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| June 15, 2018

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Picking a good antivirus for your PC can be a tough decision, and with the antivirus market being saturated, people find it all the more difficult to make a choice as to which security software offers them the best features. People want everything in one package, and by that we mean the best security for their computer, without having to compromise on the speed of the PC. Can you blame them? Is that not everyone wants?

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We went with Sophos Home Premium, and had a great experience with it. Sophos is more than an antivirus company, it is a security research firm, and has been in the business for over 3 decades. Yes, you read that right, that is a whole lot of experience right there. And chances are, you may have already used a Sophos product, if you use Sandboxie or HitmanPro, which Sophos acquired and strengthened in the past few years.

Sophos decided to enter the antivirus market a few years ago, when it launched a product called Sophos Home. I remember testing the product during the beta phase, and also how the antivirus never felt like a beta product. It didn’t feel unfinished or bloaty, instead It was perfect and polished, like a final product should

Sophos Home Premium adds on to the quality of the free antivirus, meaning you get a lot of extra features when you pay for a subscription. And unlike other security products, there is something which Sophos delivers to its Home customers, the ability to monitor your PC’s security and manage the security events from an online dashboard.

A single license for Sophos Home Premium, entitles you to use the product on up to 10 devices, be it a Mac or a Windows PC. This is incredible, right? But wait, there is more. Let’s tell you what the installation process consists of.

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You need an internet connection to install Sophos Home Premium, and you have to register an account on the Sophos website. Your license is tied to the account. Once you login to your account using your web browser, you can use the dashboard to install the antivirus on the computer. There is an option for a URL which you can send to your other computers, and all that you need to do, is just download the installer and run it, and the PC on which the antivirus is installed on, will be activated and tied to your account.

This link can be sent remotely of course, so, let’s say you want to install the antivirus on a family member’s computer, you can just send them the link, ask them to download the antivirus and run the installer. Basically, that’s it, and after that you can use the online dashboard to manage the antivirus from anywhere you want, using your web browser. This may be useful if you are setting up the antivirus on your parents, grandparents’ computers, etc, if they are not very tech savvy.

The antivirus runs a scan on the PC, the moment you install it. The fact that the program doesn’t waste time to start securing the computer, is a good thing to see. Once the scan is completed, you can access the antivirus’ GUI.

Sophos Home Premium is user friendly, and you will know it when you use the program. The interface of the application is simple, very simple, that there are just two options on the screen. The first is the “Clean my computer” option, while the other is the “Manage My Security” button.

This simplicity may not be common among antiviruses you normally see, but it is what businesses are used to. They are called Endpoint Security Software, and that is just what Sophos Home Premium is, in fact the Mac version is called Sophos Endpoint Security. This is because of the cloud-based dashboard management system.

Sophos Home Premium is without a doubt, the lightest antivirus we have ever used. We never noticed that the antivirus was running in the background at all, there was simply no lag at all. In fact, we even had to manually check whether the antivirus was running (and it was), but being the curious people we are, we kept an eye on the Windows Task Manager. And guess what, never once did we spike in disk usage or the memory the whole time we tested the antivirus.

When scans were running, the memory shot up to, wait for it, 20-25 megabytes of RAM usage. This is incredibly better than most antiviruses, which we think is fair to say, usually use about 4 times higher than what Sophos uses.

If the antivirus installed on the computer is the brain of Sophos Home Premium, the Online Dashboard  is its brain, and we say that because you can control the settings of the antivirus, check on the events, etc.

You can use the “Clean my computer” option, to start a manual scan in Sophos Home Premium. When we ran a scan using Sophos Home Premium, it found some malware on our test computer. But before we tell you about the results, we should mention how quick the application scans through the computer for malware, it was unbelievably fast.

The main screen of the antivirus has some details which you way keep an eye on. For starters, the “Last Scan” status indicates how many threats were found, in the most recently run scan. On the bottom of the screen, you can see the version number of Sophos Home Premium, and when the antivirus definitions were last updated,

And now back to the results, a scan summary is displayed after each scan and this includes the details of all the infections which the scanner picked up.

There were no serious threats of course, but we like the fact that Sophos didn’t miss the minor threats. The antivirus labeled the screen accordingly like “no major threats found”, so as to not scare the user, which is something that other antiviruses should learn from. The threats which were discovered, were mostly tracking cookies from browsers, and PUAs (potentially unwanted applications or programs). PUAs are generally toolbars, bundled software which are packaged in the installers of other legit programs.

What did surprise us, was the fact that when Sophos detected a threat, it also sent us a mail to the registered email address of our account. This mail contained the name of the infection which was found, and the details of the PC (we tested it on a couple of systems), on which the detection had been made. This was super impressive, but that wasn’t all. The mail had a link to the dashboard, where you could login and take action on the detections, or even adjust the settings of the antivirus and its scanner’s behavior.

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You can also access the dashboard using the “Manage My Security” option on the desktop client of Sophos Home Premium, which is basically a shortcut for opening the dashboard in your web browser, and you can always open the website yourself, which is what you will need to do anyway, if you are remotely managing your devices.

The Sophos Dashboard is easy to use too, but it has a lot more options than the antivirus does. Since it is web-based, it works in any web browser like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc. Using the dashboard is like using a website, because that is exactly what it is. The only difference is that the changes you make on the dashboard are synced with the desktop client of Sophos Home Premium.

So, you will be playing the role of a tech admin, when you are monitoring the antivirus installed on your computers remotely. The dashboard lists each computer on which you have installed Sophos Home Premium.  Selecting the PC, displays the management options for that computer. And the best part is that, you can use the Cloud based dashboard, to clean the computer which has the antivirus installed on it, regardless of where you are in the World.

The dashboard is neatly categorized into 5 sections: Status, History, Protection, Web Filtering and Privacy. It goes without saying that each section has its own set of controls and settings.

Status:

This section lets you see if everything in Sophos Home Premium, is working fine like it is supposed to. There are 5 status indicators there, one each for the Antivirus protection, the Web protection, the Ransomware protection, the Privacy protection and the Malicious Traffic detection.

Sophos Home Premium secures your PC from viruses, malware, ransomware, spyware, trojans and other threats, in real-time by actively monitoring your computer for threats. Likewise, the program also protects your web browser from attacks, and your internet connection from threats originating from the web. The status indicators are for these components in Sophos Home Premium, and that is why they are important.

There is a “configure” button in each of these sections, which lets you manage the settings of that section. You can also use the Status screen to see what threat was last identified on a computer, this includes the name of the system too, in case you are using Sophos Home Premium on more than one machine.

History:

The History section in the Sophos Cloud dashboard, where all the device events are logged. This includes all security related activities, such as when a scan was started, when scans were completed, and when a malware was detected, and also lists the malware’s name and highlights the threat by marking the infection in Orange color.

Protection:

This section has toggles for all the security modules in the application. You can disable any of these shields should you ever want to.

The real-time protection is the primary antivirus module. The Potentially Unwanted Application Protection basically prevents toolbars, and other applications which are bundled in the installers of programs, as adware. In most cases, PUAs are harmless, but sometimes they can wreak havoc, especially when you click on the next button in the installer without paying attention, which is why it is a good

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