Antivirus Software Review: Sophos Home
Industrial-grade cybersecurity at home: Sophos Home promises this at an affordable price (also available in a free version) serving up the cutting edge in digital security in a user-friendly package for private users. Our review explores whether this is truly the case, or if Sophos Home is just a second-rate version of the British provider's flagship product.
What Is Sophos Home?
Sophos Home is a British-made antivirus program whose developer is well-known for their enterprise cybersecurity solutions, such as Intercept X Endpoint or Sophos Firewall. Sophos Home was designed in order to allow private users to also profit from the company's innovative security technologies.
The software is available for Windows and macOS, with Intercept X Endpoint offered for Android and iOS users.
Pros and Cons
Easy to use
Can be controlled remotely through the browser or a smartphone app
Available in a free version
Can be used on up to 10 devices (3 in the free version)
Relatively few current testing lab assessments
Limited scan options
Provides only basic features and tools
Installation & Usage
A free version of Sophos Home is offered, although you'll have to look to find it. Apart from that, you can also try a premium subscription to the service without having to input payment data. After downloading the installer and beginning the installation process, all you'll have to do is create a Sophos account.
Installation takes around 10 minutes, making it longer than most of the other providers from our sample. Once complete, a mini-tutorial will start, walking you through the dashboard's features. After this, we needed to restart our computer to finish an update to the software's newest version. Unfortunately, as soon as the program was installed on our system, we had the sinking feeling that Sophos was throttling our PC's performance, but more on that in the "Performance" section of this review.
Once the program has been installed on your system, a brief tutorial will introduce you to its features.
At first glance, Sophos Home's interface looks like that of any other antivirus program, with a menu bar to the left and different security modules and features in the center. However, after clicking on a menu item or module, the tool or option won't open in the app's dashboard, but rather, in your browser.
As such, the app serves mostly to forward you to the relevant security features, while also displaying your security status, and allowing you to run a scan by clicking on the "Scan" button in the bottom left. Nearly all of the cloud-based service's features are housed in the Web dashboard.
You can run a scan in the desktop app, however, for everything else, you'll be forwarded to the software's browser interface.
The program's Web interface is well-structured with navigation not made unnecessarily complicated. The main menu bar has five tabs: "Status", "History", "Protection", "Web Filtering" and "Privacy". Clicking on any of these will open additional sub-directories or modules. In the next section of this review, we'll explore all of these in greater detail.
You can access settings by clicking on your email address in the top right corner of the interface. Here, you can change the dashboard language, extend your license, or delete your account.
Sophos Home's Web interface is structured logically.
With its cloud-based Web interface, Sophos Home breaks with most other antivirus programs. Even though this browser-based approach didn't cause any difficulties, we still prefer a dedicated app, which while included with Sophos Home, is fairly useless. In the future, the developers might want to consider offering users the choice between the two kinds of interfaces.
In addition, for some time after installing the program, we felt that our computer was noticeably slower. However, once set up, the program's well-organized Web interface did make a good impression. As an additional positive, no bloatware found its way onto our system during the installation process.
Score: 3.3 / 5
Sophos Home's features are grouped into five sub-menus in the software's Web dashboard. The Status area serves as a kind of home screen: From your cybersecurity cockpit, you can always keep tabs on the service's most important features. This applies most specifically to real-time protection, which is further broken down into a number of different modules. For users of the free version, this includes Antivirus Protection (which guards against known viruses, Trojans, and other malware) as well as Web Protection, which chaperones you across the Internet.
Exclusive real-time protection for premium users
Expanded real-time protection features are reserved for premium subscribers: "Ransomware Protection" defends you against so-called extortion Trojans, which encrypt files on your computer, demanding a payoff for their decryption. "Privacy Protection" ensures that you or your system won't be compromised through unauthorized access to your webcam. "Malicious Traffic Detection" identifies programs that might attempt to connect your system to harmful remote servers.
Below the five modules (or through the "History" tab), you can view any threats that have been uncovered.
In the Status menu you'll be able to keep track of the security Sophos Home is providing for your system.
Schedule scans in advance
Should you want to adjust the software's real-time protection capabilities, click on the third tab, "Protection". You can plan scans over the course of an entire week in the "Scheduled Scan" module. Unfortunately, Sophos Home wasn't as generous as some of its competitors in terms of scan options, so, you'll only be able to schedule a full system scan.
Even though the program doesn't overtly indicate its ability to scan individual folders or even storage devices, this is possible by right-clicking on the folder or device and selecting "Check with Sophos". Still, as with the scheduled scans, the options on offer are far fewer than those which Sophos's competitors provide.
With Sophos Home, you can schedule scans throughout the week.
In the "Protection" area, additional features, particularly against ransomware and exploits, are again reserved for premium subscribers. These make it possible to select which of your installed programs should benefit from enhanced security. For example, "Exploit Defense" protects vulnerable applications or programs against future attacks, allowing you to select which apps or programs it should keep an eye on.
In Sophos Home, you can choose which of your installed applications should benefit from enhanced security.
"Web Filtering" functions similarly to parental controls, allowing you to control which categories of websites and activities are blocked, or only accessible after acknowledging a warning about their nature. These include general topics, such as "Entertainment" or "Religion", as well as more specific ones, such as adult/sexually explicit, drugs, or violence.
During testing this worked well, however, on occasion, we were able to access some sites whose content should have been out of bounds. This module doesn't include additional settings or options, such as the ability to limit screen time or block specific apps.
As of the time of writing, the "Privacy" tab only included webcam protection. Why this requires its own menu tab, rather than being part of the "Protection" tab is unclear to us.
With Sophos Home, you can manage what sort of content your children can access online.
