Sophos review: Expert's summary
Sophos is a well-known cyber security company that provides security software for businesses. However, it also provides some antivirus packages for general consumers, promising "enterprise-grade cyber security" for home use.
I wanted to know if Sophos Home Premium is really as good as they advertise and if the advanced malware scanner can really detect and stop all the latest and most sophisticated malware.
In my tests, I was very impressed with Sophos' scanning capabilities: the antivirus blocked and removed almost all malware samples I downloaded, including spyware, ransomware, trojans, rootkits and viruses.
In addition, I tested all of Sophos' additional features, including:
- Web protection.
- Parental controls.
- Remote device management.
One of the features of Sophos that I liked best is that you can remotely manage its features on up to 10 devices, which is ideal for users who need an easy way to change security settings, run malware scans, and manage parental control settings on multiple devices simultaneously.
However, I dislike the fact that users need to open the Sophos online dashboard to access all features and configure antivirus settings. Sophos has a minimalist desktop application, but you can only use it for some basic actions, such as checking your system and accessing the online dashboard.
Also, I wish Sophos would add some extra features that almost all the best antivirus of 2021 offer, such as device optimization and VPN.
That said, Sophos is a very good choice for users looking for a simple antivirus that offers consistent and reliable protection against all known and emerging malware types, as well as Internet security threats. Sophos is also one of the cheapest antiviruses on the market, has a free trial version (no need to enter credit card details) and has a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee.
Sophos Security Features
Sophos Home Premium is an effective and easy-to-use antivirus that can protect up to 10 devices.
Sophos is relatively minimalistic in terms of design and features. However, this is what makes it a good choice for non-technical users. However, Sophos is also a good choice for tech-savvy users because of its advanced settings and remote management feature.
Although Sophos has a desktop application, most of its features and settings are managed through an online dashboard that is accessed via a web browser. Basically, the desktop application acts as a shortcut pane that redirects you to specific features in the Sophos online dashboard. It is very easy to navigate both the desktop application and the online dashboard, even beginners will have that feeling.
Sophos Home Premium offers all the essential security features, including protection against malware and ransomware, real-time protection based on artificial intelligence, remote management, webcam protection, web protection and web filtering for parents. All features are very intuitive and have simple on/off buttons.
I like most of Sophos' features. However, I was disappointed to learn that the Mac version of Sophos Home Premium does not include some of the features that the PC version offers, including advanced web protection. However, the Mac version of Sophos still offers real-time antivirus protection, basic Web protection, parental Web filtering, and remote device management.
The Home Premium package doesn't bring many extra features, such as VPN, secure cloud storage, password manager, or device optimization tools, all of which are included in renowned competitors like Norton 360.
That said, Sophos is a good low-cost antivirus: it has near-perfect malware detection rates, all the basic features most users need to keep their devices safe, some really interesting extras, and coverage for up to 10 devices.
The Sophos malware scanner is very easy to use. You can access the malware scanner from the desktop application or from the online dashboard. You can also set up a scheduled scan on the day and time that works best for you.
Sophos claims that its malware scanner can detect a wide variety of malware and cyber threats. So I spent a lot of time testing the malware scanner to see if this was true.
Before testing, I uploaded hundreds of malware samples to my PC, including spyware, ransomware, virus, trojans and rootkit samples, some were older, well-known viruses and some were newly created malware samples.
When I ran the Sophos full system scan, I was really impressed. Sophos immediately detected 97% of the downloaded malware samples, including some of the newer "zero-day" threats.
Although Sophos' initial malware scan detection rate is not exactly on par with top security software like Bitdefender and Norton, both had a 100% detection rate during the test. So Sophos proved to have very effective malware detection capabilities.
After Sophos completed its initial scan, I reloaded the malware samples onto my computer and launched them one by one to test the program's real-time anti-malware engine that uses artificial intelligence (AI).
When I opened each malware program, the Sophos anti-malware engine immediately detected and blocked the execution of all malware programs on my system, and even some advanced ransomware programs that are usually very difficult to block.
