We’re all concerned these days – viruses are around the internet. Luckily we’re all in the pretty much safe around the internet these days, thanks to browsers like Chrome having a built-in warning system if I am to enter some sketchy website. That works, but it’s not perfect, and they’re only warning on sites that you’re going to enter, not the things on your computer itself. That’s where antiviruses come in these days, but they’re mostly either really expensive, or really dumb. Today, we’ll be looking at Sophos Home – an “internet security” tool that was designed using commercial-grade security for home users, for free.
Sophos Home touts a few highlights to us, and they hope to surprise all of us into using Sophos Home instead of any other solutions. Of course, we’ll be tackling most of these throughout this entire review.
- Advanced malware and threat protection
- URL Blocking
- Protection from potentially dangerous apps
- One account can secure up to 10 computers (Mac and PC)
- Remote cloud-based management of all computers
- Based on Sophos award-winning business products
- Next-generation security technology
- Simple design
First of all, I Googled for the word “Sophos”, it led me to https://www.sophos.com/, which is their premium solution which are definitely not for end users like you and me. I found out that it’s specifically called Sophos Home. I eventually got started quickly.
It’s a very straight forward login screen here, and for some who are coming from Avira’s free antivirus, this might look weird. In whichever case, create a free account and login. A new screen will present itself.
Here is my dashboard for all of my devices and their own statuses, alongside with alerts on what type happened to those devices linked under that account. Since it’s a brand new account and no devices have been added, it shows this special little menu.
I clicked “Add this computer“, and it downloads the installer for Sophos Home. The download itself a rather long, because it’s a freaking 187MB in size. However, that 187MB is all you need.
It’s quite standard after that – execute the downloaded file and install it. Pretty standard here and there, and I really like how much consideration they have towards average end users who are not literate about computers.
The installation process is really simple too – just click execute it and spam the “next” button until it shows this menu.
It’s great that they tell me it’s gonna take about 10 minutes because I swear the installation on the ASUS VivoBook that we reviewed here, took about 10 minutes. On my very own Lenovo Y580 with a Crucial M4 mSATA SSD, it took about 7 minutes to complete its installation. I just find it rather intriguing because the installation time improve much on an SSD.
The Sophos Home app itself on my computer is totally bare. It can only view the protection status and list of exceptions set up on that particular computer itself, but cannot change any settings at all. You can however start a local scan on that computer.
It’s definitely a much more secure option, because there are two main reason that came to my head straight away. Firstly, smart kids these days who knows how to bypass these types of things are locked out entirely. Secondly, people like me who’s the family’s computer guy, I can control each and every computer without physically going to them to diagnose any sort of issue. At least in whichever case I can run a scan beforehand and tell them what’s up – if that is the problem.
I mean seriously, I can only look at what folder, website, or software are in the exception list. I can’t do anything else.
For me, this is one problem I can only add exceptions using on my Sophos account dashboard. It’s much more secure – sure, but it’s also very inconvenient for folder-based exceptions. I have to type it in the exceptions box, and hope for the best that it’s now excluded.
For sites and software, it’s a lot easier and more direct. Just type in the site to unblock the website, let Sophos Home block the software once and then add it to exceptions using the dashboard.
I think the strongest point about Sophos home is how it gives the ability to control every single device individually using their online dashboard. It’s amazing that they’ve moved all of their controls to the cloud, and still manage to do such a great job.
At the sidebar, you can select which computer you want to have a look at. Mine are all named as DESKTOP, so I identify them using the random alphabets beside it. This here is my secondary computer, which shows the desktop’s status in one single page.
Scrolling down further is where all the blocking and filtering options are found. I really like how specific Sophos really is in categorizing all of the different types of website available. I don’t know how they do this, but it works pretty well – and this is where Sophos’s technology stands.
A little too specific? I think so.
However, Sophos Home isn’t all fine and dandy. Updating a single item on the Sophos dashboard takes excruciatingly long, as it syncs itself with all of the dashboard after some fixed amount of time has elapsed. This means that when I change a single item on my dashboard, I have to wait for X amount of time for my computer to get those changes and commit to them.
However, there’s an option to manually force Sophos Home to update, and it takes a good minute before anything is updated.
Which leads us to another issue with Sophos. I’m using Sophos Home on Windows 10, and whenever a potential threat is blocked and deleted (Sophos deletes all malware, there’s no quarantine option), there’s no notification telling that something is blocked at all. My software just failed to run outright and I was dumbfounded by whatever the hell has happened. Upon inspection, my dashboard has an alert saying that this software is blocked because this trojan was found. Sophos Home didn’t handle this well enough, in my opinion.
I’m surprised how well it works. I selected warn me on everything under Adult & Potentially Inappropriate, and this happened when I clicked at links on my Facebook.
I’d say it works pretty well if I ever want to block sites for the kids.
Also, adding new computers for someone like my mom is easy as heck. You have an option to send them a link for them to download and install. That link itself downloads a special installer of Sophos Home, that once installed, will link that computer to your Sophos directly. There’s absolutely no option for you to login to anything!
Comparing to something like Avira’s free antivirus, I really like what Sophos has done. The fact that I can remotely control the security settings of up to 10 devices within one account is the only selling point that Sophos needs to promote, and I’m in for it. Website filtering is amazing, the real-time scanning blocked one of my software instantly, albeit not showing an alert on the computer itself saying that it’s blocked. Site blocking is nice to have an works well enough to control kids on the internet. Sophos is even ad-free, unlike Avira who spams me to upgrade to their pro service every single time I boot up my computers.
Overall, Sophos has earned a spot on itself in my essential software for any computer user. Great job Sophos for total consideration for both kids and parents who aren’t great with computers.