Protection for up to 10 devices, with web-based management; Sophos Home Premium
Sophos Home Premium antivirus is not like most antivirus applications on the market. It installs differently; the client-side interface is minimalist and all the administration for the product is done in the cloud. What’s more, Sophos was designed for enterprises, which makes it ideal for families that have multiple devices and for which one control point makes sense. However, Sophos Home Premium doesn’t have recent independent testing scores, and it didn’t perform as well as we would have liked for it to on our tests. Read on for the full scoop.
What We Like
- Premium license allows coverage for up to 10 devices
- Remote management of all licensed installation in the cloud
- Simple client-side interface
- Free trial available
What We Don’t Like
- No recent test results from independent testing labs
- No quick scan
- No included firewall
- Failed to catch some threats during testing
Type of Protection/Security: Virus & Malware, Privacy, and Parental Controls
The benefit to Sophos Home Premium being built from Sophos’ enterprise offerings is that you’ll get plenty of protection. The application uses virus definition scanning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) supported heuristic scanning to monitor for Zero-Day exploits, new viruses and malware, and other threats.
Notably missing from Sophos Home Premium’s protection is a firewall. Also absent is a hardened browser, e-mail protection, anti-spam, or a VPN.
Added to the basic protection Sophos Home Premium also includes privacy protection that will secure your webcam and protect you when you’re moving around the Internet as well as parental controls that let you determine what sites your children can and cannot visit.
Notably missing from Sophos Home Premium’s protection is a firewall. Also absent is a hardened browser, email protection, anti-spam, or a VPN. That means if you need those additional tools, you’ll have to pay more for them from a third-party vendor.
Scan Locations: More Control Than is Apparent
Immediately upon installing Sophos Home Premium, it will launch into a full scan of your system. This initial scan will take around 20 minutes to complete (unless you’re using the free version, then plan to wait two-three times that for the scan to finish). And the initial scan is a good, deep scan that in our test system found remnants of two viruses that we’d previously removed as well as more than 200 tracking cookies. A quick click when something is found will remove it. Except in the case of the tracking cookies. We clicked the option to remove the cookies from our system, but the removal process failed on all 200 of them, multiple times.
At first glance, Sophos Home Premium seems to have only the one type of scan, and since there is no scan optimization, the same files are scanned in about the same length of time each time you conduct a scan. However, with a little investigation, you’ll find that you can scan individual files, folders, and portable drives using a right-click method. Right-click what you want scanned and choose Scan with Sophos.
Immediately upon installing Sophos Home Premium, it will launch into a full scan of your system. This initial scan will take around 20 minutes to complete.
You’ll also find some scanning controls in the web-based interface for Sophos Home Premium (called Sophos Cloud). There, you can find a log of the scans that have been conducted, as well as the ability to further configure Antivirus Protection, Web Protection, Ransomware Protection, Privacy Protection, and Malicious Traffic Detection. Digging further into that interface you’ll find you have the ability to schedule automatic weekly scans, which is not enabled when the application is installed, and which cannot be set to daily scans. You can also set protection for exploits, ransomware, and malicious websites. By default, many of these options are enabled on install, but you can also add website exceptions and harden website blocking.
Types of Malware: Not Entirely Trustworthy
Sophos claims to protect users from all types of malware, Zero-Day threats, phishing, privacy concerns, keyloggers, and ransomware. Of those types of malware, it does the best job of protecting users from ransomware. Unfortunately, however, there aren’t any recent independent lab tests to back that up, and even other reviewers have widely mixed reviews of how well Sophos will protect your system.
In our own tests, Sophos did catch potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) and most of the malware we unleashed. However, there were a couple of items the application failed to catch. We were also disheartened by the catch of the tracking cookies that the application failed to remove on multiple occasions. An antivirus needs to build confidence for users that it will protect your system, and in this case, we did not find that confidence.
Ease of Use: Mostly Straightforward
If you’re looking for something that is easy to use, Sophos Home Premium will probably fit the bill. The client-side user interface is lightweight and give you controls for scanning, adding additional devices, tracking your activity, and tweaking your settings. You can also share Sophos with others if you find that it meets your needs and think it will meet theirs.
The important aspect of these controls, however, is that only the Scan Computer control will do anything without taking you to the web interface. Every over control takes you to Sophos Cloud, which is where all the heavy lifting for the application is done.
One very minor note about the client-side interface is that we found we often accidentally clicked the Scan button when what we wanted to do was something else. Maybe it’s because of the muted colors of the interface, but whatever the issue, we had a lot of frustration with that particular problem.
However, all of the controls you’ll find in Sophos Cloud are easy to manage and straightforward, so you shouldn’t have any problems with them.
Update Frequency: Cloud-Based, As Needed
Part of what makes Sophos Home Premium very attractive is the small system footprint it has. Being cloud-based gives Sophos two advantages over some other antivirus applications. Size is one of them, but the other is the frequency with which virus definitions can be updated. Sophos updates are as-needed, so there’s nothing for you to think about. As soon as a threat is found, it can be added to the online definitions database accessed by all Sophos users.
