Sophos Review: Quick Expert Summary
Sophos is a well-known cybersecurity company that provides security software for businesses — but it also provides a few antivirus packages for general consumers, promising “business-grade cybersecurity” for home use.
I wanted to find out whether Sophos Home Premium really is as good as advertised and whether its advanced malware scanner could actually stop all of the latest and most sophisticated malware.
During my tests, I was extremely impressed with Sophos’s scanning capabilities — the antivirus blocked and removed almost all of my downloaded malware samples, including spyware, ransomware, trojans, rootkits, and viruses.
I also tested all of Sophos’s additional features, including:
- Web protection.
- Parental controls.
- Remote device management.
One of my favorite things about Sophos is that you can remotely manage its features on up to 10 devices — ideal for users who need an easy way to change security settings, run malware scans, and manage parental control settings on multiple devices at once.
However, I don’t like that users need to open Sophos’s online dashboard to access all of the features and configure the antivirus’s settings — Sophos does have a minimalistic desktop app, but you can only use it for a couple of basic actions, like scanning your system and accessing the online dashboard.
I’d also like Sophos to include some additional features that almost all of 2021’s best antiviruses have, such as device optimization and a VPN.
That said, Sophos is a pretty good choice for users looking for a simple antivirus that offers consistently reliable protection against all types of known and emerging malware and internet security threats. Plus, Sophos is one of the cheapest antiviruses around, it offers a free trial (no credit card required), and it has a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Overall Rank||#14 out of 62 antiviruses|
|Pricing||Starting at /year|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Operating Systems||Windows, Android, Mac, iOS|
Sophos Security Features
Sophos Home Premium is an effective and easy-to-use antivirus which can protect up to 10 devices.
Sophos is relatively minimalistic in terms of both design and features, but this is what makes it a good choice for non-technical users. But Sophos is also a good option for tech-savvy users because of its advanced settings and remote management feature.
While Sophos does have a desktop app, most of its features and settings are managed via an online dashboard which is accessed via a web browser. Essentially, the desktop app acts as a shortcut panel that redirects you to specific features in Sophos’s online dashboard. Both the desktop app and online dashboard are very easy to navigate — even for beginners.
Sophos Home Premium comes with all of the essential security features, including malware and ransomware protection, artificial intelligence-based real-time protection, remote management, webcam protection, web protection, and parental web filtering. All features are very intuitive, and they all have simple on/off buttons.
I like most of Sophos’s features, but I was disappointed to learn that the Mac version of Sophos Home Premium doesn’t include some of the features that the PC version offers, including advanced web protection. However, Sophos’s Mac version does still provide real-time antivirus protection, basic web protection, parental web filtering, and remote device management.
The Home Premium package doesn’t come with many extra features such as a VPN, secure cloud storage, a password manager, or device optimization tools, all of which are included in top competitors like Norton 360.
That said, Sophos is a good, low-cost antivirus — it’s got near-perfect malware detection rates, all of the basic features most users need to keep their devices secure, a couple of really cool extras, and coverage for up to 10 devices.
Sophos’s malware scanner is very easy to use. You can access the malware scanner from the desktop app or from the online dashboard. You can also set up a scheduled scan at a day and time that works best for you.
Sophos claims that its malware scanner can detect a wide range of malware and cyber threats. So, I spent a lot of time testing the malware scanner to see if this was true.
Before testing, I uploaded hundreds of malware samples onto my PC, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, trojans, and rootkit samples — some of which were older, well-known viruses, and some of which were brand new malware samples that were recently created.
When I ran Sophos’s full system scan, I was genuinely impressed. Sophos immediately detected 97% of the downloaded malware samples — including some of the latest “zero-day” threats.
While Sophos’s initial malware scan detection rate is not exactly on par with top security software like Bitdefender and Norton — both of which had a 100% detect rate during testing — Sophos has proven to have very effective malware detection capabilities.
After Sophos completed its initial scan, I reloaded the malware samples on my computer and launched them all one-by-one to test the program’s real-time anti-malware engine that uses artificial intelligence (AI).
