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Is free antivirus enough for my computer?

Is free antivirus enough for my computer?

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At first glance, a free antivirus may seem like a tempting option. After all, why should you pay for a premium app when you can get one for nothing? So what’s the real deal with free antivirus protection? Is one of these freebies enough to keep your computer safe from malware, or are there pitfalls you should be aware of?

Basic protection

A free online security app – at least when it comes to the big-name security companies that cut the best free antivirus roundup – can provide excellent basic protection (obscure or less well-known brands may not be – so obviously be wary over there). In fact, with a good antivirus app, you will get the same basic engine defending your PC as with a premium app.

This will keep you safe, so the short answer to our question about whether free software is enough for your PC is: Yes, it is. A good free app from a high-quality vendor – software makers that have been ranked #1 by independent testing labs in report after report – will keep your PC safe, overall.

In fact, even Windows Defender, which comes built into Windows 10, is good enough to stay true to its name and defend your PC from threats these days (even if that wasn’t true in the past). So even those who don’t want to put any effort at all when it comes to getting antivirus protection have a powerful enough effortless option that is turned on by default, at least on computers running Microsoft.

However, what you need to remember with free antivirus protection is that you only get the minimum security, no matter how strong it is. Premium products exist to provide additional countermeasures and additional layers of defense to enhance the security of your computer.

For example, a premium antivirus might have an extra layer of ransomware protection in addition to the free version, making it more likely that it will detect the latest string of ransomware — a bad type of malware that can block your entire device. Digital life, so you’ll never get it back.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Oftentimes, premium antivirus products offer extras like parental controls or social media monitoring, and other tools that may help keep your kids safe online. So for families, rather than a freebie, a paid product can be a worthwhile investment – especially one of those internet security suites that provides protection for a large number of devices (if you have a large family, or a lot of devices to protect).

Free apps often use some form of advertising as a way to support their presence (perhaps with popups that push you to upgrade to the premium app). This is understandable, but paid products do not bother you with such ads.

However, a good free antivirus app will not bombard you with ads, and indeed some of the best products do not contain any ads, even though they are free.

The last thing to consider is technical support. With a free product, the support you get will be limited or negligible – perhaps the ability to ask other users in an online forum, for example, or use the knowledge base on the web, these can sometimes be very simple resources. However, premium products will provide full-staff customer support services for those occasions when confusion shows its ugly head or things go wrong.

Is free antivirus enough for my computer?

A good free product will provide enough strong defenses to keep your computer safe, so the short answer is yes, such a product is sufficient. However, you lose extra layers of protection – sometimes very important things like anti-phishing measures, or online banking with peace of mind via a secure browser – and other benefits like better customer support. Depending on your exact situation and use case, they may prove to be worth paying for in the long run.

Best prices on today’s best antivirus software


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