So I was very impressed with the malware scanning and detection capabilities of Sophos.
However, the malware scanner lacks some features that other antivirus products offer. For example, Sophos does not offer a quick or customized scan like McAfee and Avira. However, it does offer protection against malicious USB devices, as well as the option to scan or skip selected folders, files and drives.
Overall, Sophos Home Premium has a great malware scanner that detected almost every malware sample I loaded, including advanced ransomware, spyware, Trojans, viruses, and rootkits. And Sophos' real-time protection identified 100% of the test malware, blocking even the latest threats that many competitors have trouble detecting.
The Sophos remote management feature gives you the ability to manage the program's security features on one or more devices from your PC or Mac via the Sophos online dashboard.
The Sophos remote management feature is extremely easy to use. To test it, I clicked on the Dashboard tab on the left side of the desktop application and it took me to the Sophos online dashboard. In the dashboard, I had the option to click on the Add new device button to add up to 10 different PCs or Macs for remote management.
To add a new device for remote management, I had to copy an installation URL generated by Sophos and email it to whoever wanted me to manage their device. First I e-mailed the URL to my children so that they could install it on their PCs.
After installing Sophos and logging into my account, I could see my children's devices in the Sophos online dashboard, which allowed me to control different functions and change settings. I was able to run full system malware scans on my kids' PCs and change the parents' web filtering settings to make sure my kids were safe online.
Overall I really like the remote management feature of Sophos Home Premium, it is a great tool for beginners and advanced users, it is easy to use and it is not something that most antivirus offer.
Sophos Web Protection claims to keep your computer safe from malicious sites, including malware sites and fake phishing pages disguised as legitimate sites to steal your personal information, such as social network logins and bank account details.
So I put the Sophos web protection to the test and tried visiting several dangerous URLs listed on the malicious URL database site, PhishTank. I was very pleased to find that Sophos blocked 100% of these dangerous URLs: malware and phishing sites.
To put a blocked site in the whitelist, I clicked on the Protection tab in the online dashboard and entered the domain name of the site in the Website Exceptions tab. This is easy to do, however, it can get tiresome if there are several sites that you want to put on the whitelist.
That said, it did not give any false positives during my testing, so I don't think most people would need to put too many popular sites on the whitelist.
I also think it is great that Sophos has a setting to ensure secure online banking. Basically this feature prevents hackers from spying on or stealing your online banking data. I also find the "Download Reputation" setting very nice. It provides a reputation score for all your downloads based on feedback from other users.
One feature that I also really like about the Sophos Web protection is that you don't need to install a separate browser extension for Web protection. Normally, most antivirus products require you to install a browser security extension to protect you online. This is not a big problem, but I prefer to have easy access to all antivirus features in one dashboard. So I think it's great that users can install and configure Sophos Home Premium once and not have to worry about setting up extra security features.
Parental controls/content filtering
Sophos Home Premium comes with a basic parental content filtering system.
Using this feature you can block websites in the categories "General Interest", "Social Networking and Computing" and "Adult and Inappropriate". These categories can also be unblocked with a single click.
After setting up parental controls on my computer, I tried to visit several websites within the blocked category areas in my Google Chrome browser. Each time, I received a desktop warning and a web browser notification that the site was blocked by Sophos Home Premium.
I was disappointed that I could not find a way to blacklist specific sites or block specific social networking sites. However, there is a field for site exceptions where users can put specific sites on the permission list for blocked categories.
Sophos' content filter works only with the most popular browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. When I tested the parental controls on the lesser-known Vivaldi browser, I was able to access all the blocked sites.
Overall, the Sophos parental controls are very limited in terms of functionality. You can block only categories of websites and put specific websites in the permission list of the blocked categories. There are no usage limitations or location tracking, which are included in major antivirus brands with parental controls such as Norton and McAfee.
That said, if you only need a basic parental filter, Sophos' parental controls are good, especially if you have younger children who just need a little online supervision.
