Comparison of Free Vs Paid Internet Security - Top 10 Free and Paid Products PDF Print E-mail

First it is useful to point out who is choosing free software vs. paid programs. When new computers are sold, they are typically pre-loaded with at least one full featured security suite - available as a free trial for a month or two. This recommended paid product is optional and is made available for those who are new to computers, and may not be aware that alternatives exist, or where to go to find them - knowing that most who default into this category will opt to follow recommendations and stay with, and pay for the program.

On the other hand, if you've been around the block a few times, you have by now enough savvy to know that anyone will try to sell you anything. You're likely aware of other options and programs available to achieve the same results - whether self taught, by word of mouth, or doing your own web research. Regardless, you still end up wondering how exactly can free internet security compare or compete with the paid versions?

Contents: What's the difference?

Paid internet security suites are designed for optimal performance and dependability. They include all the components that make up a comprehensive package for maximum computer protection - and feature live, accessible customer service. These components are a combination of - anti-virus, anti-spyware, ad ware, anti-malware, a firewall, anti-phishing detection, and recently, some form of live, real-time protection - detecting any malware activity - which may already be in progress - by continuous scanning for anything out of the ordinary. Protection like this is found in the full-featured, all-in-one, or premium security suites.

Free versions are individual components used in combination with other free components to custom build a comprehensive security defense. The idea is that combining individual free programs - achieves the same level of protection found in the paid versions. For example, I may start with a free anti-virus, then add a free anti spyware, adware, and malware program, then consider a firewall, and some sort of real-time protection to expose suspicious activity unidentified by all the others. These components together essentially resemble what you will find in an all-in-one security suite. Though I may not have access to customer support, how often really will I need to contact them? Maybe only if their service is unavailable for some reason, which usually means it's on their end anyway - and will soon be resolved.

Performance: Is one more effective than another?

The answer is - not by much. I've reviewed various results published by reliable sources. The trend seems to favor the paid products, but only by about 1% to 10% average, regarding performance and dependability. I've put together a list consisting of the most highly rated free and paid internet security software offers. According to most resources available, these 2 groups reflect the most commonly agreed upon results. They are not in any particular order - as they seem to vary slightly from year to year. The fact that they are or have been consistently highly rated, and remain in the top 10, supports their reputation. Keep in mind that most free versions of internet security, also offer paid upgrades as well - usually named something like Pro, or Premium. You can search and compare them on your own if interested in knowing more about specific features or details for each.

Free Internet Security:

1. Avast.com - Antivirus
2. Avira.com or Antivir
3. AVG.com Antivirus
4. ZoneAlarm Firewall - Checkpoint.com (formerly Zonelabs)
5. Adaware - Lavasoft.com
6. Microsoft Security Essentials - microsoft.com/security_essentials
7. Comodo.com
8. Threatfire.com - (compliments most other components with real-time protection)
9. PandaSecurity.com - Panda Cloud
10. SUPERAntiSpyware.com - Super Antivirus

Paid Internet Security Suites:

1. Symantec.com - Norton Antivirus
2. McAfee.com
3. Avast.com - Premium
4. Kaspersky.com - Kaspersky Lab Internet Security
5. Gdatasoftware.com - G-Data.
6. Bitdefender.com
7. PCTools.com - Internet Security
8. F-Secure.com
9. Webroot.com - Webroot Internet Security Essentials
10.Trendmicro.com - Trend Micro

There are very good reasons supporting both decisions:

The consensus seems to validate that free versions are as reliable as the paid ones. People who tend to know more about internet security and are more computer/internet savvy in general will recommend the free products hands down. But their preferences are based on knowledge that many of us neither have, nor are even interested in - which is a solid argument for: go ahead and pay - they know more than I do. So it really comes down to what kind of operator are you? Do you have work to do and don't mind paying for reliable protection and piece of mind? Or are you more inclined to decide for yourself which components to include in your customized defense? There will always be choices - free alternatives to just about anything you can install on your computer.

 

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