It is a dangerous digital world out there where antivirus software for a PC can hardly be overestimated. You never know where a cyber attack is lurking just around the corner. With a hacking attack taking place every 39 seconds, there’s no way you should be treading the cyberspace unprotected.
However, there are all kinds of antivirus products out there, tailored to the needs of different users and different risk situations. There’s np one-solution-for-all kind of situation here.
When buying antivirus software, the first few things to consider are at your own end rather than with the software.
What Kind of Device (s) Do I Need to Protect?
First off, consider this. How many devices do I need to protect? Who uses those devices (children, teenagers, adults)? What operating systems are the devices using? Is it Windows, macOS, Android or iOS?
Dictated by this information, you’ll then decide what options you have in the market that are designed to protect your OS and work in sync with your usage behavior.
If you need coverage for one device, for instance, a macOS computer. Then you can go for a product that specifically protects a Mac device. For example, you can get Bitdefender for Mac, which protects one Mac.
But if you need more than one device covered that all use different systems, then you’ll need to go for a multi-device software. Let’s say you have two Windows devices, one Android and one Mac. Are there any more devices you’ll be adding to the list soon?
If yes, count those in too. So, if you have 4,5 devices to cover, you’ll look at an option that includes multi-device protection. For instance, Bitdefender Total Security can cover at least 5 and up to 10 devices. This package covers Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS protection.
Alternatively, you can go for McAfee Total Protection which is available in 1 device, 5 devices or 10 devices options – all above-mentioned operating systems covered.
What Are My Internet Security Requirements?
If you keep a lot of correspondence through emails or send and receives a lot of documents or links. Then you need a software that scans your emails for suspicious attachments or spam links before you open them.
Similarly, if your work involves a lot of online research, you need protection against phishing sites. In case you do a lot of online banking transactions or online shopping, you’ll need an antivirus program that encrypts your private and credit information so that it can’t be stolen.
Say you are in a situation where you have to use public Wi-Fi a lot, you need a Wi-Fi Advisor that checks a network for security issues and recommends whether or not to connect to it accordingly.
In essence, your online activity will determine the kind of protection you require.
What Is My Budget?
This is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to assess how much money you can afford to spend on a monthly or annual basis. Affordability is a huge factor and must not be overlooked.
In this case, you’ll look at a product that both fulfills your needs and doesn’t strain your pocket. For instance, McAfee costs you $39.99 for 5 devices whereas Norton 360 Deluxe with LifeLock Select covers the same number of devices for $99.99.
How Do Testing Organizations Rate My Selected Antivirus Software?
Now, that you have determined all your requirements, it’s time to shift your focus to external factors.
So, if you have shortlisted a few antivirus options that all suit your needs. Your next step should be to see how reliable these products are. By reliable, we mean:
- The quality of protection they offer
- The impact they have on your system speed
- How user-friendly interfaces they have
- What do existing customers think of their services/ customer support
You can easily get these stats from the websites of independent labs or testing organizations like AV-Test Institute, AV-Comparatives, Consumeraffiars, and G2.
You can check out their websites for the required information and assess different products according to their ratings in these areas.
Things to Pay Attention to When Choosing
While you’re at, pay close to attention to the frequency of false positives for each software. A false positive occurs when a software suspects legit files as malware and goes on to isolate or delete them.
You don’t want that happening to important data on your system.
Similarly, you don’t want software with a complicated interface. If you’re not very computer literate, the ideal antivirus software will involve minimal input from you. Making a few settings is fine, but nothing where things will need manual configuration a lot.
Customer support is also very crucial. You don’t want to be stuck in a problem only to find out it takes you forever to reach the concerned department. So, to avoid surprises later on, do your thorough research before you purchase a subscription.
Does a Software Company Offer a Free Trial?
Most companies offer at least a 30-day free trial period. You can thoroughly check out a product within this time and see if you’re satisfied with the kind of protection and alerts you’re getting.
You’ll also get to see if the software is slowing down your computer. Because, if it is, chances are it’ll get worse over time. Try out the impact of the antivirus software by running multiple different applications at one time.
For instance, you can open up multiple tabs, copy items from one drive to another, watch a movie, play a heavy game, etc.
If you’re happy with your experience, you can keep the subscription. If not, you can always ask for a refund before the trial period ends.
Additional Features to Look For in an Antivirus Product
Depending on your specific needs, here is a list of some more advanced features that may be of use to you.
Ransomware Protection – protects your machine from being hijacked by hackers and kept hostage in exchange for ransom money.
Identity Theft Protection – saves your online identity from being stolen.
Parental Controls – allows you to monitor your children’s internet usage and restrict their access or access to them, where necessary.
Anti-Spyware Shield – protects you from being spied on by hackers.
Anti-Phishing Protection – protects you from insecure sites, links and emails.
Safe browsing – secures your private information online.
Password Manager – manages your passwords and protects them from being stolen.