An antivirus program is critical to keeping your computer safer from cyber threats, including viruses, malware, spyware, and everything else you can run into online. When you start shopping for an antivirus, you’ll find that there are quite a few free options on the market. Many users figure if there are free options available, why not take advantage?
The problem with that philosophy is that the adage “you get what you pay for” applies to antivirus programs just like it does to other types of products. Your computer is probably an important part of your life. Besides using it for entertainment and to stay connected, many also use their computers for business. The bottom line is that you need your computer functioning properly, and you don’t want cybercriminals stealing your information. Before you make your decision on how you’ll protect your computer, you should learn about the disadvantages of a free antivirus program.
Disadvantages Of A Free Antivirus Program
1. Lack of Comprehensive Protection
When you use a free antivirus program, you’re only getting a basic level of protection for your computer. If you need a strong firewall or the most advanced anti-malware, you aren’t going to get it with a free program.
Free antivirus programs typically provide your computer with a limited type of protection, or they only detect certain types of threats. You may be able to combine multiple free programs for more complete protection, but this is inconvenient and will slow your system down.
2. Frequent Upgrade Prompts
Companies that offer free antivirus programs almost always also have paid antivirus programs available, which are often upgraded versions of the free software. When you use a free antivirus, you can expect frequent prompts telling you how you should upgrade to the more advanced program for better protection.
This may seem like a minor issue, but it gets old to see upgrade prompts every day. You also need to make sure that your free antivirus isn’t just a free trial offer that is going to expire after a certain time period.
3. Numerous Ads
Closely related to upgrade prompts is the number of ads that you will see when you use a free antivirus. The company that offers the free antivirus still needs to make money, and one of the ways it will do this is through advertising.
While these ads may not be as intrusive as upgrade prompts, they still affect the user experience. They could end up getting in the way while you use the antivirus program, and if those ads are slowing you down, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it to upgrade to save time.
4. Lack of Customer Support
If you use a free antivirus program, it stands to reason that there won’t be much customer support available – after all, why would a company offer support to people who haven’t even purchased its product? The amount of support available when you use a free antivirus will depend on the manufacturer, but in many cases, your only support will be online forums and knowledge bases.
Again, you need to think about the value of your own time in comparison to the cost of an antivirus program. Is it worth your time to search online for answers to your questions, instead of paying a small monthly fee and gaining access to personal support? You may find that you don’t need much support, in which case this isn’t an issue, but you may also end up wasting quite a bit of time on questions that could be answered with a single phone call, email, or live chat inquiry.
5. Inferior Scanning Performance
In all fairness, the difference in virus scanning between free and paid programs isn’t huge, and manufacturers don’t “dumb down” their free programs, so they provide lesser performance. Manufacturers do their best on their free programs, but tests have shown that paid programs catch a slightly higher percentage of viruses.
While the difference in scanning ability may be slight, keep in mind the amount of threats that are out there and how often you scan your PC for viruses. Over the course of a year, that slight difference could result in many viruses slipping through the cracks because you chose a free program.
6. Slower Scans
Just like free antivirus programs aren’t quite as effective as catching viruses as their paid counterparts, they also aren’t as fast when it comes to scanning. It’s not a major difference, but you can expect free programs to work a bit slower than paid programs.
Since your antivirus uses some of your computer’s RAM while it’s operating, it may slow down your computer while in use. If you often use your computer for memory-intensive tasks, such as gaming or video editing, you’ll want an antivirus that scans as quickly as possible, and for that, you need a paid program.
7. Sharing Your Data
Is your free antivirus program sharing your data? It’s likely, but to be sure, you need to read the fine print in the terms and conditions. This is another way that the manufacturer of the free antivirus program makes money.
Manufacturers can share your data if you use a paid program, too, but it’s more likely that there will be an option to opt-out of this. If you choose a free program, you may not have a say in the matter.
Choosing an Antivirus
Considering how affordable antivirus programs are, it doesn’t make sense to choose a free program just to save a bit of money. There are just too many disadvantages of a free antivirus program.
You can get high-quality, reasonably priced protection for your computer through AVG CloudCare. It offers a free trial period, so you can see how it works and what it offers before you commit. Give it a try, so you don’t need to deal with the many drawbacks that accompany free antivirus software.
Hi, My name is Josh Giesing. I am the Operations Manager at Computer PRO Unltd. In my free time, I enjoy reading and have a passion for learning.