Correctly setting up and running an antivirus scan on your computer is one of the best starting defenses for keeping your system free of malicious software. A strong defense begins with selecting an antivirus solution for your computer and understanding how to get the most out of it. Learning to properly use a virus scan will keep you much safer: without regular full scans, your system may be hiding some unpleasant surprises.
As we dive into virus scans, we’ll have answers to some of your pressing questions:
Virus scans search through your system to locate and remove any malicious threats on your device. You’ll find most antivirus software guards against malware. This can include threats like viruses and worms, as well as, spyware, Trojans, ransomware, and adware.
To expand this virus scan definition: A good antivirus product has tools for proactive and reactive protection:
With these protections combined, your antivirus scans should do the following:
A comprehensive antivirus protection software will automatically download and install the latest virus definitions before executing a scan, ensuring that you are protected from all currently known Internet threats. This proactive protection helps by recognizing malicious behaviors that may signal an attempt to infect your computer. Then, it neutralizes them from the start.
Starting up your antivirus for a system scan can involve more than just the click of a button. If you use your protection under default settings, you might be missing essential virus scans.
To properly protect yourself, you will need to know when to use various scan types:
Always be sure to schedule a time for regular virus scans to take place automatically. This should probably occur during downtimes where you can leave your device active but unused. Many people schedule their full scans to run at night, find a time that works for you.
Persistent malware is a major reason for using multiple scan types. In the old days, computer viruses and malware were "one and done," meaning that they were discovered, cleaned up, and then you were done with it.
Modern-day malware is persistent, capable of hiding in registries or startup services, and capable of re-infecting the computer on reboot if the malware isn't completely eradicated.
So, part of running a scan is being prepared for persistent malware and understanding how best to combat it. With that in mind, here are some tips to consider:
If you’ve never run an antivirus scan and don’t have the software yet, here’s how to start:
Now that you’ve got antivirus protection, follow these steps to run your first scan:
Also, set up future automatic virus scans. Don't stop at a single full scan. It's important to maintain a schedule of routine scans to ensure your computer is always protected. Be sure to manage your scheduled scan settings.
Follow-up scans will require you to read the reports and take action as well. If you stay attentive to your software, it will usually walk you through the process in seconds.
Once you’ve got your antivirus software, scanning should be clear and easy to execute.
The preparation and scan steps listed above will generally cover most of your virus scan needs. However, you might find that virus scanning is not the same across each of your devices.
Here are the common differences you might experience between device types:
Where to download: Most antivirus program install files like Kaspersky Security Cloud will be available directly on the developer’s official website. Be sure to determine if your system’s processor is 64-bit or 32-bit to download the correct software for your system.
How to run the software: Your antivirus should be set to run on system startup by default. Once you’ve installed the program, it should run automatically. It will continue running from the system tray even if you close the window.
Authorizing permissions: Antivirus software will likely need administrative permissions to run properly. If you are the only user on the computer, you are usually the admin and won’t have to take additional steps. If your computer has multiple users or is managed by an IT team, installation and operation must be approved by your admin.
Where to download: The antivirus developer’s official website is usually the place to find the installation package. Be sure to download the appropriate software for your OS version.
How to run the software: Like on Windows 10, initial installation should get your antivirus to run in the background on startup. Most software should be a set-and-forget setup.
Authorizing permissions: Again, administrator privileges are usually needed to install and run antivirus programs. Once you’ve given it access to dive deep in your system, you should be fine to run antivirus scans as intended on your Mac.
Where to download: Most common antivirus software on Android will install from the native official app store, Google Play Store. Apps like Kaspersky Internet Security for Android download directly from the store and are ready-to-use once installed.
How to run the software: Antivirus mobile apps run automatically just like those on computers for Windows 10 and Mac. Some apps may only offer automatic scanning in their premium versions, so be sure to upgrade for the best protection.
Authorizing permissions: Antivirus software needs various permissions depending on how robust the feature suite is. Basic apps may only need access to storage. Those with call blockers and anti-theft protection might need access to your camera, microphone, location, phone, and contacts. If you’re using an established, reputable product, this is perfectly safe and normal.
iPhones are a unique exception — there is no true “virus scan” app for iOS. Since the platform operates in a “walled garden,” Apple has full control over its app store. It does not allow apps to have deep system-level permissions like those needed for antivirus protection.
You may be able to find iOS security apps with other features like VPN or anti-theft. Some iOS apps may be found on jailbroken third-party app stores. However, the jailbreak process itself puts your device at a significant security risk.
To stay safe, it’s best to use your device as intended and not jail break it.
The best way to protect yourself on iPhone is to update your operating system and all apps: security patches will fix any vulnerabilities discovered to keep criminals out of your phone.
Lastly, if you’re having trouble trying to run a scan, you may want to check the following:
Keeping your computer protected from viruses and malware maintains the integrity of your system and prevents you from unknowingly infecting other systems. A good antivirus solution is a small price to pay to safeguard what you've invested in your computer.