Why most people don’t need to pay for antivirus

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Nov 12 2015

Updated February 2020 to reflect that we no longer recommend 3rd party antivirus offerings:

Antivirus programs help detect and block the millions of viruses and malware in the wild that are increasing on a daily basis. Since no antivirus detects 100% of all viruses we feel that most home computer users don’t need to pay for antivirus and can just rely upon free offerings by Microsoft, select proven antivirus vendors, or those offered by your internet service provider. However, your best defense against getting infected is practicing safe computing habits.

Our favorite free antivirus for easy-of-use and detection rate is already included with Windows 8/10 – it’s Windows Security / Windows Defender. If you’ve got Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials is free. Other options that we’ve recommended in the past are Bitdefender Antivirus Free and AVG AntiVirus Free, however we no longer recommend 3rd party antivirus for most people due to the trouble they can cause and recent improvement in the built-in protection included with Windows.

Your internet service provider also offers security suites included as part of your monthly payment for internet service. AT&T Internet Security Suite powered by McAfee is offered to AT&T subscribers. Spectrum Security Suite by F-Secure is offered as part of a Charter/Spectrum Internet subscription.

Since there are plenty of free antivirus solutions, there is no reason to pay for antivirus. But since they don’t detect or block 100% of viruses and other malware, you must rely upon practicing safe computing habits to be your main line of defense against viruses.

If you’ve got an Apple Mac computer or iOS device, we don’t recommend installing 3rd party security apps. Please read Effective defenses against malware and other threats. You also don’t need an antivirus on an iOS or Android device either: Android Antivirus Apps Are Useless — Here’s What to Do Instead.

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