Having a good antivirus program running on all of your devices is important in order to protect your files and personal information. Choosing a security suite that fulfills your needs and provides you with the protection you require can be difficult and often confusing. There are so many to choose from and in most cases some technical knowledge is necessary in order to make an educated decision. In addition to that, there are numerous free products and free versions of paid products available out there. Why pay for a yearly subscription when you can install something for free instead? While some companies do provide anti-spyware or anti-adware products for free, good antivirus protection will usually require you to purchase a security package.

Multiple Devices

It’s natural to think of having an antivirus only on your PC or Mac, but in today’s internet-driven world that’s not enough. The use of smartphones has increased to the point where everything is accessible via mobile. Users shop from their phones, access their bank accounts, and save quite a lot of personal information that is very sensitive, including their emails, contact list, and more.
Free antivirus products do not provide protection on all devices and users who want to really feel safe will need to purchase a yearly subscription of a product that supports the devices they use.

Advanced Threat Detection

Free versions of antivirus products protect your PC by scanning & searching for known threats. Paid versions usually have more advanced algorithms that can detect threats based on suspicious behavior while updating their database in real-time if any new possible threats arise. This means that having a paid antivirus product will likely be more effective in detecting newly discovered malicious threats both on your computer, in websites you visit, and emails you receive.

Advanced Features

When it comes to choosing an antivirus product, you need something that suits your specific needs and that’s where the advanced features come in handy. Whether it’s more elaborate firewalls, email protection and anti-spam, parental control or social media protection, these types of advanced features are usually only available in premium security suites that require a yearly subscription.


Free antivirus products rarely offer technical support and if something goes wrong with your antivirus or computer, you’ll want to have someone assist you immediately. Antivirus companies provide complete support for their paid products, some offering 24/7 support via chat, email, and phone in addition to community forums, tutorials, and FAQ accessible on their website.


No one likes having advertisements on their computer and that’s usually what you get when you install free antivirus products. Paid versions never show advertisements and some even have anti-adware features.

How to Choose

As previously stated, you need to find the security suite that is in line with your specific needs. That means choosing one based on the features it provides and the yearly subscription cost. Read detailed reviews about top antivirus products to help you make an educated decision.

The table below details the amount and type of features you get with the free version compared to the ones you get when you purchase an antivirus software. There’s quite a difference.

 Features Typical Free Antivirus Version Average Paid Antivirus
Email Protection
Spam Filter X
Auto USB Virus Detection X
Gamer Mode X
Vulnerability Scanner X
Real-time Scanning X
Quick Clean X
Quick Scan
Anti-phishing X
Two-way Firewall X
Protect Your Identity X
Parental Control X
Safe Browsing X
Social Media Protection X
Unwanted Applications Block X
Password Manager X
Automatic Updates X

Laurie Dunn
Laurie can be called a highly creative person, successfully juggling her work and family time. As a career-mother busily analyzing data and her children’s grades, Laurie’s best achievement is managing a team of specialists. Laurie is our “It” girl when it comes to computer safe keeping.
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  • Scott Howell

    Hi there, I was going over all the antivirus features above and could not find anything regarding protection for smartphones. Do any of the brands you have on your list offer protection for smartphones?

    • Laurie Dunn

      Hi Scott, thank you for taking the time to read the important information we post on this website. Most Antivirus brands offer 2 products: Antivirus and Internet Security. The Basic antivirus package does not protect your smartphone and some Antivirus products does not provide the full online protection. Due to the increasing online threats, we recommend to purchase the Internet Security package, which will give you the complete security on all channels, including smartphones. All you need to do is visit our homepage and choose the best Internet Security for you. Feel free to ask further questions.

  • Patricia Estrada

    I was absolutely positive that all those free antivirus software are good enough for me but apparently not! I mean it totally makes sense now that I think about it… good thing I saw this article. Now I need to decide how much I am willing to spend and to whom will i give the money.Can you give me some recommendations for a solid but not too pricey antivirus?

    • Laurie Dunn

      Hi Patricia, we are happy that you have reached that conclusion since the free antivirus does not provide you the full variety of features and the complete protection your PC needs. Now, please visit our homepage where you can view the Top 5 brands which we have reviewed, You can also read our tips about choosing an antivirus software or a great article we have available :”5 Things to Look for in Antivirus Software”. Let us know if that was helpful. Good Luck!!!