Research data revealed today shows UK consumers are increasingly reluctant to renew their antivirus software annually, citing cost, complexity and lack of knowledge of renewal date.

Conducted in October 2010, the survey by OpinionMatters of 1,123 consumers across the UK revealed that 40% of those surveyed would be prepared to let their antivirus software go out of date at the end of the initial subscription period rather than pay to renew for another 12 months. A further 15.3% of those surveyed would also let their existing antivirus software lapse on the grounds that the renewal process was too difficult or inconvenient.

More concerning is the stat that 35% of those surveyed do not know when their existing antivirus software is due to expire, or indeed whether it has already expired, while 20% confirmed they had decided not to renew their subscription when the current one expires.

“Consumers continue to invest in security products that offer more frequent updates and improved protection over free antivirus alternatives, but there is a clear move away from the cost, complexity and hassle associated with renewing or replacing antivirus software every year,” said Walter Scott, CEO of GFI Software.

The way consumer buy security software has changed significantly in recent years, with 81.5% of those surveyed buying their software online (either as a download or ordering boxed software from an online retailer), while only 6.4% of respondents buying boxed software in a physical retail store. Only 2.6% of those surveyed retain pre-installed antivirus software on a new PC.

The survey also found that 40% of those surveyed would be prepared to replace their existing antivirus software with one that offered lifetime coverage for a one-off fee, while 21% would be prepared to switch to a single product that offers cover for all the PCs in the home.

“Consumers want a product they only have to buy once and that will protect their machine until they buy a new computer. After retail purchase, there should be no annual renewal fees for the life of the user’s PC,” Scott added.