How Trustworthy is Antivirus Software that is Free

PrintFor the penny-wise PC users, there is a variety of free antivirus software already available on the market. Coming from Panda and Microsoft are the well-known Comodo, PC Tools, AVG, Alwil (Avast) and Avira. These are relatively good security programs that bring the needed protection to your PC at no cost.

The German company, AV-Test.org, tested out a collection of malicious software on this list of free antivirus software and came out with the following ranking: 1 – Avira; 2 – Alwil (Avast); 3 – AVG; 4 – Microsoft Security Essentials; 5 – PC Tools; 6 – Comodo. The method was to test the speed of the scans and the detection rates of each.

Protection is adequate but not complete

Antivirus software that is free can give you sufficient security, but it is not guaranteed to keep your PC completely protected. Here are some things that your free antivirus program lacks:

  • If malware does slip past the software and attacks your system, you can only avail of online forum support and some email support (Avast). Since the software is free, you can only depend on other free software users online to help solve your sanitization issues. Some even have paid phone support (AVG) but the fees are high per phone call.
  • Malware signature updates are not given frequently for the free antivirus applications. Updating for the signature databases of free apps only happen once a day, although some run suspicious code against online signatures (Microsoft Security) or against their own servers (Panda Cloud Antivirus) as long as the user is online. But once you are offline, then you may be left vulnerable again.
  • Scanning options for the free antivirus programs are less than the paid ones. For instance, the AVG 8.5 Free doesn’t tie in to IM programs for extra security like the paid AVG does. Another example is Avira’s free ware will not scan and detect online malware on http traffic before it goes onto your system, but the paid ware will.
  • With free antivirus programs you may end up with extra free programs that you don’t want, or need, such as pop-up ad displays for you to buy the paid software, or browsing toolbars for social networking or searches which you don’t need. These little extras are intrusive and a bit of an irritant, but that’s what you get with the free software put out there for thrifty PC users.

All in all, these versions of antivirus software for free do a good job in keeping your PC secured, but it doesn’t hurt to spend at least 30 dollars a year for a good, complete antivirus that will keep you completely protected.

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