Every PC user knows that computer viruses are bad news, and that the best way to avoid infection is to install antivirus software to protect your computer. What many people don’t know is that there is virus removal software available that is completely FREE to download and use. However, using free computer virus removal software comes with a hidden price.
The Real Cost of “Free” Protection Against Computer Viruses
Most PCs have antivirus (AV) software pre-installed, but it is often only a “trial” version that expires after a set time, and then requires the user to pay for the “full” version. While these types of computer virus removal programs are effective and well worth the money, a cheaper alternative exists.
Free virus removal software is a cheaper (and arguably, better) alternative to subscription-based AV software. You can download and use it for free, and it doesn’t extract a yearly subscription fee from you in exchange for continued protection from computer viruses. What “free” computer virus removal software DOES extract from you, in various ways, is your personal information.
“Free” antivirus software not only protects you from getting computer viruses, but it digs up your personal data and sells it to the highest bidder. In addition to being effective virus removal tools, software programs such as “AVG Free”, “avast! Free Antivirus”, and “Avira Free Antivirus” are also ingenious data-mining and marketing machines. Virus removal software companies offer these programs at no charge, and then make money later by selling their user’s information to marketers and advertisers.
Who needs free software? I’d rather keep my personal data!
To demonstrate how “free” antivirus software (or any type of free software, for that matter) can easily gather a user’s information, consider this important but often overlooked step during the installation process of a popular free AV software program:
“Quick Install (Recommended)” (If you choose the “recommended” install settings, the software installs automatically – congrats, you’re done! Unfortunately, you also just opted-in to about 7 different data gathering schemes.)
“Custom Install (Advanced)” (A custom installation lets you uncheck all of the options that would install various information-gathering gadgets, email scanners, search bars, toolbars, etc., leaving only the essential software installed.)
A custom installation isn’t that hard to do, but a software company will nearly always label this option as “advanced” in order to intimidate users, and instead recommend that they perform a quick install. Although technically quicker and easier, this “recommended” option usually installs unwanted data gathering features alongside the core software.
If you manage to get through the installation without falling into any data mines and protect your information, free software can actually be quite useful. Free computer virus removal software in particular should be installed carefully, and with close attention paid to the “recommended” settings.