Sophos Review: Is Sophos Antivirus Any Good?
Sophos has always been one of the most prominent players in the industry thanks to its high-quality antivirus and security suite solutions. If you’re looking for a decent antivirus to protect your OS, Sophos Free will be a good pick. It might not provide the best protection against phishing, but it does prevail in malware protection. Sadly, there aren’t many third-party lab tests available at this moment. But our hands-on testing proves its efficiency.
The Premium package offers an excellent deal for a big family. First of all, it is relatively affordable; secondly, it can protect up to ten devices simultaneously. Furthermore, Sophos supports multiple platforms (including Win, Mac, iOS, and Android) and features a parental control suit. In this Sophos antivirus review, we’ll go over both the free and the paid editions and talk about all the pros and cons.
Pros and Cons
- Inexpensive, very user-friendly and straightforward
- Capable of protecting a large number of connections
- Comes packed with decent parental control suits
- Impressive remote management capabilities
- Exploit, keylogger, and ransomware protection
|Money back Guarantee||30 days|
|Manual Virus Scanning|
|USB Virus Scan|
|Registry Startup Scan|
|Auto Virus Scanning|
|Ease of use||4/5|
- Users that need malware protection for up to 10 devices
- Win/Mac owners looking for an affordable antivirus
- People in the market for a decent free antivirus solution
Reliability and Security
Sadly, with Sophos there aren’t many recent lab test results available, except for the ones conducted by AV-Test. And, we ran our own series of tests to see how Sophos Antivirus performs in the real world. AV-Comparatives haven’t adequately tested this product since 2016. Back then, it managed to detect 98% of the malware threats, but that only landed it the 18th spot (19 products were tested).
In December 2017, AV-Test included Sophos Home into its big test. They usually rank antivirus software in three categories: Protection, Performance, and Usability. Sophos managed to score perfect 6/6 in all three tests, and got a total 18/18 score. This is a very impressive result, but, a lot has changed in the industry since then, and there’s no telling whether the antivirus will be equally effective this year. AV-Comparatives and MRG Effitas tested Sophos Endpoint last year; it’s an entirely different product, intended for business owners.
In the AMTSO test, Sophos Home only passed two of the six tests. It failed in the phishing, drive-by, compressed malware, and potentially dangerous apps tests. Once the files were downloaded, the antivirus deleted every single one (except for the compressed ones).
There was no warning (or a pop-up menu) offering a choice between putting those files in quarantine and deleting them. This means that in the case of a false positive, your legit files will be deleted without you even knowing about it.
Phishing and Ransomware Protection
Our team has put Sophos Antivirus through a phishing protection test. Out of the ten phishing URLs, it only blocked two (we tested Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft’s Explorer, and the built-in protection proved to be better). Next, we used the Wicar samples, and that’s where Sophos proved to be a good antivirus: it blocked every single malicious URL.
For desktop malware protection, Sophos Home is a decent solution. However, it’s one of the worst picks for phishing protection; and, it is known to delete “innocent” files without warning the user about it. Ransomware protection is reliable, but it is only available with the paid edition.
Sophos Home Antivirus Performance
We used the OpenOffice benchmark test to see how this antivirus affects system performance. During the check, we only saw a 7% drop in performance, and that landed Sophos the #2 spot on the list of the products with the least system impact. Scans also don’t take long to complete.
As for the official system requirements, Sophos antivirus can work with Windows 7 up to Windows 10. With a minimum of 1GB of hard drive space and 1GB of RAM, you’ll be able to launch it on your device. The Mac edition, in turn, is compatible with 10.11 up to 10.14. Minimum requirements are 4GB of free space on the hard drive and 4GB of RAM.
Ease of Use
Sophos Free can be downloaded on the official website, but not before you create an account. A name and an email address should be provided – this is a common practice among antivirus software. The installation process only takes two-three minutes: all you need to do is follow the on-screen instructions. After installation, Sophos added over 1GB of files and as much as 17 processes in the background.
Double-click on the tray icon and the program’s friendly interface will come forward. The main dashboard is minimalistic: it allows you to run scans, access the My Activity menu, and check the Settings. If you want to configure the program, you’ll need to log into your account on the website. While this is very handy when the user doesn’t want the kids to “play around” with the software, for a regular user, this is rather inconvenient.
Strangely enough, there aren’t any quick scans available. When you hit the “Scan” button, Sophos Home automatically launches a full scan of the system. It doesn’t take long, though, and it is very thorough. Interesting fact: while the Free edition requires 1 hour and 20-30 minutes to run a full scan, the Premium edition completes it in 20-25 minutes.
