Antivirus Software Review: 360 Total Security
You can only ever have security or speed, right? Wrong, at least according to 360 Total Security: The antivirus program offers protection and performance maximization making your computer both safer and more efficient. To accomplish this, it uses award-winning engines, made by developers like Avira. Below, we'll assess whether 360 Total Security really has more to offer, and is capable of going head-to-head with its well-known competitors.
What is 360 Total Security?
360 Total Security is an antivirus and performance optimization program produced by Qihoo 360, a Chinese developer, and available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. The program comes in two free, or one paid, premium version.
Pros and Cons
Intuitive to operate
Priced reasonably and available for free
Does not contain bloatware
Comes with a number of configurable, pre-loaded designs
Has not recently been tested/evaluated by third-parties
Questionable corporate commitment to data security/privacy
Installation & Usage
Installing 360 Total Security takes around seven minutes, which is somewhat longer than similar programs. Importantly, however, no bloatware is installed on your computer during this process: At the end of the program's installation, a prompt asks whether you would like to install any additional software that comes with 360 Total Security. This is a significant improvement over other antivirus developers who smuggle software onto your PC without your knowledge.
All attention in the program's dashboard is focused on the software's main features. Users of the free version are reminded of the benefits of upgrading to the premium version with an animated banner along the top of the interface, however, in the context of freeware, this isn't obnoxious or over-bearing.
The navigation menu to the left is divided into "Full Check", "Virus Scan", "Speed Up", "Clean Up", and "Tool Box", the functions of which we will explore below in greater detail.
In the upper menu bar, the hamburger icon takes you to settings, protocols, and the support area. Conveniently, you can also file a support ticket here, without leaving the comfort of the program's dashboard.
The T-shirt symbol in the program's upper bar opens one of 360 Total Security's unique features: Similarly to most video or computer games, you can 'dress' the program in different 'skins', personalizing your experience. Some of these are only for premium users, however, there are an adequate number of free ones to choose from as well.
Matching its gamified skins, 360 Total Security also borrows some additional gamification concepts. For example, by inviting friends to use the program, you can earn points, which can be converted into premium subscriptions or months. The idea is not bad, especially for those who have no moral qualms about "pimping out" their contact list in exchange for some free personal rewards, even though this seems a bit contradictory considering the (antivirus) context.
In total, 360 Total Security is easy to install, intuitive, and free from annoying bloatware.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Like every antivirus program, 360 Total Security offers both real-time protection, which actively scans and defends your computer against threats, as well as manual analysis, which allows users to search for specific risks. Free users have complete access to both modes.
In regards to real-time protection, you can activate this by clicking on the symbol in the upper-left corner of the interface. Then, you should see the words "Protection: On", meaning that the program will alert you whenever any changes or potential threats are identified. 360 Total Security comes with three pre-configured protection modes, each of which prioritizes a different aspect ("Performance", "Balanced", and "Security"). You can also create your own protection mode, incorporating, or removing different aspects of real-time protection at will.
These facets are also divided into three areas. "Privacy Protection" secures your digital currencies, webcam, and fends off ransomware and extortion attacks. The last of these encrypt important data on your computer, demanding payment (often in untraceable digital currency) in exchange for the decryption key.
In regards to "Internet Protection", a sort of online-shopping bodyguard appears, who also analyses data you've downloaded, and offers to block potentially harmful websites you might otherwise visit. "System Protection" enables you to scan data when opening it or to block any network threats.
360 Total Security is not the only antivirus program that lets its users customize their real-time protection, however, we commend it for making this as easy as possible.
The manual scan can also be personalized: Alongside "quick" and "complete" scans, there is also the option to run a "user-defined" scan, limited to specific partitions, folders, or items. You can also schedule scans in the program's settings, albeit not using those which you have created. In comparison to Avira's antivirus program, which enables the configuration and scheduling of different scan profiles, 360's are a bit limited.
In the interface's bottom left, you can find the different scan engines which 360 Total Security uses. We needed to manually select Avira's antivirus engine, since it was not automatically installed.
Performance features are 360 Total Security's core competence. These allow you to optimize your system's configuration and performance, automatically or manually. A single scan is all it takes to determine which elements and programs are holding your system back, and with just a few mouse clicks, most can be resolved. Of course, you can also choose which of the settings, programs, or files to optimize.
Under "Cleanup" you can find another scan, which shows you unnecessary data that you can automatically delete, also improving your computer's performance.
Further features can be found in the "Tool Box", including the "Sandbox", which allows for risky or questionable data and programs to opened in a secure partition, preventing damage to your system. Most of the other features in the tool box are limited to premium users: These include a firewall, which shields your computer from unauthorized access. With the "Privacy Cleaner", you can delete cookies and processes, to minimize your digital footprint. The data-shredder helps to completely remove files without leaving any traces. An adblocker and a VPN are also offered for paying clients.
What 360 Total Security does not have, however, is a password manager.
Of course, 360 Total Security also offers a mobile app called (unimaginatively) "360 Security". In contrast to its desktop counterpart, the mobile app focuses more on performance, with only some antivirus features included, seemingly, as an afterthought. You can still give your smartphone a performance boost, delete unnecessary data and files, or increase its battery life.
