Antivirus software protects your computer from malware, phishing scams and other malicious malware that steals information or slow down your computer. The programs will scan your computer for threats and eliminate the threats if they are found, and some offer additional security features, such as a firewall to help prevent attacks on networks. Certain programs are free while others require a subscription fee to offer complete security.

When choosing an antivirus program select a program that utilizes a minimal amount of system resources to ensure it does not cause slowdowns to your computer while performing virus scans or other operations. Searching in the program’s search function to locate user reviews can help you determine which ones are efficient and don’t consume too much memory, disk space, or other resources.

The best antivirus programs can detect viruses quickly and efficiently. They can use a combination of methods, including specific detection, which looks for known viruses; generic detection, which detects specific the types or parts of malware as well as heuristic detection that analyzes the behavior of the user to find suspicious patterns. Once a virus has been identified the program will then isolate the program or file from other programs and files then block access and remove it. Some programs may show an alert to indicate that the threat has been removed or detected.

For those looking for the most secure antivirus software should consider one that comes with additional security features, such as an firewall, a cloud-based scanner, parental controls and ransomware protection. Other features include a money-back guarantee, a free trial, compatibility across multiple platforms, frequent updates, and customer support.