The Best Free Tools for a Safe Computing Experience

If you’re like me at some point you bought a new personal computer and that computer came with an antivirus program. However, that antivirus program unlike a lot of other software that probably came bundled with your new PC was only a subscription. Usually the subscription is good for anywhere from 6 months to 1 year or even 3 or 4 years in some cases. The caveat is it eventually runs out. If you’re like me you probably found yourself receiving pop-ups from the soon to be or already expired antivirus program and wondered if you needed to renew your subscription or if you could just let it slide.

These antivirus programs have a great way of scaring you into buying a new subscription when yours has expired. They often signal you with an exclamation point surrounded by a red or yellow triangle joined by a popup that says things like “Your computer is at Risk” or “You are not protected” or various other forms of propaganda designed to scare you. The thing is these are reputable manufacturers of antivirus software like Symantec, MacAfee or Kaspersky. While these are all good programs, if you’re like me you probably don’t need them.

What I mean by that is that there are alternatives to these costly subscription based antivirus programs that are free and just as good. Programs like AVG and Avast have been around for years and are used by a lot of people. These programs are free although they do offer upgraded versions for a fee. Often these upgrades are still cheaper than the ones that came with your PC, but again you don’t really need them.

If you have a PC that is run by a Microsoft operating system such as Windows 8.1 or 10 then you already have free security software included with your PC called Windows Defender. (In Windows 7 this was Microsoft Security Essentials)Windows Defender is not an enterprise class security suite, but we are not talking about the enterprise level. It is a suitable antivirus scanner that comes as part of your operating system and when used properly can provide good protection from viruses and malware.

Malware, spyware, Trojans; these are all terms used to describe malicious software that usually finds its way into a PC unbeknownst to the user. If you’re like me at one time or another you clicked on some enticing web-link that promised a prize of some sort like a free iPhone or a $500 gift card to the Home Depot. This is where that malware starts to get into your PC. All it takes is one wrong click on one bad link for your PC to become infected. Most of the time users are unaware, but the truth is a lot of legitimate websites will install malware on your PC just for visiting them. Sometimes they even ask for your permission in those “agree to the terms” check boxes (which no one ever reads).

In my opinion you can have a very pleasant and safe computing experience with just a little house cleaning as I like to call it. Once a week run a malware scan with Malwarebytes which is probably the best free tool on the market. I use this tool on a business level all of the time with great results. There are reviews at places like PCmag.com that let you compare free antivirus programs. Choose the program that is right for you and schedule it to scan your PC once a week at 3:00AM when you are not using it. (Remember to leave it on though!) If you do these things then clicking on those enticing links won’t hurt as much in the long run.

Corey Ramsey is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is currently employed as an IT Support Engineer. This article can be read online at –Free Tools or http://www.corey-ramsey.com/Free-Tools/

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