Getting something for free sure is tempting. After all, why would you pay for something that is also available to you at no cost? The internet is full of free features – free maps, free music, free email, free messaging and for decades now, free antivirus solutions.

But can you rely on the free version of an antivirus app? Or should you invest in paid antivirus software? The short answer is – it depends. In most cases, the free version is enough to provide protection for personal use computers. Your home computer likely has some version of antivirus protection already installed.

But can you trust free antivirus programs for your business? Paid versions provide more comprehensive protection and can help you identify and stay ahead of viruses, malware, spyware, and other cybersecurity threats.

Let’s take a look at the different features available in free or paid antivirus apps, the top free programs available, and why antivirus protection is important for businesses.

Different Features of Free vs. Paid Antivirus Programs

Free Antivirus Programs

The main goal of a free antivirus program is to provide basic protection from a computer virus. A computer virus is a malicious piece of code that once unleashed onto your computer, can spread from device to device. While some viruses are designed to damage a device, others are meant to steal your data and personal information.

While different free software programs vary depending on the developer, the basic features include:

  • Anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spamming protection: Free antivirus software is developed to identify and remove viruses and malware and protect your computer against spamming. Because computer threats are constantly evolving, antivirus software developers will update the programs regularly.
  • On-demand scanning: Some free antivirus programs have on-demand scanning or scanning only when you start the application or upload data into your computer’s memory. The downside of on-demand scanning is it relies on the user to get into the habit of running it regularly.
  • Real-time protection: Other free antivirus programs have real-time protection. Real-time protection works by scanning data for viruses, malware, and spyware around the clock. With the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, real-time scanning is recommended to catch a virus before it spreads.

Paid Antivirus Programs

Paid antivirus programs go above and beyond their free version counterparts and provide additional protection from viruses and other harmful computer threats. Paid programs offer additional features including:

  • Extra layer of protection: Some paid programs will be better at detecting new threats such as websites with malware.
  • Firewall protection: Some antivirus companies reserve firewall protection only for their paid versions. A firewall is a security network designed to protect your computer from malicious attacks.
  • Application control: Application control is a security technology that is built into some firewalls. This technology, which is often reserved for paid antivirus programs, protects devices from malicious code and also prevents the installation or use of unapproved applications.
  • Administrative control: Administrative controls help address the “human error” component of cybersecurity. Essentially, this feature allows the administrator to determine what users have access to resources on a network.
  • Webcam protection: Over the last few years, the use of webcams has exponentially increased. For companies with remote teams, webcam protection can be a critical component of overall cybersecurity. Some paid versions of antivirus programs include webcam protection.
  • Customer support: One of the biggest advantages of a paid antivirus service is access to customer service either through email, live chat, or the phone. Free programs usually send users to an FAQ section of their website, or they have to rely on crowdsourced answers to common issues.

Top Free Antivirus Programs

If you are working on a home computer and do not have multiple devices, a free antivirus program may be enough to protect you from most types of viruses and malware. The most popular and well known free antivirus programs are:

  • Microsoft Defender Antivirus: Microsoft Defender Antivirus, formerly known as Windows Defender, is a free antivirus protection program you’re likely already using if your operating system is Windows 10. This program offers solutions to manage how websites track your data and also gives you control over your privacy settings when browsing the web.
  • Kaspersky Security Cloud Free: Kaspersky Security Cloud Free offers full-scale malware protection along with some suite-level features. It gets superb scores from the independent labs, and it won’t cost you a penny.
  • Avast One Essential: Avast One Essential offers impressive free protection for your Windows boxes and somewhat reduced protection on macOS, Android, and iOS.

Why Antivirus Is Important for a Business

As a business owner, can you trust the free antivirus solutions offered to protect your computers and devices from malicious attacks? With new threats coming online every day, businesses can’t afford to leave their data and IT infrastructure vulnerable.

A number of cyber threats target businesses specifically, even small businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work caused data breach costs to increase by $137,000 in the United States alone. Further, ransomware attacks such as the one on the Colonial Pipeline caused businesses to be at a standstill until the ransoms were met.

Cyber attacks can paralyze a business. For a modest financial investment into an antivirus solution as part of a larger cybersecurity plan, you can protect your business from threats.

Everound for your Antivirus and Cybersecurity Needs

At Everound, we specialize in internet security and cybersecurity solutions for businesses. With more than 30 years of experience, our team of cyber security professionals can recommend and implement antivirus programs and data protection strategies to help keep your information and your network safe from harm.

Unsure if your company is at risk? Reach out to us today for a free cybersecurity audit. We will take time to identify vulnerabilities and help you come up with a robust plan to protect your business. Let us focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.