Does paying for an antivirus program ensure better protection than a free antivirus program?

By | October 29, 2011
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Sonjia wants to settle an argument with her daughter
My daughter and I got into an argument this morning about Anti virus programs. Because she pays for Web Root she thinks that it is worth the money she paid for it…I tried to tell her that Microsoft Security Essentials is just as good or better, and there was not way that I could convince…Did you not mention in a question so time back about Web Root…If so could you point me in the direction to find the article or give me that information…I sure would appreciate it… Sonjia

Our answer
We hate to come between a mother and her daughter but… your daughter is wrong. We don’t blame people who purchase something and feel because they’re paying for it it’s better than something that you can get free. In the real world that may well be true, but the cyber world is nothing like the real world – although it does mirror and amplify the worst and the best in humanity.

In the latest AV Comparatives’ test results, Web Root didn’t even earn a passing rating. Microsoft Security Essentials rated an Advanced rating. Avast free rated an Advanced Plus as did AVG Free (although, as usual had a high number of false positives which we consider unacceptable).

One caveat that we want to mention is that Webroot uses Sophos technology and there were issues with the cloud technology during these tests conducted in August 2011. But consistently, Webroot rates much lower than Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast Free and AVG Free. So the fact that you’re paying for something sometimes has nothing to do with the protection it affords. Norton ($49 to $59 per year) is rated exactly the same as Microsoft Security Essentials.

There are some programs – registry optimizers and anti-spyware programs which simply don’t have a free equivalent, or at least none we can find — and we’ve tried dozens of registry optimizers /cleaners and anti-spyware programs. That’s why we recommend Registry Commander (not free) and SUPER Antispyware Professional (not free) over any free programs.

Protecting your computer from viruses, Trojans. bots, and other malware is important business and we take it seriously. We recommend what we use ourselves and we would not use something which didn’t protect our computers. We both use Microsoft Security Essentials on our computers because we like it; it protects our systems without the annoyances we found with other antivirus software. It may not be the highest rated free antivirus all of the time – these ratings bounce around from test to test — but it has always been rated well and it has always rated higher than Webroot. And Microsoft Security Essentials has one of the lowest false-positive ratings – that’s a good thing. A high number of false positives cause you unnecessary alarm, worry and work.
OK here is something you need to show your daughter: You can read the latest independent (AV Comparatives) test results here . You should also browse through the older test results while you’re on the site. Show your daughter the facts. Make sure you tell her that these are not opinions, these are actual test results from an independent anti-virus testing lab.

It isn’t logical that something you get for free actually works better than something you pay for – it is not logical, but in the case of antivirus software, it is often true.

2 thoughts on “Does paying for an antivirus program ensure better protection than a free antivirus program?

  1. bertie

    I enjoy your questions and answers and i am so thankful to you for getting stationery for windows live. thank you so much.


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