There is no scan optimization with this software, meaning consecutive checks won’t take less time to complete. Scheduled scans are also available, and you can check every single file/folder on the OS by right-clicking on it and choosing the “Scan with Sophos Home” option. Again, it is a bit odd not to have quick scans in 2019, but, it is what it is. The good news is – they have a minimal impact on system performance (only about 10% of the CPU is being utilized).
Important note: to run scheduled scans and to exclude files/folders/drives, you’ll need to log into your account. As we mentioned earlier, this is the only way to access the settings menu and to configure Sophos Home. Overall, the user interface is very friendly and intuitive.
Sophos Home Antivirus Packages and Pricing
Sophos Antivirus has quite an impressive list of additional features but most of them are only available with the paid edition called Premium. As already mentioned, it is available both for PC (Win and Mac), and mobile devices (running on iOS and Android). With Sophos Home Free, you get essential malware protection, parental control, and Remote Management, which is a decent set.
With Premium, you will get access to Predictable AI Detection, among other things. It is designed to detect and block new malware before it hurts your OS. This is an excellent layer of defense against zero-day attacks: the AI uses deep learning to evaluate files and eliminate them. According to company officials, this kind of protection is used by world governments, banks, and businesses.
Safe banking and key-logger protection are also available with the paid edition. Banking truly is secure with this software, and you can stop worrying about hackers/ key-logging apps trying to steal your credit card/bank info. Webcam protection is another vital part of a modern-day antivirus; you’ll get it with Sophos. Whenever an outside source attempts accessing your web camera or microphone, you will be alerted.
With Parental Filtering, you can limit the content that your kids can view on the Internet. The social network, blogs, sites, adult content, and inappropriate content – you can easily set filters for each category. Add real-time threat prevention, advanced ransomware security, Malware scan/clean, and remote security management, and you’ll get a bargain with the Sophos Antivirus.
Sophos Home Free
The free edition can only protect up to three connections (devices) at once. Here is a list of features available with Sophos Home Free:
- Real-Time antivirus (protection against malware, Trojans, worms, and PUA)
- Web Protection (protects against dangerous/compromised websites using the Sophos database)
- Remote Management (allows control over multiple connections from one single device)
- Parental Website Filtering
Sophos Home Premium
The paid edition comes with every single feature from the free version and adds a few of its own:
- Predictable AI Threat Detection
- Advanced Real-Time Protection (Blocks New/Developing Viruses And Program Exploits)
- Ransomware Security (Protection Against The Latest Ransomware)
- Advanced Web Security (Protection Against Phishing Sites For Safe Browsing)
- Banking Protection (Prevents Keystroke Logging Software From Stealing Credit Card Info)
- Privacy Protection (Blocks Access To Keystrokes And Webcam)
- Identity Protection (Layer Of Defense Against Username/Password-Stealing Malware)
- Advanced Malware Scan and Clean (Virus Removal Tool; Eliminates Any Traces Of Malware And Spyware)
- Premium Support (Live Email and Chat)
Don’t forget that Sophos Premium offers a 30-day free trial; after the trial is over, you will be downgraded to the Free edition. And when you purchase one of the packages, all of the additional features will, once again, become available to you. The users can only choose between a one-year and a two-year subscription plans. Here are the prices:
Sophos Premium can only be purchased under a one-year subscription. Regular price is $60 but is currently available for $30 with a 50% discount.
For the users of Antivirus Free, the main form of support is a regular knowledge base. Submitting a request is also an option: during this Sophos Antivirus review, we sent an email and received an answer within hours. But, if you’re looking for direct help from the company’s agents, you’ll have to upgrade to the Premium edition. Yes, we’re talking about live email and live chat.
Customer service works Mondays through Fridays (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Currently, they only provide support for English-speaking users.
In many ways, the knowledge base page is like a FAQ section with user-friendly manuals on downloading, installing, and running the antivirus. The articles are, indeed, very helpful, and come with many screenshots to make it easier for the regular folks to understand it all.
You’ll also find a series of more advanced guides, like for manual removal of malware, and such. Navigation is a bit odd though, and we had a hard time finding the articles that we needed. By the way, the support page for Sophos Endpoint is entirely different and will be appreciated by advanced users with more expertise.
Sophos Home Premium Review: Video Test
Summing up, support is decent: while the interface is a bit cluttered, the articles are very helpful, and response times are quick. The agents are friendly and always make sure the user is satisfied with the answers. Sadly, 24/7 support isn’t available, which makes Sophos Home lag behind the leaders like Kaspersky and Bitdefender.