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A false positive occurs when a harmless program is mistakenly identified as harmful, and it's an important factor to consider when selecting antivirus software.

 

Why?

 

If your antivirus wrongly recognizes a file as a danger, it will be treated as malicious, requiring quarantining or deletion. In many circumstances, this will compromise the functionality of the software that owns the file, rendering it unusable.

A quick search will uncover dozens of free antivirus products that claim to compete with the premium options on the market. While these free options may be better than nothing (whether they are better than Windows Defender antivirus is a whole other topic...), you must remember one simple truth: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

 

In many cases, using "free" antivirus software means that you're paying with your personal information, getting ads in applications, or unintentionally installing unwanted related software. After all, you have to pay something for development, servers, company infrastructure, and so on.

 

You don't have to rule out free options, just remember that the quality of the product and support usually pales in comparison to paid ones. You probably won't notice a $40 annual subscription, but you probably will when a new kind of ransomware encrypts your files and a chatbot support system spews nonsensical scripted responses.

How to choose the best antivirus 

 

There are a number of key factors to consider when choosing the perfect anti-virus package.

 

These include:

 

  • Whether you want to pay for malware protection and what your specific needs are;

  • Whether you need to cover many devices or just 1;

  • Whether you need the service for home or business use. 

 

A quality antivirus engine

The obvious first priority for providing good protection for your antivirus application-which is obviously the point of installing it in the first place-is to make sure that it has a highly rated antivirus engine. This is a key part of the application used in scanning your PC and protecting it from malware, and the better the engine, the more likely it is that any malware won't escape its radar.

 

To pay or not to pay?

Another important decision you'll need to make is whether or not you're willing to spend money on antivirus protection.

There are plenty of perfectly viable free antivirus products from all the well-known vendors, and you don't have to pay anything to get reliable protection against malware and other add-ons.So why buy a paid product? Well, premium versions often offer perks in the form of extra features that provide even more online security, and some people may find them very useful. We'll come back to that in a moment.

 

Remember, though, that free antivirus can protect you just fine. Even Windows Defender, which is free, given that it's included with Windows 10, can protect you well enough at a basic level.

 

What level of protection do you need?

If you just want basic anti-virus protection and basic malware protection, perhaps for just one PC (or just a few devices), you can buy a basic anti-virus product (or get one for free, as described above).

 

However, if you want more security features and greater depth of protection against all the nasties you find on the Internet, you need to spend some money (and more, though not necessarily much more) to get a comprehensive Internet security package.

 

These packages are based on basic anti-virus features, come with all sorts of additional security features, and are ideal if you need protection not only for yourself but for the whole family. That's because these extra security features often include parental controls to keep kids safe (and in some cases control their online activities). They also cater to more devices than basic antivirus products, and often have cross-platform support, meaning that not only Windows PCs but also Macs and even mobile devices are covered.

 

So if you have a lot of devices, and especially if it involves having multiple family members with different equipment, a top-of-the-line Internet security package is the best choice.

 

Maximum Security

Those who want the strongest possible online protection may want to go beyond even a flagship Internet security package to find one that includes a linked VPN. A VPN gives you an extra layer of Internet security and privacy, and some of the well-known packages have the feature integrated (Norton 360 as well as Avast Ultimate, to cite a few quick examples).

 

Not only is this very convenient, but it will save you money compared to buying a security package and VPN separately - sometimes very expensive.

 

Another additional security point to keep in mind is that some flagship security packages will also include integrated online storage, which can allow you to back up your files to the cloud. Keeping a backup of your data in the cloud and a local backup on an external drive - at least one of each - is always a good idea to protect your data in case of disaster. If you don't already have a cloud storage locker, this may also influence your buying decision.

 

Other factors.

Another consideration is whether you are new to computing or the tech-savvy type. In the latter case, look for an antivirus that has many internal options that allow you to make changes to all sorts of settings and run the application the way you want.

 

Beginners, on the other hand, will want an antivirus that works and forgets, requires little user interaction and enjoys a simple and straightforward interface.

 

The computer (or phone) on which you are going to run the antivirus may also have something to do with what you are doing. If you have old and sick hardware that is starting to have performance issues, you may want to choose an antivirus app that has little effect on system resources. Honestly, it is ideal to choose an application that is light (or at least not heavy) with its system size, no matter what kind of computer you are using, but this is especially important if it is an older and slower machine.

 

How to choose the best antivirus for you


To summarize, consider whether you want a free or paid app and how many extra features you want - and perhaps whether you want extra security with a cost-effective unified VPN or even built-in online storage for backups. Make sure you choose a package that's user-friendly and optimized enough or has a ton of options and potential customizations, depending on your preferences.

 

Criteria to help you get the best protection against viruses


Unfortunately, not all antivirus products provide reliable, user-friendly solutions that provide an adequate level of protection against malware. When compared to the following criteria, even the top 10 antivirus solutions on the market can score very differently:

 

Reliability

Even the most thorough antivirus solution can be completely useless if it conflicts with other software running on your computer. If these conflicts cause your antivirus protection processes to fail or temporarily suspend, it can leave you vulnerable.

 

Usability

If the day-to-day operation of an antivirus solution requires special skills, it may not be practical for many users. Any antivirus that is uncomfortable to use, asks the user difficult questions, or requires the user to make difficult decisions is likely to increase the likelihood of "operator error." In some cases, if the antivirus software is too difficult to run, the user can simply disable it.

 

Comprehensive protection

An antivirus solution should provide continuous protection for all computer domains, all file types, and all network elements that can be attacked by a computer virus or other malware. The program should be able to detect malicious code, and protect all channels or entry points into the computer, including email, Internet, FTP, and more.

 

Quality of protection

Whether you need an Apple or Windows security antivirus solution, each must be able to work in an aggressive environment that is constantly changing -- with new computer viruses, worms and Trojan viruses that can be much more sophisticated than previously known malware and may include new ways to evade antivirus programs. The quality of protection depends in part on the following:

 

  • The effectiveness of malware detection processes;

  • the frequency and regularity of updates;

  • The ability to remove infections from your computer;

  • efficiency in providing computer protection - without significantly affecting computer performance.