Being a home user, free antivirus is an attractive option. Especially with so many good ones. But do you actually get better protection if you pay for it?
If you’re talking strictly antivirus, then typically no. It’s not common practice for companies to give you weaker protection in their free versions. In most cases, the free antivirus protection is just as good as their pay-for version.
But I would argue that the companies who offer only a pay-for version will typically be better than those that offer a free one, simply because it takes a lot of resources to keep up with the changing landscape. And selling antivirus is how they support their research.
Common Features of Pay-For Antivirus
When you pay for antivirus, what you’re buying are extra features that attempt to protect you against more than just viruses. Usually, these more robust solutions don’t even call themselves “antivirus”, instead going with labels like “internet security suite”, because fighting viruses is only one part of what they actually do.
- Better firewall – block incoming and outgoing traffic
- Family protection – monitor web activity, time online, site blocking
- Online identity protection – protect your personal information
- Better intrusion prevention – protect your network from intruders
- Social media scanners – for things like your Facebook page
- More device coverage – smart phones, tablets, Mac, etc
- Data encryption – password protect the data on your computer
- Password managers – store passwords safely
- and more…
The Best Antivirus Solution For You
Ultimately, it comes down to your needs and your budget. If the extra features seem worth it, then don’t hesitate to get one. It won’t be money wasted. But also keep in mind that even some free antivirus programs offer some of the advanced features, too. You’ll just have to do your own research and find out if they’re enough for you.
Being the aspiring security professional that I am, I would recommend taking the leap and getting a more complete security package than “free” can offer. It’s not necessary of course, but I don’t think you can ever be too careful online.
If you’re interested in upgrading, here’s a list of my recommended pay-for solutions to get you started. My personal favorites begin on the top.