We can't help but notice the absence of a few important features, such as dedicated email protection, a firewall, or a file shredder (to permanently delete data from your computer). Unfortunately, Sophos Home also lacks the (by no means necessary) extras typical of most antivirus suites, like a password manager or VPN.
There is an app called Sophos Home for Android and iOS devices, however, instead of offering antivirus protection, it serves as a remote control for the desktop app. With it, you can start scans remotely or adjust settings, such as block categories in Web Filtering, or manage your ransomware protection.
With Sophos Home's smartphone app you can manage your computer's security on the go.
For antivirus protection on the go, you'll need Sophos Intercept X. In addition to real-time protection and scans, the app also serves as a multi-factor authenticator. The program features an app block, with which you can add a PIN, password, or fingerprint to any app which you want to equip with extra protection.
A QR code scanner is also included, as is a rudimentary password manager (compatible with KeePass - KDBX - files) which while nice, is no substitute for a dedicated password manager.
For true security on your mobile device, you'll need to download Sophos Intercept X.
Once again with a Sophos product, we have to consider what's missing from Intercept X, namely, anti-theft tools. Alongside antivirus capabilities, these are typically the most sought-after amongst mobile users, so their absence is more than conspicuous. In addition, Sophos would be well-advised to integrate a mobile port into Intercept X, mirroring the approach taken by its cloud-based desktop app.
Overall, Sophos Home provides the antivirus basics in a neatly packaged, cloud-based app, however, this lacks the configuration options and features common to its competitors. Extras like a VPN or password manager aren't sorely missed, but more extensive scanning options, a file shredder, or anti-theft tools for Intercept X definitely are.
Score: 3 / 5
Security & Performance
To the programs from our sample, we consulted AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, each of which regularly awards separate scores in performance and security to a selection of antivirus software. Unfortunately, Sophos Home (in contrast to its enterprise version) has not featured regularly for either of those two labs, with its most recent results being rather dated. The program was evaluated by SE Labs as part of its home anti-malware protection test in the second quarter of 2021.
 Test of Business version, Sophos Intercept X Advanced
 Test of Business version, Sophos Intercept X Advanced 10.8 from June 2021
SE Labs awarded Sophos Home its highest scores: The program identified and blocked (or otherwise neutralized) 100% of attacks. The most recent evaluations by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives are so old that they can't really provide much insight into its current state. The developer's Business version is regularly assessed, and we're confident that its strengths and weaknesses are similar to those of Sophos Home.
Around 10 minutes were needed to complete a manual scan using Sophos Home. It's worth noting that during the first scan, our PC's performance was noticeably inhibited, however, not during successive scans.
As such, we can report that Sophos Home appears to be a reliable antivirus program, even if it hasn't been included in recent tests conducted by the larger testing labs.
Score: 4.3 / 5
Users of the software's free version will have to solve any problems which might arise on their own: But don't worry, you'll have access to a knowledge database with numerous articles and a nice selection of video guides.
Premium users can contact the developer's support staff directly through the dashboard, either by live chat (available Monday-Friday, 12 hours a day) or through the traditional support ticket.
Sophos offers both its free and premium users a variety of options for solving any issues which they might have.
We were connected to a staffer in the live chat in around a minute. Our support ticket query was competently answered in around four hours. A hotline would be a nice addition, as would any kind of direct support for free users, but as the saying goes "beggars can't be choosers". The level and quality of support provided for paying customers on the other hand, is definitely solid.
Score: 4.3 / 5
The basic version of Sophos Home is available at no cost and can be used to scan your system (and, as we've shown above, files and folders) and to provide up to three devices with real-time protection. The premium package for up to 10 devices can be purchased in one-, two-, or three-year subscriptions.
A current price list is provided below:
|Home Free||Home Premium|
|Price per year||$0.00||$90.00|
|Contract period (months)||0||12|
|Max. Number of devices||3||10|
|Special Protection Features|
Since subscription packages and features vary from program to program, the table below compares each provider's offering on the basis of a template, with the package coming closest to this (or being identical to it) included. As can be seen in the comparison below, Sophos Home is in the upper-end of our sample's price spectrum.
It's possible to test the premium version of Sophos Home for 30 days for free and without inputting any payment method. After purchasing a premium subscription, you'll have 30 days to claim a full, money-back refund.
Sophos Home won us over with its (feature-laden and functional) free version and user-friendly cloud interface, even though the latter might not be everyone's cup of tea (we prefer a classic desktop app). Still, you'll get everything expected from an antivirus program, and have the ability to calibrate the software's settings, at least to some extent. The big highlight for us was the ability to adjust configuration options and run scans remotely through the Web interface and smartphone app.
Unfortunately, a few necessary components were missing, such as a file shredder, while the scan options are very limited. We also had the feeling that the program inhibited our system's performance. Making matters worse, Sophos Home has not been included in the regular evaluations of the two testing labs we consulted for the rest of our sample's programs, with only the Business version featuring.
At the end of the day, you'll receive a solid antivirus program that can be controlled remotely, however, one that offers far less than its competitors and at a similar price.
Users seem to have very positive experiences with Sophos software, however, most reviews we analyzed related to the software's mobile apps. These were praised for their provision of solid real-time protection and a wealth of features. Some reviewers criticized performance issues arising when using the app.
Alternatives to Sophos Home
Would you prefer to entrust your digital security to a program that testing labs like AV-Test and AV-Comparatives regularly evaluate? If so, look no further than the top-performing antivirus software from our assessment, Bitdefender, which also offers more features than Sophos Home to boot.
If you'd rather have a free antivirus solution, be sure to consult our guide on the best solutions available.
A list of popular alternatives to Sophos Home can be found here:
- Trend Micro
- G Data
- 360 Total Security
- Internet Security
- Virus Protection
- Free Antivirus
- Android Antivirus
- Avast vs. Avira