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Extremely light system impact
Relatively fast scans
Free, no-credit-card-necessary, trial available
Simple, easy-to-navigate interface
Some features hidden behind menus that aren’t intuitive
Mixed ratings from industry testing services
Live chat support is really more about sales
No parental controls or VPN
Webroot gets mixed reviews from antivirus industry testing services because it has a proprietary system for finding and removing threats to your computer, but it handled everything we threw at it and works with other antivirus applications.
Webroot is not your typical antivirus program. It runs in the cloud, making it easy on your system and it uses a proprietary system for finding and removing viruses from your system. To cut to the chase: When we tested Webroot it seemed to catch most of the threats that were thrown at it, and it also offers some nice features. Noticeably missing are parental controls and a VPN, but the antivirus application is solid, and it works with other antivirus and anti-malware applications, making it a great companion to more traditional antivirus applications. Keep reading to see more of our findings while testing out Webroot.
Webroot is not quite like any antivirus application you’ve ever seen before. Traditional antivirus works by storing known virus definitions on your hard drive and using those to recognize threats to your system. Some antivirus may even monitor the way your computer system behaves to find anomalies that might indicate your system has been infected with malware.
Webroot, does both in what it calls a Deep Scan. But it also checks descriptions in a community database, which means that Webroot often catches viruses, rootkits, and Trojans that some other antivirus applications might miss. And Webroot does all this from the cloud, which means there is very little required of your computer system and that scan can happen very quickly because they are not relying on your system resources to power the scan.
In our tests, Webroot caught everything we threw at it, without a miss. In the past, there were reports that Webroot also caught legitimate Windows files and removed them, causing issues with the computer on which the software was installed, but we encountered no such issues. Rather, Webroot works nearly seamlessly in the background, protecting the Windows 10 PC on which it was installed.
On installation, Webroot scans your system to see if it detects any threats. It looks at rootkits, the Master Boot Record, archived files, and potentially unwanted applications. In our installation, that scan took less than two minutes. That same scan will then happen automatically each day at approximately the same time you installed the software.
However, you can run a Customized Scan (PC Security Settings > Scans & Shields > Custom Scan) at any time. Your options are:
Each of these scan types is very fast. During our test, we ran a Deep scan that took approximately 55 seconds to complete, and that was while using the PC for other functions, including surfing the Web and using installed applications. The custom scan we performed on a folder located on an external expansion drive that contained more than 40,000 files in one folder (images, PDFs, documents, and video files) took quite a bit longer at 40 minutes.
Computer security is serious business, and Webroot takes that challenge very seriously. The company studies trends in malware and releases a report each year to share its findings (2018 Webroot Threat Report). Those finding also inform how the company continues to improve the Webroot products.
Users benefit from this awareness in enhanced protection from viruses, malware, Trojans, rootkits, polymorphic threats, cryptojacking, ransomware attacks, and even malicious IP address and phishing. Even the lowest tier Webroot antivirus (Webroot Antivirus) protects from these threats. Increasing your subscription to one of the higher tiers (Internet Security Plus or Internet Security Complete) add only incremental improvements such as mobile device support, a password manager, or secure online storage.
Webroot is always up-to-date, and it requires none of your system resources to remain that way.
The shades of green that color the Webroot user dashboard are soothing enough, but that’s not what makes Webroot easy to use. The basic dashboard tells you everything you need to know about the application, and it includes a Scan My Computer button that makes it easy to set off a scan at will.
Basic functions are also included on the main dashboard page, though if you want to tweak any of the settings or if you want to conduct a different type of scan, you’ll need to drill into the settings for each section. Even so, finding and using the available features is easy enough to do from the category settings. Advanced settings also give you additional control over what’s scanned and when as well as some of the basic application settings.
Being a cloud-based application means that Webroot never needs to download virus definitions to your system or update the application to ensure the latest threat information is leveraged. Webroot is always up-to-date, and it requires none of your system resources to remain that way. This means you are always protected, even from Zero-Day exploits that some other applications might not catch.
Another benefit of Webroot being based in the cloud is that your system doesn’t have to provide the processing power for scans or for examining potential threats that are caught during a scan or by behavioral monitoring. If Webroot finds something that looks threatening, it’s placed in quarantine where it can’t hurt anything until it is determined to be safe or is completely removed from the system.
All of this happens with no noticeable change in the way your computer operates because the computing power used to make it happen is in the cloud. Not only are your system resources free for you to continue doing what you need to do, but Webroot can draw as many resources as are needed from its own pool of resources in the cloud.
It’s also worth noting that Webroot plays well with other antivirus applications, especially Microsoft Windows Defender, which makes it a very affordable add-on to free security products or a backup for your favorite antivirus application.
The one area that Webroot may fall behind its competition is in the inclusion of additional tools with the antivirus software. You get the basics – antivirus and anti-malware protection, identity theft protection (but not insurance), ransomware protection, and a firewall, but there’s not much more than that. Increasing your service tier one step gets you mobile device protection and a password manager and increasing your service to the best tier will add protection from being tracked while you’re online plus 25GB of secure, cloud-based storage. If you need anything more than that, you won’t find it with Webroot.
If you have problems with your Webroot application, it’s easy enough to get help. From the frequent issues that are highlighted in the support forum to a searchable knowledge base, FAQ, community forums, support ticket, and calls (that are more for pre-sales questions), there is a way to get your questions answered 24/7. And a feature we really like is that all these support options are staffed by people in the U.S., Ireland, and Australia, so you might even encounter a really cool accent during your support encounter.
Webroot is one of the more affordable antivirus applications we’ve encountered—unless you need to protect multiple devices or need mobile protection. For around $30/year, you can get the basic AntiVirus application, which will likely do everything the average user’s needs, but it’s only going to be good for a single device. If you need more than that, you can jump up a tier to Internet Security Plus for around $45/year to protect three devices, including PCs and mobile devices. If you need to protect more devices than that, the highest tier, called Internet Security Complete, will cost around $60/year and will cover five devices.
It’s also not uncommon to find different promotions that reduce those prices even further, so look around before you make your final purchase.
Webroot wins in pricing flexibility, ease of deployment and integration with other applications
If you’re talking about antivirus protection, Bitdefender is usually top of mind, and with good reason. Bitdefender is one of the top-rated antivirus applications on the market. It has a near-perfect rating for catching all manner of threats, and it’s very easy to use.
Webroot is hard to compare, strictly on antivirus industry tests, because Webroot behaves differently when tracking, capturing, and removing viruses. Because it is a cloud-based application, it doesn’t often perform well in those tests. However, in practical use, Webroot catches nearly all the threats thrown at it. And according to Gartner PeerInsights, Webroot and Bitdefender both earn a 4.5 (out of 5) rating for product capabilities.
Where Webroot wins against Bitdefender (and only by a slim margin) is in pricing flexibility, ease of deployment and integration with other applications, and the timeliness of support responses.
So, all things being relatively equal, Webroot may not be quite as well-known as Bitdefender, but for the budget-conscious, it might be a better option, especially given the better support responses and options (which new users may need).
A solid mid-range option that works well with other antivirus applications.
Webroot may not get great marks from industry testing services, but that’s because those services don’t know how to test a cloud-based antivirus application. In practical use, Webroot seems to be as good as most other mid-range options out there, just minus a few of the extra bells and whistle. But the fact that Webroot plays well with other antivirus applications makes it an attractive addition for users trying to beef up their free protection, and for an affordable price.
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