Internet was never a less private place that it has become recently. Ad trackers, malware, viruses, and trojans can be caught during file download and during simple Internet browsing. The best way of securing your PC from online threats is downloading reliable antivirus software.
Here, however, users are faced with a typical dilemma. On one hand, the easiest way out is to download a free tool, with no financial risks involved. On the other hand, doubts start creeping it. What if free antivirus software cannot provide proper protection? It’s no secret that paid tools have richer functionality, could it mean that they are better? Let’s take a closer look.
Pros of using a free antivirus software
Even though free antivirus tools, indeed, are less functional, these reduced should not be categorized as a disadvantage right away. After all, the balance of functionality depends on the purpose of the software. If the tool is used on a personal PC, free software’s functionality will fit just fine since the security stakes are much lower.
Price is a decisive factor
The rule of thumb is, of course, that no services are completely free and even free tools are not actually free. In a case with free antiviruses, this is completely true. A tool’s development team receives profit from advertising, partnership deals, and paid upgrades. The main functionality, however, is completely free. Avast free antivirus is a great example of rich functionality even in basic versions.
If you are choosing between free antivirus tools, be sure to examine if there are no time limitations. Quite often free tools are actually just used for promotion. As soon as a trial period expires, a user is required to either upgrade the program to a paid version or uninstall it.
Those who prefer free antiviruses have the liberty to change the tool anytime. If you did not like the software’s functionality or interface, you can delete this software and install a new one at any given moment.
Those users, who opted for paid subscriptions, cannot allow the same luxury. If the tool was paid for in advance, there are two options, both quite uncomfortable. The first one is to wait to the end of the subscription period and only then change a security client. The second method is to contact a support team with a refund request. Each of those requires time and effort.
Perfect for testing
Finding that one and only antivirus tool is quite a task. Usually, it requires some trial and error. Only after installing several solutions, you can properly understand which one is the best fit. This depends on your PC characteristics, online activity, and personal preferences.
If you do not have any specific requirements to an antivirus tool, it’s actually better to start with free software to understand what you are looking for. Once the selection criteria are established, you can either stick to a permanent free solution or choose a paid tool that fits those requirements.
Simple and universal
Free tools are not overloaded with professional security features, used mostly in a corporate environment or for business purposes. You don’t have to perform excessive customization, learn interface, or read up on PC security peculiarities.
Free software is oriented on PC users of low and medium proficiency. If your Internet activity is limited to browsing and occasional downloads, you will never need advanced features and intricate settings. In fact, those add-ons might only be confusing.
Cons of free antivirus software
Of course, there are two sides of each coin, and with free security tools, it’s definitely the case. Let’s take a look at potential issues that users of free antiviruses might encounter.
Invasive upgrade call-to-actions
Free versions of antivirus software are regarded by development teams as a marketing tool. When users download a free version of the tool, they become a target audience for the purchase of a full version. The marketing team is sure to use this potential and the users are frequently spammed with pop-up notifications and built-in advertising.
No customer support
If the tool failed to protect a computer from a threat, users will most likely not be capable to receive informed advice from technical support. If clients who purchase a paid version receive consistent consults with practical insights, users of free tools do not have the same option.
Sure, the majority of the tools allow the technical possibility of communicating with technical support, in practice, it’s not a viable option.
Although the quality of the scanning process is usually more or less equal to services, offered by paid tools, the free software limits the speed of the process. To encourage users to purchase a free version, developers implement a slower detection process. However, since most of the scanning is done in the background mode, this disadvantage is not a dealbreaker.
- Free antivirus software is a reliable security solution for personal use. It loses to paid alternatives in terms of speed and the number of available features but the safety factor remains mostly unaffected.
- Installing a free tool allows responsibility-free tool testing. The software can be uninstalled and substituted at any moment.
- Free software makes a profit with advertising and partnership offers which means, users are often disturbed by pop-ups and upgrade notifications.