360 Total Security is a security suite that is developed by a Chinese company called Qihoo 360. The company was founded in 2005, and its business is doing very well, as more than 496 million users worldwide were using its security products in 2014. Nowadays, that number could be even more significant. The company's top free antivirus product is called 360 Total Security and promises to clean up, and also speed up Windows for its users. Of course, we were curious to see whether it can do that well. After testing it for a few days, here is our review of 360 Total Security:
What is 360 Total Security good at?
360 Total Security is good security software for users who:
- Do not want to pay for antivirus software
- Feel at ease with tinkering with it to get decent antivirus protection
- Want a free VPN tool, and are willing to make do with limited traffic
Pros and cons
Here are the good things that we identified about 360 Total Security:
- It is free
- It has a simple and easy to use interface
- It offers a VPN tool
There are many negatives though:
- It cannot efficiently protect you from malware unless you manually enable the Bitdefender and Avira AntiVir antivirus engines
- It does not stop you from visiting dangerous websites
- It has no firewall module, even though it is named Total Security
- There are a lot of advertisements displayed
- It slows down the boot time of your computer and the file transfers within your local network
- Many of the additional tools bundled are either not useful or cannot be used unless you buy a subscription
360 Total Security is probably the worst security suite that we have ever reviewed. It looks nice on paper, but the reality is ugly and full of issues. The antivirus engine that it uses by default is weak and cannot stop malware and ransomware from destroying everything you have on your computer, and the browser security extension does nothing to stop you from visiting dangerous websites. Casual users who download and install this security suite are practically left unprotected against all sorts of threats. 360 Total Security fails at its most important purpose of protecting users from cyber threats. Sure, you can tinker with it and enable the use of the Bitdefender and Avira AntiVir engines, but that is not something casual users will do. We cannot recommend this product to anyone. You are better off using the Windows Defender from Windows.
The download and installation experience
To get 360 Total Security on your computer, you first have to download it. You can choose to get a small executable file that downloads all the required data during installation, or you can download the full offline installer right from the start, which has everything you need to install the product. Either way, you are going to download about 71.7 MB of data from the internet. A positive that we have to mention is that there is no personal information requested from you.
The installation wizard is simple and straightforward, and the only things it lets you choose is whether you want to "Join 360 User Experience Improvement Program" and "Install Safe and Fast Opera Browser." Both these options are checked by default, but none of them are mandatory. We recommend you to uncheck the option that installs Opera unless you want this web browser on your computer. You can also select the installation folder for the security suite.
When the installation is done, 360 Total Security asks to reboot your computer. To get protected, you should do that.
After our computer booted, we were welcomed by 360 Total Security with a window called 360 Startup Timer, in which there were displayed a few news items beneath a lot of ads. This is a terrible start.
Then we tried opening the primary interface of the security suite, and instead of seeing it, 360 Total Security thought it would be better to open 360 Instant Setup. That is an additional tool that helps you install third-party software "with a single click," in a similar manner to Ninite. It is a useful tool, but not what the user needs when he or she tries to open 360 Total Security.
After we closed down 360 Instant Setup, we could finally see the main interface of 360 Total Security. At first look, it seemed quite simple and easy to use.
Downloading and installing 360 Total Security on your Windows computer is easy and straightforward. We liked the fact that you can use an offline installer, and that there is no personal information required from the user before installing it. However, we do not like the fact that the installer tries to install additional software that you did not ask for, even if that software is legitimate. Also, we do not appreciate the presence of ads on the user's desktop, and we dislike the fact that the first encounter you have with 360 Total Security is not with its primary user interface, but with an additional tool.
Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows apps
360 Total Security disables Windows Defender during its installation, and that is a good thing because having two antivirus applications running simultaneously can mean conflicts and performance issues. However, it does not disable Windows Firewall, but that is OK because it does not include a firewall module of its own. Because it has no firewall module, we had no issues using the networking features in Windows 10. We were able to create and join a homegroup, we could access network shares and stream media files over the network, and we had no problems in downloading, installing or using universal Windows apps.
