Best Paid Anti-Virus Programs
My computer came with a free trial of the anti-virus software, and now it's nagging me to pay $49 to renew. Should I pay the ransom, or go with a free anti-virus program?
Should I Pay For Anti-Virus Protection?
There are dozens of free anti-virus programs available. Most of them do a decent job of protecting your computer and network against common malware threats (viruses, spyware, rootkits, etc.) But the paid versions of these and other programs can provide added protection, easier administration in business settings, and other benefits over their free counterparts.
When should you pay for security software? Many vendors offer their programs free for personal, academic, and other non-commercial use. If you use anti-malware for business, you are expected to pay for it. Also, some features such as real-time protection and email scanning may not be available in free versions.
The commercial security tools typically include a suite of programs that includes anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, spam filtering, and download scanner. A common friendly interface lets you interact with all of them, when you need to change settings, run reports, or get help. And all of the components will have been tested to work well will together.
But with the freebies, you have to cobble together your own set of tools to get the equivalent. You might end up picking 3, 4, or 5 of those tools, all from different vendors. The downside is that each program will have a different user interface, and the learning curve will be steeper. And there's always a chance that one of them might not play nice with the others.
Keep in mind that technical support is not included with the free anti-virus programs. That's a big plus for the commercial alternatives, especially for less technical users who might run into trouble while installing the program, or be confused by warnings that pop up while surfing the web or downloading.
Commercial Internet Security Software
Here are some of the best paid anti-virus programs and internet security software currently available. I've given the vendor's list price for each, but if you search online for the titles, you can usually find them at discount prices.
McAfee Total Protection 2011 ($44.99) or similar is often pre-installed on new computers, as a trial version with a nagware component. McAfee gets average ratings from users, but scores well in malware blocking, spam filtering, intrusion detection, and warning when malicious websites are encountered. Reviewers have called the parental control component "rudimentary" and "ineffective". The software installs easily, and has a minimal impact on system performance.
Norton Internet Security 2011 ($69.99) gets top marks for detecting and eliminating many kinds of malware. It's also easy to install - only two screens must be navigated before the program begins installing itself. The user interface is also intuitive. On the downside, Norton scans relatively slowly. It also has a reputation for being a system resources hog, and for not uninstalling cleanly.
BitDefender Internet Security 2011 ($29.95) does an excellent job of detecting and eliminating malware infections on hard drives. However, it's blocking of real-time malware attacks before they infect a machine is below average. If your PC is already infected, BitDefender will probably heal it. But it won't do so well with brand-new malware species.
Avast! Internet Security ($49.99) is only middling-fair at detecting infections, finding about 94 percent of test malware installed on a hard drive. It was able to remove only 70 percent of the infections that it did find, about average for anti-malware programs. Consistent with these results, Avast is one of the fastest anti-malware programs when it comes to scanning a hard drive. Its boot-scan feature will scan your hard drive for malware before Windows loads, a key feature in defeating some infections. Avast is easy to set up and the settings screens are fairly intuitive.
G-Data Internet Security 2011 ($39.95) is above-average in malware detection and elimination, and has a "Silent Firewall" that operates invisibly without constantly nagging the user. Its setup and setting screens are more complex than consumers may like. G-Data yields very few false positives - safe files wrongly identified as malware.
Kasperky Internet Security 2011 ($64.95) does a great job of blocking malware attacks before they can infect a computer. In tests, it detected over 95 percent of known malware based on signature files. It also removed 80 percent of infections, tying with the best competitor. However, Kaspersky is one of the most resource-intensive anti-malware programs. Running it on a low-end computer will significantly impact performance.
Bottom line: Plenty of free anti-virus and anti-spyware software is available. If you're willing to assemble and trouble-shoot all the pieces yourself, you should be well protected. But if you want the simplicity of an all-in-one solution, the most comprehensive protection, and expert technical support, you should pay for it. At four or five dollars a month, the price tag is modest, and for many home users, the additional peace of mind is worth it.
What's your opinion about paid anti-virus protection? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 10 Jun 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Best Paid Anti-Virus Programs (Posted: 10 Jun 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved