Antivirus Programs Without Yearly Fees

By Adrian Grahams

Most premium anti-virus programs charge an annual or monthly subscription fee, but if you would prefer not to pay there are several free alternatives that you can download and install to protect your computer from harmful computer viruses and malicious software. Before dropping your subscription-based anti-virus software, check that the free program offers a satisfactory level of protection.

About Anti-Virus Software

Most new computers ship with anti-virus software installed at the factory by the computer manufacturer. This bundled software is typically free to use at first, but after the trial period elapses you may need to buy an annual subscription to keep protecting your computer. Windows computers ship with many advanced security features, including the Windows Defender application that helps protect against viruses and malicious software. However, there's no dedicated anti-virus software so you will probably decide to install one to protect your computer from the ever-present threat of viruses.

Free Anti-Virus Programs

You can choose from a range of anti-virus programs that are free to download and use. Widely used and tested free anti-virus applications include AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, Panda Cloud Antivirus, Avast Free Antivirus and Avira Free Antivirus. These programs all offer a premium version that you can upgrade to if you decide later on that the free version doesn't offer enough protection. You will usually need to register the free anti-virus program and provide your name and contact details during the installation procedure.

Software Capabilities

Although the old adage "you get what you pay for" is always worth bearing in mind when switching to any free software, consumer tests show that free anti-virus programs compare favorably with the premium subscription-based alternatives in terms of speed, detection rate and virus removal efficiency. No anti-virus software, free or premium, guarantees 100 percent virus detection and removal rates. Although basic by comparison to the paid versions, free anti-virus programs typically offer the core functions of on-demand virus scanning, real-time monitoring and virus detection and removal tools.

Choosing Software

Before changing to a free anti-virus program, compare program features and capabilities so you have as much information as possible. Although the programs all offer the same or similar core functions, virus detection and removal rates may differ. The user interface, appearance and speed of free anti-virus software can also vary widely. One of the benefits of using free software is that you can try it out and easily change to another free or premium program if you find you don't like it. Ensure that you completely remove old anti-virus software before installing a new program. Anti-virus applications sometimes clash with each other and generate false virus alerts or cause computer system problems.