Sophos Home Premium offers a very short list of security features if you compare it to full antivirus packages like Norton 360 or Bitdefender. But it has some really useful extras, like:
- Privacy protection. Notifies when an application tries to access a user's webcam or microphone (microphone protection is only available on Macs).
- Keylogger protection. Encrypts keystrokes so that keylogging malware and hackers cannot track keystrokes and steal important information. This feature is located in Safe Online Banking.
The keystroke encryption feature worked very well. When I downloaded a sample of keylogging malware to my PC and visited several sites where I enter my login details, the keylogging malware only recorded "gibberish" and not my actual keystrokes.
However, I think the webcam feature could be improved: it only gives a fleeting alert on the screen that an application is accessing your webcam. Kaspersky and Bitdefender offer better privacy protection software, as both programs send notifications and prevent unknown spying programs from accessing your webcam.
Sophos Home Premium does not offer a wide range of extra features, such as VPN, PC optimization tools or Dark Web monitoring. However, if you are looking for a basic antivirus with just a few extras to protect your webcam, microphone and keys, Sophos is a good choice.
Sophos plans and pricing
Sophos Home Premium is a simple antivirus with some additional features, and the price is quite reasonable. Frankly, I think Sophos offers good value for money as it provides great antivirus protection for up to 10 devices, regardless of whether the PC or Mac is in your home, office, or even in another country.
That said, if you are looking for a more complete product that includes device cleaning capabilities, a password manager, VPN, or secure cloud storage, Norton 360 may be a better option.
Sophos offers a 30-day free trial of its Home Premium package (which doesn't require a credit card), and there's also a 30-day money-back guarantee. Therefore, you can try Sophos Home Premium free for 60 days before making any payments. If you choose not to upgrade after the 30-day free trial period ends, Sophos will automatically downgrade you to the Sophos Home Free package.
Sophos Home Free - Good free antivirus software
The Sophos free plan includes:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Malicious URL protection.
- Remote management for up to 3 devices.
- Content filters.
While the free version of Sophos includes real-time antivirus protection, which many other free antivirus products do not offer, it does not have important features such as ransomware protection, advanced web protection or webcam protection. In the free version, there is also no email or live chat support.
Overall Sophos Home Free offers good protection against malware. It won't completely protect your PC or Mac from all cyber threats, but it is better than many other free antivirus programs.
Sophos Home Premium - The best Sophos package available
Sophos Home Premium includes the features mentioned in Sophos Home Free, plus:
- Ransomware protection.
- Anti-phishing features.
- Banking protection.
- Privacy tools (including webcam protection).
- Advanced malware scanning and cleaning.
- Remote management for up to 10 devices.
- Live chat and email support (weekdays 8am to 8pm EST).
This very inexpensive anti-malware package offers excellent value. While Norton and McAfee offer more in terms of extra features, they also come with a higher price tag compared to Sophos Home Premium.
Overall, Sophos Home Premium is a great choice for users looking for cheap but effective antivirus software that protects against a wide variety of malware and Internet security threats. It is also an excellent choice for people who wish to remotely manage devices in other homes, a feature that is not included in many of the major antivirus packages.
Sophos is easy to use and configure
Sophos is one of the easiest antivirus to download and use of all the anti-malware programs I have tested. The installation of the software took about 10 minutes to be fully configured. After installation, Sophos automatically ran a full scan. I always recommend that users run a scan after installing an antivirus. So I really liked the fact that Sophos automatically ran a full system scan to find any hidden malware that might try to block the Sophos antivirus engine from working properly.
The Sophos full scan had minimal effect on my computer's CPU power, consuming about 15% to 20% of my CPU power during a scan. This is not so bad when compared to McAfee, which used more than 50% of my CPU.
Something frustrating during the Sophos full scan was the fact that I could not go to any other part of the desktop application until the scan was completed or cancelled. When I run full scans using other antivirus products, such as Norton, I can still access other features.
