Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How to configure your antivirus

I frequently advise “make sure your antivirus is up-to-date”, and today I am going to tell you exactly what I mean by that, and how to configure your antivirus program so that it is configured for your optimum protection.. and also, for those of you whose security “subscription” has “expired”, how to download and install a top-rated free antivirus program (whose “subscription” never expires)– AVG Antivirus Free Edition.

Tip of the day: Properly configure your antivirus’ Settings to get — and stay — properly protected. Several of my recent articles have touched upon a subject that is very important for computer users to understand: the bad guys are constantly writing new malware and exploit code (or, new variations on old code). Because of this, the good guys are constantly having to write new counter-code. (I am always grateful that we have these “white hats” on constant vigil, and I for one salute you all.) Malware is constantly evolving, and we are trying to keep up.
When a new virus (or worm) is ‘launched’ against us, its significant, identifying elements — its “fingerprint”, if you will — are identified (called a “definition”) and sent to your antivirus scanner in the form of an update…hopefully before the virus reaches your machine. When your antivirus program runs its scan, it is comparing all the code, and code patterns, on your machine with its collection of fingerprints/definitions looking for a match. If it finds a match– you have a virus.

If you are not receiving these new “fingerprint” updates, and getting them frequently, you simply aren’t being protected from today’s viruses.
[Please note: this is the oldest, and surest way of detecting known viruses. There is another method, called heuristics. For a more detailed look at how anti-malware programs work, click here.]

Step 1 is to open your antivirus and look for its control panel; this is where you enable/disable options and settings– so some programs call this area “Control Panel”, others “Settings”, and avgicon.jpgothers “Options” (etc.). AVG calls it the “Control Center”. If you have AVG installed already, double-click its icon on your Desktop (or, right-click+”Open AVG” the icon in the System Tray) to open the program.

Whichever antivirus you are using (and whatever they’re calling this area), here is where you will set the program’s configuration (how it operates). Click on this button, or link, and open up the control panel.


Now you will see the various elements that make up your program, and in an antivirus program we want to look at the scan, the “shield(s)”, and updating. The first thing you want to do is ensure that your antivirus is scheduled to look for new fingerprints daily, and to do so at a time that won’t interfere with your work. In AVG, you want to click on the name of the element (you want to adjust) in the “Security status” window, and then click on the appropriate button.. so I have clicked on “Scheduler” and now I need to click on “Schedule Tasks”.
Your antivirus will have something scheduled, by default, but we are here to take control, so we will click on “Edit Schedule” (or, its equivalent, depending on your program). Please note that there’s two scheduled events we want to deal with: the scan (called “Test” in AVG), and the update. You want to schedule the update to occur before the scan, and you want to set them to “daily”.

Ensure that “Check for updates” is enabled, and use the drop-down arrow to pick a time-slot that won’t interfere with you too much– your lunch-hour, or later at night, for example. Do the same for the scan, but pick a time-slot later than the time you chose for the update.

Step 2 is to configure your “shields”. This is the active protection element of your anti-malware programs. You want to make sure these are enabled and properly configured. Return to the Control Center and click on “Resident Shield” in the Security status window, and then the properties button.

Make sure “enable”, or “turn on” is selected. AVG offers the option to scan all files (when your computer accesses them) or just “infectable” file types. The first will slow down your computing, and really isn’t necessary, so I recommend the latter option. If your machine has a floppy drive, you want to have a check in the checkbox for “Scan floppy drives”. And if your antivirus offers it, you want to enable Heuristic Analysis. This allows your anti-malware program to watch your PC’s behavior, and look for activity (processes) that shouldn’t be happening… such as a program installing other programs.

Step 3 is to make sure your antivirus is set to scan your email. (Yes, your ISP is [most likely] doing this for you– to a degree– but I do not recommend relying on this, and this alone.) Return to the Control Center and click on “E-mail Scanner” in the status window and click on the Properties button.

Here you will see the email configurations. AVG has a default “plug in” for general use which will keep an eye on your browser-based mailboxes, and will a have separate “plug in” for your email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) if you use one. Use the drop-down arrow to select the appropriate plug in, and then click on “Configure”. In this example, I am not using an email client, so I accept the default.

Make sure your antivirus is set to scan (“test” in AVG) bothincoming and outgoing email (you wouldn’t want to inadvertently be the cause of someone’s getting infected, would you?), and it is of particular importance to ensure that attachments are scanned. Check your antivirus’ settings, make any necessary adjustments (as shown), and click “OK”.
That’s it. You’re done, and your computer is as protected from worms and viruses as present technology can make it.

For those of you whose “subscription” to new updates has expired, or if for any other reason your machine is not running an up-to-date antivirus utility, Click here if you would like to download and install AVG, and then click on the “Download” link.
Click on “Run”. A “Download progress” window will open which will show you how long it is taking to download all the necessary Install files. When it’s finished, you will see…
Click on “Run” again, and start the installation. An install wizard will walk you through the process after you agree to the EULA. Simply accept the defaults, and follow its suggestions (it will ask you if you want to “check for updates now?”, for example, and suggest that this is “recommended”. Answer “Yes”).

And for those of you who would like to remove your “expired” trial security, click here to read how to do so without messing up your computer (with links to the proper tools).

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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November 29, 2007 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, security, tech, Windows | , , , , | 6 Comments