Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home Review
Rich in features and affordable, Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home is a decent package for people that want to protect themselves from the worst threats without it breaking the bank. The more security conscious won't like it nearly as much, though, as you can read in our Emsisoft review.
Free plan available Save 57 %
Emsisoft Anti-Malware is a little-known software package from New Zealand that has nice features and a couple of drawbacks, which means it won’t be making our best antivirus software guide.
In this Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home review, we’ll cover the base plan, then compare it with other offerings and the prices for different packages. We’re going to look at the features, user-friendliness, protection and support before rendering a verdict.
We think the inexpensive packages and wide array of features will counterbalance the protection issues and lack of support. There are enterprise-level features, such as remote management, but at a price the home user will appreciate.
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- Behavior blocker
- File guard
- Web surfing protection
- Automatic updates
- Remote management
- Malware detection
- Download protection
- No parental controls
- No webcam protection
- No microphone protection
- No password manager
- No support for macOS
- No mobile (see below)
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home has a clean interface with dark and light modes for readability. Once we found the dark mode, we liked it and stuck with it. The lack of contrast in the light mode made it hard to read.
English is the default language, but you can choose from 20. The main choices on the drop-down menu are European languages, and Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Farsi are thrown in for good measure.
There’s a free option that’s little more than a manual scan and clean, but the paid ones are so inexpensive and have so many features that you shouldn’t pass them by. One feature it doesn’t have, though, is a password manager. If you need one, you should check out our selection of the best password managers.
A feature it does have is “file guard,” which scans downloaded and executed files using Emsisoft’s dual-engine scanning technology. The functionality is powered by Emsisoft and Bitdefender, which, as you can see in our Bitdefender Antivirus review, is a good thing.
There are plenty of settings on the anti-ransomware, behavior blocker, web surfing and anti-phishing features. You can tweak them in many ways to get the results that are best suited for you. For instance, one series of checkboxes allows you decide whether to look up the reputation of applications before deciding whether to automatically allow or disallow them.
A cool feature is the “emergency kit maker,” a portable package that can be saved anywhere, even on a USB device, then used to scan and clean third-party computers. It extends the usability of Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home far beyond the PC it’s installed on.
Having an emergency kit like that on a USB stick, allowing you to clean an infected tablet that doesn’t have a CD or DVD player but does have a USB port, is one of the handiest features we’ve seen in a long time. Emsisoft hit a homerun with it.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware does something else we don’t often see. It lets you pick where on the screen the pop-up notifications appear. You can choose the left or right center of the screen or any of the four corners. That may not add a lot of functionality to the software, but it is cool.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home Features
|Anti-Malware Free (1 PC)|
| Anti-Malware Home (1, 3 & 5 PCs)|
1-year plan $ 2.50 / month
$29.99 billed every year
Save 57 %
1-year plan $ 4.17 / month
$49.99 billed every year
Save 28 %
1-year plan $ 5.83 / month
$69.99 billed every year
| Anti-Malware Home & Mobile (1, 3 & 5 PCs)|
1-year plan $ 3.33 / month
$39.99 billed every year
Save 57 %
1-year plan $ 5.55 / month
$66.65 billed every year
Save 29 %
1-year plan $ 7.78 / month
$93.32 billed every year
Emsisoft has a free version, but it’s limited to scanning and cleaning your hard drive of malware and infected programs. There’s no active protection or automatic updates. You have to remember to do manual updates and initial system scans to keep your system safe. If you need more than that on a budget, you should check out our best free antivirus software guide.
Using the industry standard stair-step approach, Emsisoft’s next offering is the Home edition. It adds a lot of the features you’d expect from an antivirus package to provide real-time protection online and in everyday use.
The emergency kit maker essentially creates a portable copy of the free software to scan, clean and disinfect an unprotected machine. This gives you protection beyond the one-PC limit it advertises. Remote management is also included, which is an excellent feature if you’re administering a local network and want to keep users from messing things up.
If you have three PCs and don’t mind spending more, consider looking at our Trend Micro Antivirus+ review.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home & Mobile has everything the Home version does and throws in lightweight protection for Android, along with anti-theft protection. For the single user with a PC and an Android, it’s probably the best of the three offerings.
Installing Emsisoft Anti-Malware is virtually hands-free. You have to accept the license, but other than that you can just sit back and watch it work.
We have a complaint, though. The installation isn’t done once the initial splash screen appears, but unless you pay attention to the slowly flashing icon on the menu bar at the bottom of the screen you won’t realize the installer’s still doing something. The only way to know is by reading a small line of text.
The line doesn’t draw attention to itself by size or color, either, so it would be easy to overlook it and assume the package was finished installing. It’s a bad design element in otherwise decent software.
