We’ve all heard the saying that the best things in life are free, but I’m not sure they were referring to software.
Freeware (free software, not to be confused with open source software) such as the AVG anti-virus free edition, Spybot, and Ad-Aware are all programs you can download to your PC for the ultimate discount: free. However, you get what you pay for.
While these programs may work just fine for someone’s home computer, they are not business class tools and should not be trusted to completely protect your computer or network from viruses, spyware, hackers, and other problems.
Every month we receive calls from clients whose computers are infected with a nasty virus or a boatload of spyware who had these programs installed and running, and were under the false assumption that they were protected.
Why Freeware Doesn’t Protect Your Computer
In most cases, freeware is a light version of a software program that you pay for. Take the AVG free edition for example. AVG offers a free edition of their licensed product as a way of introducing you to their fully-featured product. However, this software does not come with any online, e-mail, or phone support. It is also illegal to use it on multiple machines or in a commercial, non-profit, or educational environment (single home users only).
You’re On Your Own
As you might expect, freeware comes with zero guarantees or promises to function correctly, to be compatible with your system, or to safeguard you from threats. You’re not a paying customer so you’re on your own to resolve any technical problems you encounter, and you certainly won’t get support if your computer gets infected.
Since many free applications are plagued with bugs and incompatibilities, you may end up with a mess on your hands and no one to blame but yourself.
Additionally, freeware programs are not always current with the most up-to-date protection, and don’t always update themselves automatically or perform scans and tasks on a regular schedule. That means you could be operating with a false sense of security; and since the sophistication and number of threats circulating are only increasing, you need a comprehensive solution that you can trust especially if your computer or network holds data and files you don’t want to lose or make available to a cyber-criminal.
Bottom line: you get what you pay for. If the files, data, pictures, and functionality of your computer or network is of high-importance, then investing in a trusted, industrial-strength software program to protect it is a smart and worthwhile investment.