Under "Antivirus" in the menu is an automatic scan that identifies and blocks threats on its own. The "WLAN-Security" feature checks your connection for weaknesses and intruders.
There are also a number of integrated anti-theft features: With the "Intruder Selfie" feature, your smartphone's camera will take a picture when the wrong PIN is entered. "App-Block" adds an extra layer of security to selected apps. GPS locating, or remote use are not supported by 360 Security.
In total, the mobile app seems a bit less well-thought-out than its desktop counterpart, and more like a separate program that has been quickly adopted into the 360 "family". The app's anti-theft features, in particular, could be significantly beefed-up. On the flip side, 360 Total Security's desktop program does stand out owing to the wide variety of features that it offers users, even those of its free version.
Score: 4 / 5
Security & Performance
To assess 360 Total Security, we consulted AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, each of which gives separate scores for performance and security. Unfortunately, both of the leading third-party testing labs have not evaluated the program in the recent past; AV-Test last in 2017, and AV-Comparatives, even further back, in 2014. Unsurprisingly, the score from AV-Comparatives was not included in our aggregated score for 360 Total Security.
The tests performed by both labs are too old to help in creating a representative assessment, but we can discuss them anyways. In the last AV-Test review (October 2017) 360 Total Security's default engine received 1/6, whereas when Avira+Bitdefender's engine was used, the score improved to 4/6. Performance was rated 5.5/6. The program's security features fared better, and with a perfect score of 3/3 stars on AV-Comparatives's real-world protection test, however, that was in 2014, which is too far back to have any bearing upon the program in 2020.
"Some information we collect may be transferred to other countries, such as to our own servers or servers of our database providers in Singapore, and the United States and accessed from China by us and our external IT services providers. These countries may not have equivalent data protection laws to those applicable in the European Union. We do, however, ensure an adequate data protection level by agreements with our data base provider and other arrangements."
Apart from the fact that "database" is written in one sentence together, and two sentences later, apart (signalling that the policy was most likely drafted and amended at different times, by different authors), there is also another issue with the wording. Specifically, what "adequate" means here, is entirely subjective, and as such, users simply have to take the Beijing-based provider at their word. There are reasons to doubt the sincerity of these claims, however; In 2016 AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, and Virus Bulletin released a joint statement accusing Qihoo 360 of inappropriate business practices. They claimed that the company sent them products to review which behaved completely differently than those which were sold or marketed later to end users. The certificates these three reviewers had granted for the company's products were revoked as a result.
We don't doubt that Qihoo 360 could have improved its behavior over the past four years, particularly since AV-Test's 2017 review of 360 Total Security was favorable, however, once bitten, twice shy.
Score: 2.3 / 5
360 Total Security's desktop app features an integrated support center. There, you can click on links to FAQs, guides, or report your problem in a support ticket, all without leaving the program. However, further contact possibilities, such as a live-chat, do not exist.
Even though the support center offers little more than the bare necessities, it still is worthy of a nod for saving its users a trip to the software's website.
Unfortunately, we never received an answer to our first question. A few weeks later, we tried a second time, and again did not receive any answer to our query. Since no alternative contact possibilities exist, we were entirely left to our own devices. Based on our experience, 360 Total Security fails to meet the basic requirement in support, namely, being there to help users.
Score: 0 / 5
Even 360 Total Security's freeware version offers a complete antivirus program, only restricting access to a handful of extra features. If you're looking for extras like a firewall, data-shredder, or VPN, you'll need to pay for a premium subscription. How much you'll have to fork over depends on the length of your subscription. A current price list can be found here:
|Price per year||$0.00||from $26.98||from $15.00|
|Max. Number of devices||unlimited||5||unlimited|
|Special Protection Features|
Since subscription packages for each program vary, the table below compares each provider's offering on the basis of a sample, with similar conditions. We can say that 360 Total Security is one of the most affordable antivirus programs on the market.
With its game-like appearance, 360 Total Security makes a good first impression as an antivirus program. At second glance, it also looks decent, considering its intuitive operation and breadth of features. Unfortunately, the third-party lab tests are simply too old to provide any indication of what's "under the hood" in regards to the program's security and performance, and we were unable to assess this as a result. Assuming that a drastic change did not occur since 2017, it is fair to assume that the program offers at least decent security. Support for the product is non-existent, so the less said about it, the better. For it's low-price (or feature-packed freeware version) trying the program is definitely worth a shot.
In the customer reviews that we analysed, 360 Total Security was rated very highly, whereby, the majority of these reviews came from the Play Store, and are therefore applicable only to the mobile version. Users who commended the desktop app typically lauded its extensive freeware version.
Alternatives to 360 Total Security
Sophos Home is in the same price category as 360 Total Security, however, it too has not really been "shown the love" by third-party testers. Among those programs whose performances and security have been more recently evaluated by independent labs are Bitdefender or Kaspersky Internet Security. Since, at least in part, Qihoo 360 makes use of the Avira engine, a look at the "original", would also not be completely uncalled for: That program impressed us with its numerous features and good test results, even though its user interface was not our cup of tea. A list of solid alternatives to 360 Total Security can be found here: