We get loads of emails sent to the Which? Computing Helpdesk about the price of anti-virus software. This raises the question; is it worth paying for security software in the first place?
I’ve owned a computer for two decades (not the same one I hasten to add) and I’ve never paid for anti-virus software.
Why? If you add the average price of a yearly anti-virus licence (around £25) then I would have spent a whopping £500 over that amount of time!
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, well, in the world of computing there is.
Good old free anti-virus software
AVG Free anti-virus used to be an old favourite of mine, but since Microsoft brought out its free Security Essentials (MSE) software I’ve been quite happily using that alongside my Windows firewall. And I can report no problems to date.
Have you seen the prices Norton and McAfee charge for their security products? It’s touching on £40 for your first year’s subscription, and then another £20 a year to keep your licence up-to-date.
Is it really necessary to spend that much? In reply to a Conversation about anti-virus renewal costs, Mark explained why he pays:
‘I’d rather pay for my Norton’s 360 as I have tested free vs. paid-for and have watched Norton fight off a virus and remove it in real time. Unfortunately the free software never noticed any problems.’
However, in our own tests we’ve found that free anti-virus options like AVG and MSE are perfectly adequate at keeping your computer virus free and protected, even if they may not be quite as good as paid-for software.
The case for paid-for security software
Some might argue that an all-in-one security package will guarantee that everything works together well. However, since Microsoft is the one who put together my PC’s operating system, an argument could be made to say that Microsoft’s own security solution is the best option. MSE is the anti-virus of choice for commenter Bob Smith:
‘Microsoft Security Essentials wins for me because Which? like it and it never nags me to upgrade to a paid version; it just gets on with the job without making a show of itself with pop-ups telling me about what it is doing.’
Are there any other arguments for spending lots of money on security software? Some might say they get technical support included. This is often true, but we’ve had lots of emails complaining that they’ve had to pay extra for the anti-virus company to remote into your computer and sort out your virus infested computer. Who would have thought that you’d be charged again for something you already paid for?
So please stop and think a moment before you hand over your cash for anti-virus software – a free lunch is just around the corner.