Believe it or not, it’s a free world out there. Free internet calls, free email, free apps but is free antivirus safe to use?

Free antivirus (AV) is usually a stripped-down version of a full paid AV solution, which includes less features, obtrusive marketing and in some cases decreased performance. However, this doesn’t mean that the software isn’t safe to use.

Free antivirus programs vary in quality of their protection just as much as paid antivirus programs but if free AV software wasn’t safe or effective to use then AV development companies wouldn’t spend time developing and marketing them.

Free programs often include marketing in the forms of ads. This can be negligible, but endless pop-up boxes pestering you to sign up for the paid version of whatever you're using can be quite distracting. Some free programs now try to change your web browser's home page and default search engine, which annoys us greatly.

At the end of the day, it really matters what type of computer use you are - vigilant or techy. If you’re very reserved and don’t visit sites like Facebook or your Banking website you’ll usually get away with using a free antivirus very successfully. On the other hand, if you’re more of an intrigued user and tend to download a lot of freeware or torrents then we highly suggest using a paid version that includes browser protection and a firewall.

To finalise, of course free antivirus software is physically safe to use (as long as you download from a valid source, don’t go clicking on any old link) but whether it supplies you with enough protection is another question. Lastly, another reason why a paid version could be preferred over free is that free software usually comes with no technical support whatsoever, so if you run into a problem, you may need to spend your precious time researching a fix, trying to fix it yourself or even worse, spending money on getting your local IT technician out.