Why paid antivirus software for your phone makes sense – despite the free stuff.

Everything is free these days. Maps, internet phone calls, almost any content – films, books or videos – that you’re interested in can all be found for nothing, online. As such, there are free versions of antivirus software on the market.

Clearly, there is something better in the paid for software than the free software. Otherwise people wouldn’t buy it. The software from the major providers offers features on top of the basic antivirus software. They include the ability to back your phone up somewhere safe, alert you as to relevant security threats on social media sites or the ability to lock a phone so that children can only see appropriate content.
Some of these features might be useful to you. It’s a question of whether you’re geeky, security conscious or both. What’s likely to be useful to most people is how easy the paid for software versions are to use. The easier to use that antivirus software is, the more ‘usable’ it is said to be. the usability is one of the key focuses for those who charge for their antivirus software. It’s a way to differentiate themselves from the free alternatives.

So why do I need to pay for antivirus software on my phone ?

Companies know that the core antivirus software capabilities are belt and braces – which is why they surround their core product with useful software add ons – such as protection against loss and theft.

  • Can be slow :
    Paid for often works faster. The major differences come down to usability ( how technical you have to be in order to be able to use the software easily ) and the extra features they give you. You’re also likely to get fewer false positives and quicker updates when new viruses are discovered. You’ll also get better support over the phone if you have a problem with an install or configuration for example, if setting up your antivirus without that and it blocks your cloud drive ( this happened to me ) it’s great to know you have the reliability of a phone number to call.
  • May include advertising :
    Free versions of antivirus software for phones can include advertising which might be acceptable to you or intrusive. It can also be annoying if they install ‘nag ware’ which constantly reminds you to upgrade to the paid for version ( behaving, in fact, like many of the annoying versions which are out there ) Usability can include the ability to turn features on or off in an easier to understand way, especially if your phone has been locked down too tightly
  • Some involve ‘Nagware’ :
    With some packages, you’ll get warnings while you’re on a site which will help you understand whether you need to be especially careful while you’re on there. Buying from a bigger company means you know what you can trust.T here are even examples of hackers who have written malware and hidden it in free antivirus software which users then unwittingly download.
  • Delays to bug :
    Free antivirus software is often provided by people who have fewer resources available to them. When you buy a paid antivirus platform, there tend to be a larger number of paid professionals prepared to invest in investigating the virus or malware and establishing a fix. In serious circumstances, bigger antivirus software companies often work together. As a result, with a paid platform bugs are sometimes fixed more quickly and users are exposed to the problem for shorter periods of time.
  • Compatibility :
    The bigger providers of antivirus software allow and provide multiple individual software elements. When these are tied together, you to have a suite of products all from the one place. The advantage is compatibility: You know they ‘pay well’ together.

Antivirus software closes off and locks down your device. This can cause problems. Take for example free, automated antivirus software component which is preventing a file being uploaded to the cloud. The intention of that app is to keep the phone secure. It’s conceivable, however that this app might run up against a piece of back up software from another provider. The backup app is trying to store things in the cloud. Now the two apps have different intents. If you do have this sort of ‘accessibility’ issue, who do you call ? The answer is not immediately clear if you have two overlapping software problems from two different providers. And if both are free, you may not have the right to call either !

Who should pay for antivirus software ?

Given the problems with free antivirus software and the advantages of the paid alternatives, which users should be considering the free version, and which should be considering the paid version of antivirus software for a mobile phone ?

The answer depends on the amount of risk involved in taking a chance on the free version. There are many subsets or groups of people in life who rely heavily on their phones.

If, for example, you’re running a small business, or you have a family or friend set up which means you need to be in contact with everyone else, this could be a quick decision for you to make. Parents may also value the additional safety that paid for offer to the safety of their children’s browsing. In these circumstances, paying for antivirus software could be a reasonable and fast decision to make.

What are the benefits of paid antivirus software for your mobile ?

As we’ve pointed out, antivirus software often comes shipped with modules which complement the antivirus capabilities that even the free software has. Consider which of these might add value to your phone and assist you in managing security concerns you might have.

