Free Anti-virus vs paid for Business 2018

The nature of viruses has changed dramatically since the early days of the world wide web. Back in those days viruses would format your C drive or create annoying popups with seemingly no purpose other than proof of concept or the amusement of the creator. Nowadays its all about money - ransomware, phishing, spear phishing, etc are all based on the same premise - stealing your money. Virus kits are bought and sold on the Deep Web and created on demand by unscrupulous software developers and sold to criminal organisations who release them into the wild or target them at companies and individuals.

Having said that, there are plenty of excellent Free Anti-virus software products that will work perfectly well protecting against these threats. Windows 10 now comes with Defender and Anti-malware integrated into the operating system so from first turning on your computer you should be protected. However, although Windows Defender Antivirus is much more sophisticated than in previous versions of Windows it it still not, in my opinion, production ready. The Anti-malware tool is more primitive than other freely available software. 


For a small business having Free Anti-virus running in the background works perfectly well and saves the cost of software licensing and from personal experience I have found when the paid Anti-virus software expires there can be issues removing it to install other software (Norton I'm looking at you!). It's a true set and forget and for most use cases prevents against any viruses that may crop up.


The Free non-business Anti-virus software will need to be installed one by one on all workstations, therefore this solution works best for small companies with less than 20 users - companies with no centralised authentication such as Active directory.

To speed up installation time instead of having to accept all the defaults you can have a one touch install solution using - go to the site, then select the packages to automatically install and Ninite creates a small package for you which automatically downloads the latest version of the software you selected and says no to any bloatware automatically. Whats more, for the small company IT guy, you can use the same Ninite install exe to consistently install the newest and same software packages as everyone else. Don't select more than one anti-virus or you will have serious performance issues. Luckily, if you install an anti-virus program on Windows 10, Windows Defender Antivirus automatically disables itself so you don't have two Antivirus programs fighting against each other - this is not a situation you want to find yourself in.

Many Free Anti-virus software get you to try and upgrade to a paid service by offering you extra features the free service does not provide.

No centralised control of your company Anti-virus installs and setup and no policies you can rollout to get a consistent, company wide experience across all devices. As previously mentioned - a small company who just want a set and forget approach probably won't need to worry about this.



Free Anti-Virus for Business Recommendations

1. Avast Free Antivirus - This has good anti-malware protection and hardened browser and password manager and has a relatively light footprint.

2. Bitdefender Free Antivirus - Great anti-malware and Anti-virus but can't run quick scan or schedule scan - good for a real set and forget small business environment.



Paid Anti-Virus for Business Recommendations

1. Webroot Endpoint Security - Very lightweight compared to others - they claim that you can run this with another Anti-virus because of tiny footprint (although don't, obviously). Everything is run in the cloud so it removes load on workstation and best of breed machine learning detection. 

2. Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud. Symantec have worked on their product to bring it into the cloud and give it a lighter footprint and they have mobile protection which Webroot doesn't.

Both can also automate roll out with Active Directory using Group Policy and push out policies and centrally administer but then many other solutions also provide this capability. They contain Endpoint Protection, not just Anti-virus which also helps prevent IPS and Network attacks.


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