Last updated on September 27th, 2018 at 04:07 pm

I have previously reviewed F-Secure Total, and it remains my favourite security suite on the market. F-Secure has kindly supplied me with another 1-year licence, so I thought I would review the software again to see if it holds up.

F-Secure Total is one of the more expensive options on the market; if you buy directly from F-Secure it will cost you €79.99 or around £71 however you can get it from Amazon for £44.92, and this includes protection for 3 devices for one year.

F-Secure Total isn’t just anti-virus and firewall it is a comprehensive security suite that you can use on both your mobile and PC. Using their web management system, you can assign licences to devices or remove them as and when needed.

The key features include:

  • Virus protection – Protect your privacy and ensure your safety – protect your devices from viruses, Trojans and spyware
  • Browser, banking and family protection – Protect your whole family with one service. Internet surfing, online shopping and banking without safety concerns
  • Wi‑Fi security – Even on unsecured public Wi‑Fi, your traffic is encrypted and impossible to intercept
  • Safe surfing – Your own private VPN tunnel blocks hackers, malicious sites and bad apps
  • Family safety and management

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Set-up

This software requires you to sign up to an F-Secure account, which some users may not like, but it is essential to some of the features offered within the software. When you sign up and apply your product key you can manage the device licences, you have the option to assign the device to yourself, a child or a friend. Then you can opt for which type of device you would like to set up, so you can choose this computer, another computer, a tablet or phone. Android and iOS are supported.

If you choose the Windows option, it will download a unique EXE tailored to you, so you don’t need to input any other licence codes into the software.

If, like me, you replace or reinstall your PC a lot you can easily remove a licence and re-issue it for a new device.

Internet Security for Windows with F-Secure SAFE

Similar to all security suites, F-Secure SAFE has extensive features to the point of being a little bloated for my usage requirements. Many of the features will be useful for individuals that are not very good with computers and the internet, but for someone that works on a PC all day long, they can be a little invasive.

A few weeks ago, I installed Kaspersky and within a couple of weeks uninstalled it, its invasive features were too much for me to cope with. With F-Secure SAFE if you don’t like something, it is reasonably easy to disable. I didn’t install the Chrome plugin, and I will quite frequently switch off browsing protection. I also find banking protection to be annoying as it will cause issues when browsing other websites if you have a banking page open in another tab.

Virus Protection

This is the main option I need, you can optionally switch off real-time protection but I wouldn’t recommend it. One of the issues I have had with security applications in the past is the aggressive detection and making it challenging to whitelist files. As I work in development sometimes files I download can cause false alerts and I need to be able to whitelist them so I can at least see what is going on with it. It is reasonably easy to do this with F-Secure.

DeepGuard & Ransomware Protection

DeepGuard monitors that you only use safe applications and checks against a trusted cloud service, since testing I have not had any false positives, but again you can add excluded files into it if you know an application is trustworthy.

I have had no issues with Ransomware myself but considering WannaCry and the boom in Ransomware, in general, it is a nice feature to have. You can select folders to protect from Ransomware, so if something tries to modify them in a suspicious manner, F-Secure should block it.

Firewall

Firewalls are a bit redundant with NAT routers handling our IP addresses, but it is another layer of protection that does not nag you or affect performance. If you have port forwarding on your router, then the Firewall can be necessary.

Browsing Protection

This is one of the features I switch off as I am aware of the various security issues with browsing and I am careful what links I click on. Though it will definitely be useful for people that are not very internet savvy. When F-Secure sees a suspicious page, you get a big warning before you are allowed to proceed, and I have found it throws up a lot of false positives. I think it checks against current IP blacklists and also uses other variables such as SSL data, due to my work I can trigger it a lot.

Browser Extensions

This compliments the browsing protection and will be very useful for people that are not tech savvy, I switch it off as I have too many extensions slowing down Chrome as it is.

Along with the usual browser protection features, the extension will add a reputation rating icon before each link on your search result page by enforcing safe search mode for search engines, also if HTTPS is used. This helps you avoid harmful and suspicious websites even before clicking on them.

Security for Mobile

Mobile anti-virus was something I was never totally sold on, and I am still not, but with the growing concern over privacy, the F-Secure Safe app does provide insight into applications to be concerned about.

Under application privacy, it ranks the application based on the invasiveness of their permissions. The worrying thing was that all the apps with the most significant privacy issues are the ones I use on a regular basis such as Amazon, Blink, Garmin Connect, Facebook, Instagram, PayPal, Telegram, Twitter and banking apps. However, it did motivate me to delete unneeded apps, and with some common sense, you can decide which apps are cause for concern. If you have a random game or app with major privacy issues, you are probably best to delete it. Messaging, banking and popular social media apps do have a reason for a lot of the permissions, and our privacy is a sacrifice for convenience.

