Free Antivirus Software: 7 Questions To Ask Before You Download

Just like our homes, our digital devices hold invaluable data and private information. And in a time when the threat of cyber-attacks is greater than ever, a computer device without any malware protection is the digital world equivalent of an unlocked front door. Moreover, the digital realm is now hosting the highest number of recorded users ever. Coupled with the fact that new malicious threats are emerging every day, the need to secure your personal and professional devices has reached an all-time high.

However, with a plethora of security options to choose from, it’s enough to give anybody a head spin. But don’t worry, we’re here to make your entry to the vast unknown world of cybersecurity a lot easier. We’ve put together the top 7 questions you need to be asking before you click the download button.


Q1. How well does it perform against malicious threats?

When it comes to picking the right antivirus software for your device it’s crucial that you consider its overall performance against malicious threats saturating the web. Your security suite must be able to give you complete protection against all types of malware. Such threats include trojans, spyware, adware, rootkits, ransomware, and malicious bots that seek to infect your computer for nefarious purposes. And in the process of detecting and eliminating these threats, it’s important you pick a security suite that doesn’t give off false or incorrect detections. This means it has to be 100% effective when blocking any type of malware, known or unknown.

Moreover, with new malware threats emerging every single day, it’s also key that your antivirus stays up-to-date about new viruses and their digital fingerprints. So if you want absolute stress-free protection for your device, choose an antivirus that regularly updates its virus and malware definitions. This applies whether you’re in a home environment or an office setting.

Another vital factor is proactivity. Regardless of what operating system (OS) you use, macOS or Windows, having a proactive security suite is much more beneficial, as compared to having a reactive one. In cases where malware stealthily penetrates your device, your proactive security system will automatically detect, detain, and remove the malware before it even rears its head. This is in stark contrast to reactive antivirus systems, which only start taking action after the malware infection has already started spreading across your device.


Q2. Is it a free or paid antivirus software?

Free and light antivirus software will zap away common viruses and provide your device with basic protection. However, that shouldn’t be your only requirement because it won’t be able to defend your devices against new and ever-growing sophisticated threats. Downloading a light/free version may leave plenty of holes in your defense, and you’ll still be vulnerable to malicious attacks. Moreover, they tend to be much more reactive in nature.

In contrast, a paid antivirus solution plugs these holes and gives you more all-around protection. Paid antivirus software is also more reliable in combating dangerous apps and new malware threats, by shutting them down before they sprout. This is due to their proactive capabilities and updated defense systems. With a paid antivirus, you’ll enjoy advanced protection as compared to the limited security from free options.

There certainly are antivirus software providers that allow you free use of their full versions, albeit for a limited time. This, we think, is a great idea because you get complete access to an uncompromised version of the software and are afforded the ability to try before you commit to a purchase.


Q3. Does it have an impressive reputation?

One of the crucial factors that determine reliable antivirus software is reputation. So it’s essential that you subscribe to one with a proven track record. An anti-malware software that is tried and tested.  Take a look at those with the best reviews surrounding your needs. We also suggest looking at test results published by independent and authoritative antivirus labs. These are autonomous quality-testing labs that independently assess antivirus and cybersecurity software in the market to evaluate their overall performance.

Recently, Germany's reputed AV-TEST institute conducted an independent test on the ESET antivirus software. And the test results were nothing short of remarkable. ESET secured a perfect 100% score across all 3 major categories - Protection, Performance, and Usability. This means that researchers found that ESET’s security suite was able to protect its devices with top-notch accuracy.

And although the score is quite impressive, this isn't the first time ESET has scored so well. ESET has been consistently scoring top scores in independent tests run by some of the top independent labs in the industry for years now. This has established ESET as one of the best providers around when it comes to digital security. And it's also one of the reasons why ESET has been chosen by more than a hundred and ten million users worldwide, and has become the leading antivirus software in Europe.


Q4. Will it be light on my system?

