Free computer security software versus paid-for computer security software

What is the true cost of free security software?

Bitdefender provides excellent computer security software: there is no arguing with that. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018 was beat the competition in July 2017 when it was given the top place on Top Ten Reviews. A couple of good quotes are:

  • “Bitdefender Antivirus finds and destroys malware with near-perfect precision.” 
  • “Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2018 is the best antivirus software for computers running Windows 10. It earned a perfect score in malware detection and removal, includes ransomware protection, has more features and tools in its basic package than other antivirus products, and offers 24/7 customer support. For these reasons, Bitdefender is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner for virus protection.”

Should businesses take heed of this sort of thing or should they just use the free antivirus / security software and save some money? Is this an actual saving or is this a false economy? What does Bitdefender do that the free software doesn’t do and do businesses need it?

The above chart shows how Bitdefender compares to other paid-for computer security software but let’s have a look, feature by feature, at what you get from Bitdefender and then two free computer security programs.

Bitdefender Security – £2.50 + vat per month

  • Antivirus and antimalware – Signatures, heuristics, continuous process monitoring and a global threat intelligence network.
  • Two-way firewall with Intrusion Detection/Prevention – The fully-featured two way personal firewall with Intrusion Detection is essential in blocking intrusion and hijack attempts.
  • Search Advisor and Web filtering – Potentially harmful websites are marked in the search results and known malicious pages are blocked.
  • Data protection – Prevent the loss of confidential data by setting filters that will block the transmission of sensitive information.
  • User web and application control – Restrict or block employee access to applications or web pages.
  • Power user and Restricted user modes – You can choose to allow or deny users the ability to modify security settings for their system.
  • Remote and local quarantine management – The quarantine is stored locally but can be managed centrally from the control console.
  • Security policies and nested computer groups – Assign security policies to companies or groups of computers.
  • Multilanguage support – The solution is available in English, German, Spanish, French, and Romanian.
  • Real-time control of remote users (cloud console) – With the Bitdefender-hosted management console you can control and monitor remote users in real time.
  • Location-aware policies – Security policies that adapt as users take their systems outside the company.
  • User-aware policies (on-premise console) – Different security policies can be adapted based on employee roles in the company, they are available when there is an Active Directory integration and are applied when the user logs in.
  • Network discovery and mass remote install option – After you install Bitdefender on one computer, unprotected systems are automatically detected and you can remotely deploy protection to all of them.
  • Role-based user model – Internal accounts with different access privileges can be created in the management console.
  • Plug-and-play console deployment (on-premise) – Using a pre-configured virtual appliance installation means the console can be up in 30 minutes, not hours or days as with other solutions.
  • Instantly available web console (cloud) – With Bitdefender hosting the management infrastructure, the web console is available right after signup.
  • Device Control and USB scanning – Minimize risks of infections and data loss with automatic USB scanning and device control.
  • Removal of competitive solutions – During installation, Bitdefender detects competitive solutions and starts the uninstall process.
  • Endpoint Security Relay – Product and signature updates can be distributed more efficiently inside the network through a system that works as a relay.
  • Audit logs – Actions performed in the management console can be tracked in the audit logs.
  • Email notifications – Set up email notifications to be triggered automatically when certain events occur.
  • Monitoring Dashboard and reports – Centrally monitor the security posture of the organization using on-demand or scheduled reports.
  • Policy Inheritance – Enables the administrator to save time when creating new policies by using ones that are already created.

Avast Free – £0.00 per month

  • Intelligent Antivirus – Detect and block viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware and phishing. Uses smart analytics to stop threats before they affect you.
  • CyberCapture – Automatically send suspicious files for analysis in the cloud, and push a cure to all Avast users if it’s a threat.
  • Wi-Fi Inspector – Automatically detect weaknesses in your home Wi-Fi and strangers piggybacking on your network.
  • Smart Scan – Find all those cracks which allow malware to slip in, from unsafe settings and passwords to suspicious add-ons and out-of-date software.
  • “Ever present” upgrade path to paid version

AVG Free – £0.00 per month

  • Stop viruses, spyware, ransomware & other malware
  • Block unsafe links, downloads, & email attachments
  • Scan for PC performance problems
  • Get real time-security updates
  • “Ever present” upgrade path to paid version


The free software does have its place and within certain limitations, it does a fair job. The question really is, should you trust your business to free software when for very little money, the alternative is so much more comprehensive? Perhaps the true cost of security software is only really seen when a low-end or free product fails to provide adequate protection and a business suffers losses as a result: in which case, free security software can be very expensive indeed!

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