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Should I pay for antivirus protection?

We’re answering your questions about security.

Here’s one from our #AskArcher show.

“Should I be paying for my desktop computer to have virus protection? Or is there anything free available?” asks Todd.

See answer here:



Free Antivirus?

Patrick Miller of Archer International, Archer News Network’s parent company, responds to Todd’s question.

“The free antivirus is as good as the paid antivirus,” said Miller.

Paid antivirus will give you extra benefits, he explained.

“There’s some features that you get with the paid antivirus that can add additional protections, like file integrity monitoring, which just means, ‘Have any of your sensitive files changed?'” Miller said. “And then application whitelisting, which basically says, ‘Only these programs can run and no others. And you have to approve them if they want to run.’ Those are additional things and they’re nice to have.”

Everyone should use some kind of antivirus protection, he said.

“It’s kind of like, if you’re going to be on the Internet, you have to be this tall to ride the ride,” Miller said. “You should be having antivirus, at a minimum, on your system. It’s not perfect, but it’s still the right thing to do. You still look both ways before you cross the street, for example.”

There are good free antivirus products available, according to Miller, including AVG and Avast.

“They get great reviews on a regular basis and they are totally free,” he said.


Some antivirus is fake. A bogus Microsoft Security Essentials installer loads this blue screen onto your computer to try to get you to call a scam tech support number, according to Microsoft. Image credit: Microsoft


For Windows, Windows Defender or the Microsoft Security Essentials that come for free with Windows are not bad, he added.

“Some say that it is kind of difficult for Microsoft to secure itself. It’s hard to see that your own baby is ugly, for example,” he said. “Or smell your own breath.

“People kind of give Microsoft a hard time about it, so if you want to pick a different product that’s not Microsoft, Avast or AVG are great for the Windows platform,” he said.

Do you use Apple or Linux?

If you have an Apple or Linux machine, you still need antivirus, as there are viruses and other malware for those platforms as well, Miller said.

“They still get malware, despite what you want to believe that you’re impermeable, that’s not true,” he said. “For the Mac platform, Malwarebytes gets good reviews. Avira and Sophos are probably the ones that I hear about the most that have free products for the Mac platform. Clam for the Linux environment is pretty much the standard.”

Read this before you search

If you start searching for free antivirus programs on the Internet, watch out.

Crooks are laying traps for you.


An example of a fake antivirus message. Image credit: Confiant


If you type in something like “best free antivirus for Windows,” some of the links that show up could be scams, according to Miller.

Instead of doing that kind of search, go directly to the vendor’s website, he recommended, or check out PC Magazine’s reviews of antivirus products.

You can type “antivirus” into PCMagazine’s search bar to see which reviews work best for you.

“They have notoriously been one of the better places to get reviews on antivirus products, and I wouldn’t trust just typing in ‘best free Mac antivirus’ into Google,” he said.


A fake antivirus message on a Mac. Image credit: Confiant


You go online to look for antivirus protection but could end up getting a virus if you’re not careful.

“They seed the search engines to put themselves at the top on purpose, knowing that you’re looking for a malware solution,” Miller said. “They know you probably don’t have it, so you are kind of a target.”


See other #AskArcher questions:

What scams should I watch for on Facebook?

How secure are security questions?

What is the deal with keyloggers?