Part of what makes Sophos Home Premium very attractive is the small system footprint it has.
Performance: Cloud-based Means Minimal Resource Drain
Another benefit of being cloud-based is that Sophos Home Premium isn’t going to drag your system down, even during a scan. We performed several scans during our testing, including full scans and scanning individual files and attached portable drives, and none of those tests caused any kind of lag or interruptions to our activities online, surfing, streaming, or gaming. That’s a benefit because Sophos doesn’t include a Gaming or Do Not Disturb mode that would pause all updates and scanning when the option was enabled.
As far as system performance, Sophos is one of the better antivirus applications we’ve tested.
Additional Tools: Plenty of Protection, Not Much Cleanup
When it comes to protection tools, Sophos Home Premium hits a number of the requirements users like to see in an antivirus application. There’s the protection from most of the malicious threats you’ll face online, you have controls that protect your webcam and prevent key loggers from snagging your information, and there are parental controls that do a fair job of keeping your kids away from threats on the Internet. What you won’t find, however, is some of the more advanced tools that users have come to demand, such as a firewall, a VPN, a sandbox, or data encryption.
You also won’t find any kind of system clean-up tools that may come with some of the more advanced protection suites from top antivirus providers. While Sophos will protect your online movements as you surf and shop, it won’t help you remove old files, update drivers, or update old applications, all of which could be a point of vulnerability on your system.
Type of Support: You Get the Basics
During installation or use of Sophos Home Premium, if you need to contact support for any reason, you may find the support offerings less than optimal. The company offers live email and chat support from 8 a.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday. However, there is no such support for free users, and no support on the weekend.
To help when live support isn’t available, Sophos also has a good knowledge base that includes articles and how-tos to answer questions and provide instructions on how to perform functions of the antivirus application. But if you’re in a bind and need help immediately, you may be disappointed with the types of help that are available. Especially if you happen to be outside that 8-to-8 window when real people are around.
If price is your main concern, Sophos Home Premium is one of the least expensive premium offerings available.
Price: Best Prices for Multiple Devices
If price is your main concern when trying to find the right antivirus application, Sophos Home Premium is one of the least expensive premium offerings you’ll find; especially when you break down the per-device cost of the application. A yearly license for Sophos Home premium will cost between $42 and $60, and the two-year plan between $70 and $100. That cost is dependent upon a couple of things:
- The first and most important price influencer is the specials that Sophos is running at the time of subscription. Special prices can discount the application by as much as half on a one-year plan, and considerably more than that on a two-year plan.
- The second price consideration is the number of devices you plan to install the application on. A regular Sophos Home Premium license comes with a generous 10-device limit. More than most other applications on the market. If you use all ten and break the cost of the license up by license, you could be paying less for antivirus protection each year than you do for a single cup of premium coffee.
Competition: Sophos vs. Bitdefender
The antivirus market is crowded, with all manner of products that appeal to all manner of users. When you look at Sophos next to Bitdefender, the reason the market is so clouded becomes clear. For example, Sophos Home Premium is perfect for a family of three or four that has several devices and needs a single point of management for all those devices. On the other hand, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus can be purchased with up to 10 licenses, but that increases the cost of the application to almost double what Sophos will cost.
Where Bitdefender wins, however, is in our trust that it is actually protecting your system from the threats you may encounter. Bitdefender has recent independent lab testing scores, and they’re some of the highest marks given out. By contrast, Sophos doesn’t participate in those tests, and other reviews indicate there is serious inconsistency in how well Sophos protects.
Your money may be better spent elsewhere.
In the end, we struggle with the lack of independent testing and the number of missed malware threats Sophos allowed onto our system. The price is great, but you can spend about the same and get many more additional features. And while Sophos is fast and doesn’t drag on your system, we’d like more scan control options that are easier to locate. For all those reasons, we would recommend purchasing a different antivirus application that has better consumer confidence, protection capabilities, and usability. Your security just isn’t worth risking for the relatively small amount of money you’ll save by choosing Sophos Home Premium.
- Product Name: Sophos Home Premium
- Price: $60
- Platform(s): Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
- Type of license: Annual
- Number of devices protected: 10 devices
- System Requirements (Windows): Windows 7 or higher, 2GB free RAM, 2 GB disk space
- System Requirements: (Mac)macOS 10.11 (El Capitan), macOS 10.12 (Sierra), macOS 10.13 (High Sierra), macOS 10.14 (Mojave); 4GB RAM; 4GB disk space
- System Requirements (Android): Android 4.4 or later
- System Requirements (iOS): iOS 11.0 or later
- Control Panel/Administration: Yes, Cloud-based
- Payment options: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB
- Cost: Currently: $36/yr or $72/2 yr (Regular $60/yr or $120/2 yr)