If you want to locate all Internet security layers on your desktop or laptop, and you don't mind a possible performance hit, then consider paid AV solutions. They may differ significantly from free spyware and malware removers when comparing features, but not always. Let's take a popular product which comes in both a free and a paid version--AVG.
Figure 1 compares the for-fee versions of AVG AV software with paid versions (AVG.com). The first column is the free version, the second is AVG Anti-Virus (paid version), and the third lists the features of the premium AVG version, Internet Security. Note there are only a few differences between the free and paid AV versions.
- There is no firewall in the free version.
- The free version doesn't include a spam filter
- No protection in the free version for file sharing over instant messaging or social networking sites
- No rootkit protection in free version
In addition to the list above, there is also no free technical support unless you purchase an AVG product.
Another example of free versus paid malware solutions is Avast!. There are only two versions of Avast!: home and professional. The Home version is free, but the differences between it and Professional are minimal. Although no firewall exists in either version, both the free and the paid include a spam filter and rootkit protection. Paying for Avast! is more a question of where you use it rather than feature set. Missing from the free version are management tools you would expect in a business-level product.
So the list of extra features expected with a paid version of a product is not very large (and may be present in some free releases):
- Integrated enhanced firewall (not available in all products)
- Web site analysis
- Rootkit detection and removal
- Spam detection and removal
- Intuitive management interface
- Task scheduling
- Enhanced data transfer protection
- For business, centralized management and free support are important features not commonly available in free products