Based on what’s available, you should never HAVE to pay for your anti-malware app.
I’ve been a freelance technology journalist for over 15 years. I’ve written for CMPnet, AOL/CompuServe, UBM TechWeb and for a number of print publications, including a local Chicago paper that is part of the SunTimes family. I’ve looked at a boat load of malware scanners over the years; and its clear, you have to have (and USE) one on your computer. You just do… Unfortunately, there’s really no way around it.
However, just because you have to have and use one, doesn’t mean that you have to pay for it. And you certainly don’t have to pay yearly subscription fees after your initial purchase. There are a number of scanners out there that are really very good, and are free.
Any and all of these are GREAT scanners, and more importantly, they’re all free, and don’t come with any kind of strings attached, such as subscription fees for updated AV definitions. I’ve used all of these at one point or another for both Windows and Mac, and highly recommend all of these. Most scan for viruses, worms, Trojans and the like, and may even help with phishing scams.
If you don’t feel comfortable with a free solution, or prefer the additional or advanced features of a pay or subscription based product, that’s fine. In the end, you just need to find one that seems to work the best for you…and then USE it. Let it run, regardless of WHEN it wants to run its scans. Let its definitions update. The utility can’t protect you if you don’t let it scan your PC and/or let its definitions update itself. Most modern PC’s have multi-core processors. Any performance hit you take is going to be minimal, and should be tolerable. Besides, any performance hit you take is well worth the benefit you receive.