Anti-Virus Programs: Payware Vs. FreewareKeyloggers, viruses, and malware are a common threat to Windows users, particularly to computers connected to the Internet. These threats have gradually become more dangerous, and as a result having an anti-virus program installed on your computer is a necessity, not an option. The most common problem consumers have with anti-virus programs is deciding which one they should use, as the amount of options available can be overwhelming. When choosing an anti-virus program, it is important to consider things such as which operating system you use and how you use your computer, as these factors will determine which anti-virus program is best for you.

It is a common misconception that more expensive anti-virus programs provide better protection against malicious threats. This simply isn’t true, and often you will end up paying for brand name anti-virus software that can easily be substituted by a freeware program to provide the same level of protection. Paid anti-virus programs such as Kaspersky, McAfee, and Norton are popular options recommended by many experts, but the question is: Can you get the same level of protection with free anti-virus programs? Well, this largely depends on your requirements, but for the average user, a free anti-virus program may be the best option. For business owners, a full security suite is generally required and, as such, paid anti-virus programs are usually more appropriate for business owners.

The advantages to using paid anti-virus programs usually include full technical support, easy installation, and very little configuration required. Performance wise, many well-known, free anti-virus programs are on par with paid anti-virus programs. Despite the fact that paid anti-virus programs are feature rich and offer a more comprehensive security suite, the price you have to pay is arguably unjustified. Consider this: Depending on your needs, you could install a free anti-virus program and then install relevant additional Internet security tools to complement this anti-virus program; in effect, you’re creating a customized security suite for your computer. Believe it or not, this works just as effectively as any payware anti-virus software. So, if you are after a security suite for personal use, it would be wise to consider all your freeware options before forking out money to big name anti-virus companies. To help you out, here are a few options you may consider.


AVG has been providing free anti-virus and Internet security suites pretty much since the Internet first started. Its freeware products have always yielded positive results and, as such, this is a company you can trust. The 2012 edition of AVG’s free anti-virus program outperforms many of its payware competition in terms of its efficiency in removing and blocking malware. AVG’s free anti-virus also comes with some additional nifty features such as a PC analyzer tool and a browser toolbar that provides safe search and weather updates. Over all, AVG’s free anti-virus program is a solid, all-around performer and is a viable option for protecting your computer against common viruses and malware.


avast!’s latest anti-virus software includes quite a few new features previously only available in the pro edition. It provides a satisfactory level of protection against virus threats, but does a better job at detecting threats than removing them. avast!’s anti-virus program provides a user-friendly experience and does an excellent job in shielding the computer against malware. However, as outlined above, it often struggles to remove virus threats after identifying them. avast!’s anti-virus program is certainly worth a try as it is a free option that could work well for casual Web surfers.


Avira is another company that has been around for a long time. Avira’s free anti-virus program does a solid job in detecting, blocking, and removing malware in a relatively short space of time. It includes phishing protection as an added feature and does an excellent job in shielding the computer against any malicious threats. Over all, Avira’s free anti-virus program performs in a similar manner to AVG and provides the same level of protection. It is definitely a free option to consider.

In my opinion, paid anti-virus companies thrive on the ignorance of consumers by promoting and selling overpriced anti-virus software through the use of effective scare tactics. The average consumer is made well aware of the fact that they need some sort of security suite installed on their computer to keep it protected against malicious threats, but rarely do paid anti-virus companies inform consumers about what kind of protection they need. Basically, consumers are encouraged to purchase expensive full security suites to keep their computer protected. In most cases, this is a waste of money as the average consumer does not need a full security suite installed on their computer — it’s just not required. To avoid spending money on software you simply don’t need, it is important to analyze how you use your computer before purchasing an anti-virus program. This will determine what kind of security suite you need and the options you have available.

In conclusion, if you need a security suite for commercial use, then there really isn’t any other option but to purchase a full Internet security suite. However, if you are after a security suite for personal use and are willing to put up with advertisements on the program’s interface, then installing a free anti-virus program along with relevant Internet security tools is the way to go. If you feel that you are not able enough to research, download, and install additional relevant security tools, then perhaps consider a payware solution — but I would advise you to consider all your free options before spending your money.

CC licensed Flickr photo by elhombredenegro