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What Are the Different Types of Antivirus Software Packages?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are quite a few different types of antivirus software packages, available from numerous software developers that provide computer users with a variety of tools and options. The simplest type of antivirus software provides basic functionality, usually the ability to scan a system for viruses and remove viruses and infected files from the system. More complex software can provide a wider range of tools, such as email scanning incorporated into the antivirus package and a broader range of malicious software that can be found by the program, such as spyware or Trojans. There are also some antivirus software packages that are a bit more specialized, such as portable programs that can be run from portable media and devices.

Antivirus software packages are programs people can use on their computers to find and deal with viruses. In their most basic form, antivirus programs scan a computer system for virus files and then allow that system’s user to deal with those files. This can often involve isolating or quarantining infected files and those files involved in the operation of the virus. These types of antivirus software packages can also allow users to remove files and viruses from a computer system. They should be updated regularly.

More elaborate types of antivirus software packages, can often include a wider array of tools and options for computer users. This can include the ability to scan incoming files as they are downloaded from the Internet onto a computer, before they are on a system and can potentially create problems. These programs may also be able to work with web browsing software to scan email documents and attachments to look for viruses and other threats before they end up on a computer. Some antivirus software packages even include the ability to scan for and deal with other types of malware, such as “spyware” that can illicitly monitor activity on a computer and “Trojans” that can exist unseen on a computer and give others remote access to it.

Other types of antivirus software packages may be developed for more specific purposes. These can include portable antivirus programs, which can be used on a system through a portable media format or mobile device. This allows computer users to easily carry an antivirus program around with them for use on systems other than their own. There are also antivirus software packages developed for specific purposes, such as software for use with mobile devices or on certain operating systems.

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Discussion Comments
By Charred — On Jan 21, 2012

@NathanG - I agree that a comprehensive solution may be the best bet, but I don’t agree that you need to buy a complete all-in-one product. Some of those “suites” that do everything are absolute memory hogs.

I had one product that brought my computer to a crawl. I understand why – the program was checking everything, constantly. That’s overkill.

I finally uninstalled the software and installed a bunch of separate products that did the same thing altogether, with each application consuming little memory.

By everetra — On Jan 21, 2012

@Mammmood - Everyone is nervous about antivirus and anti malware programs, but let me offer a word of warning. There are viruses out on the web that masquerade as antivirus programs!

You may be surfing the Internet just fine, for example, and you get a popup window telling you that you have a virus and you need to “download now” to fix the program.

The popup may even show you an animated image of files being scanned on your hard drive to make you think that it’s real. Don’t click on the link!

That “program” is in fact a virus, and if you download it, it will totally mess up your computer. I had to help a friend who had clicked on the link, and it took me several hours to get his system cleaned from viruses.

By Mammmood — On Jan 20, 2012

I believe that having a program that can run from a portable media disk like USB makes sense. The reason is that you may need to operate the antivirus program in its own environment.

For example, what if your computer is infected with a virus that manages to disable your antivirus program? How could you run the program, since it’s on the same hard disk as the virus?

You can’t. So what you do is install it on a USB drive, where it lives in its own world, and then tell it to scan your hard disk. That’s the most effective solution in the end.

By NathanG — On Jan 19, 2012

Naturally I think the best solution is the one that’s the most comprehensive. Get an antivirus program that checks for viruses, spyware and malware. The ability to scan Internet web pages is good as well.

The reason that you need a comprehensive solution is that hackers are becoming adept at using a variety of tools for creating havoc on your computer. A simple antivirus program alone is not enough in my opinion.

You have things like worms too which can spread throughout a network quite easily. I used to have a free antivirus program but eventually I plunked down some cash on a retail software suite that had everything I could need. It’s cheap insurance for the peace of mind that it gives you.

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