Whether you’ve just now been convinced that you need antivirus solutions on your computer or you’ve been using antivirus solutions for years, it’s time to talk about whether or not free antivirus solution are enough to protect your system. It’s important to understand what free antivirus software can do – and what it can’t do.

What does anti-virus software do?

Basically, anti-virus software has the ability to scan your system and compare your files to a list of known threats. It will delete anything that matches its known threat list. Ten years ago, this was more than enough for almost all virus problems.

How has malware evolved?

Viruses and malware have evolved and are now delivered to your computer in non-traditional ways. Your computer needs to be scanned whenever a program starts up, whenever something is installed, whenever your registry changes. Ideally, you need to be notified before these changes are made; preventing a virus from doing its work is vastly easier than undoing its damage.

For example, when Chinese hackers attacked the New York Times, 44 out of of the 45 pieces of malware that were deployed were missed. The article doesn’t state that the Times was using free software from Symantec, but it does say that there were more sophisticated solutions available.

What do you pay for?

The answer to this, of course, varies depending on who you choose to buy your AV software from. By all means, look for reviews. Make sure what you’re buying is legitimate and real. The internet is rife with “free tools” to clean your system that are thinly disguised malware.

The premium upgrade to your free software should get you more complete scanning, more active tools that look at dynamic patterns within virus software, as opposed to just the file name, and more options for keeping you safe online. You should also receive accountability; the company that you’re buying from should have a support team who can help you resolve any problems that come up.

Not sure what AV solution is right for you? If you’re running a personal computer that rarely connects to the Internet, or a business machine that isn’t mission critical, it may be okay to get by with free AV. But if you can’t afford to have your computer compromised, it’s usually worth paying for protection. Contact Nerds 2 You for help determining what level of anti-virus protection you need, the best way to maintain it on your system, and any other software protection assistance that you might need.