Free antivirus software: Should you use it?

With so many antivirus programs to choose from, is it safe to pick a free option that offers real-time monitoring?


Should I use a free antivirus program?

There is only one real answer to this question: NO!

1) Basic Protection

First, with free antivirus software, users are typically getting a very basic version of protection.

2) No real-time monitoring

This is an important one.  Some free antivirus software programs claim they will offer real-time monitoring when you use them. This means that as you scroll on your phone or computer, or download items or check emails, their software is running and checking for malware.  However, free antivirus typically relies on a user manually initiating on-demand scans, as opposed to letting users sit back, safe in the knowledge that should a threat emerge – it will be spotted in real-time and prevented from executing.

Free software may sometimes advertise real-time monitoring, but the software will likely not be actually working in “real-time.”  Also, be aware that some software will give you a free trial of the full software and then afterward will stop offering the premium real-time monitoring.

3) Ads

With any free program, the companies behind them typically need to make some sort of income, so look out for ads to appear.

4) No Customer Support

With the free version of antivirus software, there typically isn’t any sort of real-time help from their company.  If you have any questions, companies typically will point you to their online forums or FAQ pages.


Why you need real-time monitoring from antivirus software

While free antivirus programs may be able to identify that your computer has malware on it once your device has already been affected, real-time monitoring can catch those issues beforehand.

Real-time monitoring can scan anything on your computer as you’re using it. For example, antivirus software can monitor emails coming in and out of your inbox, so you’re alerted to a potential threat BEFORE you ever click a malicious email.


How to choose the best antivirus software

We’ve broken down the top antivirus programs,  but the most important factor to look for, if you’re hoping for everyday protection before it’s too late, is to find software with trusted real-time monitoring.

Our top recommendation, a premium TotalAV subscription includes both real-time anti-malware protection as well as advanced AI-driven cloud protection, which keeps your computers protected against the very latest zero-day threats.

Should malicious behavior be detected on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, TotalAV interjects and stops the process as well as quarantines the files that are about to cause problems.  This process works silently in the background, having minimal impact on system resources.

While you may hope to protect your devices 24/7 for no-cost, any software that offers it for free won’t actually be protecting your devices. Then you may be at a higher risk for viruses and malware because you think your computer or phone is protected.

It’s worth a small price to pay to keep your personal information, data, and all of your devices safe from hackers.

Special for CyberGuy Readers:  My #1 pick is TotalAV, and you can get a limited-time deal for CyberGuy readers: $19 your first year (80% off) for the TotalAV Antivirus Pro package.  






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1 comment

John A Don January 17, 2024 - 10:08 pm
Yes I was using free antivirus software before and it didn't work because the people were using spyware and hacked into all of my information and more
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