Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paid vs Free Antivirus - Which is right for me?

When deciding on an antivirus software to use with your computer, you are faced with one major question:

Is it worth it to pay for antivirus, rather than use the free version?

In this blog post we will explore the possible answers to this question, and the reasons why you should choose a paid or free antivirus.

What is the difference between paid and free antivirus?

Other than cost, there a few big differences between paid antiviruses and their free versions. Most of this difference is in the function that the antivirus program has - that being said, it is important to note that not all free antiviruses will cut the exact same functions as the next.

  • Real-time scanners: Most (if not all) free antiviruses will not include a real time scanner function. A real time scanner is a virus scanner that is constantly running and protecting your system from attacks through the network, files, emails, programs, and any other attack that may occur while the computer is running. Free antivirus will usually have a monitor that blocks incoming attacks via the network, and will scan and protect you from files that are opened. 

  • Email scanner: An email scanner is a function most free anti-virus programs will not have. This function will scan your emails and attachments for viruses before you open them, in an attempt to protect you from infection. Many Adobe PDF files are infected with rootkits and malware, that are sent via email from an unknown sender - these emails usually try to get the user to click on a link which will download the PDF and save it to their computer. 

Is there a difference in detection and elimination capabilities?

The longstanding myth with virus detection is that the paid version has a better detection and elimination rate than its free version - which simply is not true. The paid and free versions of any antivirus program have the exact same virus, malware, spyware, and malicious file definitions than its free counterpart.

Can I use paid antivirus for my company or business?

Free antivirus software is more than likely not approved for business or corporate use, however it does not hurt to check the EULA to be safe. Almost all free virus removal tools will be specifically for personal use, although some are acceptable to be used in small business with less than a certain number of employees. Paid antivirus software usually has a limit on the number of computers it can be installed on which is all dependent upon which antivirus software you choose to use.

Paid antivirus drawbacks:

Let's examine some of the drawbacks of a paid antivirus program.
  • Cost - These programs cost money, which is usually why people do not use them. 
  • Subscription fees - On top of a one time purchase fee, most paid antiviruses cost a certain amount of money per year, which eventually adds up.
  • Computer Performance - With all the added functions of the software, many of these antivirus programs cause a lower performance of your system. Whether this be major or marginal depends on the software, but this may be a major drawback for people that need every last bit out of their computers, such as gamers.


For most entry level computer users, a paid antivirus may be a better choice, especially if they are not familiar with the functions of a computer. A paid antivirus can help these less experienced users stay protected at all times.

For more advanced users, there is almost no contest that a free antivirus is the way to go. If you are comfortable with your computer, and understand how to stay protected through your own means, then you won't be getting much more by paying for protection.

If you are unsure which virus software is right for you, need advice on which software a professional recommends, or have gotten a virus, consider calling this Denver Virus Removal specialist, Focus Computer Repair.

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