Antivirus software is essential for keeping your PC running safely. But how often should you update your antivirus software, and how often should you run a scan?

Let’s face it – more often than not, updates are a pain. They can slow your PC down, they need an internet connection, and in the worst cases, they demand you restart your system.

But security software is nothing to leave to chance. If an update is available, it’s there for a reason – to make sure your antivirus software’s databases are up-to-date and able to protect you against the latest threats.

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Antivirus software updates

It’s vital that you keep your PC’s protection up to date, otherwise newer threats may be able to slip past your defences. Thankfully, in most cases, updating can be handled automatically.

Updating your antivirus software doesn’t mean shelling out for a whole new software package. Most updates only involve installing the latest virus database definitions, and this can be a reasonably quick process.

Your security software should be set to check for updates at least once a day; this will already be the default setting for most current security programs, although it’s worth investigating your program’s settings to make sure this is the case.

If you’re in any doubt, and think that there might be a virus on your computer, then most security software suites or antivirus programs allow you to do an on-the-spot update to check for the latest threats.

How often should I do an antivirus scan?

Your security software gives real-time protection against threats as they emerge, but regular system scans are vital. Most security suites are configured to perform a scan once a week.

You can usually customise the schedule, although scanning your entire PC every day is probably overkill, while leaving more than a week between scans is not safe.

Antivirus programs often offer two types of scan: a ‘quick’ scan and a ‘deep’ or ‘full’ scan. Set your software to do a full scan once a week. You can also do a further manual ‘quick’ scan any time you choose, although this is only usually necessary if your PC is exhibiting suspicious behaviour.