Security for everyone - Reviewing Sophos Home
Sophos is a company that focuses mostly on developing and selling business security products. However, they are also offering a home security product for free, which any home user can download and use. We were curious to see what Sophos Home is all about and whether it is efficient at protecting our Windows computers. Therefore, we have taken it for a test drive, and now we would like to tell you what the pros and cons of this product are. Read our review and see whether Sophos Home is a security tool that you want on your Windows computers and devices:
What is Sophos Home good at?
Sophos Home is a good security tool for people who want:
- A security product that offers a simple user interface
- To be protected efficiently against dangerous websites, regardless of which web browser they like using
- Good anti-malware protection
- All of the above, for free!
Pros and cons
In the following list, we have gathered some of the best aspects of Sophos Home:
- The antivirus engine is very good at cleaning malware
- The web shield filters all the internet traffic going on your computer, so you get the same excellent protection regardless of the web browser you prefer
- The user interface is simple, so absolute beginners will probably love it
- It has no negative effect on the performance and speed of your computer
- It does not bundle anything you might not want or need
- It is free!
On the other hand, here are a couple of the things we did not like about Sophos Home:
- The antivirus engine is slower than others at scanning your computer for malware
- Simplicity means that you do not get any advanced configuration options
- There are no logs or statistics available offline, only online
Sophos Home is security software that is not for everyone. We like the efficiency of its antivirus engine, and we are also fans of its simple and minimalist approach. This product can please beginners and users who are not interested in complicated antivirus products. However, its simplicity does have a cost, meaning that there are no advanced options to configure, no useful extra features that could increase your security besides the basics that are provided by Sophos Home. Also, it does not offer firewall protection, so you have to rely on the Windows Firewall. We believe Sophos Home is an excellent choice for people who prefer free security products and do not want to fiddle with complicated security apps. Advanced users who want complete protection that also includes a firewall, should look for commercial products, not free ones.
The download and installation experience
You start by going to Sophos' website and creating a user account. Unless you create an online account, you cannot use this free product. However, this is a straightforward process, and it only requires a few details about you: your name, email address and a password.
After you create an account, use it to log in to your Sophos Home dashboard webpage. As you can see in the image below, this webpage looks simple and very easy to use. To install Sophos Home on your computer, click or tap on the PC Installer button.
Then, your browser starts downloading a file called SophosInstall.exe, which has a size of 255MB. Installing the security application on our test computer took only a few minutes, during which time the only additional data being downloaded from Sophos' servers was the virus definitions database updates, which had a total size 14.7MB. The installation process is easy and straightforward, as there are no settings to make or options to choose from. You just click Install and then Finish at the end.
When the installation is finished, there is no user interface loading and no dialogues displayed by this security product. However, if you take a look in your system tray, you can see that the application was loaded and it is already monitoring your security.
Thus far, downloading and installing Sophos Home on a Windows computer is an easy thing to do, and we love that.
Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows platform apps
Sophos Home automatically disables Windows Defender during its installation, and that is a good thing as it avoids possible conflicts and performance issues. On the other hand, Sophos Home does not disable Windows Firewall, but it has an excellent reason for not doing it: Sophos Home does not include a firewall module. You can either rely on Windows Firewall for protection against network attacks or install a different standalone firewall application. The good part is that it means you should not have problems using any of the networking features available in Windows.
For your online security, Sophos Home does not include any web browser extensions and instead prefers to scan all the internet traffic that goes on your computer to stop you from visiting malicious websites.
Another positive about the integration of Sophos Home and our Windows computers is the fact that this security product seems to have no adverse effect on your computer's performance. We make this statement based on the measurements we did. First, we used BootRacer to measure the boot time of our test computer before and after installing Sophos Home, and the results we got were the same. Secondly, we looked at the RAM consumption of Sophos Home: when nothing extraordinary happens, it needs only about 22MB of RAM to run. That is very little! Thirdly, we also ran a few tests with Speedtest.net and with LAN Speed Test. The speeds were the same before and after installing the security suite, which means that it has no negative effect on data transfers on the internet or local network, and that is an excellent result!
Sophos Home is a security product that is well integrated with Windows. The networking features are unhindered by Sophos Home because the security product does not include a firewall module. As for your online security, you get a web shield that filters all the internet traffic, with no web browser extensions involved, and that is something we like. Finally, we also appreciate the fact that this security product does not slow down the computer or your data transfers.
Ease of use and configuration
Security products usually offer sophisticated user interfaces, with lots options and settings. Even if they are not obvious, they are there, organized in multiple windows, sections, lists, and so on. That is not the case for Sophos Home, which offers probably the most straightforward user interface we have seen in a security product. Here is an image of it to get a better idea of what we are talking about:
The user interface shows whether your computer is secure and gives you two buttons: "Scan My Computer" and "Manage My Security." "Scan My Computer" starts a full computer scan for malware and potentially unwanted applications, and "Manage My Security" opens your default web browser and takes you to your Sophos online account. If you start scanning your computer, the user interface shows you the progress and the number of threats identified, but not anything else.
"Manage My Security" takes you online and after you sign into your Sophos account; you can see the Status and History of events on your device, set antimalware and website exceptions and turn the Real-Time Protection, Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA) Protection, and Web Protection features on or off.
Exceptions must be entered manually, by typing the full path of folders or files that you do not want to be scanned for threats, or by typing the addresses of the websites that you do not want to be filtered. This is not as easy as it could be, but all the few other features that can be turned on or off are controlled with the help of simple switches, so that is good.
If you need to, you can also access the help documentation online, by clicking on the question mark button found on the bottom-right corner of the desktop user interface. If you need further support for Sophos Home, you can also check the community forums and the knowledge base. We did not find any option to get support via email or phone.
Regarding alerts and notifications, Sophos Home is right to the point: you get an alert each time there's malware detected on your computer. When that happens, the user interface shows you that there are one or more alerts.
If you want to see logs and statistics, you do not get any in Sophos Home, at least locally on your computer. However, if you go online on your Sophos Home dashboard, you can see the number of threats cleaned and websites blocked on each of your computers.
Sophos Home is the security product with the most straightforward user interface we have ever seen. That is not a bad thing, and we must admit that we like this approach. It is one of the best options for people who do not want to use complicated apps.
Read the next page of this review to see how efficient Sophos Home is at protecting your computer from network attacks and malware, and other information about it.