If you have this on a children’s device, it will provide parental controls via the family rules feature. I don’t have kids, and I didn’t get a mobile until I was 18 so it is difficult to understand the problems a family must face with children accessing the internet. However, I think this is an excellent feature for any family wanting some control over their young child’s internet access.

If you are prone to getting spam calls you can enable call blocker and which will block calls from undesired numbers, this works on a blacklist method, so it is not much different than the features you already get baked into Android.

Family Rules

As already mentioned, I don’t have children, and I am not sure if my partner would appreciate me managing her internet access. However, the family rules seem to make a lot of sense to me, primarily for young children, you get a combination of time limits and content filtering.

With time limits you can set the number of hours per day for weekdays and weekends, then you can also assign a bedtime hour.

Within the content settings, you can block the usual things you would expect such as adult content, gambling, drugs and illegal downloads. You can also prevent things like shopping and auction websites or go as far as blocking social networks.

Freedome VPN

For me, this is one of the stand out features of F-Secure Total. There are a lot of VPN options out there, and you can absolutely get them cheaper than the F-Secure option. However, I find they tend to either struggle to connect or when connected occasionally suffer from slow connections.

When I first reviewed Freedome it would max out my connection, I have since upgraded to Virgin 300Mbps and found that it can’t quite keep up with it. However, I do achieve 80Mbps with 18.5Mbps upload and a 21ms ping using a UK server. Switching to a US server, I get a much higher ping of 238ms but a still reasonably 40/8Mbps up and down. Lastly trying out a Hong Kong based server I achieved 221ms 30/9Mbps so still good enough for browsing.

With a VPN I think it is essential to be able to have access to both a fast and reliable connection because you want to be able to switch it on then leave it running in the background permanently while you go about your day. If I have to start disabling it any time Youtube buffers or a website is slow to load, I will just stop using it.

The VPN includes both browser and privacy protection, which can be switched on and off easily. I don’t mind the browser protection here because I know the VPN is running and it is quick and easy to switch off. With the privacy protection you sometimes will encounter issues with affiliate links, and if you ever use cashback websites, you need to switch this off.

I originally highlight that some sites flag this VPN for logging bandwidth and IP addresses, as well as using proprietary APIs. This still appears to be the case according to thatoneprivacysite.net, but in reality, most providers fall foul of one of the many many variables they track. When I originally reviewed this VPN F-Secure came back to me stating:

Freedome privacy is better than stated on thatoneprivacysite.net. Most importantly F-Secure state that there are absolutely no backdoors within their software.

My opinion is that the VPN ticks a lot of boxes in regards to privacy and you need to have some severe paranoia about privacy to obsess over the logging details.

Freedome VPN also has a mobile app, and it works exactly the same way as the desktop version

Conclusion

F-Secure Total continues to be my favourite security suite, it does include a lot of features that I don’t want, but they thankfully make them quite simple to disable. Most of these features will be useful for users that are not confident in their internet browsing, so it is good they are included. The fact that the feature list is so extensive means it should suit everyone’s security needs from children to grandparent and everyone in between.

I have found no issues with the software slowing down my PC or hogging resources, and once I have switched a couple of features off, I find it none invasive which is precisely what I want from an Anti-Virus.

Freedome VPN remains my favourite VPN to use, it just seems to connect a lot quicker than other solutions, and when it is connected I have found the speeds to be more reliable than others. It has excellent tracking and browser protection for anyone that extremely averse to tracking. The reliability of the speed is a major thing for me, I can start the VPN and forget about it for the rest of the day without websites slowing down.

The full retail price of this is a bit steep, especially if like me, you end up disabling a bunch of features. However, if you buy it through Amazon, it is only about £20 more than competing brands, and in my case, I found Kaspersky that invasive I deleted it after 2 weeks. Other brands don’t generally don’t include a VPN, and I would say Freedome VPN is easily worth £20 extra per year you pay here.

For the seriously security conscious and for any homes that have a large number of IoT/home automation devices the F-Secure Sense router is also an excellent option to complement this software. It provides router level security and monitors IoT traffic for unusual behaviour.

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F-Secure Total Review

Name: F-Secure Total

Price: 44.92

Currency: GBP

Operating System: Windows & Mobile

Application Category: Security

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