If you're like me, paying anything close to retail makes you weak in the knees, and not the good kind (seeing Channing Tatum shirtless), either. I was so used to racking up those great sales that I couldn't handle paying almost $100 for something like antivirus software. So what did I do? I didn't buy it, got a very bad virus, and my computer was in the shop for two days.  I paid around $300 to fix it.  So if you want to avoid a story like mine, here are four tips to save your computer, your money, and your time.

1. Protect Against the Basics

  • Viruses: Transmitted through websites, emails, and directly over the Internet. They hide in applications or files, and travel from computer to computer.
  • Trojans: Usually trick you into installing their malware or spyware by hiding in things like pictures or files so you don't know you're under attack.
  • Worms: Can drill in through an open web connection. They're those suckers that send that spam from your email address without your knowledge.
  • Spyware: Does exactly what it sounds like it would do. It spies on you. Spyware will take information from your computer and sends it back to its leader out in the cyber-ether.

2. Why You Need Protection

  • Most bugs want to steal your information. They get into your computer, do some research, and find out things like your bank account number, your passwords, and even your social security number.
  • Other attacks are for your email contacts. Those spammers want to email all your friends, family, and coworkers so they, too, can fall a victim to the crime.
  • Some viruses allow your computer to be controlled to threaten other websites. For example, a "DDOS attack" can be used to close down a website for things like politics, ransom, to hurt competitors, or just for fun. All of this is going to be done without your knowledge and can potentially lead a trail of damage back to you.

3. Free Options For Antivirus Software

  • Avast has a free version of their software that protects you against viruses and spyware. It also allows you assistance from a geek friend. While that might not seem like much, I almost paid $80 at Norton just to talk about what was wrong with my computer.  If interested in purchasing the more advanced product, you can download a free trial before you buy it.  Free trials help when you're about to invest so much money into something like this.
  • Avira has the most protection out of the three. It protects against viruses, trojans, and worms. It also blocks new viruses before they run, criminal hackers, and it has a simple setup. Avira will literally set itself up if you hit download. I tried to download a free antivirus software once, and after a few tries, my computer locked up. Turns out, multiple antivirus software systems will fight each other if installed on the same computer, which can give you some serious problems. If you want to try out the more heavy-duty software, this also has a free trial period.
  • AVG doesn't offer much but tends to be the most popular. AVG protects against viruses and spyware, but that's it. Like the others, if you want to try out the more serious version, they offer a free 30-day trial period. During that 30-day trial period, you'll get all the perks that you would if you had paid for it.

4. Other Options That Cost

  • Norton is my favorite company because they seem to be the most caring. They gave me a year-long subscription totally free. Norton has several different free trails for you to mess with, so take your time. Each one is personalized for different things. I recommend reading all the fine print to see what's best for your needs.
  • McAfee is my second favorite. They are simple to operate and tend to be one of the more popular brands. Like Norton, they have several different downloads for you to check out, but they also have several different tools to help you keep an eye on your computer if you don't have antivirus software too. Just click "free services" right next to the "free trial" tab.
  • Kaspersky seems to be rated right up there with the other companies. I have to be honest, I've never even heard of them, but they have great reviews. They have more downloads than the others, and their ratings are higher.

There you have it. Antivirus software is absolutely a necessity when you’re surfing the web for pictures of Channing Tatum shirtless or doing routine checks on the KCL page. Remember to never download more than one of the software systems until you've deleted the previous one, otherwise you could experience lockups, and always be cautious when clicking on unfamiliar web links. Good luck!

This has been a guest post by August from Granite Falls, NC
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

What You Need to Know About Free Antivirus Software