Sophos Antivirus Review 2020 - What They Won't Tell You

Eric C.
Eric C.
Published on: October 1, 2020

Detailed Expert Review

Sophos Home Premium Antivirus is the top tier program in Sophos’ consumer-grade protection series. But do the company’s consumer-grade programs match the power and sophistication of its enterprise workstation tools?

Security

When configuring local scanning settings, Sophos Home Premium certainly isn’t full of options. There’s a “Clean My Computer” button on the home screen which runs a default scan of your files and directories. You can configure exceptions like filetypes and websites and exclude folders from the scanning process, but that’s it.

While the options may seem simple (and in some ways, they are), there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Sophos has put a lot of the deeper configuration settings on the cloud admin panel which the local program uses as it runs.

Security

On this dashboard, users can toggle on and off real-time protection which uses behavior-based analysis to detect zero-day threats, malicious traffic detection which detects and blocks programs attempting to connect to malicious servers, and protection against potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) such as junkware.

There’s also the option to configure master boot record (MBR) protection which prevents ransomware from interfering with it and protection against ransomware that runs remotely. The local program still lacks some common features such as the ability to run scans on certain folders and remote drives, but there’s clearly a lot of enterprise-level protection running behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, the software failed my most basic virus test—using the industry-standard EICAR file—absolutely miserably. After loading the EICAR test virus into a directory, I ran a scan. And guess what? The program completely missed it! If Sophos is incapable of detecting the most basic test virus in the industry, I wouldn’t want to know how it would fare against much more sophisticated vectors such as zero-day attacks and rootkits.

Security

Features

On the internet security side, all settings are configured and updated on the cloud rather than locally. There’s a fairly basic web filtering function which lets users allow access to, warn about, or block certain categories of websites. A whitelist can also be set up to automatically allow certain websites. A parental control tools lets users block, or provide access to, certain categories.

Features

There’s also a safe online banking menu with keylogger protection and a safe browsing environment whenever the user logs onto an online banking website. The webcam protection automatically notifies you about any programs or websites attempting to access your webcam.

Finally, users can access an alerts log from the web-based interface to see any threats that the system has been protecting against. To centrally administer a network of computers running the software, adding additional devices or removing some from the management area is as simple as clicking a button.

Ease of use

Downloading and installing Sophos was very straightforward and took me less than five minutes from start to finish. Sophos Home Premium is really a piece of software that lives on the cloud—therefore getting around the local management platform is extremely straightforward (there are four buttons and only page!). Configuring changes to settings on the Sophos website is thankfully also quick and easy. Settings are broken up by function, so everything related to virus protection, website protection, and privacy protection is managed on a separate page.

Support

Sophos has provided a knowledge-base full of useful information on commonly encountered issues. Clicking the “submit a request” button on the support dashboard takes you into the ticketing system. It includes a button for adding attachments, so it’s easy to share things like screenshots and logs with the team. Although live chat is provided, it’s available from a separate landing page so some users might miss this option.  It’s not the speediest system I’ve encountered (when I tested it out, I had to wait five minutes for a queue of two users to clear), but the help I received was otherwise prompt and courteous.

Support

Pricing

Sophos Home Premium is available for a yearly subscription—and it’s a bargain when multiple devices are protected. The step-up in protection between the free and premium versions is also quite notable. Premium users get access to advanced ransomware protection, real-time zero-day protection, privacy protection, and customer support.

The best part, however, is that each Home Premium license covers 10 devices. Sophos’ specialty is securing large, centrally managed enterprise deployments. Protecting a large family network with multiple computers while managing all settings and devices in one convenient location should consider Premium.

Sophos Products & Pricing

Sophos Home Free
Sophos Home Premium PC
Free Trial
Sophos Home Premium Mac
Free Trial

About the Author

Eric C.
Eric C.
Expert on Cyber Security, Fintech, and Cryptocurrency

About the Author

Eric is a professional cyber tech expert with almost a decade of experience writing about security and tech. In recent years, he has been focused heavily on the rapidly developing fintech and cryptocurrency industries and how they relate to online security.

