Note: This information will be based on Windows operating systems. The only time I talk about MacOS on this website is when I’m making fun of it. Sorry not sorry.
Security is arguably one of the most debated aspects when it comes to setting up your computer. There is debate over whether or not you need a third-party antivirus (instead of the built-in Windows one), and whether you should install antimalware or antispyware software. I’ll give my personal opinion and recommendations based on 18 years of experience.
Windows Defender – To Use or Not To Use?
The first point to mention is Windows Defender, the antivirus built into Windows. Even in the year 2022, I see people online shunning this, but I believe this is because of the bad reputation it used to have.
However, Microsoft have heavily improved the antivirus both in terms of performance and detection, and I strongly believe it is on par with, if not better than, paid-for antivirus software. For maximum protection, you should keep the definitions updated automatically via Windows Update as this ensures you are protected against the latest viruses.
Other antivirus software such as AVG, McAfee and Avast, could potentially affect your computer’s performance as these tend to incorporate extra features (which are often unnecessary for the average user, at least for those who are reading this post) which operate in the background and drain your CPU or disk usage. They are also known for their intrusive pop-ups and notifications.
So… should you use another antivirus? I would say no. If you keep Windows Defender up-to-date, you should never need to use any other antivirus software to protect your computer.
Antimalware and Antispyware
Should you use additional software to protect your computer? That is a good question.
I personally would suggest only running these programs when you need to. Examples would be for weekly/monthly maintenance or if you think you have downloaded and ran a program that you suspect may be malicious.
I would advise using Malwarebytes as and when you need to. You can download and run the program instead of installing it. If you are not particularly computer-savvy, it could be worthwhile purchasing Malwarebytes Premium as this will sit in the background and provide strong real-time protection.
For antispyware, a popular program is Spybot Search and Destroy. I personally have used this to good effect and can recommend it. This is good to use as part of the maintenance of your computer and I would suggest running a scan every month or so.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you’re worried that you are not properly protected, you have nothing to lose from setting up antimalware and/or antispyware software and letting it do its thing in the background. If you are running slower hardware, you can disable the background scanning and only run the programs as required.
As with all security programs, you should enable automatic updates. This ensures that the latest malicious software is being blocked as soon as possible.
Other Security Resources
A program I highly recommend to people is Glasswire. This powerful firewall software allows you to view the incoming and outgoing traffic to your network and can be extremely useful for finding what is using your bandwidth or what applications are sending data in the background. It can be used to see your current and past network activity as well as for blocking apps that you do not want to let access your network. The program will also warn you of network-related changes to your computer, or changes to your apps that could indicate malware. Finally, it also lets you monitor other computers on your network and can alert you when new unknown devices join your WiFi. All of this is presented via an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly interface.