When I launched each malware program, Sophos’s anti-malware engine immediately detected and blocked all of the malware programs from running on my system — even a few advanced ransomware programs that are generally really hard to block.
So, I was very impressed by Sophos’s malware scanning and detection capabilities.
However, the malware scanner lacks some functionality that other antiviruses include. For example, Sophos does not offer a quick or custom scan like McAfee and Avira. However, Sophos does offer protection against malicious USB devices as well as the option to scan or skip selected folders, files, and drives.
Overall, Sophos Home Premium has an excellent malware scanner that detected almost all of the malware samples I uploaded — including advanced ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, and rootkits. And Sophos’s real-time protection identified 100% of the test malware, blocking even the latest threats that many competitors have trouble detecting.
Sophos’s remote management feature lets you manage the program’s security features on 1 or more devices from your PC or Mac via the Sophos online dashboard.
Sophos’s remote management feature is remarkably easy to use. To test it, I clicked on the Dashboard tab on the left-hand side of the desktop app and it took me to the Sophos online dashboard. On the dashboard, I was able to click the Add new device button to add up to 10 different PCs or Macs for remote management.
To add a new device for remote management, I had to copy an installation URL generated by Sophos and email it to whomever wanted me to manage their device. I first emailed the URL to my kids, so they could install it on their PC.
Once they installed Sophos and logged into my account, I could see their devices on the Sophos online dashboard, which enabled me to control different functions and change settings. I was able to run full system malware scans on my kids’ PCs and change the parental web filtering settings to ensure my kids were staying safe online.
Overall, I really like the Sophos Home Premium remote management feature — it’s a great tool both for beginners and advanced users, it’s easy to use, and it’s not something that most antiviruses have.
Sophos’s web protection claims to keep your computer safe from malicious websites, including malware sites and fake phishing pages disguised as legit websites to steal your personal information, like social media logins and bank account details.
So, I put Sophos’s web protection to the test, and I tried to visit several dangerous URLs listed on the malicious URL database website, PhishTank. I was very pleased to find that Sophos blocked 100% of these dangerous URLs — both malware sites and phishing sites.
To whitelist a blocked site, I clicked on the Protection tab in the online dashboard and entered the domain name of the site in the Website Exceptions tab. This is easy to do, but it can become tedious if there are a number of sites you wish to whitelist.
That said, I didn’t experience any false positives during my tests, so I can’t imagine most people would need to whitelist many popular sites.
I also think it’s great that Sophos has a setting to ensure safe online banking. Essentially, this feature stops hackers from spying on or stealing your online bank details. I also think the “Download Reputation” setting is pretty neat — it provides a reputation score for all of your downloads based on other users’ feedback.
One thing that I also really like about Sophos’s web protection is that you don’t have to install a separate browser extension for web protection. Usually, most antiviruses require you to install a browser security extension to protect you online — this isn’t a big deal, but I prefer having easy access to all antivirus features from one dashboard, so I think it’s great that users can install and set up Sophos Home Premium once and not have to worry about setting up extra security features.
Parental Controls/Content Filtering
Sophos Home Premium comes with a basic parental content filtering system.
Using this feature, you can block sites within the “General Interest”, “Social Networking & Computing”, and “Adult & Inappropriate” categories. These categories can also be unblocked with one click of the mouse.
Once I set up the parental controls on my computer, I attempted to visit several sites within the blocked category areas on my Google Chrome browser. Each time I received a desktop notice and a web browser notification stating that the website was blocked by Sophos Home Premium.
I was disappointed that I couldn’t find a way to blacklist specific sites or block particular social networking sites. However, there is a “Website Exceptions” field where users can whitelist specific sites from the blocked categories.
Sophos’s content filter only works with the most popular web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera. When I tested the parental controls on the lesser-known browser Vivaldi, I was able to access all of the blocked sites.
Overall, Sophos’s parental controls are very limited in terms of functionality — you can only block categories of sites and whitelist specific sites from the blocked categories. There are no usage limitations or location tracking, which are included in top antivirus brands with parental controls like Norton and McAfee.
