Johannesburg – Anti-virus programs try very hard to get themselves onto your PC, whether that’s manufacturer deals that get them pre-installed on laptops or being sneakily bundled with every kind of software install.
Every commercial operating system will come with its own built-in anti-virus and malware systems – so are these third-party programs better? The biggest factors to consider are system impact (how much it will slow down your computer) and detection rate (how well it does its job).
Third-party services like McAfee and Kaspersky tend to have large system impacts, slowing down performance when it comes to internet security services. The built-in Windows Defender, despite a less than stellar reputation from Windows 7 and 8, has comparably low system impact for most users.
Operating system providers like Windows and Apple have a significant incentive to keep their ecosystems secure. Their out-the-box anti-virus programs are regularly updated and have decent detection rates with cloud protection. Third-party systems have higher detection rates, but will also have higher numbers of false positives.
If you don’t want to spend money on an anti-virus, sticking with the program that comes with your computer is your best option. It’s never a good idea to install free anti-virus! It’s worth considering why these programs are free. You will often be giving up your privacy for an anti-virus that gives you no extra protection and just works to slow your device down.
In fact the best anti-virus practices are free and need no installation. Virustotal.com is a free service which will scan an uploaded file and check it against many different anti-virus systems and databases. It’s an easy and very robust way to check any suspicious file or shady download.
If you do want to spend money on an anti-virus, it’s always best to stick to the basic plans. Their security engine is either good or bad – a bunch of extra add-ons and fluffy services are unlikely to provide any further security. And in the case of “internet security” services and the like, you will also be giving all your browsing data to the anti-virus provider.
In terms of paid security services, the ESET NOD32 anti-virus has a long history, with its initial version in 1987 being one of the first anti-virus programs. It is now one of the most solid programs on the market, with minimal system impact and fantastic detection rates.