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Sophos User Reviews

8 23
Based on 31 reviews in 8 languages 1.8
Language
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
Sep. 9, 2020 NEW
Richard P
Richard P
United Kingdom
1.0
Sophos Home Free Has Serious Issues on Catalina (including WindowServer panics)
Mac User
Sophos Home Free has been my choice of antivirus for several years. Unfortunately it has unpleasant habits when running on Catalina ... it has been implicated in a number of WindowServer panics (the usual scenario follows a restart after running for 2-3 days; the screen goes all-black during the restart, followed by a Catalina background and an unexpected login/password request, then a startup to a minimally responsive state [Activity Monitor fingers Sophos WebIntelligence as a CPU hog], then 30-60 minutes into the restart it crashes with a WindowServer panic). I observe that Sophos Home Free uses deprecated kernel extensions (which get warnings from Catalina and will not work at all under Big Sur).

Also, since Sophos Home Free limits us...Show More
Aug. 30, 2020
Greg Kaiser
Greg Kaiser
Canada
0.5
Experienced problems with Mac Time Machine
Mac User
The package looked good but it caused a significant conflict for me with Time Machine ... no warning about this and no guidance on an easy work-around after many searches. So I deleted my account and that also caused headaches as the program icon was not removed and after a few more searches I found a way of removing it. If you're running Time Machine ... find an alternative.
Jul. 28, 2020
Ricky Fisher
Ricky Fisher
United Kingdom
1.0
This software is a threat to your files
Windows User
Sophos deleted two programs that I developed myself, and only let me restore one of them because it said that it wasn't malicious, but may have unwanted behaviour. It was sure that the other one, consisting of 3 lines of code to search for text in a file, was malicious and irreversibly deleted it with no restore option. I contacted support and they expected me to send screenshots, logs etc just to see if it might be possible to restore. Disgusting. Every other antimalware software in existence has the option to restore files, except this one. Unbelievable. I uninstalled the product and will never consider installing it ever again. The support team speak broken English which makes it difficult to communicate, which is the opposite of what yo...Show More
Jul. 26, 2020
JD2000
JD2000
United States
1.0
Worse than the virus
Windows User
Impossible to uninstall. it uninstalls only half of the product. good luck trying to uninstall the rest. you'll need regedit, regedit32, and hours of your time. Terrible product. would rather have the virus.
Jul. 26, 2020
Luke
Luke
United Kingdom
4.5
Great software but Strange result on EICAR
Windows User
I've used Sophos for a number of years now with no issues and nothing found with second opinion scans, it's a great bit of software with one of the best anti-ransomware components but could do with more offline options rather than being all cloud-based. That being said that is useful in my case as I manage several endpoints. The results shown here for EICAR are very strange as Sophos has detected this file for many years and I performed the same test today with it blocking the txt, website and both zip files provided by EICAR, not to mention that the oldest historical result I could get from metascan by OPSWAT security shows Sophos detecting it last month. Also the screenshot shown for the detection results is not the standard gui for Sopho...Show More
Jul. 5, 2020
Brent
Brent
United States
4.5
Trust us...it works
iOS User
Hello, I have been using Sophos home premium for years now and I gotta say, I love it. I will say, I am a bit iffy on the whole “just trust us” approach Sophos uses. This is the polar opposite of a program like ESET which says “its yours now, you can change EVERYTHING” However, Sophos is very hands off, easy to navigate and maintenance free. Even the online AV management is great. It is also verified by MRG-Effitas, SE-Labs, The PC Security Channel, and PCMag as one of the best AVs from a defection and protection standpoint. However, this is all based on the premium version and not free, but I highly recommend.
Bill Dietrich
Bill Dietrich
Spain
0.5
Sophos 9 Free for Linux won't run on most distros
Linux User
I was able to run Sophos 5 Free on my Linux Mint 19 system. Then I made the mistake of trying to update to Sophos 9 Free. It won't install; it rejects all but a very limited set of distros (maybe only Ubuntu LTS). Sophos Support is completely unhelpful about it. Their user forums are full of Linux users complaining about this.
Ronak Vaghasiya
Ronak Vaghasiya
Canada
0.5
Worst support knowledge
Windows User
I purchased Sophos products for endpoint and emails. Support of Sophos very poor, technical support agent always push to close the case without solving. Instead of giving solution they trying to find our falut what we did the wrong but never suggest way to correct out mistake
judith Bradbury
judith Bradbury
Australia
0.5
judith
Mac User
I wanted to upgrade to sophos premium, having had free sophos for several years.
Had trouble with the transition so I deceided to try the free 30 day premium only to be told that I was not eligible. Then after ring sophos they told me they where more interested in businesses not home premium and perhaps i could find software. So I gather from that little people are not important
Stella
Stella
Switzerland
1.0
command & control
Mac User
Security software controlled by a web interface in the cloud? At least secured without two-factor-authentication? Are you kidding?!

I can't believe this!
:(

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