How to buy PC security

Go for the suite spot

You need antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware software to keep your PCs safe from most threats. While some expert users manage to run products from different vendors, the applications may not play nicely together. They may even cause your system to crash.

Applications dovetail smoothly in security suites. They give a single interface to control everything. What’s more, suites are cheaper than the sum of their components. You may need to find separate spam filtering, anti-phishing and adware software.

Check the extras

Many security suites go beyond the basics offering features like parental controls, spam filtering and tools to stop private information like passwords, account details or telephone numbers from being transmitted.

Don’t double up

It’s tempting to think that running two firewalls or antivirus programs will make your system safer – it won’t. Overlapping security tools create havoc, slowing your computer and making it hard to troubleshoot problems. Stick with one of everything, it’ll be safer not to mention cheaper.

Watch the calendar

Commercial security software products often come as one or more applications coupled with links to automatic updates. Typically when you buy the product one year’s worth of updates come as part of the deal. When the year is up you pay a fee to get a further updates.

That’s convenient, but typically the cost of an extra year’s subscription is the same as new applications. As security vendors constantly update technology and add more features – buying a fresh product is the better option. What’s more, avoiding the subscription gives you an opportunity to avoid lock-in and move to a rival company’s offering.

Also, watch out for arrangements where a security software company takes your credit card details and automatically invoices for updates. They try to tell you this is a service to make life easier for you. They do it because they make a lot more money that way.