Free antivirus programs can be an excellent choice if you just need basic protection, but you should be aware that they don’t typically offer the same quality of protection as premium solutions. Free antivirus software is usually rated highly by independent labs like AV Test or AV Comparatives for its malware detection rates. However it doesn’t include the features that are typically included in premium solutions. These extras, like security for networks and usage profiles, a VPN, password managers and parental controls are vital to ensuring full online security.

Additionally, free antivirus software may not be updated at the same rate as paid ones and this leaves a window of opportunity for spickandspan malware to avoid detection. The majority of free antivirus applications rely on signature detection which consists of the comparison of malware samples against strings of characters associated with known attacks. This method is efficient if attackers have used the same patterns, however advanced hackers are increasingly using techniques that are unique enough to evade detection by signature scanning tools.

You should also take into consideration the conditions of use for a specific antivirus program. The majority of free antivirus programs are licensed for personal use, and may not be suitable to business users. Some free programs contain technology that could be classified as adware and spyware. Downloading them is best done with caution. Paid solutions are more likely to have warranties and guarantees that define what the user can expect in the case of a breach.