If you think it is safe to use free antivirus, think again. Just because a free antivirus gets the job done, doesn’t mean it is the most effective and the safest solution. Most people who want to stay safe from virus, malware and trojans choose a free antivirus. Most peoples are unwilling to invest in a computer security program and so the developers of such software have found other alternatives for a revenue stream. They should have instead looked for a solution. If you think a free antivirus is free, remember everything has a cost. So, if you are not paying for an antivirus upfront, you are paying on others way. S, in short, it is not really safe to use a free antivirus. These free antivirus programs come with a mix of ads, an inefficient search engine, malicious browser extensions, and continuous, annoying notifications that prompt you to upgrade to the paid version.
Is It Safe To Use Free Antivirus?
If you recently downloaded a free antivirus and your PC has slowed down, you know who is to blame. Basically, free antivirus cost you time and information, and money in the long run. If you are not careful during the installing process, a lot of junkware apps will also be installed with the free antivirus. This is a serious problem and most people do not recognize its severity. It is unfortunate that developers we once trusted have resorted to such things.
Fee Antivirus Generates Money For The Developer
Did you really think that someone out there would make a free antivirus for you until there is something in it for them? You need to think twice before installing a free antivirus. Chances are that when you install a free antivirus, the developer has more to gain than you. The system via which they take advantage of you is fairly simple and similar to other adware and junkware applications that you may have seen over the years.
The first thing that usually happens after you install a free antivirus is that your search engine is replaced with something else in your favorite browser. So, whereas it was previously Google, you will now find Ask.com or something totally useless like that. When you use that browser to search for something and click one of the results, you may not necessarily get a virus, but you might click a sponsored link which will financially benefit the developer. Moreover, antivirus developers are notorious for masking popular search engines behind Safe Search or Secure Search. A lot of times the standard version of Yahoo is replaced with something less efficient and simpler. However, you get duped as during the installation process you see the words such as Secure, Safe, or Clean and get a feeling that it’s all good.
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Still thinking whether it’s safe to use free antivirus? Well, read on!
Main Page Replacement
Another thing that happens after you install a free antivirus is that your browser’s main page is changed. The developer of free antivirus earns by redirecting traffic to a website or search engine. You cannot even imagine how much they earn when commercials appear on your screen. the Ask toolbars, Ask.com, and other variation are installed without your consent. So, it is kind of disappointing that an antivirus you trust is serving you unnecessary toolbars that are useless and annoying. The same is true for Junkware programs. These are often touted as an offer during the installation process. These smaller applications such as TuneUp Utilities or Skype are really profitable for antivirus creators. An accidental installation benefits the creator instantly.
Still not convinced that it is not safe to use free antivirus? The next point may convince you.
Monitoring Online Behavior
As if making bucks off you wasn’t enough, free antivirus also tracks your online activities. This is usually done through Firefox or Chrome extensions, which makes the browsing experience safer in theory. However, it’s not like that in reality. No one should be able to track your data or online activity like that. It’s a serious breach of trust. Don’t trade your security for a free antivirus.
Antivirus You Should Steer Clear Of
Whenever you install a program on your computer, make sure you go through what’s written on each page of the installation wizard. You implicitly or explicitly give consent during the installation process for various things. There are certain things you need to avoid when installing a free antivirus.
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When you install Comodo Free, it replaces your default search engine with Yahoo and also installs a GeekBuddy online cost-per-click support app. It also compels you to install a Chromium-based browser called Chromodo and tries to replace the DNS servers used with some of COMODO. These additional services and apps are not worth the headache and make you vulnerable to unnecessary risk.
When you install Ad-Aware Free from Lavasoft, it will come with a “Web Protection Package” that claims to have been designed to “secure your online searches.” Suffice to say the package has nothing to do with the safety of your online activities. What web protection usually does it that it replaces your search engine with Yahoo or Bing. If you like Yahoo or Bing, then it’s all good, but other alternatives could be annoying as they show a lot of ads.
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When you install Avira free antivirus, it also offers to install Avira SafeSearch Plus. It is an unnecessary toolbar that has been derived from the Ask Toolbar. It changes your search engine and rebrands it with Ask.com. So, when you are asked if you would like to install the SafeSearch Plus, check no.
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ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall used to be very effective and useful in the past. However, that has changed now and you must be really careful during the installation process to avoid ZoneAlarm Toolbar and ZoneAlarm Search, which is another search engine based on Ask.com. ZoneAlarm is as useless as other toolbars you see around. It is just another copy of the Ask Toolbar.
Similar is the case with Panda Free Antivirus. After the installation process, the Yahoo search engine will be set as your default search engine and MyStart will be set as the homepage. The good thing is you do not get a variation of the Ask toolbar. The bad part is that you still get things you didn’t ask for.
Avast is no different. Depending on the version you downloaded or the website you downloaded it from, you might get Dropbox, Google Toolbar, or other utilities that you may not need. Although the overall situation is better, in the past Avast has offered extensions with dubious behavior so be careful!
The standard version of AVG Free comes with seemingly appealing features like SecureSearch, AVG Rewards, Security Toolbar, and AVG Web TuneUp. The situation got so serious that AVG had to create a dedicated support page that explains how important it is to delete these destructive utilities from your computer. Of late, AVG doesn’t pack in alternative search engines and toolbars but you should still be vigilant before clicking on “I agree” before the installation process.
Some Safe To Use Free Antivirus
BitDefender is one of the few free antiviruses that doesn’t force you to install things that you do not need. BitDefender is a reliable company. The creators give you an option to upgrade to the paid version, but it is totally up to your discretion. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the free version which is pretty powerful.
Another safe to use free antivirus is MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Free. It is great for keeping safe from all kinds of adware, trojans, malware, and junkware. MalwareBytes also helps you get rid of annoying toolbars that were installed on your browser without your consent. The only thing lacking in the free version is scanning engine in the background of the system activities. It is recommended that you scan your computer manually every week. You can use it along with Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows Defender is available for free and it is integrated into the operating system as a reward for those using the original version of the operating system.
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It may or may not be safe to use free antivirus. In most cases, it isn’t. You need to be very careful during the installation process. A lot of times, developers of free antivirus make money off you by tracking your online activity and selling that information to third parties. Another way they earn is by giving you unnecessary tools and utilities. If you can’t afford a paid antivirus, go for a reliable free one. BitDefender is pretty good and so is Avast if you get rid of unnecessary features. BitDefender and Kaspersky have achieved the best score in independent tests. So these two antiviruses are really worth considering.
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Do you think its safe to use free antivirus? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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