The Sophos desktop application and online dashboard are streamlined and simple to use. But unfortunately, they cannot be displayed in Portuguese. While you can run malware scans through the desktop application, all other buttons in the application will open your web browser to show the online dashboard.
The online dashboard is subdivided into areas for antivirus protection, web protection, ransomware protection, privacy protection, and malicious traffic detection. This simple labeling system makes it easy to find and define the necessary settings.
Overall, the simple design of Sophos makes it extremely easy to use. I had no problems operating any of Sophos' features. They all come with a simple on/off button so that users can easily ensure that all the necessary protections are in place. I recommend Sophos to advanced or non-technical users looking for a straightforward and intuitive antivirus that is very simple to use.
The Sophos antivirus mobile app
Sophos has two mobile apps for Android and iOS:
Sophos Home: remote management for devices protected with Sophos Home Premium; not available in Portuguese.
Intercept X: a full-featured security app with thousands of features.
Sophos Home for Android and iOS has the same features:
- Remotely check all protected PCs and Macs.
- Receive alerts if threats are detected.
- Manage antivirus settings.
- Add new devices.
While this app is useful for users who manage multiple devices, it does nothing to actually protect your phone. That said, Sophos' other app, Intercept X, is very good: it has great detection rates, comes with many extra features, and doesn't drain the phone's battery during use.
Features of the Sophos Intercept X Android app include:
- Malware protection - scans apps and media for malware.
- Application Reputation Check - evaluates the security and privacy features of an application.
- Web Filters - Blocks malicious or undesirable web pages.
- WiFi Security Scanner - Scans for man-in-the-middle attacks and other security risks related to unsecured networks.
- Link Scanner - checks links in non-browser applications for malicious content
- Application Lock - protects applications with a password.
- QR Code Reader - performs security checks on QR codes before opening web pages linked to the QR codes.
- Authenticator - generates time-based one-time passwords for multi-factor authentication.
- Password Vault - stores passwords and login details.
- Security Advisor - Enhances Internet security.
- Privacy Advisor - displays applications that can access personal information.
The user interface of the Android app is intuitive, but not as easy to use as some other mobile antivirus apps, including Norton Mobile Security. During my testing of the Sophos Android app, it took me a few minutes to find all the features and figure out what some of them were supposed to do. But once I got familiar with the tools, I found that they were very easy to use.
I really like the fact that the Sophos mobile app has many additional features, including an authenticator and a password vault, but I was a little disappointed that some of these extras were not included in the desktop version as well.
The full malware scan on my Android phone was very fast, taking only about 8 minutes, and it did not drain my phone battery during the scan.
Because iPhones do not require the same type of protection as Android devices, the Sophos Intercept X iOS app does not include the same feature as the Android version.
But the iOS app still has a good variety of Internet security features, including:
- Wi-Fi network scanner.
- Password vault.
- Web filtering.
- Secure QR code scanner.
Again, like the Android version, I really like the simple and straightforward interface of the iOS app. Also, I like the fact that the app does not noticeably affect the battery life of my iPhone, unlike some other security apps for iOS that I have previously downloaded.
Overall, I think it's pretty cool that Sophos offers two separate apps for Android and iOS. The Sophos Home mobile app lets you manage all your devices remotely, while Intercept X provides full malware protection, along with useful extras like a password vault. While Sophos' Intercept X mobile app is not my favorite antivirus app, I think it's a great choice for users who want a good security app for their Android or iOS phones. And the best part is that it's totally free!
Sophos Customer Support
Sophos customer support options include:
- Email support.
- Live chat support.
- Knowledge base (articles not available in English).
The knowledge base is the only customer support option available for Sophos Home Free users. I actually used the knowledge base to learn more about Sophos features and get answers to some questions I had about the setup process. I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed and informative the Sophos knowledge base is, especially the part about how to get started with the program.
For Sophos Home Premium users, there is a live chat available on weekdays from 8am to 8pm Eastern Standard Time. I tested the Sophos live chat support and waited exactly two minutes to speak with a member of the customer support team. The person I spoke with was very friendly and provided knowledgeable, and very quick, answers to my questions.
