An antivirus is required to use your computer safely. So what is the difference between free and paid?
With malware, which does so much damage, often makes headlines, paying a few euros for the software you need to protect your home computer can seem like a small price to pay. But this money may not provide you with the extra protection you think is necessary.
There are a number of free options available, some of which may have already been downloaded to your computer at the time of purchase. These are the main differences between the free and paid programs, along with the additional features that the premium versions offer.
Before comparing, it is worth noting that the article contains tips for individuals who use Windows PCs. If you’re a macOS or Linux user, this probably isn’t the case for you, although there are similar options for these operating systems. However, if you are a business owner, your risks and requirements are quite different from those of home users. Also, the consequences of choosing the wrong antivirus software can be much more serious.
Companies tend to handle sensitive information about their businesses and their customers. Most likely, they also have confidential documents or other files that they cannot afford to lose. For hackers, these files are worth a single-targeted attack, so think again and find a program specific to your circumstances. Let’s get back to the users at home.
Windows Defender can prevent many problems
Windows PCs are protected by default thanks to Windows Defender. Although it is a very basic program, it protects your computer well from malware. It automatically scans your computer for malicious code or suspicious program activities, then addresses any problems it finds, and uses cloud backups to repair any corrupt files.
When it comes to prevention, Microsoft software will automatically scan everything you plug into the USB drive and try to block any suspicious installation or download attempts. For many, this is already enough protection.
However, if you are an advanced user, you can install one of the popular, reliable and effective programs such as Avast, AVG, Avira… But how are the free versions different from the paid ones such as Norton and McAfee? For the home user, there is often no noticeable difference in the level of protection offered by free antivirus compared to premium paid antivirus software.
Most of the time, you pay for extra features, not extra protection
Do you really need a paid version then?
Above all, the way you use your computer determines the level of protection you need.
Let’s say you are very keen on clicking links and opening emails, and your browsing activity is limited to trusted sites. In this case, Windows Defender will probably suffice. However, if your online training consists of illicit sources and you “whistle” about security, you will likely benefit from a little better protection. And if you’re somewhere in between (you’re not too careful about what you click on, but don’t spend time on sites that make your living from illegal activity), you should probably at least consider upping your level of protection.
When it comes to basic antivirus software, the free options are as well supported as the paid ones. Spending the money brings you some extra features that you might not need and doesn’t change the level of antivirus protection your software offers. Another advantage of free software is that you can try it out and get rid of it without having to claim a refund or suffer a financial hit.
If you want basic protection, most free programs will provide that without asking for your credit card information. In addition, you will not sign up for the free trial with the free program, which you will then forget to cancel.
Various levels of protection are available and for an average of around 30€ per year, paid programs can seem quite affordable. But you are actually paying for features, and if you want antivirus protection, free software can meet your expectations.
The features offered by paid software can be useful, but the question is whether they are required by users whose browsing activity is limited to social media, legitimate streaming services, and trusted sites.