Over the years, I've met a great many small-business owners who thought their antivirus software was up to date. But very few of them actually knew how to verify the date of the last update.

You usually can find this last updated information on various antivirus software programs by going to the Help pull-down menu and choosing the About command. If your antivirus software program is active or enabled, as well it should be, you probably also can right click on its icon in the Microsoft Windows Taskbar, at the bottom of your screen, and choose the About or Properties command.

But Our Sales Rep Said the Software Automatically Updates
Just as important, you cannot always depend on the software vendor's claim that the antivirus software will update itself automatically. Many antivirus software programs promise automated updates but frankly do not deliver.

This means you need to know how to force or download a manual update to the antivirus software program. Again, my goal here is not to overlap with your included software documentation, but rather to reinforce the critical necessity of keeping your antivirus software current. In most cases, you'll find easy-to-navigate file download links on the software vendor's Web site, so you can update your antivirus software.

How well protected is your small business against computer viruses? Here is your homework assignment:

  • Do you know how to check your antivirus software to see the date of the last update?
  • What are the required antivirus software update steps?
  • Who is responsible for verifying that antivirus software on desktop PCs, notebooks and servers is being properly updated?
  • Are end users given this information so they can spot check any automated update procedures of antivirus software running on their desktop PCs or notebooks?
  • Are updates to your antivirus software supposed to be automated? Does the automation work reliably?
  • If antivirus software updates don't happen automatically as expected, who downloads and installs a forced manual update to various systems in your company?

The Bottom Line
New computer viruses are discovered on a daily basis. In order to remain effective, your antivirus software needs to be regularly updated, generally once a week. Use the tips and follow-up questions in this article to protect your small business against computer viruses.

Joshua Feinberg (joshua@smallbiztechtalk.com) is an internationally recognized small-business technology expert, speaker, trainer, columnist, and author. His latest book, What Your Computer Consultant Doesn't Want You to Know, exposes 101 money-saving secrets of expensive techies. For more information on Joshua's new book, or to subscribe to his free weekly Tips newsletter, visit http://www.SmallBizTechTalk.com or call 866-TECH-EXPERT (866-832-4397).

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