I’m picking up where I left off last week with the $450 computer system I built for a client. The system has 2 GB of RAM, a dual core processor, a 500GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and it runs the latest Windows 7 operating system.
In my last article, I listed some software I install on a typical new computer; today, I’ll continue by discussing spyware protection with PC Tools Spyware Doctor and virus protection using avast!
Viruses and Spyware: What’s the difference?
- Viruses are small programs or snippets of computer code that are designed to spread from one computer to another by infecting email messages, computer files, or storage media. When another computer opens an infected file, message, or disc, the virus has an opportunity to infect the new computer.
- Viruses often have noticeable affects such as slowing down a computer, blocking access to files, causing unusual counds or messages to appear, or even the deletion of files stored on a system.
- Each virus needs specific conditions in order to take effect. For example, some viruses may require that a file or email message needs to be opened — often by a specific program (Word, Excel, etc.). In some cases your computer maybe infected, but without the necessary activating conditions, you may never notice the virus’s presence, but it is still possible for the the virus to spread if the infected message or file is sent to another computer.
- Viruses can be detected and eliminated by anti-virus software.
- Spyware, as it names implies, is more difficult to spot. After all, a good spy shouldn’t be noticed.
- While viruses are designed to spread on their own, spyware is often intentionally downloaded by a computer user. Typically the user is deceived and lead to believe that the program they are downloading is useful, beneficial, or desirable.
- Spyware is often designed to seek out personal information, or to trick the computer user into providing personal information.
- Some spyware may have “viral elements” which enable to spyware to spread to other computers. Such spyware can be detected by anti-virus software.
- Spyware without a viral element is detectable by anti-spyware software.
Many computer owners mistakenly believe that they only need one or the other, but if you use the Internet you should have both types of software installed on your computer. Antispyware doesn’t detect viruses, and antivirus programs only detect some spyware programs (as mentioned above).
My antivirus software of choice is avast! This program is free for home users with only one computer. If you have more than one computer, they ask that you download the avast! Pro version. avast! Pro for one computer is $40, $55 for three computers, and $85 for 5 computers. I have installed this software on over a hundred computers, and there have been no complaints from anyone who’s used it.
My favorite anti-spyware program is PC Tools Spyware Doctor. I found this program several years ago, and was happily surprised to find it caught more spyware than any other program of its kind. I’ve been using it and recommending it ever since.
Spyware Doctor just keeps getting better with age. The latest version includes anti-virus software, and the October 2009 issue of PC Magazine says:
“The latest Spyware Doctor proved effective in every area of malware removal and blocking. It’s a great product.”
Spyware Doctor can be installed on up to three computers for $39.95. It’s only available online. Click the links above or the picture at left in order to buy your copy. Its available as a download and as a mail-order CD.