What is an anti-virus scanner?

Antivirus scanner or virus scanner comes in a package with an anti-virus software. It’s function is to scan a hard drive for viruses and other similar items. You can do scanning manually or the process can be automated. Such programs can work on different operating systems. The first computer viruses appeared in the 1980s and near that time what can be called the first virus scanner was developed. Antivirus scanners operate in tandem with other antivirus software tools like virus containers. To do their work these programs rely on signatures to check your computer for viruses, Trojans, worms and other malware.

How an antivirus scanner works?

The good anti-virus scanner will regularly receive updates of it`s virus database. Because threat actors around the world don’t get tired of creating new kinds of malware on and on. That’s why your antivirus scanner should be able to keep with the pace. Though many antivirus software solutions nowadays use an iconic or windows-type interface many anti-virus scanners still operate with a command-line interface. That means the scanner shows what it does in a command-line structure within a display window.

What is anti-virus scanner?
General scheme of antivirus work

Essentially anti-virus scanners can work in two modes. First of them is a real time scan when the antivirus program runs in a background and constantly checks on any potential threats that may arise. If it comes across something presenting danger it will notify you. The program stops malicious activity of the threat before it can harm your computer and files.

The second mode of work presents itself as the scan of an entire system. This is a one time action and takes a significant amount of time to do. You should not do this kind of scan too much especially if you have your antivirus run in the background. But it would be useful to run once in some weeks a full scan of a system just to double check everything. In the meantime your constantly running in background antivirus scan should stop any potential danger if there occurs such.

What is an anti-virus scanner?
Heuristic-based malware detection schema

In addition to detecting the threats a good antivirus scanner will quarantine suspicious items and try to repair the possible damages done. If it finds any such threat you will be presented with a log report. They provide users with the information on threats identified on your computer and what risk they pose to it. Not only can you do full scan and real time scan of your computer, there are other variants like custom scan and scheduled scans. Scheduled scans simply combine real time and full scan that may be conducted in turns on certain days and months. You can enable this function in settings of your antivirus scanner. With a custom scan the user checks certain areas of the computer. It can be specific files that you suspect to be infected.

What is an anti-virus scanner?
Traditional anti-virus detection method

The appropriate time for doing scans would be during downtimes when the computer is active but no one uses it. Many people set, especially, the full scans at night time but you can choose for yourself what best suits you. Just don`t forget to do them regularly. Back in the days the malware was “shoot and done” meaning it was detected, removed and mostly you didn’t have to deal with it again. But with the advent of persistent malware the regular scans should seriously be taken into consideration. Nowadays threats can hide in startup services and registries re-infecting the computer on reboot if it was not removed completely.

How to do an antivirus scan?

If you decided to try a new one antivirus scanner or maybe got a new device consider the following points on the matter:

  • In general, make it a usual practice for yourself to back up your computer files. In case the system would be severely damaged you could always have something to get back on. One crucial moment concerning it is when you restore any file make sure to scan the back up files before;
  • If you are not sure what antivirus scanner to choose, try different free trial versions of them. Free trials give you the opportunity to get to know the level of protection offered by the product and its tools. Evaluate your options before settling with the definite choice;
  • Before you install a new antivirus scanner, hold a specific scan of major system components like the startup services and registry. If your computer is already infected then it can be an obstacle to install a new antivirus. Plus it won’t be able to receive updates. Although the real quality antivirus software will scan and remove any malware present at the time of first time download;
  • Maybe you will have to turn off the Internet connection in order to prevent any threat hidden to cause further damage to your computer;
  • How to scan your PC with an antivirus scanner?

    To run an antivirus scan does not require that much of a knowledge each program will guide you step by step. Though once again as with choosing an antivirus scanner don`t forget some points along the way:

  • First make sure that all needed security updates are in place. They should include all heuristic virus definitions and additional data for proper scan;
  • Enable a full virus scan that will check email, system memory, removable media, hard drives and others;
  • Attentively read any results that the scanner might present you with. The malware found will be put into quarantine awaiting proper actions from you. Usually the program will give you recommendations on what to do next.
  • Sometimes on some types of files the antivirus scanner may give you false alarms. Good software will rarely give such a thing. Check detection rates of desired antivirus to decide one of such aspects of the software quality. But don’t limit your antivirus work to just a single action. And in the long run schedule routine scans to ensure the high level of your computer security

    You see, there is nothing difficult. To have efficient work with this kind of software make sure you get it from an official antivirus vendor’s websites. Because it’s more than the proof that any software found somewhere in the wild on the internet may add even more damage to the previous one.

    About Andrew Nail

    Cybersecurity journalist from Montreal, Canada. Studied communication sciences at Universite de Montreal. I was not sure if a journalist job is what I want to do in my life, but in conjunction with technical sciences, it is exactly what I like to do. My job is to catch the most current trends in the cybersecurity world and help people to deal with malware they have on their PCs.

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