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Can Free Antivirus Programs Repair Your Computer Sufficiently?

Posted by on 10 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: commercial antivirus software, computer virus, free antivirus software

As we have noted several times here at Computer Repair Vancouver, viruses have become a common fixture within the lexicon of PC users. Computer users, whether novice or advanced, worry about foreign software applications invading their machine and prying into their personal lives. These individuals want to be able to surf the Internet whenever and wherever they choose; yet, they also want to feel a sense of safety and security as they do so. Out of these problems the antivirus industry has arisen; an industry comprised of a long list of companies and products, each wanting to free you from viruses and worry, and desiring to repair your computer’s virus problem.

If you have ever done a little research online you will soon discover that there is a huge selection of both free and commercial antivirus products. From this fact, springs a rather straightforward question: is using a free program good enough? Additionally, what is the chief difference between a package that is free and one that you must pay for?

Several months ago Computer Repair Vancouver provided a write-up on what we believe are the three best free antivirus alternatives. What we decided to do this time (to determine the differences between a noncommercial and a commercial product) was to go to each product’s homepage and compare the features offered in the free version with the features offered in the paid version. Furthermore, we took a look around the Internet to see what the common consensus was on this particular dilemma.

First up was AVG. Both the free and the paid versions of their programs offer antivirus and anti-spyware detection and removal. Furthermore, each version provides regular updates. With their commercial release, however, you get a few advanced features such as anti-spam, online file detection (which checks files as you download them from the Internet), and something they call an enhanced firewall.

Second up was Avira Antivir. Once again, both commercial and non-commercial versions of this product offer virus and spyware protection and removal (in conjunction with regular updates). With the for profit version you get extra features such as email scanning, online web scanning (which looks at malicious web pages and scripts), and a software firewall.

Finally was avast!. Their free version provides nearly every feature existent in the professional version except for anti-spam protection, online script scanning, and a software firewall.

In conclusion, the free version of each product provides the fundamental features (scanning, removal, and updates) one would want in order to deal with viruses. The professional versions contain these same features with the added benefit of a few extras: mainly email and webpage scanning. In all honesty, with regards to their feature sets, Computer Repair Vancouver believes that the free variant of each program is adequate for most computer users. While email and web scanning may be useful, they are generally unnecessary as long as you take a few precautions (only opening emails you know are from friends/acquaintances and staying clear of shady websites).

We have looked at their feature sets, but what about their ability to actually find and remove viruses? Since we at Computer Repair Vancouver are not specialists we can not say for certain whether the algorithms used in free versions or commercial versions are superior. However, having read extensively online it seems that nearly all of these mainstream products (whether free or commercial) do a good job of finding malicious code. The commercial versions do have a few bells and whistles which potentially allow them to detect a problem earlier on. However, as a result of regular updates, we are fairly certain that the free variations soon catch up (with respect to newly found infections).

From the evidence accumulated it appears that, with regards to mainstream products, free antivirus applications are acceptable for most users. Although they lack a few extra features, they all do a good job of keeping an individual’s computer clean. The computer user simply has to make sure that he keeps his software up-to-date and that he is scanning his machine on a regular basis.