Today you will find almost every utility tool for free on the internet.
Services such as map & navigation, cloud storage, audio & video calling, and many desktop & smartphone applications are either free and open-source or are available at a very minimal cost. So, there might be some questions that arise in your mind…..
Should I go for free antivirus too?
Is free antivirus enough for my device?
According to the survey conducted by Which? News, 88% of people, use antivirus or antimalware solutions on their desktops or smartphone systems, but only 50% of those go for the paid subscription.
With lots of popular security solutions are available for free, should you spend on paid antivirus app or use the free version only?
Paid Versus Free Antivirus
Let’s find that out.
Does Free Antivirus Provide Complete Protection?
Most users rely on free antivirus programs to safeguard their systems from malicious apps, files, links, and codes. However, free security apps come with limitations over their paid counterparts. Nonetheless, free applications are expected to provide the following core features.
Protection from all Threats
Some robust free security solutions protect from significant security threats such as trojans, spyware, viruses, browser hijackers, and others. These free solutions usually lack the advanced anti-ransomware shield.
Protection against phishing attacks is fundamental, and usually, all free antivirus programs come with it.
Users usually don’t get the email or phone tech support for free antivirus programs. However, many popular free antiviruses have online communities and forums where users can get solutions for their troubles.
Every free antivirus is expected to have a straightforward interface for proper navigation.
If you are a Windows OS user, you get an excellent in-built security solution in the form of Microsoft Defender, formerly known as Windows Defender.
Microsoft Defender has improved a lot after its initial failure. Defender has been continuously ranked as a top security solution by AV-test.org for the past two years.
It was not even considered an antivirus program because of its insignificant services and poor detection.
Microsoft Defender comes with many benefits. It provides firewall protection. There are very few false positives than others. It slows down the web browsers by just 4% compared to the industry average of 10%.
Other notable features are App and Browser control, Network security, cloud-based protection library, etc.
Overall, Microsoft Defender has emerged as a robust and intelligent security application for Windows systems.
What do Defender and other Free Antiviruses lack?
With such good features in Microsoft Defender and other free antivirus apps, people still go for the paid solutions.
Paid Antivirus Solutions
That is because a paid security solution comes with a lot more advanced security features than Defender and other free apps lack.
This option lets you set the scan as per your preferred time. It is absent in significant free antiviruses, including Microsoft Defender.
Many advanced paid security solutions come with the Password Vault that securely keeps and protects the login credentials of the users and helps them generate a unique and strong password. However, many better, dedicated password managers are available in the market, so you might consider otherwise if you are going for a paid antivirus just for the password vault.
The Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows users to securely connect to private Wi-Fi networks by hiding their IP addresses. VPN services of antivirus programs can limit the bandwidth and slow down your browsing. There are dedicated VPN apps available that would work better.
This essential feature sets the paid security programs apart from the unpaid ones. Almost every paid antivirus solution comes with anti-ransomware protection to safeguard the system from lethal ransomware attacks. This feature is partially available in the Microsoft Defender too.
Online Identity Protection
Windows Defender and other free security software do not have the Online Identity Protection feature. This safeguards your private information such as browsing history, IP address, saved password, online activities, and more from the reach of the hackers.
Network Intrusion Protection
The Network Intrusion Protection or NIP is an essential tool that guards your network against getting hacked by intruders. Free antiviruses such as Defender lack this feature.
Multiple Device Coverage
Getting a paid version of antivirus would allow you to use it on numerous cross-platform devices. However, that depends on your subscription.
Paid antivirus gives users the option to control their child’s online activity through the Parental Control feature.
Many paid antiviruses have a Safe Banking feature that gets activated whenever you visit the bank sites and initiate the transactions. However, many modern browsers, such as Google Chrome, are already advanced in providing such security.
Though Microsoft Defender comes with real-time protection, many other free antivirus programs don’t support that. This can be a significant security threat, especially if your system is always online.
Challenges with Free Antivirus Software
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.
- Scanning and malware detection is comparatively slower than the paid ones.
- Comes with ads
Should I buy antivirus or not?
While using the free antivirus would save your money and provide an essential protection layer, it cannot guarantee absolute security.
Whether you should go for the paid antivirus or not depends on your usage. 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.
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 for receiving the extra privacy features.
Another thing to keep in mind is that 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.
Free is better than no antivirus protection. However, suppose you seek better protection for your company network. In that case, you’ll want to ensure your staff access it with the NIP (network intrusion protection) to prevent hackers from accessing your systems and data.