Anti-Virus Software

What Does Anti-Virus Software Mean?

Anti-virus software is a software utility that detects, prevents, and removes viruses, worms, and other malware from a computer. Most anti-virus programs include an auto-update feature that permits the program to download profiles f new viruses, enabling the system to check for new threats. Antivirus programs are essential utilities for any computer but the choice of which one is very important. One AV program might find a certain virus or worm while another cannot, or vice-versa.


Anti-virus software is also known as an anti-virus program or a vaccine.

Techopedia Explains Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software searches the hard drive and external media attached to a computer for any potential viruses or worms. Broadly speaking, the two main approaches to virus detection are:

  • Dictionary Approach: The anti-virus software checks a file and automatically refers to a dictionary of known viruses. If there is a match, the file is deleted, quarantined or repaired.
  • Suspicious Behavior Approach: The anti-virus software monitors the behavior of all programs and flags any suspicious behavior. For example, a program might be flagged if it tries to change settings to the operating system or write to a certain directory.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…