Safe internet browsing for the family

Knowing that antivirus software is an absolute essential for any computer operator, regardless of the scope of activities, the burning question is  who to buy it from and how much to pay.  In fact you may not need to buy antivirus online protection, since there are so many free offers out there from so many different companies.  The challenge is to pick the one that provides the specific protection you need; if that is included in the free offers, so much the better.

Quite simply, there is no substitute for research, but it you haven’t the time or inclination to do your own, by all means take advantage of the established and respected authorities on the subject who have undertaken the research for you.  Agencies such as AV-Test.org can give you all the details, but it’s up to you to determine which program will serve you best at the price you are willing to pay.

Some of the most comprehensive antivirus and scanning programs come as packaged discs that you can buy at a computer store, but here again prices vary substantially.  The best ones offer continuous updates that can be downloaded free as part of the package.

The same is true of the programs that can be downloaded immediately after an online purchase or for free.  You need to find out, if possible, what the ‘real’ cost of the program will be if you keep it in place and upgrade when suggested.  A free trial may be anywhere from 15 days to a year or even two, so make sure you’re aware of the expiration date.

You will also need to know your own computer’s capabilities and take into account your own level of experience.  Some programs provide a lot of extras that you may have no use for, and since they usually cost more, you can spare yourself extra confusion, not to mention money, by staying with the basics.

To mention only a few of the top-rated antivirus software vendors that offer free downloads, McAfee, Norton and Symantec are among the best.  All of them have excellent programs and they keep abreast or one step ahead of the current scams and attacks that the bad guys are constantly coming up with.

Some include free games, movies and other perks to go with the security package.  Note, however, that ‘free’ refers to a trial period of 14 days to a month; after that you’ll have to pay for it.

If you are an enterprising and resourceful sort, it’s quite possible to ‘free trial’ your way along for an indefinite period of time.  However there are obvious drawbacks to this approach, one being the potential downtime between removing one and loading another.  You need to be quick on the download, so to speak, and keep close track of your current status in terms of protection.

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