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The computer equivalent of eating fruit and taking plenty of exercise to ward off viruses comes in neat software packages.

Virus protection software

The same anti-virus software is used to protect against viruses and to destroy them if your computer becomes infected.

Apologies in advance if you find a broken link on this page. It's an archive page and no longer maintained.

The two big suppliers are:

VirusScan Online $50

Norton AntiVirus $50

They've been joined by a third big player, F-Secure (originally called DataFellows) based in Europe. F-Secure antivirus software is available as a downloadable trial (30 days). It appears to cost $69. If the link to the download fails, try the company's main site.

Another systems that allows you a free trial is eSafe Desktop from Aladdin, free for 60 days.

In the past, there was a decent free virus checker called InoculateIT Personal Edition, but naturally it's been discontinued. The replacement is pretty cheap, at $20 ($10 as an upgrade to InoculateIT). It's called eTrust EZ Antivirus but I have no idea if it's any good.

The best option for budget protection is to try the tucows download site. Type "virus" into the search field and see what software comes up. Don't expect a 100% effective system for free, but there's a chance you'll be offered demo versions of a Norton or McAffee product.

Once upon a time you could download the latest virus definition files for your anti-virus program free of charge (still worth a look at tucows to see if they have recent virus definition files) but now you usually have to pay a small fee of around $5-8. It's worth paying this and updating your definition files at least every month - more often if there's a big virus scare. Details of how to do the update are included with the software. It's usually very straightforward. Maybe I shouldn't be saying this, but if you click the "subscribe later" button, the manufacturer will often allow you access to new definitions even though you haven't paid.


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