During my press trip to Helsinki to demo the F-Secure Sense, I was also shown their original flagship product, F-Secure Total. This is a complete AV and VPN suite that will secure 5 devices (dependent on the option you choose).

The 5-device licence is £99.99 or the 3-device licence £79.99. While this makes this one of the most expensive products on the market it does include a VPN which will normally set you back a monthly fee. Depending on the VPN you chose this alone can be nearly as expensive as Total. NordVPN costs $69.99 per year for example, however, if you follow the Humble Bundle offers you can normally pick up a cheap VPN in one of their deals, for example, WindscriveVPN can currently be had for £9.40. At the moment, the Humble Bundle deals also include a copy of Panda Antivirus Pro for up to 3 devices. So, you can have a similar level of protection for considerably less than F-Secure.

F-Secure Total is essentially 3 separate products, you have the Internet Security application, VPN, and family safety

Internet Security

For me, this is the main feature I was interested in. I have not had a virus in years, and there seems to be a growing opinion that anti-virus software is not worth it. Cutting edge malware can bypass it, and as long as you apply some logic to what you do on the Internet then there should be no reason to get a virus. I spend 8+ hours a day on my main PC and it is quite powerful, so I am not overly concerned about any performance issues, and I like the added layer of security. When Windows 7 came out Windows Defender was classed as the best performing application but in recent years it seems to have slipped. The past few years I have switched between whatever premium application is cheap or I can blag a free licence. Kaspersky has generally been my preferred choice, and in the last year I have used Bitdefender, which I have found quite annoying to use, so I was glad to switch to F-Secure.

F-Secure actually require you to sign up to their website and input your product key there, this is a bit unusual and I am sure some people won’t like it. It is essential to the family control features, and I personally didn’t find it too much of an issue.

Once downloaded, installing the app was easy. As part of the install process, it tries to install a browser extension. I always reject these, I need quite a few extensions for my work, and Chrome is already a memory hog so I keep my extensions to the absolute minimum. Also, I already use an adblocker and Disconnect which blocks tracking and some JavaScript. Being mindful of what you are browsing and downloading should be adequate for anyone tech savvy, but for less experienced users I am sure the extension is great.

The UI of the app is quite straightforward too, in comparison I found navigating the features of Bitdefender a nightmare. Within the Antivirus there are several features including:

  • Virus Protection
  • DeepGuard
  • Firewall
  • Browsing Protection
  • Banking Protection

One of the first issues I found was banking protection. It will cut off all connections when you are on a bank site apart from anything it considers safe. I frequently found it would cut off my Spotify connection. So, I quickly disabled this.

Once Banking protection was disabled I have found the application to be quite nonintrusive. Virus scans seem to be quite quick and there is no noticeable slowdown of my PC. I did get one security warning when installing some software, and it blocked it from running, but I knew it was safe and it was easy to add to a whitelist. Conversely doing so it Bitdefender is a bit of a chore.

In the tools section, you can view all the events, whitelists and blacklists so it is quite easy to manage everything.

Within task manager, there are a lot of processes running but they do not consume many resources at all, just one process consuming 220MB which is not much of an issue with 16GB of memory.

Overall, I have been quite happy with the internet security part of this application.

Family Rules

This is one area that has absolutely no use to me as I do not have children, but we have demoed it at the F-Secure office and I was quite impressed. This part of the app suite is why you need the web login, from here you can manage profiles and devices. So, for example, there can be more than one device assigned to me, I could then assign a mobile and a laptop to my child or whomever.

From there you can then assign restrictions on each user. This comes in 2 forms, time limits and content filtering. So, you can assign internet access to a profile for a limit period of time per day, you can also have bedtimes. There are settings for weekdays and weekends. This seems like a great way to manage the amount of internet your child has per day. Though as someone pointed out in the meeting, it is essential to have user accounts on laptops and make sure you log out of your account.

Content filtering is exactly what you expect it to be and you can choose what type of content to allow access to.

If I had a relatively young child I would definitely want to use this to manage their internet access, it seems like a great idea. Though admittedly, without a child I don’t know how well it will function in real life.

Freedome VPN

The last main feature is the Freedome VPN which is a massively growing industry due to all the privacy concerns around the world. With this VPN you have 28 possible locations to choose from which includes locations from Europe, Asia, USA and Australia.

I did a quick test and the US locations do not work with Netflix, it detects you are using a proxy. This is pretty standard nowadays though.

There are a couple of additional options including browsing protection to protect you from harmful websites and tracking protection to block tracking.

As much as I love VPNs they always eventually cause me some issues, there will often be slowdowns when browsing, connecting can sometimes take ages and quite often I have serious issues with disconnecting with it taking several minutes to disconnect, leaving me with no connection for a while.

So far with Freedome I have had no issues at all, general browsing is just as quick as my normal internet and it is extremely fast to connect and disconnect. It has been so reliable I have started to use it most of the day.

For the ultra-paranoid, it may not be the absolutely best choice, if you look at thatoneprivacysite.net you will see that Freedom logs bandwidth and IP addresses, as well as some proprietary APIs. Personally, this isn’t a major concern for me, it is located in Finland with some of the best privacy laws in the world and that is about all I could want.

*Edit* F-Secure have kindly pointed me in the direction of their privacy policy regarding Freedome showing that the Freedome privacy is better than stated on thatoneprivacysite.net. Most importantly F-Secure state that there are absolutely no backdoors within their software.

Overall, this is a great app suite, it is expensive but I have found it to be one of the more user-friendly options. The VPN goes a long way to help justify the cost, and if you have a family the family control features should easily make it worth it.

You can buy F-Secure total from the F-Secure site from £79.99