Do I Need Antivirus Software for My Computer?

Virus protection software can help keep your computer and mobile devices secure. Canstar reveals all you need to know about virus protection software!

Do I Need Antivirus Software for My Computer? This article covers:

The internet can be a scary place. As technology has advanced over the last decade, so too have the threats and risks to our privacy. Although systems like Microsoft and Apple continually develop and update their security credentials, every system has flaws that can be exploited. So it can pay to have a decent virus protection system installed on your computer. If not for potential threats now, for attacks you could face in the future. 

antivirus software

What is antivirus software?

Essentially, it’s a buffer between your computer and malware on the internet. Malware is software that’s specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain access to a computer system. 

Things like viruses can destroy your data or take over your PC, and spyware can steal your identity. Security software or an antivirus program can provide protection, and they can be paid for, or free.

Although antivirus software has many benefits, be aware you should always be careful when deciding to install any software. Always thoroughly research what you’re installing onto your device. Make sure the company/brand is legitimate and safe. 

Note that before choosing a security package, you’ll need to make sure your computer’s operating system has the latest updates. In an ideal world, you should also keep your web browser and other programs updated on your computer.

What do I look for when buying antivirus software?


It sounds obvious, but that’s your key starting point. You want the best protection possible. Research by AV-TEST (industry leaders who test antivirus software) shows that 16 of 21 biggest antivirus software companies achieved a perfect score for protection against malware infections. Start your research there, and don’t opt for any software that hasn’t achieved a perfect score.


Performance is also key. It’s something AV-TEST looks at, too. Essentially, you want to know installing antivirus software won’t slow the performance of your device. It’s a common problem people run into. Simple things like launching applications, copying files, and visiting sites can be slowed down by a poor-performing antivirus program as it scans for malicious files.

Phishing protection

A lot of phishing is done via email, so look for a package with email scanning. A website impersonating a company, like your bank, is a form of phishing. They hope you’ll enter your password before you notice it’s a scam. Most security programs block sites known to be involved in phishing. But if it’s a link embedded in an email, some programs will miss it.

Password manager

A password manager will generate complex passwords on demand and store them in an encrypted database. They’re far harder to guess, increasing your protection.

antivirus software

What antivirus software is out there?

McAfee Total Protection

McAfee protects over 500 million devices across the world. It’s a bit of a household name in antivirus software. With a single McAfee Total Protection subscription, you can choose to protect five or ten devices. It defends against viruses, online threats and ransomware with both cloud-based online and offline protection. It starts at $53.95 and there’s a free 30-day trial.

Norton 360

As well as protection from malware, Norton 360 gives users a password manager, a secure VPN, additional browser safety tools and parental controls. If you’re not confident with online security, and are looking for the ultimate protection, then Norton 360 is an ideal solution. It’s $74.99 for a one-year licence, and there are 30-day free trials on offer, too.


If your broadband is with Spark, you could score free antivirus software. Spark Security Suite is a software package that provides security for your computer/s while online. It uses McAfee technology. As a Spark broadband customer, you get five Spark Security Suite licences, powered by McAfee, worth over $95 per licence, per year free (at time of writing, February 2021).


Whether you’re using mobile, wireless or home broadband, Vodafone PC Protection, powered by F-Secure, is all-in-one security software that protects your data and privacy. The program is $5 per month for a one-user licence. You can also get it free on any Ultimate Home Fibre 12-month plan (at time of writing, February 2021).

What about free software?

There are many providers out there that claim to offer the best free antivirus program. But free often comes with a catch! It could be limited features, unless you pay for a premium upgrade, or loads of sponsorship ads. If you’re set on choosing a free antivirus provider, just be sure to choose a reputable provider that’s well known in the security industry. 

Do all brands of computers need antivirus software?

It doesn’t matter what operating system you’re using, whether it’s Windows, Apple OS, Android or Linux, antivirus software options are available and worth considering if you want to feel safer online.

Do I really need antivirus software?

At the end of the day, it’s a decision that’s totally up to you. Basically, we use our devices at our own risk. Realistically, those who aren’t very tech-savvy or confident will be much safer online through the use of paid antivirus software.

If you have kids using your devices, who can click on things by accident, having antivirus protection is especially important. It’s a bit like having a house. Yes, you can close all your doors and windows and feel confident you can block intruders, but there are still ways for burglars to get in. Having an alarm system and locks installed is better protection.

antivirus software

Antivirus software really is a good idea for anyone who wants to feel safer and more secure using their device. No, it won’t protect you against everything. No, you still can’t afford to be complacent if you have software installed. But it’s about being smart and alert online.

Does my phone need antivirus software?

As above, it’s a personal decision, but one that could certainly pay off in the long run. The main purpose of any antivirus software is to scan your phone for malware and alert you to any problems. Some antivirus apps offer features that go beyond the norm, by blocking unwanted calls and messages, or giving you the option to wipe your phone or locate it if it’s stolen.

General rules for everyone

Regardless of whether you have antivirus installed or not, always:

  • Assess the reputability of files, programs and apps before installing them
  • Ensure your passwords are complex and well-managed
  • Ensure your phone and computer apps are regularly updated
  • Be alert to the possibility of phishing
  • Always use secure wi-fi connections

How fast is your broadband?

If you’re spending a decent chunk of your time on a computer, you’ll need the best broadband. So it’s always worth doing a little research into the best and fastest broadband deals. To help you get a clearer picture of broadband providers in NZ, Canstar Blue rates all the big providers in the market annually. We survey thousands of broadband customers and ask them to score their providers across categories including Value for Money, Network Performance and Customer Service.

Canstar Blue’s 2020 review of NZ internet providers compares NOW, 2degrees, Bigpipe, Contact, MyRepublic, Orcon, Skinny, Slingshot, Spark, Stuff Fibre, Trustpower, Vodafone and Voyager, and awards the best our 5 Star rating:

See Our Ratings Methodology

The table above is an abridged version of our full research, so to find out more about NZ’s best broadband providers, just click this button:

Compare broadband providers for free with Canstar!

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