Antivirus

The best free software for students 2020

We’re coming up to an expensive time of year. The kids may be heading back to school, or you may be getting ready for college or university yourself. There’s a lot to think about – and a lot to spend money on.In addition to clothes or uniform, there are textbooks to buy, stationery and, of…

We’re coming up to an expensive time of year. The kids may be heading back to school, or you may be getting ready for college or university yourself. There’s a lot to think about – and a lot to spend money on.

In addition to clothes or uniform, there are textbooks to buy, stationery and, of course, you’ll need a student laptop. But a computer no good without software, and this can be a whole new world of expense – software can cost a small fortune.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

A superb free, Microsoft-compatible office suite

But perhaps the real beauty of LibreOffice is not just the fact that it is free, but is free for everyone. Home users can use it, as can student, businesses and just about anyone else. This is a perfect example of a pieces of software demonstrating that great things need not cost the Earth.

It is impossible to imagine spending very long without using an office suite, and the default choice that people opt for is Microsoft Office. But there is really no need to pay a monthly, annual, or even a one-off cost for your software – LibreOffice is available free of charge. Not only is the software completely free, it is also a genuinely viable rival to Microsoft Office.

LibreOffice is not only a rival to Microsoft Office, it is also fully compatible with the famous office suite. Unlike other free office suites such as WPS Office, LibreOffice is free of advertising and still includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, and even a database, formulae app and a vector graphics editor.

In terms of the interface, LibreOffice is similar to pretty much any other office suite out there, although it has opted for a rather more retro, non-ribbon toolbar that may be preferable to fans of the older look of Office.

  • LibreOffice review
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Zoom

(Image credit: Zoom)

Zoom

Stay in touch with friends and family, or conduct remote meetings and lessons

Providing you have a laptop or desktop PC with a webcam – or even just a phone or tablet with a reasonable camera – Zoom offers a great way to hold video calls and meetings. Whether you’re catching up with friends and family while away from home, or using the app to keep in touch with tutors, the communication and remote working possibilities Zoom provides are brilliant.

The software is pleasingly easy to set up, and recent improvements in security mean that locking down your meetings is a simple affair too. The great news for anyone who does not want to pay for video conferencing software is that Zoom lets you hold meetings of up to 40 minutes in length with up to 100 participants – and this should be more than enough for most people.

The software is also very versatile, offering not only basic video conferencing, but also screen sharing, scheduling, and privacy features such as background blurring.

  • Zoom review
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Google Drive

(Image credit: Google)

Google Drive

Stores files, backup data and work collaboratively in the cloud

There are many benefits to storing your files in the cloud, but two are key. Not only does it make it easier to access your files from just about any computer or device with an internet connection, it also serves as a way of safeguarding your valuable files by having them automatically backed up. There are various cloud storage services available, but Google Drive is one of the best.

The software you’ll use to synchronise data between your computer and your cloud storage is called Google Backup and Sync, and you can use fine-grain controls to choose precisely which files and folders should be synchronised – of opt to backup your entire computer if you want.

Google Drive stands out from many rivals because of the number of platforms it is available for, and the quality of its web apps. You even get access to a cloud-based office suite which is perfect for collaborative work.

Should you find that the amount of cloud storage space you’re given for free is not quite enough, you can easily upgrade to a paid package – and the prices are surprisingly reasonable, even for relatively large amounts of space.

  • Google Drive review
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BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition

A student-friendly security suite that offers complete protection

Every student needs a solid security suite to protect their privacy and keep their work safe from dangers like ransomware that could damage or encrypt crucial essays and reports. 

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition is the best free antivirus around – fast and well designed, with excellent detection rates. Its behavioral analysis makes it particularly good at picking up zero-day threats – those that haven’t yet been identified and catalogued by its security experts, but have been spotted based on their behaviour.

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition isn’t bloated with add-ons that you’ll never use, but it does include anti-phishing and anti-fraud tools to keep students safe when they’re banking and shopping online.

  • BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition review
  • Download BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition

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Evernote

Evernote

A cloud-based notebook that’s perfect for gathering research in one place

When you’re researching a project, you need somewhere to keep all your notes and resources. Evernote lets you upload 60MB of data per month (which goes a long way when you’re mostly dealing with text), syncs across two devices (the mobile apps are also free), lets you share notes and whole notebooks with friends, and makes everything you’ve clipped searchable.

Evernote also has a web interface, which means your notes are accessible from any device with an internet access – including computers in the IT center or library that don’t have the app installed.

To get the most from Evernote, we recommend installing the Web Clipper browser extension so you can add whole webpages, bookmarks, or individual articles to your notebooks with a click.

