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Can a free/basic antivirus program protect me as well as a paid-for full security suite?

Many security vendors make a number of different security products for each platform. These can range from a “super security suite” to a “basic” antivirus program. You shouldn’t automatically assume that a more sophisticated (and possibly more expensive) product will provide better protection than a simpler (and possibly cheaper) product.

As a general rule, all the security programs in a vendor’s consumer range include the same protection components.  The more sophisticated/expensive versions include more features, support, and possibly a more sophisticated user interface.

When comparing different products within one vendor’s range, check to see what extra features you get with the more sophisticated/expensive product. You can then decide whether you need them. For example, device tracking, data backup and parental control features may be genuinely useful to some people, but not to others.

In our tests, we make every effort to ensure that product selection does not give any vendor an unfair advantage. Please bear in mind that one vendor’s antivirus product may include a feature only found in another vendor’s Internet security product. Thus, absolute equality in product selection is not possible. In principle, we test Internet security suites in our Consumer Main-Test Series. However, we may test e.g. a more basic antivirus program version in some cases. For example, if this is the most popular/widely used product in that vendor’s range (because this is what users are most interested in).