It’s 2023, and there are all kinds of options for computer users who want to protect their devices from viruses and malware. But aren’t the free versions of popular antivirus programs enough? You don’t really still need to buy antivirus, do you?
Actually, it’s not a bad idea. While there are many free versions of popular antivirus programs out there, these free versions are bare-bones and many are bloated with adware. Unless you’re very knowledgeable about cybersecurity, you’ll be better off paying for antivirus software, especially if you have a family to think about.
What You Get from a Free Antivirus
What do you get from a free antivirus? Well, both the free and paid versions of antivirus programs from well-known developers are going to have the same malware detection engines, so you can count on the free version to effectively detect malware infections, remove malware from your system, and prevent reinfection in real time. Most free apps will also contain web shields to protect your privacy while you’re shopping and banking online.
Some apps will alert you to unrecognized devices logging into your home network, which could be hackers trying to gain access to your devices. Most will also offer you some protection for your most important files, so you don’t lose anything important if you fall victim to ransomware.
What you won’t get from a free antivirus program is a lot of bells and whistles. It’s going to be basic protection, and you’re going to need some cybersecurity know-how in order to make the most of it. You’ll have to be more vigilant against phishing and other scams, for example. You won’t be able to set up parental controls or elaborate firewalls. And you won’t be able to protect more than one device at a time, which won’t work for you if you have a family whose devices you need to protect.
Free antivirus programs are also stuffed with ads. You’ll get prompted to upgrade all the time, which is a hassle. Free programs may also include some scareware. Scareware uses alarming messages to get you to spend money. For example, you might get messages saying that your IP address is visible or that you have some other problem with your device that upgrading to the paid version could resolve.
Paid antivirus software suites typically allow you to protect multiple devices at once, so if you have a spouse and kids or other family members living in your home, you can protect everyone. Paid antivirus programs also typically have a lot more features. You can turn on parental controls. You can sandbox suspicious files so they don’t stand a chance of infecting your system. You can get identity monitoring, more complicated firewalls to keep dangerous traffic off your network, and performance enhancement features. Of course, you’ll get free telephone support, which can help a lot when your system gets infected and you’re struggling to clean it up.
Paid antivirus programs will generally be better at detecting new malware threats than free programs, and most will protect you from malicious websites, as well. You won’t have to deal with ads popping up or constant exhortations to upgrade to the paid package. Paid packages are easier to install, easier to use, and have fewer incompatibilities with other programs than their free versions. They’re more likely to be constantly looking for suspicious behavior on your system, like a program trying to open a file it shouldn’t. It’ll also be easier for you to tailor your protection level by turning some features off, or setting rules for the program.
If you’re debating whether you still need to buy antivirus software, you definitely do. Antivirus programs have come a long way – there are so many more features available now, and you can get protection for your whole household! It’s worth it to spend the extra money to get paid antivirus protection, especially if you’re someone who struggles with computers. You’ll get a lot more features and functionality, and you’ll won’t have to deal with all those annoying ads, upgrade requests, and scareware popups.