To a certain point, it doesn’t matter what kind of antivirus software is installed on a computer so long as it can do its job of protecting you against a virus or malware, the removal of which can be a nightmare from both a financial and emotional point of view. In fact, when it comes to the core features, free and paid antiviruses are basically the same, which could make paid solutions seem unnecessary. However, there are actually plenty of good reasons why paid antivirus software may be a worthwhile choice.
Free Is Never Truly Free
It might be strange to consider, but internet security companies typically provide a basic, free of charge version of their antivirus suits, even providing all the necessary features like real-time protection and a default deep scan. In fact, when it comes to preventing devices from infection, there is no clear distinction between free and pay-only software. One area in which free solutions do prevail, however, is in their straightforward nature, meaning they are often easier to use. In other words, equipping the computer with a free antivirus is a clear choice, especially when considering what a hassle it is to have to remove viruses and malware.
Sadly, there is always price to pay, even without realizing it. For starters, these solutions are actually supported by the freemium model, meaning that certain features are restricted to pay-only. At first this may not seem that problematic, if not for the annoying pop-ups that constantly appear to urge you to upgrade.
However, the lack of a secondary firewall, a sandboxing feature, or proper protection against malware and spam could easily take its toll if users aren’t extra cautious. In addition to this, free solutions may not receive updates as often as their paid counterparts do, which could leave the computer vulnerable to attacks. If this results in an infection, then depending on the severity of the case the removal of a virus could cost hundreds of dollars.
Paid Products to the Rescue
Thankfully, viruses and malware sneaking in behind the defense lines of a freemium antivirus is rare and as such they are perfectly fine for individual users on a single device. However, families and businesses should consider opting for paid products for various reasons.
Aside from gaining access to missing features, paid products also come with unlimited customer support over the phone, which is only available to freemium users after paying extra fees. Additionally, paid solutions provide protection for multiple devices as well as parental controls to keep children safe from harmful websites. There are often additional monitoring tools such as the ransomware shield or the antispam function for email clients, which prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data.
Although the cost of these products is significantly cheaper than enlisting professionals to remove malware from the computer, there can still be major differences between the prices of each service. The paid versions of freemium solutions – like Avast or Avira – usually have a price tag between $50 and $80 per year, whereas antiviruses that are pay-only from the get-go can be had for as low as $20 a year.
What About Internet Security Suites?
Aside from tools that are solely antivirus products, there are also so-called internet security suites that can be considered software bundles rather than antiviruses, available with all extras unblocked. Even though these solutions provide everything that paid antiviruses can and more, there are a few drawbacks.
For starters, they are extremely pricey, asking users to pay over $100 each year. Then there is the fact that the additional tools that they provide – like a VPN, password manager, or encrypted storage for backup purposes – can be substituted with equally good if not better services from other relevant providers.
Purchasing an internet security suite is a fairly responsible thing to do, but it’s best to take a look around first and find out if the chosen software bundle is actually a better value prospect than combining just the antivirus software of one company with the protection of a security service from a different provider.