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Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 review

The expert users paradise of a feature packed antivirus solution.

Our Verdict

While it includes an extra dose of powerful protection tools, however Comodo Antivirus takes plenty of time, knowledge and experience to be up and running.

For

  • Affordable price
  • Sandboxing security
  • Many configuration options

Against

  • No web filtering
  • Untested by the major testing labs
  • Expert knowledge required for some features

Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 is a serious antivirus tool that relies upon multiple security layers to provide safety to maintain the safety of your PC. This suite gives real-time protection for the identification and neutralization of known malware previous to it inflicting any damage. When the suite encounters a potentially threatening application, Comodo works to isolate it to the sandbox, to prevent an infection on the system.  

This sandbox also has other uses, such as running browsers or other safe software. Taken to the Nth degree, you can even run a virtual desktop, which again totally isolates any potential threats to your system, or attempts to access other online activities.  

Power users should go ahead and enable Comodo’s Host Intrusion Protection System, to provide total granular control to what software can do on their PC. 

A notable omission is the lack of web filtering, which translates to no capability for blocking malicious URLs. True, Comodo's auto-sandboxing does make sure that many threats are contained but this is less elegant than a more direct, neutralization approach, but there's also many other bonus features to round out the security package.

Left out of this release, known officially as Comodo Antivirus 11, is any notable new features, but at least the Release Notes page declares this right upfront. The company also does allude to making 'major changes' to upcoming version 12.

Comodo Antivirus: Price

Still, Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 is very capable, and moving up to the baseline commercial product, Comodo Advanced Antivirus 11, really just adds but a few features such as shopping and banking protection, and unlimited support. Another benefit is the low cost of an affordable $19.99 (£16) for the one device, one-year license.

Comodo Antivirus: Set up and installation

Comodo's antivirus can be easily found on their website as a free download, and the installed launched quite quickly.  

There was a bit of initial outrage that Comodo attempted to ‘fix’ our browser with a reset of our browser home and new tab pages to Yahoo!, and also setting it the default search engine. Exasperatingly, these browser hijacks are the default, and going through the installation process hastily, with a click on Next sans a careful read, and you can quickly become a victim of your own security suite. Granted, it’s really simple to prevent this with an unclick, but alternately our preference would beis that Comodo never attempted the modification of our browser settings in initially, especially considering that this really does not make our PC any more secure. 

However, on balance the installer does also include other relevant options, including the option for installing Comodo's secure Dragon Browser, and also to configure your PC for utilizing Comodo Secure DNS.

Be cognizant that when installing the Comodo Dragon browser, that it downloads all your Chrome settings, such as bookmarks, cookies, and history, and imports it to be available for browsing. While convenient, there should also be support for some other browsers, as for example, Avast imports both the Firefox and Chrome settings for its Secure Browser.

Setup is a lengthy process, partly accounted for by a post-installation scan that was quite pokey, including a virus database update that independently accounts for two minutes, but once completed, and Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 is good to go. 

Comodo Antivirus: Features

The Comodo Free Antivirus interface stands out as it is both versatile and flexible. Security status checking and launching scans is simply accomplished via the tiny desktop widget, or the other option is the more conventional antivirus console, with a switch to an Advanced View providing an instant window into expert-level functions and features that Comodo makes available.  

For those that want a simpler approach, the option is there as well. Catering to neophytes, Comodo can be used just like other antivirus programs, with scan choices that include a Quick or Full Scan, with quite satisfactory results, but more advanced users will undoubtedly have uses for Comodo's other options.  

For example, there is a Rating Scan to scan the running processes, looking at commonly infected areas, and then designate the reputation for the files it locates. This is a viable option for seeking out files that are not totally malicious, but get designated as untrusted (both executables and certificates), along with new files to Comodo. A case scenario might be if you’re suspicious that your PC is infected with some new malware, but can’t prove it, this Rating Scan can provide the right information. 

Comodo also scans specific files and folders, or also can be used to specify a custom scan to your specifications. Options include to focus on specific files or folders, the trusted root certification authorities store, contents of the RAM, likely infected areas or the whole PC. 

Individual scans can be completely customized across the important settings, with control of the sensitivity of heuristics checks, if the scanner checks on the internet for file ratings, and a scheduler that is totally configurable. Comodo also doesn't restrict users to a fixed schedule of running the scan daily or weekly at 2:30pm, for example, but includes flexible options like having the scan launch on weekdays only, but only when the system is not occupied and on wall power.  

In preparation for a catastrophic failure, there is the option for Comodo to help make a bootable CD or USB thumb drive to clean up even a heavily infected PC. 