Sophos Home Premium users can also use e-mail support. I sent an email to customer support with a question about scanning individual files. I received a response the same business day exactly 6 hours after sending the question. The response I received was polite and informative, and gave me detailed information on how to scan individual files.
Overall, the Sophos customer service department is very helpful. In my live chat session, I received quick, friendly and well-informed information from the customer service agent. When I emailed a question, I also received an informative and friendly response within the same business day. In addition, the knowledge base web page offers informative resources and quick answers to general questions about the software.
Is Sophos a safe and reliable antivirus?
Sophos is a basic antivirus with high malware detection rates, an intuitive dashboard and some great features, including remote management.
Sophos is very easy to use, but I don't like the fact that the only way to access and use its features is through the online dashboard. There is a desktop application, but it is pretty much useless: you can only use the desktop application to start a scan and open the online dashboard.
That said, I was impressed with the Sophos malware scanner, which detected 97% of the test malware, did not slow down my computer during full system scans, and took up less space on my CPU than most of the major competitors.
Sophos has all the essential antivirus features, which include ransomware protection and advanced web protection, as well as a few extras such as remote management, webcam protection, and basic parental controls.
While I really like the remote management feature, I don't think the other additional features are that great. I am also very disappointed that Sophos does not have any of the extras found in the main competitors such as Norton, McAfee and Avira such as performance optimization, system cleaning tools and VPN.
That said, the Sophos Home Premium antivirus package is a simple antivirus that provides near-perfect malware detection rates, is one of the most affordable options on the market, is really easy to use, and includes a free 30-day trial.
Sophos Home Premium Antivirus - Frequently Asked Questions
Does Sophos Home Premium provide effective protection against malware?
The Sophos anti-malware engine detected 97% of the malware samples I downloaded to my computer before installing the program. When I tried to launch each malware program one by one, the Sophos real-time protection blocked 100% of the samples, making it one of the most effective anti-malware engines I have tested.
Sophos also has excellent web protection, including anti-phishing protection and banking protection. During my testing, Sophos blocked all the malicious sites I tried to open, and the banking protection ensured that my financial information remained safe.
Is the Sophos antivirus free?
Sophos offers a free version of its anti-malware software that includes real-time antivirus protection, malicious URL protection, remote management for up to 3 devices, and content filters for parents.
Sophos Home Free does not include many of the features included in Sophos Home Premium, such as ransomware protection, advanced web protection, and webcam protection.
Honestly, there are better free antivirus options available that include a wider range of features than the free version of Sophos.
But if you are willing to spend some money on premium antivirus protection, Sophos Home Premium is a good option, and you can try all the premium features of Sophos for free for 30 days to see if this software is right for you.
Is Sophos Home Premium good for Macs?
Yes, Sophos Home Premium software is a good option for Mac users. It includes a decent range of security features that enhance the already integrated Mac OS security tools and Internet security protections.
In my testing, Sophos Home Premium detected most macOS malware samples and also stopped dangerous sites containing malware from loading. I also really like Sophos' anti-ransomware feature, CryptoGuard, which detects and blocks any encryption behavior on Macs (and PCs).
While I think there are some better options for Mac users, such as my #1 antivirus for Mac, Intego, Sophos Home Premium is still a good choice for Mac users who want a basic but reliable antivirus.
Will Sophos Home Premium slow down my computer?
Sophos hardly slowed down my PC during the test. It used 15% to 20% of my CPU during a full system malware scan and almost no CPU power while the real-time anti-malware engine was active.
These results are excellent, better than most of the major competitors. For example, McAfee used over 50% of my CPU with one scan running, which is plenty for most people with an average PC.
Sophos is an effective antivirus program with great malware detection rates, advanced web protection and extras like remote management, webcam protection and basic parental controls. Sophos does not offer most of the additional features included in the best antivirus of 2021 like Norton 360, such as device optimization, VPN and password manager. However, Sophos is very intuitive, cheaper than most competitors and offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee.
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