When you have an anti-virus program and it is doing its job quietly and well, you may start wondering why you’re even keeping it installed, since you’re not getting any viruses. In reality, anti-virus programs have several advantages, to the point that going without one and expecting not to get any viruses would be much akin to frolicking in the snow without any clothes and expecting not to catch a cold.
Protecting Your Files
Modern viruses do their best to entrench themselves within your system and often put your data at risk. Files that are infected by a virus may be impossible to clean and require deletion for the computer to be secure; there’s even a specific category of malware, called “ransomware,” that is designed to encrypt your data, lock you completely out of your computer and demand payment to regain access. Even if you do pay, you are unlikely to get your data back, since the objective of the virus’ author is simply to get money out of you.
Protecting Your Information
Certain types of malware, such as keyloggers, are designed to work invisibly in the background, collect your information and then send it to malicious third parties. Anything information you enter through your keyboard, such as your banking details, credit card information or Social Security number, could be intercepted and stolen, putting you at risk of identity theft and fraud. Any money you lose due to this may be unrecoverable, since your bank might consider you to be at fault for not protecting yourself.
Protecting Your Time
A virus-riddled computer can be extremely hard and time-consuming to clean, often requiring the help of a specialized technician. In particularly extreme cases, the only way to get rid of the viruses is to format the hard drive and reinstall the operating system from scratch — at which point you will be spending even more time recreating your configuration settings, reinstalling all your programs and restoring your files.
Protecting Your Friends and Family
Many modern viruses are self-replicating and will attempt to spread to other computers, whether through your home network or by emailing themselves to your entire address book. Having an anti-virus program installed doesn’t just protect you from viruses, it also negates one of the ways in which viruses might infect the computers owned by your friends and family.