Anti-virus Software Pros & Cons

By David Kennedy

Anti-virus software includes a number of programs designed to scan your computer's hard drive for intrusions, viruses and different types of malware. It also helps to prevent these programs from being downloaded onto your computer. The software then may carry out functions to delete or quarantine the infectious files. Computer viruses can be a dangerous threat to computers, but not all anti-virus software is fool-proof and without cons. Although the benefits of anti-virus software outweigh the consequences of malware, sometimes anti-virus programs block access to legitimate programs. If you cannot download a file or run it properly, it may be due to anti-virus software running in the background.

Malware Prevention

Some forms of anti-virus software do not scan the computer and delete infection files, but prevent them from being downloaded to your computer. SpywareBlaster, for example, prevents the installation of spyware and malware on the computer. It can prevent Active-X based spyware, blocks tracking cookies, and restricts access to potentially dangerous Web sites.

Malware Deletion

Most anti-virus programs, such as McAfee or AVG, run scans on your computer and all of its accessible hard drives to detects possible malware files, and then attempt to delete them. These programs may have other tools like virus prevention, anti-spyware protection and e-mail scanning. Anti-virus programs also may be automated to run at specific times, on specific days, and can be set to automatically find and install updates and definitions.

Running a Scan

One of the drawbacks of anti-virus software is its heavy dependence on computer resources. Most computers, when running a virus scan, can do little to nothing else. While one of these scans is running, accessing folders, the Internet, or applications can slow to a crawl. Sometimes, the computer may lock or freeze up. However, some anti-virus programs do come with the option to pause the scan. When you run a virus scan, make sure you won't need to use the computer for the duration of the scan.


Anti-virus programs begin their protection by scanning downloads. However, anti-virus programs cannot always differentiate between something you know is legitimately safe, and something you are unsure about. This means that while it protects you from dangerous files, it may lock you out of safe files and programs. In these cases, disabling anti-virus software usually helps.


Some applications cannot run due to conflicts with anti-virus software. For example, GameGuard, made by nProtect, is a popular anti-hacking and -cheating tool used by some online gaming companies. However, if it tries to run and errors occur, it may be because anti-virus software is seeing the application as a false-positive virus and, therefore, prevents it from running.

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software is not fool-proof and cannot protect you from every virus attack, every time. Multiple anti-virus software can give you better protection, but as long as computer viruses change and evolve as rapidly as they do now, there will not be a program that is a cure-all.