I've been scanning these boards a lot lately and I think read at least the past 5 years worth of posts in the forum on the matter of paid vs free security software, but what I see consistently is strong arguments for both sides. Including opinions from self-proclaimed experts and professionals.
Some say free stuff is plenty good for the vast majority of users. Also on top of that the internet is really not -that- dangerous as some companies want you to believe and especially if you are a sensible internet users. Some also say it is superior because you have multiple products from multiple companies doing different things. Whereas with a suite you have one company doing everything so if one vulnerability or hole in the product is exposed/found out the whole thing is shot and the malware/hackers/terrorists will have free run.
I've also heard free software is superior because it can be open-source, and open-source generally means higher quality than proprietary software. So it's sometimes thought.
With that said, I've also heard that paid is better because it's a bit higher quality, generally gets editor's choice awards at PC Mag and such, and is updated more often. With free software the best products are constantly changing for the top spot one second it's avast next is avira etc. etc. so not only will you save time and hassle but the risk that one of your top-of-the-line freebie products has gone down hill when you weren't paying attention and potentially you are now exposed. Additionally there's also no guarantee the different company's products will combine well together.
What is the TRUTH?
I'm considering shelling out $20-$35 dollars a year for a paid suite. I have Quicken and online banking and my portfolio and personal information and lots of stuff I'd really like to be secure. And as a student I'm often in coffee shops or elsewhere connected wirelessly. I've also known several people over the past few years who have been victims of identity theft so that threat is beginning to feel closer to home these days. I'm really more concerned about a solid firewall than malware or virus protection because I think I generally know what stuff to click on what not.
But yes, do someone tell me the truth about all this.
I am no expert , free are the same as paid with a few less features . On my systems I like to use different vendors for each application , dion't like suites as they always have at least one weak point . I use Trustport (paid) or Vipre(paid) for AV , outpost pro firewall , and spywareblaster , so far it has worked well . Trusport I like because it's an AV and it used 3 dif engines , AVG , Bitdefender and GFI . Have yet to be infected , check it once every few months with online AV .
So if you can live without the extra features of paid AV which can be made up for with other free products go free .
You can also find good deals on paid products if you look .
Like the others, I won't claim to be an expert, but everything in my experience has YOU the user being the primary security threat to a computer. YOU are the one who uses Internet Explorer despite the well known malware problem that exists with it. YOU are the one who clicks on any link people send you. YOU are the one who will open strange email attachments claiming to be nude photos of a celebrity. YOU are the one who will be fooled into installing remote access software when someone calls your house claiming to have detected some security issue with your PC.
You can have the best security software money can buy, it won't make a difference if you the user does something stupid. So you tend to get far more security from altering your habits compared to any amount of software you want to throw at the problem. Software will not stop you from being a moron and doing something stupid. Only you can do that.
That's not to say that security software doesn't have its place, but far too many people look at it as a quick fix, and that all they need to do is install this magic piece of software and then everything will be sugar and rainbows. To quote the late great George Carlin, "Some people think that buying a safe car somehow excuses them the responsibility of having to learn how to DRIVE the thing! First you learn to drive, THEN you buy your safe car!" So first you need to develop some good/safe computing habits, THEN you can worry about security software.