The Comodo sandbox is a great feature to run questionable software in safety while making sure it won’t damage your PC. Another great tip is to setup your browser to run from within the sandbox to protect from web-based malware, and has the additional benefit of limiting any malware on the PC to monitor your activities. 

A further option is to install a complete virtual desktop that provides a completely isolated environment for maximum security. We like this feature, although it leaves us puzzled why it has the requirement for Microsoft Silverlight to be installed, which we think is kind of perplexing. Microsoft has ceased development of Silverlight back in 2013, other than the odd security patches, and also Google Chrome stopped supporting this technology years ago as well.  

The Comodo Dragon, a secure browser included in the package, is a Chromium-based browser  integrated with Antivirus protection. Privacy protection gets achieved by disabling the data that Chrome routinely uploads to Google, with additional security features including blocking of cookies, forcing HTTPS connections, alerting on dubious SSL certificates, and even more.

(Image credit: Future)

With Dragon at work, Comodo crossed the line to become nagware with the tireless push for their browser, as well as setting Yahoo! as the default homepage, and also as the default search engine for all browsers. After rubbing us the wrong way during the installation, we further noticed the program with two more pop-ups at random times, both requesting a change of our default browser, and one almost misled us into accidentally doing this.

It’s hardly all bad news, with Comodo Free Antivirus making points with its Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), a powerful security layer that gives complete control over what software can do on your PC. The minimum function is for an alert when potentially dangerous actions by untrusted programs are detected, such as firing up an executable, and permitting a choice as to whether these actions should be proceed- or not.

Power users will like the option to kick this up a notch, configuring custom HIPS behavior rules, although this requires a considerable amount of low-level knowledge. If you are knowledgeable about the consequences of disrupting a process setting in Windows event hooks, or what may occur if you stop interprocess memory accesses, then this is for you. Thankfully when it comes to HIPS, the default is for it not be enabled, so beginners need not worry. However, for the power set, there's lots of opportunity for improving and fine-tuning their system to tighten security.

There is also complete integration with the Comodo KillSwitch, a notch up from the Task Manager that has so many additional features that it truly deserves an independent review. One notable element is the KillSwitch Repair option, that can determine if malware has messed with your HOSTS file, DNS settings, Explorer policies and more, and just as importantly, with a simple click is able to make things right, and restore them back to the default settings.

Comodo's Settings dialog rounds the program with settings that everyone can find useful. Neophytes will like the opportunity to choose their own theme on the interface, or to disable update checks that cut into battery power when the system is untethered. Alternately, experts will benefit from custom configuring their scans, creating new scan types, tweaking the HIPS, and taking complete control of the low-level operations.

Comodo Antivirus: Protection

A shortcoming is that Comodo Free Antivirus is not included in the testing of the majority of the independent testing labs. However, the AV-Test lab stands out as it does analyze Comodo's Internet Security Premium protection, with some interesting results, as their December 2018 Windows Home User Report has this suite hitting a ‘can’t get better than that’ 100% protection rate in both months, some seriously good news.

In their testing, the Performance element indicates website and application launches fell below the average when Comodo is running. Such a turtle, Comodo ranks 19th out of 20 contenders when it comes to Performance, but really the issue is how slow it is on a real system.

Their testing demonstrates that for your favorite website to load it took six seconds without running an antivirus, and this can slow down a small amount additionally to seven seconds with the average antivirus product. The wait is just a bit lengthier to seven and three quarter seconds while using Comodo, which is such a trivial amount that we really doubt most users will even notice the difference.

What's is more important is how much protection Comodo offers, and to confirm this, we matched Comodo up versus a custom ransomware simulator of our own devising. Due to the homebrew origin, it is impossible for Comodo Free Antivirus to use its file signatures for an identification of the threat, thereby making this a novel product test.

We fired up the simulated ransomware, and utilized Comodo's default option to run the program partly isolated, with only limited rights to our system. Notably, the simulated ransomware was able to complete its run, but because it was designated to be in the sandbox, our files were not encrypted.

This performance impressed us, and like that this same approach will control most other threats, whether they be established or completely new. However, also realize that human intervention is required, as the user needs to successfully delineate the safe applications from the malware that needs the sandboxing. This approach will work for experts, but is a lousy approach for novices, or other users looking for an antivirus that can do this in a more automated fashion for them.

Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10: Verdict

The Comodo Antivirus is powerful software that contains plenty of unusual and advanced features. Keep in mind that the interface does have a higher level of complexity, and bring your technical expertise to achieve maximal benefit from this program.

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