Question from Arlen: I bought a new laptop in August 2022 and paid the people at Best Buy to install Webroot antivirus on it.
This machine has always worked great but a few weeks ago it locked up on me with a message saying it had been taken over by a hacker.
I was finally able to shut it down by holding the power button in but when I turned it back on it went right back to that same screen.
I took it to Best Buy and the technician said it had a virus and they were going to charge me $150 to remove it.
I told them I had paid extra to have Webroot installed on it so it shouldn’t have caught a virus in the first place. I said I shouldn’t have to pay to have the virus removed because the software they sold me was supposed to keep them off.
I was then told that a computer can still catch a virus even if it’s running the very best antivirus you can get. Is that true or are they just trying to scam me? If it is true what’s the point in paying for antivirus protection?
Rick’s answer: Arlen, what the tech said about a PC being able to catch a virus even when it has an antivirus app installed is completely true. It actually happens all the time, unfortunately.
There are several reasons why a PC with an installed antivirus app can still become infected:
1 – The antivirus app is installed but it isn’t actually running.
It’s actually quite easy to accidentally disable your machine’s antivirus protection without you even realizing you’re doing it. This is why it’s a good idea to check to make sure your antivirus is running on occasion.
2 – The antivirus app’s virus definition files are out of date.
New viruses and other forms of malware are being developed and distributed on a regular basis. For that reason every antivirus company constantly updates their apps’ virus definition files and rolls those updates out to their users as soon as possible.
If your PC is attacked by a new virus before it has downloaded the latest virus definition file it will indeed get infected. This is why it’s super-important to keep your antivirus app updated at all times.
3 – The (paid) antivirus app’s subscription has expired.
Antivirus apps that are only available in a paid version come with a subscription (usually 1 year). If the subscription isn’t renewed then no further updates to the app’s virus definition file will be available to you. That leaves your machine vulnerable to any new viruses that were developed and distributed since the definition file was last updated.
To finish up, you asked what’s the point in paying for an antivirus app if the computer can still catch a virus? The answer is the machine is a lot safer with a running, up-to-date antivirus app than it would be without it.
Think of it like the annual flu shot you get from your doctor…there’s no guarantee it will prevent the flu but you’ll be safer overall if you get it.
But here’s the thing…
You don’t really need to pay for an antivirus app at all since the free antivirus apps work just as well as the paid ones.