Malware comes in many different forms, and consumers looking to fight this scourge typically arm themselves with some form of anti-malware software. Some might think "anti-virus" and "anti-spyware" are terms that are used interchangeably to describe general malware-fighting programs; however that's not the case. Spyware and virus removal software are two distinct products that target different types of malware, and it's important consumers understand this distinction to ensure they're fully protected against threats.

The difference between spyware and viruses

Malware is the catch-all term used to describe any programs or functions designed to harm a computer. Viruses are just one type of malware, and they are characterized by their ability to self-replicate within a computer to spread. Viruses focus more on harming a computer and its components, wreaking havoc on one or several computers. Spyware, on the other hand, finds its way into a computer secretly and operates within the system, sending vital data, user habits and other information to someone else.

What does anti-virus software cover?

Worms, Trojan horses and rootkits are just a few other types of malware, and they are not necessarily viruses by definition. However, virus removal software almost always includes capabilities that search and eliminate these targets alongside standard viruses.

What does anti-spyware software cover?

Anti-spyware software exclusively targets and eliminates spyware and adware – which inundates consumers with advertisements and pop-ups. If a consumer only has an anti-spyware program installed, they may still be susceptible to viruses.

Which software is best?

Some popular all-in-one anti-virus suites include capabilities that can target spyware as well. While not the case for anti-spyware suites, that doesn't make the latter less valuable. Even if they have an all-in-one malware removal program, consumers should probably still have a separate program for spyware elimination to cover their bases. Total protection may cut down on the number of visits they make to a Virginia virus removal specialist.