Free antivirus software is an excellent option if you only require basic security. However, they do not offer the same level protection as paid options. The best free AV software usually has the highest levels of malware detection and are certified by independent labs like AV-TEST or AV Comparatives, but they don’t have the added extras that are usually included in premium solutions. These extras, like network threat protection, usage profiles, a VPN password manager and parental controls can be crucial to complete security online.

Furthermore, free antivirus programs may not be updated as frequently as paid solutions, which leaves a window of opportunity for spickandspan malware to escape detection. The majority of free antivirus programs rely on signature detection. This involves comparing malware samples to strings of characters that are associated with known attacks. This technique is effective when attackers have used similar patterns, but advanced hackers are increasingly using techniques that are unique enough to avoid detection by traditional signature scanning tools.

Examine the terms and conditions of use for a specific antivirus program. Most free solutions have been licensed for personal use, and may not be suitable to business users. Some free programs contain technology that could be classified as adware and spyware. Downloading them should be conducted with caution. Paid solutions are more likely to come with warranties and guarantees that define what the user can expect in the event of any breach.