Do You Really Need to Pay for Antivirus Software on Windows?

Quick Answer: No. Windows Defender offers decent protection while being free, conveniently updates via Windows Update, and is not a huge resource hog.

Long Answer:

Anti-virus software has been available for a long time. For years, people paid for virus protection via a subscription service.

Over the last 10 or so years, free anti-virus software such as Avast, Avira, Windows Defender, AVG, Malwarebytes (the free, non-premium version), etc. have taken a hold of the market. Now I have used all of the above mentioned anti-viruses. They are all pretty good (AVG, for me, ran on the slow side), but my favorite of the bunch is Windows Defender.

Now I do not have fancy charts, data sheets, graphs, etc. to show the “awesomeness” of Windows Defender. What I can tell you is I am running it on several Windows boxes without any trouble or noticeable slowdown.

None of the boxes have had a successful virus intrusion – while running Windows Defender – for the past 3+ years. False positives for me are pretty much non-existent, and I do not have to think about updating Defender, since Windows Update takes care of that automatically.

Q: What advantage would a paid anti-virus software give me that a free one won’t?

A: Pretty much just support. No guarantee of getting support with free software, but with paid software they kind of have to give support, at least if they want to stay in business.

Everything else – including anti-virus definitions (updates) – are good with both paid and free software.

Q: Are there any open source anti-virus software out there for me to use?

A: The only one I would recommend is ClamAV. However this is not a proper anti-virus solution for most people.

It has no real-time scanner, has a minimal amount of definitions (from my experience, will catch almost nothing out-of-the-box), and has no graphical user interface for you to use (yes, you will be manually editing a configuration file with a text editor), and it will catch several false positives if you are not careful.

This is not a user-friendly software solution. It is geared towards servers and server administrators to set it up properly.

Q: Do any of the mentioned anti-virus software have any back-doors, spyware code, etc. in them?

A: I really do not know, but I would never discount the possibility. The only solution that should not have any “spy” code in it would be ClamAV, but as mentioned before, ClamAV is very non user-friendly and will cause headaches to people who do not know what they are doing.

Unfortunately all the good free anti-virus software is closed-source. I can understand this, because no company wants their trade-secrets exposed to the entire world. This would not be good for business!

Also – just a quick note – I personally would avoid the Kaspersky anti-virus software. They are based in Russia, and I would not trust any Russian software on my computer. I have nothing against the Russian people themselves, I just don’t trust their government not to spy on me. Just a thought.

Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers, Operating Systems, Security, Software