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Free Virus Protection: What They Are Really Good For

Many Free Antivirus Programs are Actually Advertising Agencies

Dr. William Sen

by Dr. William Sen
digitalwelt-Columnis for Computer Security and Information Law

digitalwelt logo

The market and the quality of the free antivirus tools has changed a lot in the last 10 years. One of the reasons for the change is the fact that operating systems and browsers like Chrome already provide sufficient protection against viruses and malware.

Windows has already a built-in anti-virus software. The security settings of browsers such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safaro are so sophisticated that viruses or malware hardly have a chance. Now, what value do free virus scanners have in 2024?

Business Model of Free Antivirus Programs

Advertising is the most popular business model of free antivirus tools. With every update, advertisements will be displayed, or randomly whilst the software is running.

The goal for free antivirus is advertisement. Your computer therefore becomes an advertise-driven device. Free antivirus programs constantly come up with new features to display ads. Mostly, they try to sell more additional software. Typical tactics are false alerts that would usually show that your PC is in jeopardy and therefore more security software must be purchased. These tools use the fear of the consumer.

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Are Free Virus Scanners Malware?

The installed free virus scanner is supposed to protect against malware — tools that sneak into your PC to annoy you with advertising. Instead, they have become pure advertising platforms themselves.

This contradiction is not the only problem. The fact that the entire strategy and thus the software development of such virus scanners is based on advertising, the real anti-virus development becomes secondary or not even bothered with at all.

Development teams and security experts are being pushed into the background and losing their real reason in such companies that develop free antivirus tools. The sales and affiliate managers, who look after new advertisers on a daily basis, gain the upper hand.

Even worse: some tools can not even be uninstalled easily. Most of the free antivirus programs are malware as of 2024. The user must laboriously read through Internet forums to find tips and tricks to finally get rid of the alleged virus protection from his system.

Fake Updates

This has lead to the fact that the sales department tells the development team what to do.

Virus protection updates are no longer used to provide real security, but to give the user only a sense of security through constant updates.

The free antivirus software pretends to an important service by displaying random messages on the screen. The ads that appear with them are then more likely to be accepted by the users. The manufacturers use this psychological trick to finally carry out as many updates as possible. The more updates, the more ads are shown. The whole game then is no longer about the security but advertising.

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No Real Virus Protection

Meanwhile, the free virus scanners are moving to invest less and less money in computer virus detection and prevention.

Most have grown in recent years to gigantic advertising agencies, hiding behind the guise of an antivirus software. Under such circumstances, real virus protection suffers. The majority of free antivirus tools no longer provide adequate protection.

Free Antivirus From Well-Known Developers

The free tools mentioned above should not be confused with reputable providers such as Norton Security, Avira Antivirus, Kaspersky Internet Security, McAfee Internet Security, AVG, Avast Internet Security, and many more which also offer their antivirus tools as trial versions free of charge. Most newly acquired computers have already installed these trial versions. The idea is that the computer is at least secured for the time being and is not immediately infected by viruses.


If you are looking for the optimal protection, you need a genuine virus scanner that unfortunately doesn’t come free of charge. Most of those paid tools are not expensive. We have tested the best antivirus software tools of 2024 below.

Free antivirus programs have declined in quality due to the highly competitive market. It is definitely worth a look at the paid antivirus tools. But even the best virus killer does not protect against human error. Paid service or not, the factor common sense is still the best virus protection you can have.

Dr. William Sen

by Dr. William Sen
digitalwelt-Columnis for Computer Security and Information Law

digitalwelt logo

Dr. William Sen has been a computer expert for over 25 years. He has published numerous books and articles in the field of network security and hacker culture, including for TV and radio. William lives in San Diego, California.

Top Antivirus Tools 2024

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1 Norton Security Antivirus
Norton Security Antivirus
Review Rating 5.0
from $34.99
Norton Antivirus is one of our review winners in 2024. No other antivirus software offers such impressive virus protection in the market right now. This may change in the future as the market is constantly changing.
2 AVG Internet Security
AVG Internet Security
Review Rating 5.0
from $34.99
In 2024 AVG began offering unlimited install features for their antivirus software. For everyone, but especially families, this is one of the best bargains of the year. The interface couldn't be any easier to use, and the malware protection is solid.
3 Avast Pro Antivirus
Avast Pro Antivirus
Review Rating 4.9
from $34.68
One of the advantages of Avast 2024 is not just it's reliability and broad antivirus protection but also the price. At only $34.68, it's one of the most affordable deals you can find among reputable antivirus tools.
4 Bullguard Antivirus
Bullguard Antivirus
Review Rating 4.7
from $23.99
Bullguard may not be as famous as the big market players, but it’s unequivocally one of the best antivirus software in the world. It was developed by hackers and computer enthusiasts from a small UK company. As the price suggests, they are driven by passion, not for as much profit as other bigger competitors.
5 Panda Security
Panda Security
Review Rating 4.7
from $28.79
Panda is not only the cheapest, but is actually one of a kind: They invented the first artificial intelligent virus protection in the world that recognizes unknown viruses. It works so well that they became extremely popular in Europe, and are being praised by hackers.
6 Kaspersky Antivirus
Kaspersky Antivirus
Review Rating 4.7
from $29.99
With over 400 million users, over 20 years of experience, and 270,000 corporate clients, Kaspersky Lab technologies is a strong cybersecurity company. This company offers an array of powerful products such as Kaspersky Total Security, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Kaspersky Internet Security and more.
7 McAfee Antivirus
McAfee Antivirus
Review Rating 4.4
from $34.99
McAfee has been around for more than 30 years, making them one of the oldest virus protection companies on the market. Due to restructuring of the company over the last years, the company has successfully created a new product fit to satisfy customers in 2024.
8 Avira Antivirus Pro
Avira Antivirus Pro
Review Rating 3.0
from $0.99
AVIRA Antivirus is one of the most popular virus protection software. They've been famous for years for their free antivirus offering. The paid version is as good as the free version but without ads. For only $0.99, they make switching to the professional version worth it. However, support is not Avira's forte.

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