The best form of security is invisible and discreet. And if you're somebody who enjoys spending a lot of time browsing the web, you want an antivirus solution that gives your devices full protection without constantly letting you know about its presence. You want a security suite that allows you to sail through the internet smoothly without impeding the overall performance of the computer. Many anti-malware software cause devices to lag since they demand high CPU usage. So it's best for you to choose an antivirus software that’s very light on system resources, consumes minimal processing power, and doesn't slow your computer down. This helps shield you from the ever-lurking malicious threats on the internet without compromising on your user experience.

Compared to all the other major security products, ESET’s home products famously have little impact on device usage, with a very light system footprint. This means that the ESET anti-malware scanning is so lightweight that you won’t even notice it running in the background.


Q5. Does it provide practical features?

Who doesn’t like cool features? When you’re thinking about installing a security software, you want it to be as all-encompassing as possible. Therefore, it’s smart to look for vendors that pack their systems with useful additional features that cover your security needs outside malware threats.

For example, ESET offers an anti-theft feature. This allows you to precisely locate your device if it ever gets stolen. It even allows you to send one-way messages and access your laptop’s webcam. Additional features also include a password manager that helps you generate strong, secure passwords and guards your login credentials. It also provides parental control which lets you regulate your children's internet usage.  Although most additional features only come with paid antivirus systems, getting complete security protection at the expense of a few dollars is always worth the spend.


Q6. Is the antivirus software easy to use?

It’s safe to say we all prefer systems and programs that are simple and easy to use. Especially when you’re on the lookout for software that’s going to oversee the entire security of your personal or professional device. It has to have a user-friendly look and feel to it. Everybody has their own set of preferences and tastes. And for many of us, the user interface and design scheme have to be coherent and clear, regardless of how good its malware detection and removal scores are.

Moreover, many users install and accept default installation antivirus software settings without ever optimizing them. This may be due to the visual inaccessibility the user feels. Many security providers seem to struggle with this. Often their complicated interfaces discourage users from disabling and enabling certain functions. This may eventually leave the device susceptible to malware attacks. So looking for an anti-malware system that allows easy navigation with high configurability may prove to be an important factor to consider.

We offer a solution that strikes a fine balance between these two requirements. The options and features in our security suite are all displayed in a way that feels intuitive and effortless to operate. It's also highly customizable as it allows you to tailor your security level based on your liking and preferences. Overall, this gives you the total control and understanding needed for your to enjoy the highest possible security.


Q7. Does it offer good customer support?

Customer support isn't on everybody's priority list, especially if they're comfortable using computers. But in case you prefer allowing experts to handle your tech issues, comprehensive customer support may be an important factor for you to consider. In which case it's best that you look for antivirus software that offers top-notch customer support. There are some that provide in-depth assistance when users get stuck in a malware crisis.

With ESET, you get in-depth support from a set of comprehensive online support guides and videos in case you face any technical issues. Moreover, ESET offers immediate assistance by leveraging on AI,  via a chatbot and swift email-based support. That way you can ask for all the assistance you require through your most preferred medium.


Final Verdict: Is free antivirus software worth the risks it brings?

Even though a free or light antivirus software might appear appealing, it’s not recommended you opt for one. With its unreliability when it comes to heavy threats, inability to detect sophisticated/unknown malware, lack of features and comprehensive technical support, downloading a free version won’t give you plenty of benefits or protection. Instead, you may want to consider an antivirus that offers a free, full-featured trial.

A free trial provides you with all-round complete threat protection along with all the additional features of the paid version at the expense of absolutely nothing. This allows you to fully experience the antivirus software before you purchase it and make sure that it’s suitable for you. Try to actively seek free trials that give you a full glance of what they're offering over those with limited features. After all, a high level of transparency is often a clear indicator of a superior product.

ESET is one such award-winning defense system that offers a free trial where you get to enjoy all the features and attributes of the paid version, completely free. And the best part is you’ll receive the free trial without even filling in your credit card details - this is important because you don’t want the software that’s meant to protect you sneaking in a charge on your credit card!

If you’re someone who likes to spend time freely browsing the internet, or someone who enjoys going on online shopping sprees, or have children constantly occupying your devices, spending a few dollars a month will rid you of many troubles and worries. Most importantly, you’ll be getting the comfort and peace of mind that comes with top-notch security.