Antivirus software safeguards your computer from malware, phishing scams and other malicious files that can steal information or slow down the computer. These programs search for threats and take them off if discovered. Some offer additional security features like a fire wall to help prevent network attack. Some are free, and others require a monthly subscription fee for complete protection.

When selecting antivirus software, choose a program which makes use of minimal system resources to ensure that it doesn’t slow your computer while you run virus scans or other operations. You can use the search feature of the program to locate reviews from other users. This will let you know whether a particular program is effective and doesn’t use excessive memory or space on your hard drive or other resources.

The best antivirus programs will identify viruses quickly and reliably. They employ different methods that include specific detection that searches for known viruses, a generic detection that recognizes different parts and types of malware, and heuristics detection, which analyzes patterns to identify suspicious behavior. If a virus is discovered, the program will isolate it from other programs or files, block access to it and delete it. Some programs will display an alert to indicate that the threat has been detected or removed.

If you’re searching for the most effective antivirus program, you should consider one that comes with additional security features such as parental controls and a cloud scanner and ransomware protection. Other features include a money-back guarantee or free trial, compatibility across multiple platforms, frequent updates, and customer assistance.