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EaseUS Todo Backup Free

EaseUS Todo Backup Free

Protect work from accidental deletion, malicious attacks or drive failure

Your college work is irreplaceable, so a regular backup routine is essential. You never know when your PC’s drive might fail, you could fall victim to a ransomware attack, or your laptop might be lost, broken or stolen on campus.

EaseUS Todo Backup Free makes protecting your documents as easy as possible. It can make an image of an entire drive (including the operating system), or just selected files or folders. The first time you start it, it begins backing up your documents folder automatically. After that, the choice is yours.

Getting started and setting up a regular schedule is simplicity itself, and restoring from a backup is just as straightforward if the worst happens.

  • EaseUS Todo Backup Free review
  • Download EaseUS Todo Backup Free

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WhatsApp

WhatsApp

Stay in touch with friends and family using any device – mobile or desktop

You might already have the mobile app on your phone, but WhatsApp is also available for desktop devices. Just download the app from the Windows Store or iTunes, then scan the QR code on the screen with your phone to log in and sync your messages.

WhatsApp’s main advantage over most chat apps is its double-ended encryption, which keeps your messages safe from interception. It’s no longer just for text conversations either – it also supports video calls, and a recent update added the ability to set up group calls with up to four people.

  • Download WhatsApp

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Paint.NET

Paint.NET

A fantastic, feature-packed photo editor without the price tag

You don’t ha

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Antivirus

5 easy ways to avoid identity theft and protect yourself from identity fraud

Whether you’re savvy about online security and how to look after your finances online and offline, everyone is a target for cyber criminals. Identity theft isn’t just about stealing your name, it’s the process of using details normally associated with you to spend money – often money you don’t already have.We’ve put together a list…

Whether you’re savvy about online security and how to look after your finances online and offline, everyone is a target for cyber criminals. Identity theft isn’t just about stealing your name, it’s the process of using details normally associated with you to spend money – often money you don’t already have.

  • We’ve put together a list of the best password managers
  • These are the best home security systems on the market
  • Protect your privacy online with one of the best VPN services

Identity fraud has a sudden impact 

In almost every case, identity theft happens without the victim knowing. It isn’t until occurrences of identity fraud become known that it becomes apparent that something is amiss.

This is a moment you will never forget. The realisation that someone is posing as you, taking out credit cards, applying for loans, and more, leaving you liable for the debt, is sickening.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Sapann Design)

5 Tricks to Avoid Identity Theft

password manager with lower- and upper-case characters, numbers, and punctuation (where allowed). Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts and keep your passcodes and PINs safe. If you must write them down, lock the cheat sheet away. A password manager like LastPass is the smart option, as only one password needs to be remembered. Two-factor authentication should also be enabled where available.

Meanwhile, ensure all your devices have a password, PIN, or thumbprint access set up. Also, ensure devices have working antivirus software and stay aware of current threats, such as ransomware and phishing.

  • Also check out the best password generators

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Strengthen home security

Losing a credit card or a driving license would be bad enough – losing both would put you in the fast lane to identity fraud.

You can mitigate the risk of important details being stolen by ensuring all old credit cards, letters, bank statements, and other identifiable information is shredded once it is ready to be discarded. Meanwhile, keep things like birth certificates under lock and key.

For shared accommodation, b

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Antivirus

Paid antivirus vs free antivirus: which should you get?

Antivirus software can be divided into two broad camps: free apps, and products that you must pay money for (usually known as paid or premium apps).Obviously, the difference between the two is that one involves a financial outlay and the other doesn’t. In this article, we’re going to look at which is the best choice…

Antivirus software can be divided into two broad camps: free apps, and products that you must pay money for (usually known as paid or premium apps).

Obviously, the difference between the two is that one involves a financial outlay and the other doesn’t. In this article, we’re going to look at which is the best choice for you between these two options, weighing up various key factors that will help you decide.

  • Our definitive list of today’s best antivirus software
  • Looking for even more protection? Grab the best VPN
  • See why we rate Bitdefender so highly in our testing

Budget

best free antivirus.

That said, note that some antivirus developers offer their premium products on long-term contracts at what works out very cheaply in terms of a monthly rate, and these apps give you a lot more in terms of features as we’ll discuss next. So the overall value proposition, at least with some products such as those which top our best paid antivirus list, is actually very strong. Check out how reasonable some of the best names in the business have made their premium offerings:

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

33% off
Norton
Kaspersky
Trend Micro
Webroot

Furthermore, don’t forget that paid apps often offer either a trial, or a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy within a certain period, meaning you can try before you buy, and see first-hand if the software is worth splashing out on.

Features

With free virus protection, you’ll only get a basic feature-set. These apps might only carry the core antivirus engine, and perhaps a couple of additional pillars of defense – but vendors reserve all the more heavyweight functions for their paid products for obvious reasons.

