Review Review – ComputerWorld's Free AV Wrapup
This week, ComputerWorld released a review of free anti-malware systems. The conclusions were much as one would expect, mostly that the free stuff works OK but the pay stuff is probably better. The free systems are ranked here, if you are so inclined.
So, really, there’s nothing new here. However, I do want to point out a few things:
- Only one system has phone support, and that costs $50 per instance.
- Many of them fund themselves with advertisements.
- Heuristic detection was pretty poor across the board.
- None of them update very frequently.
- Most of these companies have a for-pay version available as well.
I know that most of us are always looking to cut costs, but the sheer number of times that I have removed expired or non-functional anti-malware systems indicates to me that this is very important. Do not scrimp when it comes to security software. The good stuff costs real money for a reason.
If there is a problem, a reliable company will take care of you. The goal of a business in this space should be to help you maximize your profits. Sure, they have to cover their costs and make a bit of profit themselves, but attitude is extremely important. If they approach the problem of “people don’t want to pay for anti-malware” with “let’s constantly distract the users with popup ads”, do you think that they have your interests at heart? If they charge as much for one support instance as it does to buy a license with unlimited support, do they really want to help you? (And, do you think that they have an incentive to have you not experience problems?) If they make no distinction between “I am unable to login to World of Warcraft” and “I am unable to make payroll”, do you really want to work with them?
I mean no disrespect to ComputerWorld here. I know that they serve both the consumer and business markets. I know that there is a place for free anti-malware systems in the consumer space (though I think it’s quite small). However, to answer the question “Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?”, I’d have to answer unequivocally “no”. If you are in business, you should use a business-quality anti-malware suite. Even if you’re at home, if your business requires you to use your home system, it should also be protected by a business-class anti-malware suite.
Odds are that you know the cost of your time, and if you are unable to work because you get sick, you know what it’s worth to protect against that, that’s why we have health insurance (however it winds up being paid for in the U.S.). Similarly, if your computer gets sick, how will that impact you? Does your computer need health insurance too?