How to select antivirus software for purchase

Everybody needs antivirus software. Nearly 100% of all computers in the world already have antivirus software installed. And the antivirus market is one of the rarest ones with active competition. Neither Microsoft nor Google, has managed to become a monopoly on this market yet (like they have done on other markets).

So people have a choice. A lot of choice, actually. I’d split the process of buying antivirus software into two parts: choosing a product and paying for one. The first part of the process is trickier, so I’m going to describe how you can choose antivirus software in this article.

In this one, I’d like to focus on how to buy the software.

For all IT (Information Technology) people, this question is a rhetorical one. If you want to buy a Symantec product, go to www.symantec.com and buy it! If you want to buy Kaspersky software, do it on www.kaspersky.com. Why doesn’t everybody do it the same way?

According to sales statistics, from 50% to 70% of people (depending on country) prefer to buy a box with antivirus software in the nearest shop. Why? I guess it’s a question of tradition. People are not comfortable buying virtual products with virtual money. Well, don’t be afraid! Antivirus protection is a purely digital product. It consist of a distribution package (a number of megabytes) and an activation code. It works absolutely the same as a boxed version, but with less garbage to recycle in your home.

Even more. Antivirus protection is not only a product, it’s a service. In order to fight the latest viruses it constantly needs to have its virus signature database( updated. Viruses are very dynamic, and every day, new ones come to existence If you don’t have current updates to your antivirus software, then you don’t have antivirus protection at all. Vendors compete based on the frequency of their updates, which is one of the most important characteristics of an antivirus program. After you’ve paid for your license, you’re subscribed to this daily (sometimes hourly) service from the vendor. So if the same vendor also provides a possibility to have this kind of service contract directly, without any intermediaries – it’s the most logical way to do it.

Other online shops, like Amazon or Best Buy, also sell the same products. Sometimes the price is higher, sometimes lower than on the vendor’s e-shop, but a vendor e-shop provide a number of advantages:

  • Vendors always have the latest version of the software. eBay is full of old antivirus products, which are sold 5 times cheaper than newer ones, and for a reason!
  • When you don’t buy from a reseller, you don’t have reseller spam. Antivirus companies are normally very ethical and caring about their customers.
  • When a vendor sells you something online, they have to pay much less to any intermediates. After selling you a box, typically >60% of the money is going to distributors and resellers. Online, this number is close to 15-20%, so a vendor has more flexibility with discounts and coupons. The price on the site of the developer is almost always the lowest possible.

Speaking of price, even the same vendor can have different prices online in different countries. Sounds strange, but it’s true. A 2 minute search on different Symantec sites will give you different pricelists. You can choose the cheapest one, of course, because the product is the same.

Currently the dollar-euro exchange rate favors any purchases you make in the US. So people from the European Union have a potential advantage of buying antivirus software cheaper – much cheaper – if they go to the US e-shop and pay in dollars.

With real physical goods, it doesn’t always work, of course, because the shipping could be quite expensive. But an antivirus software activation code is delivered via email in a matter of seconds. So why pay more if you get the same product?

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