Just like you should check the batteries in your smoke alarm every year, it is important to check the status of your antivirus. Time and time again we work on computers that have been infected with a virus or spyware, and upon further inspection their antivirus program hasn’t been updated since 2008, or before! In some cases we find that the antivirus is installed but not even running. So here are a few tips to ensure you are secure.
1. All antivirus programs are subscription based, meaning that when you purchase the software you are essentially purchasing a 1 year subscription to receive new virus updates and upgrades. As is the case with all subscriptions, at the end of one year you need to purchase another subscription, or purchase a new antivirus program altogether. The first step in ensuring you are protected is to check when your antivirus program subscription expires. You can usually find this on the first page. If it has expired you should upgrade immediately.
2. Now that you have ensured that your subscription is up to date it is important to make sure the antivirus program is actually scanning your computer. All antivirus programs have what is known as “Real-Time Scanning.” This feature scans your computer as files are being accessed and blocks bad files before then can cause harm. Make sure that Real-Time scanning is enabled. Below are links on how to set Real-Time Scanning on the most common antivirus platforms, although it may be slightly different depending on your version:
How to enable Real Time Scanning in McAfee
- Double-click the “M” icon in the taskbar.
- Once the Security Center Pops up click the “Navigation” link.
- Select “Real-Time Scanning.”
- Click “Turn On”
- Close Security Center
How to enable Real Time Scanning in Symantec/Norton
- Right-click on the “Norton” icon on your taskbar (looks like a shield or a yellow circle)
- Choose “Enable Antivirus Auto-Protect” (If this line item says “Disable Antivirus Auto-Protect” then you are already set and don’t need to change anything)
How to enable Real Time Scanning in ESET
- Right click on the ESET system tray icon (looks like a green eye)
- Select “Enable real-time file system protection” (If this line item says “Disable real-time file system protection” then you are already set and don’t need to change anything)
3. Last but not least while you are ensuring that Real-Time scanning is enabled, take a second to set a scheduled daily scan. I have all of my computers scan themselves in the middle of the night when no one is using them. This way you can be certain that you are virus free.
As long as you check these three things you can rest assured that your antivirus is protecting you as it should.