Generally speaking, antivirus software can be broadly categorized into two: free and paid software. But why pay when there’s free to use? Does the free antivirus software really deliver its promised protection?
Questions can continue on. This article attempts to look closer at the free antivirus software, what it does and does not do. Looking at what paid apps can do that free one cannot provide a better understanding. Because the difference between the two categories capabilities are what users are paying for.
Basic function of an antivirus software
Simply put, the function of an antivirus is to run protective routines that will detect any intrusion to the computer or smartphone. And once detected, the antivirus is meant to quarantine or delete the malicious intrusions before making any damage.
Antivirus software is meant to provide real-time protection to the device systems, examining any arriving files or processes that startup. It uses what is called ‘definitions’ that act like fingerprints of malware. And anything malicious is found, it will take timely actions in addressing the malicious intrusion.
Heuristic technology for added security
Antivirus is recommended to be updated regularly to keep pace with the newly emerging threats of malware, but a good antivirus employs heuristic technology for added security measures. Heuristic technology can effectively spot potential malware at a faster pace than the classic method. It catches those new threats even if its definition is not yet available in the protective engine.
While automatic scanning is intermittently done, one can scan for any threat more deeply and thoroughly anytime. And this is available and can be done in both the free and paid antivirus. So, what justifies the paid version? What are the extra features that the paid version is capable of doing that free ones cannot?
Extra features attract paying users
While fundamentally the free antivirus apps can provide the same basic protections as the premium version. However, paid apps added extra features that are not available among the free apps. And that is fair, as one can choose to pay if one wants to enjoy all those extras.
There are some free antivirus apps that have included some extra features to their free versions. Like a firewall, anti-phishing or web protection, and some integrated password managers. Some even include a VPN in their free apps. Avira Free Antivirus is known for this. Sophos Home Free also added parental controls to its free app. So, if one can get basic protection from the free apps, what could be the catch?
One of the most unpleasant things among the free apps is that they are usually bombarded with promotional ads. Fair enough since makers don’t earn from free users, they make money from those who promote products using their platform. Although in fairness, some reliable free apps control advertisements to the minimum, even some top-rated free apps do not even post any ads at all.
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