Paul Wherly

Is free antivirus good for your PCs’ health?

Is free antivirus good for your PCs’ health?

What’s the point of paying for antivirus software when you can easily download it for nothing? After all, the free products appear to offer all the important protection you would need – antivirus and firewall – so paying for it seems pointless. But wait a minute. Would you choose a burglar alarm for your home on the basis of its cheapness, or would you be more concerned about its effectiveness? Antivirus software is the same: you get what you pay for. And if you pay nothing, your antivirus software could be giving you a false sense of security.


Rather than offering complete protection, the free antivirus programs are simply the bare bones of the real thing. The companies behind the software often offer you this free taster in order to entice you to purchase the complete package. It is only by making a purchase that you will receive the fully featured protection you need.

Opting for the free version could leave you vulnerable to whole areas of threat. Key features, such as guarding against identity theft, control over inappropriate content and system performance tools will most likely be missing from a free program. Basically, the more you pay, the more features you get. So opting for a free version could leave you seriously exposed.

In the case of the free Microsoft antivirus (Security Essentials), even Microsoft themselves recommend you don’t rely on it to protect your machine and that you should install 3rd party software over and above their own.

Virus definitions

The virus definitions are the most crucial element of every antivirus program. They must be updated continually to keep pace with the latest threats. However, while paid-for programs prevent attack by updating your system the moment the danger arises, many free versions are slower to revise their definitions, leaving you vulnerable to new viruses and malware.


Multi-user environment

These days, computer technology is at the heart of every organisation. Most small businesses would be incapacitated if something were to cause their computers to stop working. Antivirus software, therefore, needs to be company-wide, with no gaps left for viruses or hackers to find their way in.

Free antivirus software is not designed for multi-user scenarios such as a business. It offers a single user solution, so if you want it on more than one machine, you will have the time-consuming task of having to download, install and administer a separate version on each device.

Technical support

Paid-for antivirus programs typically offer their users telephone support. Users of the free programs, however, are typically left to fend for themselves. If any support is offered, it is usually a case of being directed to a knowledge base or user forum where you may find the help you require if you are lucky.

About the Author:

Frances West is Director at Westtek …

At Westtek, we knew that significant change was needed if business owners and directors were to experience the real benefits of IT.  You want technology to work for your business, not the other way round!

Westtek have redefined the concept and delivery of IT around what is really important to you. With our services, IT and telecoms become business enablers, not drivers. We provide proactive management and maintenance of your systems and are continually developing our monitoring and management capability to improve this further.

In everything we do, we want our clients’ systems to work so well that they do not need to call us for support, only for advice and guidance as their business needs grow and evolve.

We work across London and the South East with a particular focus on Hertfordshire and Middlesex, with specialist skills covering Recruitment, Legal, Accounting & Finance as well as Educational organisations.

If you would like more tips and or advice on how to improve your IT systems to reduce productivity loss and frustration, please contact us on 0203 195 0555 or



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