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Having a high-quality anti-virus is an essential part of your online life. Although there are numerous free anti-virus suites available, if you’re a power user it might be more sensible to splash out for a paid version. They typically have better support, more features, and better detection rates.
There are several paid security suites to choose from, so how do you decide which is best? Luckily, many of them offer free trials.
Here we take a look at seven of the best online security suites that you can try for free…
We love ESET’s range of desktop security software. It typically ranks very highly on independent tests and has a great reputation amongst IT professionals.
They have three suites available to home users – “NOD32 Antivirus”, “Smart Security”, and “ESET Multi-Device Security Pack”. Only the first two have free trials available.
The cheaper of the two is NOD32 Antivirus. It will provide you with protection against viruses, spyware, exploits, and phishing attacks, and also includes a gamer mode and an advanced memory scanner. The Smart Security adds a firewall, anti-spam, parental controls, banking protection, and botnet protection.
The scanner is faster than a lot of its competitors, and AV-TEST gave it 6/6 for usability and 5.5/6 for performance. On the downside, the user interface is not as slick as some of its rivals.
Both offer a 30-day free trial. Once the trials expire NOD32 will cost you $39.99 per year, while Smart Security will set you back $59.99 per year.
Panda’s range of services are considerably different from the other suites on this list – they are all full-featured cloud-based anti-virus suites. It means they have a much lower resource usage than traditional desktop suites, and can often complete scans a lot faster.
They offer three suites to their customers – all of which have free 30-day trials available.
The most basic service is “AntiVirus Pro”. It aims to let you “shop and browse online safely” and “protects you anytime, anywhere”. It costs $43.99 per year once the trial expires.
Panda’s second service is called “Internet Security”. It costs $54.99 per year and adds device management and family filters. The most expensive package is “Global Protection”. It will set you back $76.99 per year but will also include data protection to help shield your money and identity from cyber-criminals.
It’s worth noting that in March 2015, an update to Panda’s servers led to it wrongly identifying system files as viruses. It led to boot failures, DLL errors, and an inability for users to get online – quite a problem for a cloud-based service.
AVG is well-known for being part of the holy triumvirate of free security suites, along with Avast and Avira.
What is less well known is how good their paid version is. The free version only includes a full-featured anti-virus, link protection, and mobile protection, whereas the paid version adds an online shield to protect you from harmful downloads, a “data safe” to encrypt passwords, an anti-spam filter for your email, and an enhanced firewall.
The free trial lasts 30 days, and thereafter the service will cost you $59.99 per year.
Surely we’re not talking about the resource-hogging granddad of security suites? Well, yes and no.
We are talking about that Norton, but it’s no longer afflicted by the same problems that caused it to have one of the worst reputations in the industry five years ago.
They have three packages for home users – “Norton Security Standard” ($44.99 per year), “Norton Security Deluxe” ($49.99 per year), and “Norton Security Premium” ($69.99 per year). Only the Deluxe and Premium versions have free trials.
The Deluxe package offers anti-virus, identity protection, and protection for multiple devices. Premium adds parental controls, automatic backup of files and photos, and most impressively – 25 GB of cloud storage.
The drawback to this storage is that it’s only compatible with PCs. If you have a Mac, iOS, or Android device (which Norton covers from a security perspective), you won’t be able to use it to share data between them.
Norton is joint-third in all-round performance on AV-TEST, scoring 6/6 for protection, 5/6 for performance, and 5.5/6 for usability.
Kaspersky’s products are consistently ranked number one on AV-TEST; in the most recent August 2015 tests it scored 6/6 for performance and usability, and 5.5/6 for protection. You can be sure it’s money well spent.
They have three security suites for home users, all of which offer a 30-day free trial. “Essential PC Protection” costs $59.99 and only includes threat protection and a performance optimizer, “Internet Security” costs the same amount but also includes identity protection and parental controls, while “Total Security” costs $69.99 but adds digital asset protection, multi-device protection, and password management and encryption.
Trend Micro is similar to Panda – a lot of their scanning and protection is done online via the cloud.
They have five packages, all of which offer free trials. The cheapest of the five is “Antivirus + Security 10” and costs $34.95 per year. It only includes anti-virus protection, ransomware protection, and phishing protection.
At the other end of the scale is “Premium Security 10”. It costs $69.95 per year but will cover you for five devices, includes online storage scans, mobile tools, privacy tools, and a host of system optimization kits.
For the price, this is one of the most full-featured and cost effective options on the market.
If you’re conscious about the recent government spying scandals that have hit the headlines around the world, F-Secure could be the best product for you. In 2011 they were one of the first anti-virus suites that ruled out the possibility of leaving “back doors” for agencies to use.
In a statement at the time, they said the following:
“F-Secure Corporation would like to make known that we will not leave such backdoors to our F-Secure Anti-Virus products, regardless of the source of such tools. We have to draw a line with every sample we get regarding whether to detect it or not. This decision-making is influenced only by technical factors, and nothing else, but within the applicable laws and regulations, in our case meaning EU laws.
We will also be adding detection of any program we see that might be used for terrorist activity or to benefit organized crime. We would like to state this for the record, as we have received queries regarding whether we would have the guts to detect something obviously made by a known violent mafia or terrorist organization. Yes we would.”
They offer two products for desktop users, and like the other suites on this lists, they both offer 30-day trials.
“F-Secure Anti-Virus” costs $29.99 per year, while “F-Secure Internet Security” costs $49.99.
In addition to the usual features, the latter also includes parental controls, customer support, banking protection, and browsing protection.
Which Do You Use?
Do you use a paid anti-virus suite? If so, which one? Would you recommend it to your fellow readers?
Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with one? Or you cancelled your subscription for another reason?
Whatever your situation, we’d love to hear from you. You can leave us your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.