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Types of Scanners and Other Antivirus Software Protection
There are many different types of antivirus software that have been developed over the years. Originally, there was just the regular scanner, which searched through the hard disk looking for known viruses. As viruses have gotten more sophisticated, antivirus software has had to get more sophisticated as well. In addition to getting smarter about how they detect viruses, new software has been made available that detects and prevents virus infection in different ways.
The following are the general types of virus scanners that are usually used on PCs today:
The main advantage of this type of virus detection is that since it is looking at the effects of the virus, it doesn't need to know what the virus itself is; this means it will detect even new viruses without requiring updated virus definition files all the time. The main drawback of this scheme (and why it is not that often used) is that it generates a lot of false positives. This happens because there are so many legitimate ways that a file can change without a virus being responsible. To use this method effectively you must reinoculate new files so they are protected, and be prepared to deal with a lot of potential virus "catches" that really are not viruses.
See this section for more discussion on virus scanning, and picking a protection method or methods that makes sense for you.
Warning: Make sure that the
scanner you purchase will scan for macro viruses. They are relatively new, and some
lower-quality, older programs, will not detect them, leaving you at risk.