Free vs. Paid
This is a popular debate among both users and professionals. If you can get antivirus for free, why would you pay for it? The primary difference of paid/free antivirus software is the level of protection they offer. As we discussed last week there are many different types of threats out there; paid antivirus programs offer a greater level of protection against more threats than their free counterparts. Even so, a person can assemble a good defense by utilizing a variety of free products to compensate for any deficiencies.
Free Antivirus Options
Avast Antivirus Free Edition is the one we use for both our own computers as well as for many of our clients. For a number of months now, Avast is typically one of the top three antivirus programs in real-world effectiveness. Additionally, it doesn’t consume great amounts of RAM or CPU to operate, unlike some of the other options out there.
BitDefender Antivirus is also free for home users and like Avast is also in the top three. One of BitDefender’s claims to fame is that their home edition is very hands-off, meaning you don’t need to mess with any confusing settings to make it work well. Installation is a snap so it’s ready to go right out of the box.
Our last free antivirus recommendation is from AVG. AVG Antivirus Free provides decent protection, but tends to require a bit more setup to make it really good. It also scores lower in real-world tests than Avast or BitDefender.
Antivirus, Antimalware & Antispyware
Many security programs provide protection against the majority of online threats today, but not all of them provide complete protection. Typically the free versions of antivirus programs protect against viruses, Trojans and worms, but protection against adware, spyware, zero-hour attacks and other emerging threats may not be included unless you have a paid subscription. This is where other security programs come in handy.
Programs like Malwarebytes Antimalware are designed to find the threats missed by other antivirus programs. Malwarebytes provides protection against malware and spyware, and is NOT the same as your main antivirus protection. Your main antivirus software can run in conjunction with Malwarebytes, or other anti-malware and anti-spyware software, usually without complication. Both of them used together on your system would provide more complete protection than either of them by themselves.
It’s important to know precisely what sort of protection your antivirus software provides so that you can use other programs to fill in the gaps. Be aware that running two antivirus programs is not the same as running an antivirus program and antimalware program. Unlike the benefit that an antivirus plus antimalware combination can give, simultaneously running two antivirus software programs is detrimental. They can slow down your computer as they interfere with and handicap each other from being as effective. An example of this would be running AVG and Avast on the same system. Using them both would lead to numerous issues.
Although you can definitely use free software and be happy with it, there are some real benefits to a quality paid software. Some of these benefits are more inclusive protection from online threats, on-screen keyboards for secure websites like banks, identity theft protection, and social media security. You also tend to get better support from the developer when you’re a paying customer. This is handy if your system is infected or if you’re having trouble getting started with the software.
We realize this might be a little confusing to the average computer user. If you would like more information or just reassurance that your computer is adequately protected, give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat with you!
Do you have a question or topic you’d like us to address? Email and let us know!