Editor’s Note: Since our last update, new features and tools have been added to Sophos' antivirus and internet security programs. We will test and review these additions the next time we update our side-by-side comparison of the best Mac antivirus software.
Sophos Home didn’t do as well as we’d hoped in our tests of the best antivirus for Mac. It only caught 78 percent of the 165 live malware samples we used, plus it was difficult to use. It did a better job at detecting Windows malware samples earning a 95 percent.
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Part of the difficulty using Sophos is most of the program, including the dashboard, is online rather than on your desktop. There are a few functions you can access from the desktop program, mainly virus scans. But settings and other important functions are primarily accessible from your online portal.
As we tested Sophos Home, it did stop several malware threats as we downloaded them. However, there were still many that snuck through. Sophos located most of these when we performed a deep virus scan. When it found a threat, the program asked if we wanted to clean the threat. But rather than remove them for us, or even quarantine them, Sophos instead told us where to find them on our Mac computer and gave instructions on how to manually remove them ourselves. And if we weren’t successful, or found the instructions difficult to follow, the software then encouraged us to visit the Community Forums and ask other users for help. All this was done through the online portal.
When we followed Sophos’ instructions on how to manually remove malware threats, we were first instructed to disable its automatic virus protection. This triggered Sophos to reboot and required us to reenter our credentials to access both the program and our online portal. However, each time Sophos simply reverted to its default settings, including automatically reenabling the virus protection. Because we already knew how to find and remove all threats used in our testing, it wasn’t difficult for us to manually remove them. But because of the number of threats left by Sophos, we found it easier to install Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, our top pick, and let it find and automatically scrub our system clean for us.
Another quirk we discovered while testing Sophos Home Mac antivirus is the program could only handle detecting and reports a certain number of threats at a time. Once we had manually removed these, Sophos would automatically continue finding and reporting additional threats.
This software does come with a few extra features that we found helpful. The safe browsing feature displayed a large message in the browser to warn us if we were trying to visit a site that has a malicious download or link. Sophos also has parental controls with several filter categories that make is easy to block and filter websites that are not appropriate for your family to see.
Sophos Home is a free program, so some features, like webcam and mic protections and advanced ransomware shields, are only available during the first 30 days of your subscription. After that you will need to purchase the Sophos Home Premium program to continue using these features. We did test and review Sophos Home Premium as part of our Mac Internet Security comparison.
Sophos is not an easy program to use. Its tools aren’t intuitively placed – most are only accessible from your online portal. It doesn’t securely remove malware threats for you and isn’t really helpful when it comes to walking you through removing them yourself. Sophos only stopped 78 percent of the Mac malware we used during testing, though it did a better job finding Windows threats.
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