We also checked how 360 Total Security chooses to protect its users against online threats. We found out that it does that by installing a web browser extension called "360 Internet Protection". It is available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and the Yandex Browser. If you do not use one of these web browsers, 360 Total Security does not do anything to protect you from online dangers.
We used Task Manager to monitor how much RAM is needed by 360 Total Security to run its processes. On our test computer, it used only about 66 MB of RAM, which is a small value.
Next, we checked how much it affects the boot time. Using BootRacer, we measured that 360 Total Security added over 7 seconds to our system's boot. That is 38% more time added to the original boot time and. In case you are wondering, we are using a fast NVMe Samsung SSD, so this time increase is likely to be even higher on a system that uses a traditional hard-disk drive.
To check whether the internet speed is affected by 360 Total Security, we ran a few tests with Speedtest.net. The transfer rates were the same before and after installing the security suite, and that is excellent. However, when we tested the upload and download speeds for moving files through the local network, LAN Speed Test showed that the security suite slowed down the upload by 23 percent, and the download speed by 7 percent. These are significantly slower data transfers within the local network.
360 Total Security does not offer a firewall module, but that means that you should not have issues using the networking features from Windows. Unfortunately, it does not include an internet traffic filtering engine either, to protect you from dangerous websites. However, there is a web browser extension that should secure you when you surf the web, but only if you use a popular browser that is supported by it. Finally, we were disappointed to see that 360 Total Security slowed the boot times and data transfers of our test computer down a lot.
Ease of use & configuration
At first impression, the user interface offered by 360 Total Security looks good and feels easy to use. On the left side of the window, there is a menu in which you can access the main functions of the security suite, and on the right side of the window, you can see their details. You can start a Full Check for adjustments that can be made to make your computer faster, as well as remove viruses from it, clean junk files from it or make your WiFi connection safer.
The antivirus module offered by 360 Total Security uses the company's antivirus engine, but it can also use the Bitdefender and Avira AntiVir antivirus engines. These are much better at doing their job, as you will see later in this review. However, if you want to use them, you must download them manually, by clicking on their icons from the bottom of the Virus Scan section of the user interface.
Then, to use them for malware detection, you must open the Protection section of the primary interface and select the Security protection mode.
If you want to go into details, you can select the Virus Scan, Speedup, Cleanup or Tool Box sections from the left, and start the checks or make changes on the right side of the interface. However, some things are more accessible or only available from the Settings menu that you can access from the top-right side of the app window. Other than locating all the Settings available, this is also the place from where you can enter the Quarantine faster, see the logs, send Feedback or Check for updates.
If you like using themes on every app and device that allows you to do that, you might like the fact that 360 Total Security offers this feature. Click or tap on the t-shirt icon from the top-right of the main interface and select the theme you prefer. That is not something that you often see in security software.
It is also worth mentioning that the user interface and all the settings in it, should be easy to use on any device, even on those with a touchscreen. Most things are controlled either by a large button, a switch or a checkmark, and that is a good thing from an ergonomics point of view.
Most features and settings available in 360 Total Security are easy to understand. However, there is no help information provided in the security suite. If you want to educate yourself about this product, you have to go online and visit its website. On the other hand, the security suite offers an easy way to ask for support, which you can access by opening its Settings menu and then clicking on the Feedback option.
Regarding reports, 360 Total Security gives its users logs of the security events recorded by it. The logs are detailed but they are text only, so if you wished for something more visual, you are out of luck.
From a user interaction point of view, we have to tell you that we saw alerts when malware was identified, but also many advertisements that popped out of nowhere, all the time. That is why using 360 Total Security was an annoying experience for us.
360 Total Security offers a user interface that is simple and easy to use, both on computers with a mouse and a keyboard, and on devices with touchscreens. However, the user experience is unpleasant, as the user interface is filled with advertisements that are displayed in all the corners of this product, and also on your desktop.
Read the next page of the review to see how efficient 360 Total Security is at protecting you from malware and online threats. You can also find out what additional tools are bundled with it, and which are the settings that you should consider adjusting.