With premium versions, you’ll often get important additions like extra layers of anti-ransomware protection, or web protection with anti-phishing tech or perhaps a tailor-made secure browser. You’ll be even more secure with these kind of features backing you up online, which is great news for those who might be less confident about the web and all the potential dangers out there.

Premium features like parental controls can help keep kids safe

(Image credit: Google)

Similarly, because parental controls and the likes of social media monitoring tools are generally only in paid security apps, those with a family may well want to pay for such features in order to keep the kids safe when they’re online.

Adverts

Advertisements are a further key issue to consider. With free products, there will usually be some manner of advertising involved (although there are exceptions to the rule, they are few and far between). This might be ads for all kinds of things, or simple messages suggesting you upgrade to the premium version, but you will likely face pop-ups of some variety.

With a paid antivirus app, there’s none of this. So, another way of looking at this could be that with a free antivirus, you’re effectively paying for the product with another resource – your time (to dismiss adverts), rather than money. Granted, with most decent free apps you won’t spend much time dismissing adverts, as there shouldn’t be that many of them – but they can be a slight annoyance, even so.

Support

Another major difference between paid and free products is that with a premium antivirus, you get a fully rounded technical support package. That often means 24/7 support allowing you to talk to human agents – via the phone, or live chat online – which can be a really useful facility for troubleshooting.

Indeed, some security companies even offer additional benefits such as Norton’s virus protection promise, whereby if a paying user’s system is infected by malware, they get a guarantee that one of the company’s experts will remove it. If tech support can’t remedy the situation, the cost of the customer’s subscription is refunded.

Technical support could be a lifesaver if things go wrong

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Free virus protection won’t give you any guarantees, of course, and support is usually limited to simple FAQs, or forums where users can try and help each other out with varying levels of success. If your query is a thornier one, you may find you get no replies, and can’t find much out in any FAQ either, leaving you pretty much high and dry, perhaps speculatively Googling for an answer.

The answer to this question does, of course, depend on your exact needs. Broadly speaking, though, paid antivirus edges it because of the extra features on offer – many of which are very useful, particularly to computing novices – plus better support, and lack of any pesky ads.

That said, a free app is a perfectly viable option for robust core protection of your PC, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going this route for those who want to save some money, and are perhaps more confident about avoiding online dangers.

  • Read more: How to choose the best antivirus for you
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33% off
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Antivirus

Is paid antivirus really worth it?

Paid, premium antivirus apps are those security products that cost money to purchase – as opposed to the wealth of free antivirus apps out there, which won’t extract a single coin from your wallet.But is it really worth paying for antivirus software? That’s what we’re going to discuss here, examining the hidden costs of freebie…

Paid, premium antivirus apps are those security products that cost money to purchase – as opposed to the wealth of free antivirus apps out there, which won’t extract a single coin from your wallet.

But is it really worth paying for antivirus software? That’s what we’re going to discuss here, examining the hidden costs of freebie antivirus software, and the other points in favor of a paid antivirus app.

  • Our definitive list of today’s best antivirus software
  • Looking for even more protection? Grab the best VPN
  • See why we rate Bitdefender so highly in our testing

Free but basic

free antivirus from a reputable company, though, you’ll be fine, and these apps will provide robust enough protection for your device(s) on a basic level, at no cost (or no financial cost, anyway – more on that later).

The key word here, of course, is ‘basic’ – because paid apps offer a lot above and beyond the remit of a freebie. Those additional features vary considerably depending on which product range you’re looking at, but there are often a lot of valuable extras provided with premium antivirus apps.

Far greater functionality

Those extras might include bonuses like protection for your backups (Bitdefender’s paid Mac antivirus app includes Time Machine protection, for example), and often measures to keep you safe on the web, such as a secure browser which you can use to do your online banking or other sensitive tasks.

Paid apps often provide the likes of anti-spam filters to keep your email inbox free of nonsense or malicious messages, and anti-phishing protection to keep you safe on the web, and these can be key elements when it comes to staying secure online.

Indeed, these kind of layers of defense can be even more vital for less tech-savvy users, who may not be able to guard themselves against some of the well-constructed phishing threats around, or other scams built around social engineering. These vulnerable users will especially benefit from the extra security offered by a paid app.

Those with families will also find that premium antivirus offerings usually integrate some manner of parental controls, and these will be very useful for helping to keep the kids safe online.

Panda Antivirus with bundled VPN

(Image credit: Panda)

Premium antivirus software sometimes offers even tighter levels of security still by incorporating a VPN. The top-end security suites from some vendors who also run a VPN service bundle the latter, and if you need the extra encrypted privacy and security that a VPN can give you online, these can be a great choice in terms of value for money.

If you really want to feel super-secure online, only a paid antivirus can deliver on this front.

