43. Tackling Viruses Cheaply
By Mark Alberstat
I am trying to find out about worm infections, how to avoid them and how
to do a system check. I have searched for info on free download programs
without success, and wonder if you could tell me if there is a no/low cost
way to handle this.
Name withheld by request
Using A computer today without a virus scanner is like walking across a
busy street without any regard to oncoming traffic; you might make it
across safely a few times, but eventually you will get hit.
If you use your computer daily for various tasks, when a virus hits your
machine you will feel it almost as acutely as if you yourself were stuck.
Viruses can destroy your data, allow third-party programs to take control
of your computer, cripple your system and even send out thousands of
e-mails without you knowing it, sometimes resulting in your ISP stopping
Windows-based machines are the most vulnerable to these attacks as most
viruses are written to attack these systems.
One of the main reasons people give for not running an anti-virus program
is expense. Some of the better-known virus scanners such as Norton or
McAfee can run well over $50.
If you are a frugal computer shopper, you can watch for various rebate
deals both of these companies often offer and which bring the price down
to the $25 to $35 range.
These programs also should be used with an ongoing update service so that
your initial outlay is not your last. A non-updated virus scanner is like
crossing a busy two-way street but only looking one way.
If you do have a working virus scanner, you should check for updates at
least once a week, and always after you have heard about a major virus or
worm making the rounds.
If even the prices after rebate seem too high for your ounce of
protection, or you don't have money to lay out on more software for your
home PC, check out a few of the free downloadable and online scanners.
HouseCall by Trend Micro is a free scanner that works with Internet
Explorer or Netscape Navigator. HouseCall's main page will load a small
file on your computer, update its virus definitions and then give you the
choice of which drive or drives you want scanned.
It also features an Auto Clean check box for those who don't want the
scanning to be too interactive. While scanning your drive a short virus
knowledge quiz appears on the screen for you to answer and help pass the
Avast! has a free home-edition anti-virus program that also has free
updates. This program is good for Windows 9x/Me and NT/2000/XP. It has two
modes: simple and advanced. The program you download first is a 90-day
trial version but after registering your copy, which is still free, you
obtain the activation key via e-mail.
Another free and popular scanner is from Pandasoftware. ActiveScan is an
online virus scanner, which only requires a small ActiveX download to run.
It is ideal for those who are not computer savy but still want some
modicum of protection.
Some related links:
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Originally published 26 September 2004