Should you buy an Antivirus, an Internet Security suite or a Total Security suite?

Back in the 90’s, antivirus software was everything you needed in order to get adequate protection for your Windows computer. But times have changed and so did the cyber threats that we face. We don’t have to fight only against old-school viruses, but also against rootkits, spyware, ransomware, adware, network attacks, phishing attempts and so on and so forth. The magnitude of the malware that lurks the Internet is mindblowing and today, even hospitals and the Pentagon get attacked by malware creators. To help you stay safe, security vendors offer many types of products, from simple antivirus software to Internet Security suites to Total Security suites. But which security software do you really need? If you purchase a Total Security suite, you are promised a lot of stuff, including “complete/ultimate” security but you also have to pay a lot of money for it. Is it really worth it? Which types of security software for Windows do you really need?

What does antivirus software have to offer to Windows users?

Antiviruses are no longer simple security software tools like they used to be back in the 90’s. They are a lot more complex now and they offer a lot more protection than they used to. Here’s what you generally get from antivirus software in 2016:

  • Protection against viruses but also against other types of malware like: rootkits, spyware, ransomware, adware and so on.
  • Protection when browsing the Web, against infected files, websites that distribute malware and phishing attempts.
  • A lower impact on your computer’s performance, when compared to Internet Security suites or Total Security suites.
  • The most affordable price that you can get for security software. Antivirus software is a lot less expensive than Internet Security suites or Total Security suites.

However, antivirus software doesn’t offer you things like:

  • Firewall protection against network attacks.
  • Useful security tools that are included in Internet Security suites or Total Security suites, like parental controls, software updaters and other types of security tools.

What do Internet Security suites have to offer?

Internet Security suites are the most common type of security products for Windows users. They are advertised as being the most efficient option of securing your Windows devices from all kinds of threats. An Internet Security suite will always offer the benefits of antivirus software alongside the following:

  • A firewall module that is able to protect you against network attacks.
  • Anti-Spam features that protect you against unwanted spam email messages, if you are using a popular email client like Microsoft Outlook.
  • Identity protection tools. Some Internet Security suites offer you tools that enhance your privacy and the security of tasks like online shopping and banking. Others help you generate secure passwords and store them in a secure manner, etc.
  • Many Internet Security suites include a parental controls module that can be useful in monitoring and controlling the computing activities of your children.

Obviously, there are also downsides to purchasing an Internet Security suite:

  • A slightly higher impact on your computer’s performance compared to basic antivirus software. This is expected, if you take into consideration that they offer more tools and protection layers than standard antivirus software.
  • A security suite is more expensive than basic antivirus software. The price difference will vary between manufacturers.

What do Total Security suites have to offer?

Total Security suites are premium security products that include everything that a security vendor has to offer. They always include the features and benefits of Internet Security software, alongside things like:

  • File encryption tools. Some Total Security suites offer encryption tools that can be useful to their users. However, not all vendors offer such tools.
  • Online backup tools. Some security vendors offer online storage services which are sold in their Total Security suites. Unfortunately, these services offer little free storage space, they cost extra if you need a lot of space and they are not necessarily more secure than traditional services like OneDrive, Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • More extra-tools, some of which may be useful, like file shredding tools or anti-theft protection, while others are not, like tools which check for Windows Updates or clean temporary files. The problem with most of the extra-tools that are included in Total Security suites is that they tend to clone existing Windows features and they don’t offer too much value from a security and privacy perspective.
  • A license that allows you to use the equivalent security product for Android or Mac. Many security vendors offer security products for Windows, Mac and Android. Some of them include in their Total Security offering a license for one Android device or one Mac computer, on which you can install their equivalent security product without additional cost.

The most obvious downsides of Total Security suites are:

  • The very high cost when compared to the other types of security software for Windows users.
  • The bigger impact on your computer’s performance, since they bundle even more tools and features.
  • The fact that some of the extra-features that are bundled won’t provide any value to you.

What type of security software should you buy?

Our recommendation for you is to walk the middle ground and buy an Internet Security suite. We don’t recommend that you go for the cheaper antivirus software and, most of all, we don’t recommend that you purchase Total Security suites, unless some of the bundled extra tools are truly useful to you.

Antivirus software is the cheapest type of security you can get and it has the lowest impact on your computer’s performance. However, its protection is not complete enough to be effective in all situations. Internet Security suites tend to offer the best balance between complete protection, price and useful extra tools that enhance your privacy and security.

What do you think?

We have presented our arguments regarding the type of security software that you should consider purchasing for your Windows computers and devices. Now it is your turn: do you agree with us? Do you think differently? Let’s start a debate in the comments below.