Is Free Antivirus Enough to Protect my Computer?Vanessa Venugopal
Nowadays, there are plenty of free things online, free internet calls, free applications, free email providers, free website builders, free content, and so on. We like free things. It’s tempting to trust than invest in a paid version.
But when it comes to your mobile devices and desktops, would you trust a free antivirus software program to give you the security you need?
Most would agree that free antivirus software is enough to protect their computer. Meanwhile, others will rely on their operating system’s built-in protection software.
But are they enough? Can your built-in security program or free antivirus protect you from new and old threats?
There are hundreds of free antivirus programs and applications that are tempting to use, but not all are safe. Big companies, such as Avast antivirus, AVG, Bitdefender, Norton, and so on, provide free versions of their security programs.
Using known names of antivirus can offer you core protection for your computer. So, you may wonder if free antivirus software can protect your device? Partially yes. We have put together a list of the best free antivirus software you can use to protect your devices.
It is crucial to know that you have to be cautious when installing free antivirus applications. There are software applications that have hidden agendas. Cybercriminals use free antivirus software to lure victims into a trap. Therefore, sourcing your free antivirus should be considered before installing.
What Can Free Antivirus Software Offer?
Free antivirus can give you the basic protection that you need. Sometimes it provides some advanced features but with a limited time only.
Here are some reasons why free antivirus programs are Somehow good enough for your devices.
Approved by Experts through Online Reviews
When you look for free antivirus protection online, you’ll see experts recommending and reviewing them. It means that free applications aren’t bad for your computer.
Experts test and show results on how these software applications work and if they are good enough for protecting devices.
Among the most highly recommended free software applications are Microsoft Defender for Windows 10, Kaspersky, AVG, Bitdefender, Avast, and Malwarebytes.
Microsoft’s built-in protection program for the Windows 10 operating system has improved. It’s better than its previous version.
- Provides real-time data and device protection
- Back up files to OneDrive
- Allows users to manage privacy
- It offers family protection by controlling screen time and restrict access to inappropriate content
- Get automatic updates
- Performs simple PC optimization/ enhancement
- Flags phishing sites
Basic Protection to Get Rid of Threats
Almost all free antivirus software has core features to protect your device. It includes the following:
- Real-time protection
- Cloud-based scanning
- Blocks malicious URLs
- Anti-phishing and fraud options
- Prevents suspicious downloads
- PC cleaner
- Limited VPN
Since free antivirus does not have heavy features of a paid version, it doesn’t experience slowing down of the device. Furthermore, it doesn’t drain the battery of your device.
However, this doesn’t mean that paid versions crash all the time. There are high-quality paid antivirus programs that are lightweight and have a fast-scanning feature.
Easy to Use
Since the free version has a few features, there is no need to learn complicated tools. You can manually scan your device, or it will automatically scan or protect your device in real-time.
So, if free antivirus software sounds good enough, why do you still need to go for the paid version?
Why Free Antivirus is still Not Good Enough
A free antivirus will always have a catch.
Earlier, we have mentioned the different features of free antivirus, but here’s what you have to know. Free antivirus programs don’t provide complete protection, or the features available don’t function fully. Often it will scan your device and remove some threats. Then, it would inform you to perform a deep cleaning to protect your device completely. That is when you’ll need to upgrade your antivirus.
Big antivirus companies often insist free users to upgrade to get complete protection. Others even have popups providing discounts when you upgrade.
Another reason why free versions are not good enough, it’s because of other things that go with downloading the software program. Free software programs are bundled with other applications, like unwanted browser extensions, plugins, and browsers.
These bundled tools are installed into the users’ devices to gather data of the users.
Furthermore, not all threats are the same. You can be infected by malware but are silent. It runs in the background without showing any signs. Invisible threats are a danger to your device and data.
So, what makes paid version far more superior to free antivirus?
Paid Version Qualities
Firewall Protection at its Best
A firewall is a network security that encrypts all traffic that goes in and out. It monitors the traffic, and when it detects any suspicious activity, it blocks them. It stops threats like malware and virus that come from an external source.
Paid versions of antivirus have better functioning firewall protection. It is often included in premium security suites. Although, a firewall is not the only protection you’ll need to block your device from malware. But it serves as an essential part of other defense tools.
VPN Data Encryption
Virtual Private Network or VPN encrypts your online data and re-routes it to another server. By doing so, hackers, advertisers, government agencies, and internet service providers won’t be able to spy on you. Now, you can freely browse online anonymously.
