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Free vs. Paid Antivirus: Which to Choose?

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For most of us, free antivirus is enough for home use and basic protection. It scans your device for common viruses, blocks dangerous files and apps, and removes anything malicious.


But what if you often work with sensitive data, use multiple devices, or have teenage kids using their phones 24/7? Does free antivirus really work to protect you in these cases, or is a paid solution needed?


Let’s explore the differences between free and paid antivirus software together and find out which one is best for you.


Pro tip: The assured way to keep your devices safe is to get powerful antivirus software. Clario offers round-the-clock protection against viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, and other types of malware. Securing your device takes four steps:

  1. Download & Install Clario.
  2. Create an account
  3. Run a malware scan.
  4. Set real-time protection.

Start protecting your devices with Clario!

Free vs. paid antivirus software: What’s the difference?

The main difference between paid and free antivirus is the range of features they offer. Free antivirus provides you with basic protection, while paid ones offer extra features for bulletproof security.  


If you use your phone just to check email, read news, and watch YouTube or Netflix from time to time, free antivirus will do. However, if you work on a computer, store crucial data digitally, or own several smart tech devices, a paid solution is a great investment in your digital safety.


That said, there’s no exact answer on whether paid antivirus is better than a free solution. It all depends. So, let’s take a closer look at each option.

Free antivirus software features

The main purpose of any free antivirus is to provide basic protection. Common free antimalware tools include two core functions:

  • On-demand scanning. Scanning your device for malware is the primary function of any cybersecurity software. By deleting malware, antivirus programs leave little chance for hackers to get ahold of your data and use it to their advantage.
  • Real-time protection. Antivirus software monitors your device in real-time and blocks different kinds of malware from infecting it. For example, blocking ransomware protects against cybercriminals encrypting your data and files to make ransom demands.

Does free antivirus really work? Yes, it does. But remember that it’ll provide only a bare minimum of security. So, if you want an extra layer of protection, consider choosing a paid anti-malware solution.

Paid antivirus features

Digital security is a hot topic, and the number of antivirus solutions has grown rapidly. The leading cybersecurity software providers offer protection functionalities beyond the standard detect-and-remove set of features. For example:

  • Parental control. Cybercriminals target children because they often don’t recognize or avoid danger online. Parental control lets you block certain sites, block file transfers, and receive email notifications when your kids try to access inappropriate content.
  • Multiple-device protection. If you use a smartphone, laptop, and/or other devices, it’s more convenient to protect them all in one fell swoop.
  • Identity theft protection. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to make some sort of gain. In the second quarter of 2021 alone, 52.8 million people were impacted by data breaches that exposed their personal information. Paid antivirus software monitors the major credit reporting agencies for use of your name and alerts you about suspicious activity.
  • Firewall upgrade. A firewall is a virtual border between networks. It decides what passes between networks or between your device and a network, like the internet. It monitors and controls incoming data and blocks malicious traffic, such as malware and phishing attacks.
  • IoT protection. Mobile phones and computers aren’t the only digital devices we depend on everyday anymore. What about your smartwatch, Wi-Fi thermostat, or robotic vacuum? A paid security solution can protect all your devices and gadgets at once.
  • Virtual private network. A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server. It masks your IP address, making your internet activity anonymous.
  • Password manager. Google research showed that in 2019, 52% of internet users applied the same password for multiple online accounts, leading to a higher risk of identity theft than if they varied their passwords. Built-in password managers help generate unique bulletproof passwords for each of your online accounts.
  • Customer support. Last but not least, paid antivirus software companies offer customer support, whether by email, live chat, or phone. With free antivirus software, you’re usually limited to FAQs and forums.

It’s vital to find a paid antivirus tool that combines all features you need to stay protected online — otherwise, what’s the point of paying? For example, Clario is one of those all-in-one cybersecurity solutions. It combines desktop and mobile apps, the latter including antivirus software for Android phones. The desktop Mac-only app offers anti-malware and anti-phishing protection, VPN, instant ad blocking, data breach monitor and 24/7 customer support with any security issues.


It only takes a couple of minutes to activate Clario's real-time antivirus protection:

  1. Install Clario and create an account.
  2. Check your device for malware with one click.
  3. Activate 24/7 real-time antivirus protection to prevent future malware attacks.

All in all, should you pay for antivirus protection?

Yes, you should pay for antivirus protection. The truth is that with free antivirus programs, you get only basic malware prevention and removal. But cybercriminals’ methods of infiltrating your devices are becoming more sophisticated every day. Luckily, paid antivirus solutions provide the extra privacy protection features and cover every angle of your digital life.  

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