• David Moore

Hardly Normal - buying antivirus products in-store

Don't! It is that simple, but please read on to find out why...

Over the years I have had instances where a customer has purchased a new computer at a retail outlet and had me come to their premises to set it up.


Often these people have been talked into buying an Antivirus or Internet Security software package of some kind.


Usually what they've been sold is way too expensive, almost completely irrelevant to their context and against pretty much any recommendation any computer expert would provide.


For example, a real customer (only the names have been changed) of mine, an elderly lady living alone.


She's strong, independent and pretty good at keeping up with technology and such things for anyone of her age (or younger really).


She went in and bought a new laptop and was talked into buying a $250 antivirus subscription for up to 5 devices!!


She only had the one device...the new laptop she'd just purchased!


Any decent person looking at her and selling her a laptop would not sell her such a thing without asking a few questions and making sure she really, really needed protection for 5 devices...and even then, OMG!!


This is a pattern I have seen over and over again. Recently the new record $ figure I was told was over $500!!!


My jaw literally (and I mean proper actual literally) dropped.


So, aside from the criminal prices, why is buying antivirus products at retail stores bad?


Well, for one they aren't experts in computing or related products.


They'll swear black and blue that they are, but really what they are doing is shifting what they make the best margin on.


That's OK. That's business, but it means that you probably aren't really getting unbiased and valid advice.


Especially when it comes to buying software where the margin is nearly 100%. Seriously. It costs almost nothing to sell you another copy of a piece of software.


Secondly they don't really care what you've got or what your needs are.


This doesn't just apply to antivirus products.


I am regularly called upon to help someone with a purchase they've made, to fill a need or solve a problem, only to find out that what they've been sold simply does NOT do what they want or need it to do.


The salespeople hear what they want...if they even bother to ask you a question...and get you out the door as fast as they can.


Often they are trying to push products that they have kickbacks, deals or make most margin on.


your requirements take a back seat.


Thirdly they will sell up to your level of financial pain rather than to what is appropriate.


For example, most IT and independent PC security experts will advise that you DON'T subscribe to a product for more than a year at a time.


The reasons for that you can think of right now are all perfectly valid, but add to that the fact that often these products fail irrevocably sooner or later ( a bad update, compromised by a zero day threat etc.). That means that the rest of your subscription is just wasted money.


Fourthly, you quite probably don't need anywhere near all the "features" that you've just been forced to pay for.


Basic and good security comes built into all PCs these days.


Sure there are arguments for added layers of security and some features like password management, but really, read the box carefully and honestly tell me you know and need 80% of what it says.


Fifthly (is that a word?), even though you've paid for these products many of them will still pester you to upgrade or otherwise be constantly getting in your face.


I don't know about you, but I don't need an antivirus telling me to tune my PC or get a VPN or any other number of things. I just need it to intercept viruses and other threats and shut the hell up!


Like anything, if you don't understand it ask for help from an independent expert (or trusted expert friend - actual expert friend, not just a noisy "expert" friend).


Over the years I have used various different brands of antivirus and security software and have found value in paying for them from time to time.


I've also been a victim of paying for a good product only to have an update ruin it.


So my opinion on what is good at any point in time is subject to change i.e. if "they" go bad I drop them like a hot potato.


But right now, the product I recommend and pay for is Malwarebytes.


It plays nicely with your computer's built in security, it is super low on the pester scale, the pricing is reasonable, you can buy just the number of licenses you need and it bloody works!!


I don't just come up with this stuff out of thin air. I do research and I listen to experts too. Experts who have more time than me to research these things.


Here's an independent site talking about Malwarebytes and similar things to what I have just said.


https://thewirecutter.com/blog/best-antivirus/


Lastly, you need to know that antivirus and security products aren't a panacea and they can't and won't ever protect you from everything.


The whole game, for the bad guys, is to get through your security and the good guys only know that has happened after it has happened (that's what all the updates are about).


So you must backup your valuable data as well.


Good luck. Have fun!


David





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