If you have a PC, you’re a target. You need security software.

That’s as true today as it was a decade ago, despite significant security improvements to Windows over the years. But you have a choice: You can continue paying a security software vendor an annual fee for protection or take matters into your own hands. If you choose the latter you’ll need to put together a custom security suite using various free products.

The pros and cons of free AV

Going free can save you some cash, but it isn’t a perfect solution for everyone. When you buy a paid antivirus product you usually get some form of customer support with it. Free products, on the other hand, often mean you’re on your own for solving problems. Going free also means stitching together a combination of utilities. That takes a little trial and error to find the best tools for your needs. Premium suites, by comparison, offer seamless, relatively pain-free security solutions.

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How to build the best free PC security software suite