How well do free antivirus programs protect you?
Most free antivirus software programs are stripped-down versions of paid-for software from the same company. That company offers such programs as tasters of the protection provided by the full service version, and as a result they can have some shortcomings when compared. Research and development of high quality antivirus software is costly work which results in the fee charged for the service. Therefore, free antivirus ‘taster products’ are often used only as a marketing tool to attract customers.
Why pay for internet security?
If you pay for the software, you get a fully-featured product that usually includes antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection. Free software has fewer scanning options and only provides basic antivirus protection without the more sophisticated spyware and rootkit defences. It also lacks other features such as IM scanning applications.
Software updates with the latest malware signatures can be less frequent with free than with paid-for products. Many free antivirus programs update just once a day leaving a regular window of opportunity for newly created malware attacks. Moreover, a free antivirus has certain limitations when it comes to customising it to your requirements, while paid-for programs are much more sophisticated in this area.
Another difference between free and paid-for protection is in the support and help available to you. With a purchased product, you’ll get a dedicated support service – free online service or a chargeable phone line. Most of the anti virus protection software packages do not provide any support, and the few that do offer indirect online forums or premium rate paid phone support, that could cost you up to $50 per call.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch
The hidden price you’ll pay for some free packages is the installation of adware. Free programs often incorporate advertising to cover their costs. Adware may come in the form of pop-up adverts or search or social networking browser toolbars, all of which can be an annoyance and seriously slow your computer.
If you do decide to invest in a full internet security package, you’ll receive superior levels of protection, access to proper client assistance and useful extra features like free online data storage.