This is a common question among anyone who owns a computer. When it comes to computer security software you have to think of multiple questions when trying to choose the right brand. Ultimately it is the user’s choice of how much protection they think that they want on their system.
Right off the bat there is one choice that a user must make: paid or free? There are advantages to both and it is dependent on the user to figure out if they want to spend money to protect their computer… or not. With a paid version of anti-virus you have the security of knowing the company is looking out for your best interests and because you are paying them they have an obligation to send out frequent up-to-date virus signatures to help protect your computer. Also, with paid memberships, some companies have some sort of guarantee that their computer will be covered up to a certain amount of money if a virus does destroy their computer.
Free versions of anti-virus software do not have a protection guarantee and usually are run by someone out of the kindness of their own hearts. That means there might not be as frequent updates as the paid versions and because you are not paying a company there might be some virus signatures that may be missed or incorrectly marked. Now don’t get me wrong, some free anti-virus software is comparable with the paid brands, but might not have as many features as a paid version.
My favorite paid anti-virus is ESET Nod32, I’ve used it for the last three years and have not looked back. Its security center has multiple features to keep a user safe, including a built-in firewall, active file monitoring, and early detection. My personal lifesaver is the active file monitoring — every new file created on my computer is scanned for viruses and will alert me if something is wrong. I also chose ESET Nod32 because of its track record. Its detection record is unmatched; it has never missed an in-the-wild virus for as long as the product has been around. Over all of the other paid brands, I have to give it up for ESET.
For the users who may not want to pay for an anti-virus, I strongly suggest that they use Microsoft Security Essentials. It is the most lightweight and powerful free anti-virus system that I have come across. Microsoft took its amazing product, what used to be called OneCare, and made it free. If you look at the logic behind the system it is made by Microsoft and this massive organization is paying its good people to protect your system. To me you’re almost getting the benefits of a paid system. You can also trust Microsoft to not put any spyware, adware, or any type of ware in your product. Again, for the free route, check out Microsoft Security Essentials.
For all you Mac and Linux users out there, don’t think you’re safe. Every computer is susceptible to a virus attack of any kind, although just not as likely, you can still be attacked. For the Mac users out there, try out ESET’s Mac edition, for the same reasons as before: its track record is unmatched. For you Linux users I do recommend ClamAV — that is the only Linux anti-virus that I’ve played around with and found to be a great protection on my Linux box.
There are all different brands out there from which you can pick, both paid and free. To keep you and your computer safe, keep your anti-virus system up to date and know what Web sites you are surfing. You are the front line of protection.