Paul from Minnesota writes:
When it comes to anti-virus & spyware programs, just how much difference is there between the paid for versions and the free ones?
Paul from Minnesota brings up a good question. In the “olden days” when computer viruses were just beginning to hit their heyday, you had to pay for all virus protection software. Nowadays, there are plenty of free virus protection programs available for users to download from the Internet. There are also many paid programs available, so you may be wondering whether you need to pay for virus protection software or if the free programs are adequate.
To answer that question, you need to determine what your virus protection needs are and in what capacity you will be using your virus protection program. For example, the majority of free programs are designed for personal home use only, not for business use. So if you’re looking for virus software for your business, you’ll have to purchase a licensed version. There are several other differences between the paid and free versions as well.
The main reason you install virus protection software is to protect your computer against viruses, which can harm your computer. Tests have shown that both the free and the paid virus protection programs perform comparably in terms of detecting viruses on a computer. While this is incredibly important, there are other types of malicious programs and components that can infect your computer and cause irreparable damage or steal personal information. Detection and removal of spyware, malware and other nasty items is where the paid programs shine.
Most of the free programs also detect malware, but the paid programs do a better job and detect more of the little nuisances, which means your computer is cleaner and your information is safer if you’re using a paid program.
Another way paid virus protection wins over users is by offering additional features. When comparing virus protection programs, you should take a look at these added features and see if any of them appeal to you. Examples of added features include parental controls, enhanced spam filters and identity theft protection. Avast’s paid program, Internet Security 6 Package, even opens up a new desktop for sensitive information, such as online banking, so other programs cannot steal account numbers or passwords.
One of the major differences between free and paid virus programs is the customer support. Support is typically lacking or nonexistent with free programs because there is no money being exchanged. You may find a FAQ section on the company’s Web site or a limited help section built into the program, but the companies offering free software typically do not invest much money in support for these free programs.
Paid programs, on the other hand, typically offer online and phone support for users. While you may not consider support to be a big deal, keep in mind that the free programs are often a bit more difficult to operate and navigate. If you decide on a free program, but are unable to set it up properly, it is useless.
If you’re still unsure of whether to go with free or paid virus protection, think about how you use the Internet. For users who are frequently downloading files and surfing a wide range of sites, a higher level of protection is warranted. For people who do minimal surfing, do not download many files and do not use credit cards online or engage in online banking, a free version is most likely fine. You could always see if the paid program you like has a free trial and compare it to a free program for yourself. That way you’ll know if it’s worth spending the money each year for the paid version. Good luck, and stay clean from those malicious viruses!
~ Chad Stetson