  • Better customer support :
    Ultimately, customer support is a hand to hold if something goes wrong. You are far more likely to get support from a paid provider who will help you install, configure and work through problems with getting antivirus software to work on your phone.
  • Quicker updates :
    Paid for antivirus providers use some of the money you pay them to set up teams of software engineers. When a new virus or malware is detected, those teams work to very quickly mitigate and remove the threat. If you pay for your software, you’re likely to get almost immediate fixes for new viruses or malware which is found, anywhere in the world. If you have the free version, it’ll be ‘best efforts’ from those who volunteer their time to find the fixes.
  • More space :
    Good antivirus software will help you close down apps you’re not using which are eating through your available memory. This is a simple value add but many users find it helpful.
  • Runs quicker :
    Modern antivirus software stores a lot of the ‘thinking bit’ of what they do, in the cloud. The result is less load on your phone and your phone hardware and that means that the apps you do want to use will run faster.
  • Safer settings on social media :
    As we’ve discussed before on this site. Social media represents a unique combination of threats. Many people aren’t even aware of the potential to their personal security that the information they leave on Social Media could present. Some paid for antivirus software will alert you to potential threats in your social media footprint and help you mitigate the risk associated with it.
  • Extend battery life :
    Much antivirus software helps with simple but important tasks and provides capabilities you won’t find easily elsewhere. Some antivirus software will help you turn off apps which might otherwise drain your power.
  • Back up module :
    Many of the better types of antivirus software come with a backup capability. With the touch of a button, while you’re connected to a WiFi network, you’ll be able to back the critical information you have on your phone to a secure cloud based platform. Then, if the worst does happen, you’ll be able to reset yourself to the point of your last backup.
  • App settings validation :
    When you install a new app, some paid for antivirus software will identify for you the permissions that you’re granting it. For example, if an app has no reason checking your contents, but insists on you allowing that facility, the app could be Malware. Some malware, as we’ve discussed wants to text premium rate numbers in order to rack up large bills.
  • App Alerts :
    Some antivirus software will provide you alerts. App alerts provide notifications of suspicious activity taking place on your phone. It can be either reactive or proactive. if an app is asking for more than it needs, for example, a video editing application trying to get access to your phone book, you will be informed.
  • Safe areas :
    Some antivirus software will provide ‘cordoned off ‘areas on your phone for your kids or visitors borrowing your device to see in safety.
  • Backup and restore :
    Some antivirus software for your phone will help you in securing your information whatever happens to the device itself. Many paid for antivirus apps offer a facility which backs up your invaluable information and allows you to bring it back down to any supported phone. Whether you lose the information through hacking, Malware, a virus, or, for that matter, leaving your phone on the train, you can always recover your information.
  • Lost or stolen features :
    Some software is designed to be as sneaky as the criminals it’s tracking. There are apps out there which you can manage from your desktop computer, in the event your phone gets stolen. With some software, a camera can take a picture of the people using your phone if it was taken without your agreement, which you can then take to the police.
  • Remote wipe :
    Remote wipes links your desktop computer, through the internet to your phone if it’s ever lost or stolen. At a time of your choosing, when you are sufficiently satisfied that the phone is beyond your influence, you’ll be able to log in to your account using your password and helps maintain your privacy in the event that your phone is stolen
  • Locate the device :
    Similarly, in the event a phone is lost or stolen, this software establishes it’s location and then plots the position of your phone on a map. There are no guarantees the phone will be there when you arrive but this software definitely improves your likelihood of getting it returned.
  • Good support :
    Support, whether it’s offered over the phone, email, or chat is, ultimately, a helping hand to hold. It’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call if your mobile’s antivirus software is not functioning properly and you need a hand to get your phone secured.
  • Returns policy :
    Most of the major antivirus platforms are sold with a returns policy in place. If you’re not satisfied with the product once you’ve evaluated it, they will allow you to return the software free of charge, delete it form your phone and return to your life without the antivirus software.

Summing up :

Whichever paid for antivirus software you go for, there are distinct benefits it will offer over the free alternative. First of all, it’s a more professionally managed product. Malware fixes are released more quickly, the software is easy to use, it won’t include advertising and it’ll work nicely with other software installed on your phone.

On top of that, there are a host of additional facilities offered as complimentary software, to consider. Whether you’re concerned about installing apps which will steal your personal information, the settings in your social media sites which might compromise your information inadvertently or dealing with a device which was, unfortunately, stolen, you’ll find things a lot easier with the paid for version.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.