Most free antivirus offers limited VPN data. But when you get the paid version, it has an unlimited VPN.
Parental control feature is often available on paid antivirus. It blocks inappropriate sites and file transfer and sets screen time for children. Parental Control not only protects kids online but also helps prevent downloading of unsafe or malicious content.
Kaspersky has one of the best parental control features with its full security suite –Total Security.
If you need to secure all your passwords, we highly recommend installing a password manager. There are password managers that are part of free antivirus. However, it doesn’t have all the qualities seen in the paid version.
A password manager is a software application that can store unlimited passwords and other valuable credentials. The data stored are encrypted, and users are only required to remember a single password to unlock their account.
Paid security programs offer a built-in password manager to protect and recommend strong passwords.
Identity Theft Protection
Free software applications lack this feature, protecting one’s identity online. Identity theft is when someone steals your identity and uses it for financial or other purposes. But with antivirus software partnered with an excellent identity theft technology, it secures your identity, including details of your credit card. Often antivirus application with identity theft protection includes dark web monitoring feature. It searches if the user’s personal information has been bought and sold. It will send an alert to the user if personal data has been compromised.
Better Technical Support
When using free digital security programs, services such as technical support are often held back. With paid software, you’ll get 24/7 on-demand support either via chat, email, or call.
Protection from Latest Threats
There are thousands of threats online, and every day new ones are emerging. Using a free security program won’t be able to detect the latest attacks. Unlike in paid version, when a new virus or malware, or suspicious activity is noticed, it will immediately conceal it and send it to the antivirus software’s laboratory for inspection.
Who Needs the Paid or Premium Security?
Now you may be thinking, is it alright to own a free antivirus? If you run a business, subscribing to the paid version is highly recommended. It offers more features and security protection for your data.
For families, a paid version can also serve an excellent purpose. You can protect multiple devices, as security brands offer protection for up to ten devices for home use. Furthermore, the Parental Control feature can secure kids’ online activities and avoid clicking on unsafe and unsecured links.
However, if you want to continue using free antivirus software, there is nothing wrong with it. You just have to be cautious enough not to click on links via email or social media and visit unknown websites. Furthermore, you need to avoid connecting on free or unsecured networks. If you want to freely surf online without worrying about identity theft, entering phishing sites, or ransomware attacks, get yourself a paid version!
Highly Recommended Paid Version Software
Buying a security software program doesn’t need to break your bank. Multiple quality applications have the above-mentioned features.
Big security companies offer multiple subscription plans. Often the fully-featured plan doesn’t use the name antivirus software. They usually lean on using names such as Total Security and Internet Security Software.
Avast is one of the leading names of protection software. They offer budget-friendly plans such as Avast Ultimate for home use. If you run a business, Avast also has multiple Endpoint solutions for your data protection.
Also available in Avast for Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
If you want to secure multiple devices in a single license, Bitdefender offers different subscription plans for that! You can protect all your devices with outstanding features.
Recently, Bitdefender has improved its VPN feature. Now you get unlimited encrypted traffic on all your devices.
Norton gives one of the best identity protection and dark web monitoring. With its partnership with LifeLock, it protects your personal information by scanning if someone is using it. In addition, it alerts users of identity threats and finds ways to help fix the problem when the user’s identity has been stolen.
For as low as $300 a year, you get the ultimate protection of Norton and even a 500 GB backup storage in the cloud.
Most tech magazines that run a test on Kaspersky mention that it has the best malware-detection score. If you want to secure your Windows PC, you can choose their paid antivirus version to save up. However, if you are looking to protect multiple devices, from Windows PC to iOS, buy Kaspersky Total Security for premium features and protection.
Furthermore, the premium suite has a GPS Child Locator. So, you can track wherever your child goes 24/7.
Last on our list of top-performing digital security brands is McAfee. You can protect unlimited devices with the McAfee Ultimate package. Upon your first purchase, McAfee’s official store offers a big discount for the first year of your subscription plan.
Aside from protecting an unlimited number of devices, McAfee includes other powerful tools. These are identity theft protection, performance optimizer, and deletion of files permanently.
Free antivirus software can be an option if you are extremely careful when browsing online. It’s a free software program, so features are limited. It also comes with additional tools that may seem harmless at the beginning. You can continue to use your free digital security application. But if you want to stay safe online and avoid losing your personal information, choose a paid plan to get the best security for your device.