Antivirus software protects your computer from phishing scams, malware and other harmful files that steal data or slow down your computer. These programs search for threats and eliminate them if detected. Some offer additional security features, for instance the fire wall to prevent network attack. Some programs are free while others require a monthly cost to ensure complete protection.

When selecting an antivirus software make sure you select a program that makes use of minimal system resources to ensure it doesn’t slow down your computer while you run virus scans or other operations. Searching in the program’s search function to locate user reviews can help you decide which are effective and don’t use up too much memory, disk space, or other resources.

The best antivirus programs can identify viruses quickly and reliably. They can make use of a mix of methods that include specific detection, which searches for known viruses; generic detection, which recognizes different parts or types of malware; and heuristic detection, which examines behavior to identify suspicious patterns. Once an infection has been identified, the program will isolate the file or program from other files and programs or programs, block access, and then delete it. Some programs will display an alert that indicates the threat has been eliminated or has been detected.

For those looking for the most secure antivirus program should consider one that comes with additional security features including an firewall, a cloud-based scanner, parental controls, and ransomware defense. Other features include a money-back assurance or free trial, compatibility with various platforms, frequent updates and customer assistance.