That said, if you only need a basic parental filter, Sophos’s parental controls are decent, especially if you have younger children who only need a little online supervision.
Sophos Home Premium offers a very small list of security features when compared to complete antivirus suites like Norton 360 or Bitdefender. But it does have a couple of really useful extras, including:
- Privacy protection. Provides a notification when an app tries to access a user’s webcam or microphone (microphone protection is only available on Macs).
- Protection against keyloggers. Encrypts keystrokes so keylogging malware and hackers can’t track keystrokes and steal important information (this feature is located under Safe Online Banking).
The keystroke encryption feature worked really well. When I downloaded a keylogging malware sample onto my PC and visited various websites where I input my login details, the keylogging malware only recorded “gibberish” and not my actual keystrokes.
However, I think the webcam feature could use some improvement — it only provides a passing alert on the screen that an application is accessing your webcam. Kaspersky and Bitdefender offer better privacy protection software as both programs send notifications and stop unknown spy programs from accessing your webcam.
Sophos Home Premium doesn’t include a huge range of additional features, such as a VPN, PC optimization tools, or dark web monitoring. However, if you’re looking for a basic antivirus with only a couple of extras for securing your webcam, microphone, and keystrokes, Sophos is a decent choice.
Sophos Plans and Pricing
Sophos Home Premium is a no-frills antivirus with a couple of additional features — and it comes at a very reasonable price. Honestly, I think Sophos offers a good value as it provides great antivirus protection for up to 10 devices — regardless of whether the PC or Mac is in your home, office, or even in another country.
That said, if you are looking for a more all-inclusive product that includes device cleanup tools, a password manager, a VPN, or secure cloud storage, Norton 360 may be better.
Sophos offers a 30-day free trial of its Home Premium package (that doesn’t require a credit card), and there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, you can try Sophos Home Premium free for 60 days before paying anything! If you choose not to upgrade after the free 30-day trial period is finished, Sophos automatically downgrades to the Sophos Home Free package.
Sophos Home Free — A Good Free Antivirus Program
Sophos’s free plan includes:
- Real-time malware protection.
- Malicious URL protection.
- Remote management for up to 3 devices.
- Content filters.
While Sophos’s free version includes real-time antivirus protection, which many other free antiviruses don’t offer, it lacks important features like ransomware protection, advanced web protection, or webcam protection. With the free version, there also is no email support or live chat.
Overall, Sophos Home Free provides decent malware protection. It’s not going to completely protect your PC or Mac from all cyber threats, but it’s better than a lot of other free antiviruses.
Sophos Home Premium — The Best Sophos Package Available
Sophos Home Premium includes the mentioned features in Sophos Home Free, plus:
- Ransomware protection.
- Anti-phishing capabilities.
- Banking protection.
- Privacy tools (including webcam protection).
- Advanced malware scan and clean.
- Remote management for up to 10 devices.
- Live chat and email support (weekdays from 8am to 8pm EST).
This very affordable anti-malware package offers excellent value. While Norton and McAfee offer more in terms of additional features, they also come with a higher price compared to Sophos Home Premium.
Overall, Sophos Home Premium is an excellent choice for users looking for an affordable yet effective antivirus software that protects against a wide range of malware and internet security threats. It’s also a great option for people who want to remotely manage devices in other households — a feature that is not included with many top antivirus suites.
Sophos Ease of Use and Setup
Sophos is one of the easiest antiviruses to download and use out of all the anti-malware programs I’ve ever tested. The software installation took around 10 minutes to fully set up. After installing, Sophos automatically ran a full scan. I always recommend that users run a scan after an antivirus installation, so I really like that Sophos automatically ran the full system scan to find any hidden malware that might attempt to block Sophos’s antivirus engine from performing properly.
Sophos’s full scan had a minimal effect on my computer’s CPU power — it used up around 15-20% of my CPU power during a scan. This is not so bad when compared to McAfee, which used up more than 50% of my CPU.
