The Smart Way to Use an Antivirus App

LAST UPDATED: April 17th, 2019

At any given time, most of us have a tiny computer in our pockets in the form of a smartphone. And we also make use of computers daily in our personal and professional lives.

This makes having top-rated antivirus software a must to protect the money we’ve invested in those devices. But even the best antivirus app won’t do your computer or smartphone any good if you aren’t using it right.

Keep reading to learn more about the smart way to use an antivirus app…

Keep Your Definitions Updated

Antivirus programs rely on definitions to detect the newest threats. Daily or weekly downloads might be annoying, but they’re certainly easier to deal with than an infection on your computer or smartphone. Fortunately, many programs will download updates automatically, so you’ll always be up to date.

Perform Frequent Scans

If your antivirus program doesn’t catch an infection immediately, you can scan to look for one later. This can happen if the program is disabled or if the definitions weren’t up-to-date at the time that you downloaded the infected file to your computer.

Occasionally, this can happen before the software maker has even had a chance to update definitions, which brings us back to the previous point of making sure your definitions are updated on a regular basis.

Scan Incoming Files

Most antivirus apps will scan Web pages you download or attachments in your email. Some can perform scans without you needing to save those attachments to your hard drive.

However, if your antivirus software doesn’t work this way (this might occur if you’ve downloaded an archive or an unusual file type), you’ll want to manually scan any incoming files just to be on the safe side.

Always Keep Antivirus Software Enabled

Although smartphones and computers are more powerful than ever, you might be tempted to shut off your antivirus app because it causes your device to perform poorly. Unfortunately, this leaves you vulnerable to infections.

It’s better to choose an antivirus solution that requires fewer resources (memory, hard drive space, etc.) or to customize the setup so your antivirus app works better on your system. Many times, those extra features that bog down your device also cost more, so you can skip them.

Similarly, some antivirus programs might come bundled with other software or auto-install browser plugins that you do not need. Rather than disabling your antivirus, pay attention during installation and only select the components you want.

Don’t Forget About Other Security Software

Many antivirus programs are all-in-one solutions that function as firewalls that can protect your computer or even network from intruders on top of their original antivirus purpose. However, this isn’t true for all antivirus apps. In this case, you’ll still want to use a firewall to protect your PC.

Furthermore, antivirus and anti-malware software are not always the same, even though some programs perform overlapping functions. Anti-malware focuses on cleaning up your device after an infection has occurred and removing any remnants of the infection. But antivirus programs prevent infection from happening in the first place.

The Bottom Line on Antivirus Apps

Some software is better designed than others. You might prefer one interface to another. It’s all about finding the best fit for you. Do some research and read antivirus reviews to help find the right choice for your needs.

If you know how to use your antivirus app, you’re more likely to update definitions, scan files, and customize the program to suit your needs rather than just ignore it because all it provides you with is confusion and frustration.