Are All Antivirus Programs Equal?

Photo of author

( — September 24, 2021) — It is a fact that you need a premium antivirus program installed on your operating system. If you value your security, privacy, and most of all the protection of your sensitive data then it is imperative that you have an antivirus running in the background. It is also a well-known fact that all antivirus programs are not equal, as is the case with everything else out there in terms of software. Therefore, installing the best (or rather one of the best) antivirus programs available is an essential step to proper cybersecurity and peace of mind. This especially rings true because of the dangers constantly circulating on the internet today such as cybercrime, intrusions, malware, and much more. With so many choices when it comes to antivirus programs, it can be quite difficult and confusing to make a correct decision without having the proper information beforehand. 

For these reasons, we need to deconstruct this subject by first taking a look at what an antivirus program is, and then plunging into what a proper antivirus solution must offer, so that you can make an informed decision when choosing an antivirus program for your computer, smartphone or other devices.

What is an Antivirus Program?

In essence, an antivirus program (software, application) is a utility that is installed and runs on any operating system such as Windows, Linux, or macOS. These cybersecurity utilities have existed for decades, protecting millions of users from daily virus threats and malicious attacks. At its core, an antivirus program is designed to constantly run in the background and protect your computer against malicious threats such as viruses. The antivirus program will detect the infection, and follow up with steps such as notifying the user and quarantining or deleting the infected files. Other options include also ignoring the detection, as sometimes false positives can confuse antivirus programs.  

What a Premium Antivirus Solution Needs to Offer The Customer

Not all antivirus programs are created equal, especially those that are free due to the limited options available (and sometimes shady third-party vendors involved.) You should never trust just any antivirus software because there is a large amount of scammy and dangerous software out there that can compromise your devices. However, this does not mean that free antivirus software should be avoided. It is just safer and better to pay a fee (or monthly fee) for the full package and get all of the goodies on offer. After all, investing in the protection of your data, financial transactions, online identity, and your system is one of the most important things you can do.

As far as what a quality antivirus program needs to offer, based on expert cybersecurity industry standards, users should adhere to the following criteria when choosing one;

  • A high-quality antivirus program should offer the same fundamental levels of stability and protection for both free and paid versions of the software
  • The ability to scan for both viruses, trojans, malware, and ransomware attacks
  • Offer real-time protection
  • A fast scanning engine
  • The ability to recover data
  • The ability to repair corrupted data
  • The ability to guard emails and passwords
  • Should not take up too many resources (RAM and CPU power)
  • A clean and easy GUI and UX (user interface and user experience)
  • Offer a bootable rescue option
  • A good support base

Choosing a Good Antivirus Program From a Reputable Software Vendor

When it comes to which particular brand of antivirus program you should choose, it is difficult to list each one, however here is a good baseline of six tried-and-tested and well-reviewed antivirus programs for a start;

  • Kaspersky Antivirus
  • Intego Antivirus
  • Norton 360 Antivirus
  • Avira Antivirus
  • McAfee Antivirus
  • Bitdefender Antivirus

With the above six tried-and-tested industry-standard antivirus programs, it is important to mention that this is not a list of ‘free’ antivirus programs. However, of the six in the list, Avira and Bitdefender are the only ones that offer a true ‘free’ version that is not a limited ‘free-trial loop. These free versions do offer some fundamental, simple scanning and protection options, but this is overall quite limited. The rest of the programs in the list are available only after a fee is paid, but in return offer very comprehensive and advanced security measures such as;

  • Webcam protection
  • Ad blockers
  • Payment protection
  • Child protection and parental controls
  • Password managers
  • GPS locators
  • Professional anti-phishing
  • Smart firewalls
  • Cloud backups
  • Identity alert systems
  • Artificial intelligence-backed learning systems
  • Removable device scanning

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, paid antivirus programs offer bucket loads of extra features and professional security features that free versions do not. Not only are there more features, but you will not deal with annoying ads that may come up with free versions. More importantly, paid versions of antivirus software offer support and assistance. At the end of the day, it is up to you which version you choose, but it is recommended that you choose a paid, premium antivirus for ultimate peace of mind, solid cybersecurity, identity, and system protection.