One thing that did frustrate me during Sophos’s full scan was that I couldn’t go to any other part of the desktop application until the scan was either finished or cancelled. When I run full scans using other antiviruses, like Norton, I’m still able to access other features.
Sophos’s desktop app and online dashboard are both streamlined and simple to use. While you can run malware scans via the desktop app, all of the other buttons on the app will open your web browser to show the online dashboard. The online dashboard is subdivided into areas for Antivirus Protection, Web Protection, Ransomware Protection, Privacy Protection, and Malicious Traffic Detection. This easy labeling system makes it always easy to find and configure any necessary settings.
Overall, Sophos’s simple design makes it extremely easy to use. I had no trouble operating any of Sophos’s features — all of the features come with a simple on/off toggle button, so users can easily ensure that all necessary protections are turned on. I recommend Sophos for both advanced and non-technical users who are looking for a straightforward and intuitive antivirus that’s very simple to use.
Sophos Antivirus Mobile App
Sophos has two mobile apps for Android and iOS:
- Sophos Home — remote management for devices protected with Sophos Home Premium.
- Intercept X — a full-featured security app with a ton of features.
Sophos Home for both Android and iOS has the same features:
- Remotely scan all protected PCs and Macs.
- Get alerts if threats are detected.
- Manage antivirus settings.
- Add new devices.
While this app is useful for users managing several devices, it does nothing to actually protect your mobile phone. That said, Sophos’s other app, Intercept X, is pretty good — it has excellent detection rates, comes with plenty of extra features, and doesn’t drain phone battery during use.
The Sophos Intercept X Android app features include:
- Malware protection — Scans apps and media for malware.
- App reputation scanning — Rates an app’s security and privacy features.
- Web filters — Blocks malicious or undesirable web pages.
- Wi-Fi security scanner — Checks for man-in-the-middle attacks and other security risks associated with unsecured networks.
- Link checker — Checks links in non-browser apps for malicious content.
- App lock — Protects apps with a password.
- QR code scanner — Runs security checks on QR codes before opening web pages linked to the QR codes.
- Authenticator — Generates time-based one-time passwords for multi-factor authentication.
- Password vault — Stores passwords and login details.
- Security advisor — Improves internet security.
- Privacy advisor — Displays apps that can access personal information.
The Android app’s user interface is intuitive, but it’s not as user-friendly as some other mobile antivirus apps, including Norton Mobile Security. While testing Sophos’s Android app, it took me a couple of minutes to find all of the features and figure out what some of them are supposed to do. But once I got familiar with the tools, I found them pretty easy to use.
I really like that Sophos’s mobile app has a lot of additional features — including an authenticator and password vault — but I do feel a little disappointed that Sophos doesn’t include some of these extras in the desktop version as well.
The full malware scan on my Android phone was pretty quick, only taking approximately 8 minutes, and it didn’t drain my cellphone’s battery at all during the scan.
As iPhones don’t require the same kind of protection as Android devices, the Sophos Intercept X iOS app doesn’t include the same feature as the Android version.
But the iOS app does still offer a decent range of internet security features, including:
- Wi-Fi network scanner.
- Password vault.
- Web filtering.
- Secure QR code scanner.
Again, like the Android version, I really like the iOS app’s simple and streamlined interface. I also like that the app didn’t noticeably affect my iPhone’s battery life, unlike some other iOS security apps that I’ve downloaded previously.
Overall, I think it’s pretty cool that Sophos offers two separate apps for both Android and iOS. Sophos Home mobile app lets you manage all of your devices remotely, whereas Intercept X provides full malware protection, along with useful extras like a password vault. While Sophos’s Intercept X mobile app isn’t my favorite antivirus app, I think it’s a solid choice for users who want a good security app for either their Android or iOS phone — and the best part is that it’s completely free!
Sophos Customer Support
Sophos’s customer support options include:
- Email support.
- Live chat support.
- Knowledge base.
