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Free or Paid Antivirus Software – Does It Matter Which One I Choose?


When it comes to securing your computer, do you really need to pay for antivirus software? Many of us rely on free maps, emails, and VoIP services, so why can’t we depend on free antivirus to repel malware attacks? The answer: many of the free programs give adequate protection, but you might want the extra features found in paid-for programs.

In most cases, the top free antivirus programs have widespread and zero-day malware protection that are comparable in effectiveness with those of their paid counterparts. According to the AV-Test’s independent testing in February 2015, free programs such as Avast and Panda Security have a perfect or near-perfect score in terms of protection, just as paid-for programs such as Bitdefender and Kaspersky do.

Indeed, it is possible to have good security with free software alone. You can even install a second line of defense (like Malwarebytes Free Anti-Malware) if you don’t completely trust your antivirus.

What, then, does paid-for security programs have to justify their paid subscriptions? For one, they typically include extra components as part of the security package. Examples of these components are antispyware, firewall, anti-phishing and anti-spam. They’re all available in one user interface, and they’re all automatically updated simultaneously. When you use a free antivirus, you have to download other programs to combat spyware, spam and other threats. And since they’re separate programs, you have to update each one of them.

Another difference between free and paid-for antivirus software is the technical support. Users who prefer free antivirus programs typically have online support, whereas security vendors of paid-for programs offer phone and prioritized support.

Choosing between free and paid-for antivirus software may depend on the type of user. Business owners should opt for paid security to take advantage of better technical support and features that help control the online activities of employees. Home users, on the other hand, should be fine with free security.

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