Whether you’re using a tablet, a smartphone, a laptop, or a desktop, you need antivirus software to protect it from malware, ransomware, and viruses. That goes for macOS systems as well as Windows systems because Macs are definitely vulnerable to malware.
But what should you look for in an antivirus program? Is a free program enough, or should you pay for a premium version with lots of bells and whistles? It really depends on how many devices you need to protect and what level of protection you need. Read on to learn more.
There are plenty of free antivirus programs out there, and if your needs are simple, then a free program might just do the job. Free programs tend to offer pretty basic protection from viruses and malware. A free program is fine if you have a single device to protect that won’t be used by children.
But if you have kids or multiple devices to protect from malware, it’s probably worth it for you to choose a paid, premium antivirus software solution. Premium programs provide a lot more functionality than simple free versions. You’ll not only get protection from viruses and malware, you’ll also get access to parental controls, protection from malicious websites, email filters to protect against spam and phishing scams, social media privacy protection, password management, network activity monitoring, and even security for online banking and shopping.
A paid, premium antivirus suite can also offer protection for multiple devices in your home, even if they use different operating systems. That way, you can get the protection you need for your family’s laptops, tablets, phones, and desktop computers.
An antivirus software’s malware detection rate reflects how effective it is at stopping malware and viruses from infecting your system. No program can protect against every single threat – if nothing else, there will always be zero-day threats that no one knows about yet.
That said, you should shop for an antivirus program that offers at least a 95 percent malware detection rate. However, you also need to ensure that the program you choose has a low rate of false positives, in which perfectly harmless files are identified as malware. Check the results of antivirus testing by reputable independent, third-party labs like AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives to determine the malware detection rate and rate of false positives for any antivirus software you’re considering purchasing.
Many antivirus programs come with a noticeable drawback, which is that they’re large and cumbersome and they slow down your system, both while you’re running an antivirus scan and while it’s working passively in the background to defend your machine. You want a program that won’t burden your system. Read a reputable tech publication like Tom’s Guide to find an antivirus program that won’t slow down your machine. If you’re running an older device, it’s even more important that you choose a program that won’t bog down a system that’s probably already struggling.
An antivirus program that you don’t know how to use won’t do you much good. Most people want an antivirus software suite that doesn’t require much tinkering. Others will want to fine-tune the software settings. Read reviews of the various antivirus software programs to get an idea of how user-friendly they are, and whether they offer you the chance to tinker around with the settings on a more advanced level if that’s what you want to do.
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Paid antivirus software can get pricey, but you needn’t necessarily commit to buying the subscription before you’ve had a chance to try out the product and see if it’s right for your needs. Most paid antivirus programs for Windows and Mac devices will give you a free month of service so you have the chance to try out the package before you cough up any of your hard-earned dough. You can also go with a freemium product that offers access to the basic features for free, with the option to pay for more advanced features.
If you’re using the internet at all, you definitely need antivirus software to protect your device from malware and viruses. The right antivirus software for you will provide the protection you need for all of your devices, with the right features to protect your email, help you and your kids browse safely, and more. Consider your needs and shop carefully for an antivirus product, so you can use the web without falling prey to hackers, scammers, and thieves.