The knowledge base is the only customer service option available to Sophos Home Free users. I actually used the knowledge base to learn more about Sophos’s features and to get answers to a couple of questions I had about the setup process. I was pleasantly surprised with how detailed and informative the Sophos knowledge base is, especially the part about getting started with the program.
For Sophos Home Premium users, there is a live chat available weekdays from 8am to 8pm Eastern Standard Time. I tested Sophos’s live chat support, and I waited exactly two minutes to talk to a customer support team member. The individual I chatted with was very friendly and offered knowledgeable — and very quick — responses to my questions.
Sophos Home Premium users can also use email support. I emailed customer support with a question about scanning individual files. I received a reply on the same business day exactly 6 hours after I sent the question. The response I received was polite and informative — and offered detailed information about how to scan individual files.
Overall, Sophos’s customer service department is very helpful. During my live chat session, I received prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable information from the customer service agent. When I sent an email inquiry, I also received an informative and friendly reply on the same business day. Moreover, the knowledge base web page offers informative resources and quick answers to general questions about the software.
Is Sophos a Secure and Reliable Antivirus?
Sophos is a basic antivirus with high malware detection rates, an intuitive dashboard, and a couple of excellent features, including remote management.
Sophos is very easy to use, but I don’t like that the only way to access and use its features is via the online dashboard. There is a desktop app, but it’s pretty useless — you can only use the desktop app to start a scan and open the online dashboard.
That said, I was impressed with Sophos’s malware scanner which detected 97% of my test malware, didn’t slow down my computer during full system scans, and took up less space in my CPU than most top competitors.
Sophos has all of the essential antivirus features — including ransomware protection and advanced web protection — and a few extras, such as remote management, webcam protection, and basic parental controls.
While I love the remote management feature, I don’t think the other additional features are great. I’m also pretty disappointed that Sophos doesn’t have any of the extras found in top competitors like Norton, McAfee, and Avira, like performance optimization, system cleanup tools, and a VPN.
That said, the Sophos Home Premium antivirus package is a simple antivirus that provides near-perfect malware detection rates, is one of the most affordable options on the market, is really easy to use, and includes a free 30-day trial.
Sophos Home Premium Antivirus — Frequently Asked Questions
Does Sophos Home Premium offer effective malware protection?
Sophos’s anti-malware engine detected 97% of the malware samples I downloaded to my computer prior to installing the program. When I tried to launch each malware program one-by-one, Sophos’s real-time protection blocked 100% of the samples — making it one of the most effective anti-malware engines that I’ve tested.
Sophos also has excellent web protection, including anti-phishing protection and banking protection. During my tests, Sophos blocked all of the malicious sites I tried opening, and the banking protection made sure my financial information stayed safe.
Is Sophos Antivirus Free?
Sophos offers a free version of its anti-malware software that includes real-time antivirus protection, malicious URL protection, remote management for up to 3 devices, and content filters for parents.
Sophos Home Free doesn’t include many of the features included with Sophos Home Premium, such as ransomware protection, advanced web protection, and webcam protection.
Honestly, there are better free antivirus options available which include a wider range of features than Sophos’s free version.
But, if you’re willing to spend a couple of bucks for premium antivirus protection, Sophos Home Premium is a decent choice — and you can try all of Sophos’s premium features free for 30 days to see if this software is right for you.
Is Sophos Home Premium good for Macs?
Yes, Sophos’s Home Premium software is a good choice for Mac users. It includes a decent range of security tools that improve upon the already built-in Mac OS security features and internet security protections.
During my tests, Sophos Home Premium detected most macOS malware samples and it also stopped dangerous malware-containing websites from loading. I also really like Sophos’s anti-ransomware feature, CryptoGuard, which detects and blocks any encryption behavior in Macs (and PCs).
Will Sophos Home Premium slow down my computer?
Sophos barely slowed my PC down during testing — it used 15-20% of my CPU during a full system malware scan, and it used virtually no CPU power while the real-time anti-malware engine was active.
These results are great, better than most top competitors — for example, McAfee used over 50% of my CPU with a scan running, which is quite a lot for most people with an average PC.