The pros and cons of free virus protection downloads
Protecting your computers and other devices from viruses and malware is essential, and with thousands of new malware threats appearing daily, the risks of getting viruses, worms, and trojans infect your system are simply too great to ignore.
But do you really need to pay for virus protection? After all, there are plenty of free antivirus software options out there, claiming to protect you from viruses without even requiring a fee. Are they good enough, or should you opt for a premium plan instead?
This guide will take a look at some of the pros and cons of free virus protection, helping you decide whether or not it’s the right option for you.
Is Free Antivirus Worth it?
While free antivirus is better than nothing, it does not offer the best protection. Most of the time, free antivirus will cover the most commonly known computer viruses. However, it will not protect you against much else. Because computer viruses are constantly evolving, employing only the most basic level of protection may leave you vulnerable to dangerous threats that could steal your sensitive information.
So a free antivirus is better than no antivirus, but your goal should be to download the most top-notch software on the market.
Is it Safe to Download Free Antivirus Software?
When you download the free version of the most well-known antivirus software, such as Total AV, Avira, McAfee, PC Protect, Vipre, and Scanguard, it is generally safe to download.
However, if you simply search the internet and download something that looks like it could be antivirus but actually isn’t, you may have just created more problems for yourself.
When downloading any unknown document or file online, you are at risk of accidentally downloading a virus or other malware. So if you do choose to download free software of any kind, be careful of what you download. You should be especially cautious of downloads if you do not have any cyber protection.
What is the Difference Between Free Antivirus and Paid Antivirus?
The main difference between free antivirus and paid antivirus is their level of protection. While you may get the basic protection from free antivirus that will cover the most common threats, free antivirus will not protect you from more advanced threats.
Additionally, you may only get to have one device covered with free antivirus. While some people only need one device covered, this may not be the best option for larger families or individuals who need to protect multiple devices. With paid antivirus, however, you will likely be able to cover more than one device.
Finally, you do have more control and features with a paid antivirus. With basic protection, you automatically get the few features provided. But with a paid version, you have more control over your private data and sensitive online activities, such as finances and passwords.
Pros of Free Antivirus
While it’s best to download a paid version of an antivirus system to benefit from an arsenal of protective features, there are some benefits to downloading free antivirus software.
- It’s Free!
Obviously, the first and most evident benefit of choosing free virus protection is that you don’t have to pay for it. For budget-conscious computer users, this is a huge benefit, and there are already so many different services and subscriptions the average person has to pay for, so the idea of adding another one to your monthly set of bills may be off-putting. On some occasions, the paid versions will offer a free trial so that you can try out their product risk-free. So if you want to try numerous products and use their free trials, that is an option to get antivirus for free as well. Easy to ChangeAnother good benefit of using a free antivirus program is that you’re free to uninstall and change it whenever you like. You haven’t paid for anything, nor have you signed up for any yearly plans or long-term subscriptions, so you’re able to make changes and switch to something else whenever you want, without feeling tied down.
- You Might Get Discounts for the Free Version
If you are already using the free version of antivirus software, you will likely get offers for a discounted price on the paid version. So if you are looking to get a good deal on an antivirus system, it may prove beneficial to try out the free versions before committing to the paid versions just so that you can get the discounts.
- A Good Test
Many people see free antivirus programs as a good way to ‘test the water’ and see what antivirus packages can really do, before upgrading to a more powerful, premium plan. Free antivirus software allows you to experience the benefits of having this kind of protection, without needing to pay for it and then deciding whether to upgrade to a paid plan with the same provider or opt for something different.
This also gives you the option to try out multiple software to see which one has your favorite interface, which one works best for your computer, and to see if a certain brand inhibits your computer’s normal functions such as web browsing, streaming, or downloading.
- Simple to Use
Because there are no fancy features or elaborate interfaces, free versions of antivirus are also quite easy to use. There is no need to search through all the different features and research the ones that work best for your needs. All you have to do is download the free software and it will begin protecting your computer from the most basic computer viruses.
- A Basic Level of Protection
Ultimately, we can at the very least say that having some free antivirus software is definitely better than having nothing. It might not be able to offer a long list of features or in-depth security advantages to your computer, but it will be able to scan for viruses and remove them, and the best free antivirus programs can be reasonably effective at dealing with common forms of malware and keeping you safe.
