit of 150MB, password manager, parental control and a standalone antivirus program on USB. Designed to provide protection on up to five devices, Panda Antivirus also includes a comprehensive Android malware scanner.

Read our full review here .

McAfee
McAfee LifeSafe is unique in offering a single license for up to 100 devices. Compatible with all four major operating systems, this security suite includes superior malware protection for Windows and Android-powered machines, without compromising performance. Although the parental control function is not as advanced as that of the competition, the inclusion of the McAfee True Key password manager more than fixes this lack. It is equipped with the facial recognition function, which will keep all your registration information extra protected.

Read our full review here .

BullGuard
Another security software package designed primarily for Windows and Android, BullGuard offers high-level antivirus and antimalware protection without slowing down your computer. Although the VPN is not included in the package, there are many interesting features, including a game booster, cloud backup, parental control, and the safe browsing feature. However, macOS users can only perform anti-virus scans, as the package is incompatible with iOS. A single license is valid for up to five devices.

Read our full review here .

How to choose antivirus software?
The market is flooded with antivirus programs that claim to provide optimal protection for your computer, your files, and your personal data. With such stiff competition, finding the best antivirus software for your computing needs can be difficult. When choosing an antivirus program for your personal use, you need to consider its effectiveness against cyber threats, its performance, the components it includes, the operating systems it supports, and the number of devices it can protect.

While there are many free antivirus programs out there, they may not be the right choice, even for a pocket-conscious shopper. They never offer full protection against all threats in the first place, which means that you will also have to install at least one additional antimalware program on your PC. In addition, they may also include a spyware component, so that authors can track your browsing activity and play more targeted advertisements.

Although it is not free, the best antivirus software is often available at a considerable discount. These programs are the only way to ensure that your computer and its files are safe at any time. They will monitor your computer without interruption, to detect and remove any existing viruses and malware, as well as guard against all incoming threats. In addition to your computer, they will also protect your smartphone, tablets, smart TV sets, and all other devices with an internet connection without slowing down your performance.