Back in the 1990's, antivirus software was all you needed to get adequate protection for your Windows computer. However, times have changed and so have the cyber threats that we face. We do not 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 on 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. However, which security software do you need? If you purchase a total security suite, you are promised many things, including "complete/ultimate" security, but you also have to pay more money for it. Is it worth it? Which types of security software for Windows do you need?
What does antivirus software have to offer to Windows users?
Antiviruses are no longer the simple security tools that they used to be two decades ago. They are a lot more complicated now and offer a lot more protection than they used to. Here is what you get from modern antivirus software:
- Protection against viruses and other types of malware like rootkits, spyware, ransomware, adware and so on.
- Protection when browsing the web, against infected files, websites that distribute malware, malicious ads 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 does not offer you features like:
- Firewall protection against network attacks.
- Useful security tools like parental controls, software updaters, VPN services and other types of instruments.
What do internet security suites have to offer?
Internet security suites are the most popular type of security products for Windows users. They are advertised as being the most efficient option for securing your Windows devices against all kinds of threats. An internet security suite offers the benefits of antivirus software, along with other tools and features such as:
- A firewall module to protect you against network attacks.
- Anti-Spam features that protect you against unwanted spam email messages, if you are using email clients 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 securely store them, etc.
- Many internet security suites include a parental controls module that can be useful to monitor and control the computing activities of your children.
However, there are also downsides to purchasing an internet security suite:
- A slightly higher impact on computer performance compared to basic antivirus software. However, it is only natural to have that, if you take into consideration that an internet security suite offers more tools and protection layers than standard antivirus software.
- A security suite is more expensive than basic antivirus software. The percent in price difference varies 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 suites, and add things like:
- VPN subscriptions. Using a VPN tool is a must if you want to be secure while traveling, or you want to get around censorship and surveillance. Some total security suites offer subscriptions to such services. They are usually limited to a few hundred megabytes of traffic per day, but that amount can be supplemented for a few dollars more if you need it.
- File encryption tools. Some total security suites offer encryption tools that can be useful to their users.
- Online backup tools. Some security vendors offer online storage services which are sold in their total security suites. Unfortunately, these services provide little free storage space, they cost extra if you need a lot of space and they are not necessarily more secure than popular 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 system files. The problem with most of the extra tools bundled in total security suites is that they tend to clone existing Windows features and they do not offer much value from a security and privacy perspective.
- A license that allows you to use the equivalent security product for Android or iOS. Many security vendors offer security products for Windows, iOS, and Android.
The downsides of total security suites are:
- The higher costs compared to the other types of security software for Windows users.
- A more significant impact on your computer's performance, since they bundle more tools and features.
- The fact that some of the extra features that are bundled might not provide any value to you.
What type of security software should you buy?
Our general recommendation for you is to walk the higher ground and buy a total security suite that includes a VPN subscription. If the total price is lower, you might be better off with buying an internet security suite and a separate subscription to a good VPN service.
We do not recommend that you go for the cheaper antivirus software because that is often not enough. Antivirus software is the most affordable type of security you can get, and it has the lowest impact on your computer's performance. However, the protection you get is not complete enough to be effective in all situations. Internet security suites tend to offer the best balance between full protection, price, and useful extra tools that enhance your privacy and security. However, VPN subscriptions are a must have for any traveler these days, and for bypassing government monitoring.
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.