Is Free Windows Antivirus Any Good?

Windows is the most used operating system (OS) in the world, dominating around 90% of the market share. This makes the OS very attractive to virus writers - the more computers they can spread their malicious code to the more personal data they can collate and the more revenue they can generate. So, if you’re using a Windows operating system at the moment, what kind of protection should you consider?

Luckily Windows 8 or higher comes with an in-built free antivirus called Windows defender. If you’re using anything below 8 however you’ll be eligible for Security essentials which you might already have installed without realising. These two programs are effectively the same just designed to run on different platforms. But are they good enough? The short answer is no. In fact, no free antivirus is ideal for protection on Windows.

Viruses are constantly evolving in order to get past antivirus software and have recently been coming through different channels - virus developers have discovered huge security flaws in browser extensions and plugins as well as email clients. Now, free antivirus doesn’t include features to protect you against these channels. However, paid versions include a whole host of extra features from browser protection to advanced firewalls. These additional features take protection to the next level and almost completely illuminate you from getting attacked.

If you’re currently using a free antivirus don’t panic, (if you’re not using any protection then do!) some protection is better than nothing. Most free antiviruses will include real-time protection and a quarantining feature so the basics are there. But we highly advise getting a paid version pretty promptly. At the end of the day the cost of an antivirus is nothing compared to getting your local IT consultant out to re-instate your whole operating system. If your system is badly corrupted you could lose photos, documents or anything saved on your PC – is it really worth that risk?

If you’re only using the PC for offline activities then a paid antivirus isn’t strictly required, but if you do install one you certainly won’t be harming your PC. Safety first as they say!