||The need for anti-virus software
One of the
sad realities of the Internet these days is that the trouble makers
are getting more and more clever in how they can cause damage to
your computer via computer viruses. If you are anything more than a
very casual user of the Internet and you are not running any virus
protection sofware, at some point you will get hit with a virus.
It's not a matter of "if", only a question of
"when". And even if you are using a good anti-virus
program, if you aren't keeping it up-to-date, odds are you will
still get hit.
||How anti-virus software works
The way that
anti-virus software works is that there's a program running all the
time in the background of your computer, examining your files and
testing them for the presence of known viruses. And the key word
here is "known" viruses. What the program is doing is
looking at various patterns in each file and comparing those
patterns to a database of all known viruses. And if it finds a file
with a pattern that matches something in the database, you will get
a warning and typically instructions on how to proceed. Because of
this reliance on a database, your protection is only as good as the
database that your program is using. If your virus database is a
couple of months old, and you get a file that is infected with a
virus that is only a week or two old, then your anti-virus program
will not be able to detect that virus!
||How to keep things up-to-date
why it is very important that you continually update your anti-virus
files. Note that you are not updating your anti-virus program -- but
just updating it's virus definitions database. This process varies
from one program to another, but it typically consists of simply
going to the web site of the company that makes your anti-virus
software and downloading and installing the lastest files. You will
have to check with your particular vendor for details. It's
important that you do this update on a regular basis -- certainly at
least once a month, or maybe even once a week. Do make this one of
your regular habits!
||How to test your anti-virus software
virus protection program runs unobtrusively in the background,
sometimes it's difficult to tell if it's really working at all.
Something might have happened to the configuration or setup, and
unbeknownst to you, even though you are regularly updating the
definitions file, you may not be protected at all. Fortunately
there's a quick online test you can do to check that your program is
working -- it's at:
You might also want to make a habit of going there periodically and
running that test to insure that all is working as it's supposed to.