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Make a Plan to Virus-Scan

Q. How often should I scan my computer with antivirus software, and can I do it on the cheap?

A. Experts recommend that your computer get a full scan at least once a week, but some suggest scanning every day or so. This is not as onerous as it sounds, because many antivirus programs can be set to automatically scan your computer and install security updates.

There are many free scanning products, and PCMag recently tested several and listed its favorites. There are also offerings by Norton and McAfee.

Whatever you choose, be sure to read the product’s terms and conditions to ensure you’re not installing a limited-time free trial that could later start generating unexpected costs. You may also try calling your Internet provider. Some provide customers with antivirus software for free.

It’s usually suggested that computer users stick with one antivirus program. Although it’s possible to install more, they may conflict, actually weakening your protection. So if you go double-duty, make sure that at least one product is set to scan “on demand” and is not active all the time.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life

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