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A computer antivirus is one of the best ways to protect yourself online. It thwarts hackers and identifies and quarantines malware before it can damage your system. The software also provides security for your mobile devices.

An antivirus is usually part of a larger protection package. This includes a firewall and a password manager. For added security, you may also want to consider a virtual private network (VPN).

Antivirus is often the first line of defense in home IT infrastructures. Various technology vendors update their software regularly. Some antivirus products are free to download. Other products require a contract, often for a year or more.

There are many different kinds of antivirus. The best ones are based on a combination of signature-based detection and heuristic analysis. Signaic-based detection aims to identify known strains of malware. Heuristic analysis tries to catch newer strains.

Although antivirus solutions are a good idea, they are not foolproof. They may even generate false positives. So, a good measure of their efficacy is the detection rate.

Another way to measure the effectiveness of an AV product is to run a speed test. Viruses often slow down a computer, and this isn’t a good thing. However, by running only approved software, you reduce the chances of an infection.

The best antivirus software will combine the above techniques into a single package that is tailored to your specific needs. Most software packages cost between $40 and $180.

While antivirus programs offer a multitude of features, the most important is that it does its job well.