What Are Disk Scanners?


Have you ever seen commercials for disk scanners and weren’t sure what they were or what they were used for? Or perhaps, you were busy at your computer one day and you were prompted to click OK to approve such a utility to scan your system, and you weren’t sure why. There are five basic types of disk scanners.

What are disk scanners?

  • According to PC Guide, a disk scanner is a utility installed on a computer system to read for errors in order to optimize the performance of the system. This means it corrects errors that are preventing your programs from running properly. Disk scanners clear out most junk files such as temporary Internet files and files you choose to delete from your computer. Basically, a disk scanner boosts your system’s memory, in order to prevent it from overloading while operating.

    There are five different categorized types of disk scanners: conventional, memory-resident, behavior-based detection, startup scanners and inoculation (see the Resources section).

Conventional disk scanners

  • Conventional disk scanners, which are user-prompted virus scanners, check your boot sector connected files and file directories. Microsoft Dish Cleanup, a utility included in all Microsoft Windows operating systems is a conventional disk scanner.

Memory-resident disk scanners

  • Memory-resident scanners are the utility that comes with your antivirus software. It runs in the background while you are using your computer, scanning such things as websites you visit or programs you open or close. An example of this type would be the Resident, which is packaged with Spybot Search & Destroy.

Behavior-based detection disk scanners

  • Behavior-based detection disk scanners look for suspicious behavior among your programs and prevent executable files from reformatting your hard drive or hiding viruses. Windows Defender for Microsoft Windows is a behavior-based detection disk scanner.

Startup disk scanners

  • Startup scanners are disk scanners that start when you boot up your computer. They look for viruses within your hard disk boot sector and your critical files. These include antivirus software such as Symantec Norton Antivirus or AVG Antivirus software.

Inoculation disk scanners

  • Inoculation disk scanners store within your hard drive a snapshot of every program file and boot sector within your system, and then reanalyze this data periodically to see if changes have been made that resulted in a virus creation. Symantec Norton Antivirus comes packed with a built-in inoculation scan, and Spybot Search & Destroy has a feature called Immunize that will accomplish this as well.

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  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Brett Neilson Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Herkko Hietanen Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Mike Goren Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Stephen Shankland
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