Better support

Another factor to bear in mind when it comes to paid antivirus is that you will get better tech support, with the likes of helplines you can call, or live chat to solve any problems you might encounter. Generally speaking, none of those options are provided by a free antivirus – indeed, with the latter, you’ll likely get little to no support, save for some FAQs or a web knowledgebase perhaps.

What you will get with many free antivirus products is adverts which continually urge you to upgrade to the paid version, or indeed just ads in general – these products have to eke out a living in some way, of course. Naturally, any software you pay for won’t have adverts popping up and annoying you (or shouldn’t, anyway, if you buy from a reputable vendor).

Finally, it’s worth considering that some paid antivirus apps really aren’t all that expensive, particularly if you’re willing to subscribe for a longer term. When you actually break down the cost of some of those multi-year contracts to work out what you’re paying monthly, it’s not very much for a high level of protection.

Is paid antivirus really worth it?

On balance, paying for an antivirus makes sense on a number of levels. As we’ve underlined here, those who aren’t very tech-savvy or confident can stay much safer online with premium antivirus software (and kids can as well, thanks to additional features like parental controls). And remember that it doesn’t have to be that expensive to get paid antivirus protection, with even the best proponents out there starting with prices of less than $2 per month. That said, a good free app is still a perfectly viable route to take for those who can live with just the basics.

  • Read more: How to choose the best antivirus for you
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Antivirus

Do I really need antivirus for Mac?

Traditionally, the Mac has been regarded as a safe and secure haven compared to other desktop platforms – particularly Windows – and a common line of thinking has been that Apple computers don’t need antivirus defenses, because security is tight enough anyway, and threats are relatively scarce.But is that still true today? The latter point…

Traditionally, the Mac has been regarded as a safe and secure haven compared to other desktop platforms – particularly Windows – and a common line of thinking has been that Apple computers don’t need antivirus defenses, because security is tight enough anyway, and threats are relatively scarce.

But is that still true today? The latter point most certainly isn’t…

  • Our definitive list of today’s Mac antivirus software
  • Looking for even more protection? Grab the best VPN
  • See why we rate Bitdefender so highly in our testing

Growing threat level

more threats were found per endpoint (ie Mac) than with Windows machines.

If any statistic will make a Mac user sit up and take notice on the security front, it’s the revelation that there were 11 threats per endpoint compared to 5.8 with Windows – in other words, nearly double the amount with Apple machines.

That stark headline isn’t the full story, though. The big caveat here is that much more malware is still aimed at Windows PCs, with the Mac getting hit more with adware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), or ‘malware light’ as Malwarebytes dubs it. These kind of efforts aren’t nearly as serious or dangerous as the full-fat malware out there, but they can certainly be unpleasant in at least some cases, hijacking your browser, changing your default search engine or perhaps serving up sponsored results to the benefit of the author.

Of course, we must also bear in mind that this is just a single report, and it’s unwise to put too much emphasis on any one source in isolation. However, we’ve also seen a regular drip of articles about Mac malware hitting the headlines. Witness, for example, the recent revelation of a new strain of Mac ransomware (the first such sighting in some four years).

So given this, and the apparent increase in Mac threats – which is doubtless tied into Apple’s machines becoming more popular – anyone who has been following all this will likely have become more concerned about Mac security, and rightly so.

Apple keeps improving macOS security

(Image credit: Shutterstock; Apple)

But isn’t my Mac secure by design anyway?

Despite these growing dangers, you may well ask: but isn’t my Mac secure by design anyway?

It is true that macOS is built to be seriously secure, and Apple implements a number of measures within the operating system to that end. The firm incorporates features such as XProtect antivirus protection, and the likes of Gatekeeper, insisting that all software is digitally signed (or notarized, in other words, checked by Apple for issues or malicious code). All this helps protect those downloading software from outside of the official App Store.

There’s no doubting that the level of security provided by Apple is sterling stuff – but nonetheless, these systems aren’t fool-proof, and we have seen ways to get around Gatekeeper in the past, or attempts to trick users and foil this built-in security. Vulnerabilities at a hardware level can be another dangerous potential attack vector against Mac systems, too, as we’ve seen in the past with the likes of ZombieLoad.

Besides, as Malwarebytes points out, Apple’s integrated security measures aren’t so great about picking up the ‘malware light’ efforts we mentioned above. As the security company notes: “macOS’ built-in security systems have not cracked down on adware and PUPs to the same degree that they have malware, leaving the door open for these borderline programs to infiltrate.”

And as we’ve noted, those ‘borderline’ apps may not wreak havoc on your system like a traditional piece of malware, but you still don’t want those kind of things hanging around on your Mac.

Do I really need antivirus for Mac?

When you weigh ever

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