How to choose the best antivirus for your Windows 7 PC

Windows 7 support ends on 14th January 2024.  This means that anyone who continues to use Windows 7 after this date will be totally reliant on third-party security software.  With that in mind, here is a guide to how to choose the best antivirus for your Windows 7 PC.

Pro tip, back up all security updates before the support period ends

In principle, it should be possible to download existing security updates indefinitely.  In practice, realistically, you do not know what is going to happen in the future. It is therefore strongly recommended to make an offline back-up of all security updates before the support period officially ends or as soon as possible thereafter.

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Ideally, you will want to do this on 14th January 2024 so that you make sure to get any updates Microsoft releases up to the deadline.  This is very far from being a minor point. Even though Windows 7 is now (just) over 10 years old, it still has known security issues. Hopefully Microsoft will fix these before support ends, but it is entirely possible that it will take the updates right down to the wire.

On a similar note, it’s also a good idea to back up the updates for any programs you use.  Updates to programs may be made to improve functionality or to improve security, but in either case you probably want to make sure that you can reinstall them again if necessary.

1.Look for a cloud-based antivirus

Antivirus apps are only as good as their databases of virus definitions.  Definitions are descriptions of viruses (and other forms of malicious software).  These databases need to be updated very regularly to keep up with all the new malware which is continually being created.  Before the cloud came along, companies had to create updates for users to download and install on their local computers and some security companies do continue to use this method.  The top antivirus software companies, however, are moving to the cloud, for a lot of reasons.

For Windows 7 users, the most important reason is probably that it significantly reduces the burden on the host PC.  Given that Windows 7 PCs are likely to be getting on a bit, anything you can do to make their life easier should probably be considered a win.  Another significant benefit is that cloud-based antiviruses are updated more quickly, meaning you are protected more quickly and since you will be completely reliant on your security software to keep you safe online, this is another major win.

2.Look for an antivirus which provides solid protection against all malware

Even though absolutely everyone uses the term antivirus, what people generally mean is "antimalware program".  These days, viruses are just one, specific, form of malicious software. There are many others including spyware, adware, lockware and ransomware.  It’s probably a safe bet that new forms of malware will continue to be created into the foreseeable future. Given that you are going to be completely dependent on your security software to keep you safe against them, you absolutely need to make sure that it offers rock-solid protection against all cybernasties, especially spyware and ransomware.

Spyware is exactly what its name suggests and it’s very hard for humans to detect.  Ransomware either locks up your computer completely or encrypts your files so you can’t access them.  Either way, the person behind the attack demands money for their release. Ransomware is a fairly new threat, but its rate of growth is alarming, so it’s imperative that you’re protected against it.

3.Look for an antivirus with an integrated firewall

A firewall checks all your internet traffic (incoming and outgoing) for signs of suspicious activity.  In terms of incoming traffic, that means cybercriminals testing your PC for signs of weakness. In terms of outgoing traffic, that means any sign that you’re about to do something you might regret, like visit a malicious website.

4.Look for an antivirus which is backed by a known brand

First of all, a lot of the “free antivirus” programs out there are actually malware.  Secondly, of the ones which aren’t, a lot, bluntly, are more adverts than functionality.  When it comes to security, you generally want to stick to known, reputable brands and this goes at least double when you’re completely reliant on them for protection.  Comodo has been keeping people safe for over 20 years and is trusted by millions. Head to this page right now to download Comodo antivirus for your Windows 7 PC and get all the protection you need to keep your personal data safe.

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