Anti-virus Software Explained, The difference between malware and viruses

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ANTI-VIRUS Software Explained, The Difference between Anti-virus and Anti-Malware software(and Which to Use)

Antivirus is an unclear thing: it’s called antivirus, but there are dozens of other types of malware out there. So…do those programs also image for spyware, adware, and different threats? Here’s how to make sense of it all, and which tools you can combine to keep pop ups, pesky problems from getting on your computer.

We may be past the time when viruses made headlines on the news, but that doesn’t signify that viruses and new malware aren’t a threat. They’re there, ready to contaminate your machine and add it to a botnet or email everyone in your address book. However, the good news is, with common understanding about viruses and malware you can better protect yourself.  Like they say knowledge is power and knowing just what to look for and not what can put your computer in jeopardy can make the difference between you being a victim or you hearing stories about it happening to your friends.

De-Mystifying Viruses, Malware, and Nasty Threats

Let’s start with the differences between “viruses” and “malware.” Viruses are a specific identify of malware (designed to infect, spread and replicate). Malware is basically a term used to describe anything else with malicious code that gives you trouble… Malware though can include viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, adware, spyware worms, and much. Nevertheless, because viruses (and to a lesser extent, Trojans and worms)  made all the headlines in the last decade, software companies that make protection software have stuck with the name “anti-virus” and have focused their marketing on virus name.

However, you might find other protection packages, suites or tools that call themselves “anti-malware,” but malware is just a loosely based term that describes an umbrella of bad malicious software that can harm your computer or identity.  So I’ll explain some of the best ways to protect yourself.

Do you need anti-virus software?

Yes you absolutely need antivirus software.  If you use the internet or plan on using the internet in any capacity no matter how little you use it, you subject your computer to being infected.

I’ve had the question asked a lot also about well this computer is not even connected to the internet while running my business The PC Tech Guys.   But people don’t take into account that we got viruses just as easily 10 or 20 years ago without the internet through things like floppy disks, which today would be the equilivant of USB / Flash Drives.  And even better example would be the genius teenager who wants to install some games on your computer and only needs to get on the internet for a minute or has it on his usb flash drive.

So yes, there are a number of situations where you can still get viruses from other avenues. And chances are if this is the computer that you think you don’t need antivirus protection on because it’s never on the internet much then it’s probably got an older operating system like Windows XP (yes that’s an old operating system and not very safe / immune to viruses).  A lot of most bothersome viruses can take advantage of putting your Windows XP system at a standstill by using up all the CPU power, so you are left using the computer with little to no speed like moving 5 kilometers per hour down the highway 99.


Do you need PAID anti-virus protection?  Is free antivirus protection enough? 

I’m actually a big believer in Free Anti Virus protection for a number of reasons.  The first being that a lot of the time, PAID antivirus can be worse at protecting your computer than one that is free.

I get monthly subscriptions to some of the best magazines in the industry and each year I am surprised to see detection rates for $60 software miss the detection rates for some of the better free antivirus software.  That’s a true fact.  For example, in 2014 according to Maximum PC, AVG Paid antivirus was rated a 6/10 on a number of factors, yet Avira Free Anti-virus earned an 8/10.  To me that’s not worth $60.

Secondly, I’m always worried about customers getting their computer or laptop screens popping up warnings like; “You are not protected, or subscription expired.”  This doesn’t happen with free anti-virus.  Like most people this may not seem as important as getting around to making sure the electricity is paid at home as it is to staying on top of their anti-virus software, especially if like most people, we have a few computers.

Lastly, with companies, trying to package some much stuff in their “suite” / “total solution”, “last piece of software you’ll ever need”, they are adding all these outrageous features that can slow down your computer or at the very least, newer paid subscription antivirus software packages don’t run well on a computer that’s 4 or 5 years old, especially older laptops.

Since doing a lot of computer repair in the Squamish area for the last year or so, I’ve noticed that our ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) give away antivirus software that would normally cost you money in stores.  One big thing to note is like I said in the beginning, the better or best antivirus software, changes year to year.

While one piece of software gets a bad name 4 years ago, it does not necessarily mean it’s not the best today.  And the best one last year, could be the worst one the following year.  Companies are always aggressively changing their product and this leads to problems when customers either hang on to a product when it’s a loser or never go back to using it when it’s much more refined in the future.

So saving you a headache, I will recommend this year’s freebie software solutions that will protect you as good if not better than anything in the paid market.  I favour heavily on detection rates and low usage of system resources (that means that, I want protection, but I don’t want to lose 25 percent of my computing power just to run one of these programs).

What do you do if you think you already have a virus?

The PC TECH Guys offers guaranteed virus removal at a flat rate of $59.  This is one of our computer services we offered up here in Squamish for desktops, laptops and even Mac or Apple computers (when they do get one).  We run about 4 to 5 full scans to ensure that we properly remove the virus and make sure sufficient software is installed / updated  and working to ensure it does not come back.  Our work is also guaranteed for 2 months and we can do that because we know we do the best job and we know we do all the work professionally.  And we’ve seen it all from the Ukash virus, ransomware, FBI, RCMP virus, child porn virus, webcam virus, backdoors and everything under the sun.  Don’t worry we understand.

The BEST Anti-Virus Protection choices as of November 2014:

Best Free Anti-Virus software:  Avira Free Anti-virus

Best Paid Anti-virus software: Bitdefender 2014 (retail $80)


Stay tuned as I will be writing another article about why anti virus is not enough in my next article.  You’ll need secondary software to compliment the anti-virus and it’s usually not found in the paid subscriptions.

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