Antivirus programs are one of the must-have applications on computers. With the continuous evolution of the internet, the range of malicious threats keeps on widening, making antivirus or antimalware programs more essential than ever.
Many PC users keep wondering which antivirus program will be best for their device and secure it from every modern threat. If you are Windows 10 or Windows 11 user, you don’t need to install an external third-party security program as those come with an in-built Microsoft Defender program, which is capable of managing all their security issues. Other than that, any free antivirus software from a reputed manufacturer will be good enough for all your needs if you are a home user. So, what about paid antivirus programs?
According to a survey conducted by Security.org, in the United States, 82% of the total internet users have antivirus programs installed on their systems. Out of those, only 52% pay for the security programs.
Since a lot of them are available for free, users might think – Is getting a paid antivirus worth it? Let us find the answer to that.
What are the limitations of a Free Antivirus?
Most users rely on free antivirus software for the overall security of their systems. However, it is evident that free programs come with limitations as no manufacturer can provide everything for free. Here are the top limits of free antivirus programs:
Only Basic Protection
Most free version antiviruses are not robust and provide only the basic level protection. They might not detect the newly introduced threats or new types of threats. If you require high protection features such as Firewall, anti-ransomware, password vault, and more, you might not get those in free antivirus. Though it is possible to get the required protection by combining multiple free programs, that might highly slow down your PC. Many providers do this on purpose so that users purchase their premium or PRO versions.
Limited Customer Support
This is one of the major drawbacks of free antivirus programs. You won’t get full customer support when you download and install a free antivirus until you purchase the premium version.
Most free security programs are poor in performance. The scanning is pretty slow and ordinary. Since scanning is slow and time-consuming, the application would use system resources even longer, disturbing the overall performance by slowing down the system.
While free antivirus software is suitable for regular computer users who don’t use the internet much, for the advanced users whose most professional work depends on the internet, including sharing information and data, using the free antivirus can be a disaster. Many dangerous threats such as rootkits, spyware, ransomware can get a free pass because of weak detection.
Nothing comes free in modern times. Apparently, the antivirus, which you might think is free, is not actually free. The manufacturer will load it with numerous ads to generate revenue, making it an Adware. The ads can be annoying and can slow down your system. Through ads, the manufacturer can push you to purchase the premium version.
Spying and Sharing Data
This is one of the most significant dangers of using a free antivirus. In order to provide you with adequate protection for free, the manufacturers might use other means to generate revenues. Apart from displaying the ads, the free antivirus programs can spy on you, collect your data, and sell it to third-party advertisers. The Avast antivirus was found to do the same. It used to gather users’ browsing data through a subsidiary named Jumpshot and offer it to the marketers.
Other than the lack of features, there are some problems associated with the free antivirus programs.
· They are not regularly updated, thereby missing the latest threats.
· Some free version antivirus can be expired after the trial period.
What does paid Antivirus offer more?
The free version of antivirus provides your system with a basic level of security. It would perform the scan, look for the threats, and quarantine or remove them if required. That’s it.
On the other hand, if you pay for an antivirus, the provider would be responsible for providing you with a complete security solution. Your system’s security would be taken more seriously. You would be getting extra features that would safeguard your device against more than just a virus threat.
Since fighting malware programs is only one of the things they do, these paid programs are often termed as ‘Internet Security Solutions’ rather than just ‘antivirus’ or ‘anti-malware.’ These are the most common added features that a paid antivirus program provides:
- Real-time Protection: While in the free version, you have to scan manually for the threats on your system, the paid version provides you with real-time protection feature.
- Scheduled Scanning: Again, there is no option of schedule scanning in the free variant, but with the premium program, you can plan your scan according to your preference.
- Better Firewall: Better firewall means better protection against unauthorized access from a network.
- Family Protection: Blocking unauthorized sites for children, monitoring online activity, and many more family protection features are present in the paid version of the antivirus program
- Password Managers: Many paid security solutions provide subscribers with an online password manager to safeguard their essential passwords in a locker.
- Data Encryption: Paid version provide you with data encryption to keep your data safe from online hackers.
- Online Identity Protection: The premium version of antivirus provides you with identity protection while browsing the internet. They make it difficult for cybercriminals to get their hand on your personal info like IP addresses, saved passwords, and more.
- More Device Coverage: The free version provides service on a single device only, whereas most security programs provide multiple device security.
- Network Intrusion Prevention: The premium paid versions of antivirus programs provides extra protection against network intruders.
Is Free Antivirus worth it?
Well, it entirely depends on what type of protection you need. Suppose you are a home user and use your system for basic tasks like browsing a few sites, watching shows & movies, playing games, etc. In that case, the free antivirus such as Windows Defender is enough for your system as the extra features of the paid antivirus are of no greater use for you.
However, if your work is heavily dependent on the internet, you are most of the time online. You must get the advanced security solution to protect your system from modern threats and receive extra privacy features.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as already discussed, the free service of the unpaid antivirus is not free after all. Some security companies use the free security solution as a medium to gather data for advertising purposes.
So, keeping this thing in mind and the other factors mentioned in this post, you can self-decide whether your system needs an extra featured antivirus program or not.