Cons of Free Antivirus
As you can see, there are some benefits to trying out antivirus software for free. However, there are some significant drawbacks to using free antivirus. In this section, we will discuss all the potential issues that come with using only free software as protection against malware.
- Only Minimal Protection Provided
The first, and perhaps most important point to mention when it comes to free antivirus programs is that they only offer the most basic, minimal form of protection. You get what you pay for in this industry, and if you aren’t paying anything, you have to accept that you won’t get much in return. Free antivirus programs can carry out simple scans and quarantine infected files, but that’s about it.
- Lacking in Features
Carrying on from the previous point, free antivirus programs are often very lacking in terms of their features and functionality. The best premium antivirus suites come with a whole range of extra features to keep you safe and protected like firewalls, password managers, VPNs, web protection, email protection, system tune-ups, and so much more.With the free version, you will not have access to the extra features that keep your computer and data safe. So you will not get to benefit from:
- Password protection
- Virtual private network (VPN)
- System performance cleanup and optimization
- Wi-Fi monitoring for your home
- Online account data leakage monitoring
- Threat ranking systems
- Proactive URL, email scam, and attachment blocking
- Firewalls and spam protection
- Secure browsers
- Parental content control systems
- Secure deletion of files, browsing history, credit information, and passwords
- Cloud storage and backup
- Pop-Ups and Ads
Often, when you opt for a free version of an antivirus program, you’ll have to deal with a lot of continuous, persistent pop-ups and ads asking you to upgrade to the full version. This can be quite frustrating to deal with, and nobody enjoys having little windows popping up in the corner of their screen all the time while trying to work or browse the web. What’s more, some free programs may try and install other software onto your PC, so you have to be really careful during installation. Slower Computer FunctionsWith free software, there is no guarantee that it will work well with your computer. Additionally, some antivirus will cause your computer to run more slowly, download files at a slower pace, and overall operate at a slower speed. If you want an antivirus that does not impact your computer’s function, you should opt for the paid version.
- Slower Virus Scanning
Even though a free antivirus will still likely have accurate virus detection and scanning, it will typically detect viruses at a slower rate than the paid version. Yet, the scanning is done in the background and you may not even notice that the scanning is slow unless you are looking for it. So, this disadvantage may not be the end of the world.
- Lack of Customer SupportAnother big drawback of opting for a free antivirus program as opposed to a paid one is that you rarely, if ever, get any kind of customer support. Naturally, companies offering these programs for free aren’t really able to invest in customer service departments as they don’t have the funds. Either that, or they reserve their customer support services for the paying customers, rather than the free ones, so if you have any issues, you’ll have to deal with them alone.
Which Antivirus Companies Offer a Free Version?
Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of free antivirus software, it’s time to explore your options for free protection.
- Total AV
Total AV does offer a free version along with a paid version that has more features. With Total AV’s free version, you can try out one of the leading companies for antivirus. However, you will only have access to their virus scanner, so if you want total protection, you will eventually have to upgrade.
Avira does have good free antivirus protection and maybe one of the best available. As one of the leading antivirus systems in the industry, users can access free VPN, password management, ad blocking, and other features. However, you will not get firewall protection, backup, spam filtering, or other feature offered by paid versions.
The only free version of McAfee that is currently offered is a 30-day free trial of the Total Protection plan. However, you will get free access to some of the best antivirus currently available and you can decide if you want to continue the service at the end of your trial.
- PC Protect
PC Protect offers a free version of their software that gives users access to a malware scanner. However, all other features are reserved for those who opt to use the paid version. Unlike some of its competitors, the free version does not have real-time protection against malware and viruses.VipreVipre does offer a limited free version of its services that can protect against basic malware. However, if you want the best protection, you will have to update the basic plan. Vipre does offer major discounts on its services, so if you are still uncertain about trying this antivirus, you can do so at a lower cost.
For free download and scanning, you can try the free version of ScanGuard. While there are no other features besides basic scanning with this free version, you can still try out ScanGuard’s services will no cost to you.
Overall, it’s fair to say that free antivirus programs have a few advantages. They can be a good entry-level option to see what antivirus software can do for you, and it’s always better to have them than nothing at all, but if you want total, complete protection, you need to make the upgrade.