The installation on our test system was 1,049 files in six folders that took 661MB of space. During a full scan, it used more than 80 percent of CPU resources, but it quickly released them when other applications were launched, so it’s not a hog in spite of its size.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware has a full-screen option, but it doesn’t increase the size of anything to improve readability. Instead, it just expands the white space around the center icon buttons.
We give Emsisoft points for having a sense of humor, though. The scan levels for files are “default,” “thorough” and “paranoid.”
The logs it provides lists its actions from oldest to newest. If you highlight one, then click “view details” at the bottom, it will give you enough information to send a computer nerd into raptures of delight. No one can accuse Emsisoft of secrecy. It gives you all the information you’ll ever need, plus the ability to easily copy, delete or export it.
As you might expect, the “settings” category is where the action is. There are sections for exclusions, notifications, updates, advanced actions, permissions and remote management.
You can specify which files or folders to exclude from scanning or monitoring. Click the “add file” or “add a folder” buttons and it’ll open an explorer window. From there, you simply search through the folders on your PC like you normally would to select what you want to exclude. Removing them from the exclusion list is just as simple.
The “notifications” screen has a series of checkboxes that you can select to be notified about recent security news, removable storage devices, updates, new applications and computer restarts. You either want the notifications or you don’t.
The notifications about recent security news appear at the bottom of the main screen as a line of text with left and right arrows beside them so you can scroll through the major stories of the day. Clicking one takes you to Emsisoft’s website to read that story. It doesn’t add functionality to the software, but it’s a nice touch.
You can elect to receive notifications if browser extensions are installed for Chrome or Firefox. You can also put Emsisoft Anti-Malware in silent mode when you’re playing games or using resource-intensive applications.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware can send you email alerts instead of pop-up screen notifications. You can opt to receive as much or as little information as you like. This can be especially handy if you use a laptop to remotely connect to a PC at home and you need to know what’s going on with it or you have a home network with several PCs on it.
In the update section of the screen, it lets you decide if you want to download beta updates, stable ones or, for administrators, delay updating clients. Some administrators prefer to test every update before releasing it to the rest of the network. That option gives them the ability to do so.
Another series of checkboxes lets you turn options on or off in the advanced section. You can decide how much integration between Emsisoft Anti-Malware and Windows you want. Each checkbox has a short title followed by an italicized “i.” Hovering your cursor over it brings up a tooltip that explains the checkbox, which is good for those hesitant to make changes.
One setting turns the background dark and the foreground lettering white. The resulting contrast is easier to read than the default setting. Emsisoft Anti-Malware continues to impress us with these little user-friendly features.
Under the permissions section, it lists the users on the system and what permissions they have for it. That is an excellent tool for system administrators who want to keep control of the network.
Finally, the remote management section allows you to connect to an enterprise console for remote network control and management of each workstation. Emsisoft is obviously thinking ahead and preparing for all possible situations.
We use lab results from three companies, plus hands-on testing, to arrive at a conclusion about the protection offered by antivirus software. The first third-party lab we use is AV-Test.
The most recent tests run on Emsisoft Anti-Malware were in November and December 2016. In the protection category, defending against malware such as viruses, trojans and worms, it scored 5.5 out of 6.
It didn’t do as well in performance, though, scoring 4.5 out of 6 because it slowed the system down when launching popular websites, performing downloads, installing software and copying files. The system degradation wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was noticeable.
It improved when it was tested for false positives. The lower the number of false positive warnings it issued, the better it scored. During system scans, it occasionally reported legitimate software as malware, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from earning a score of 5 out of 6.
AV-Comparatives tested Emsisoft Anti-Malware in 2018 between July and October. Under real-world conditions it blocked 99.5 percent of malware and didn’t report false positives.
Obviously, there have been improvements since the older tests above.
Of all the antivirus software tested at the time, only Kaspersky Anti-Virus achieved a perfect score across the board in this area, but it has privacy issues related to the Russian government, as you can see in our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review.
In a separate test examining false positives on existing software, Emsisoft Anti-Malware had a few problems, but it still ranked fifth out of the 20 antivirus packages tested. It didn’t fare quite so well when it was tested on malware removal, though, scoring 82 out of 100.
AV-Comparatives’s performance test measures how well a PC runs when the antivirus software is active, so it can determine how much it slows things down. Emsisoft Anti-Malware got two out of three stars. It slowed the test machines down enough to be noticeable, but not enough to reach a critical level.
Emsisoft boasted on its website that the antivirus got perfect scores from third-party lab MRG Effitas but they were from 2014. When we tried to access those scores to verify them, we were simply met with a 404 error. As far as we can tell, the lab hasn’t tested Emsisoft Anti-Malware since.
That being the case, we turned to some hands-on testing using industry standard EICAR files, which were created by the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research to test antivirus software without exposing it to genuine threats.
EICAR files are test files every antivirus software should be able to recognize, block and quarantine. Failure indicates that the software isn’t meeting the industry standards.
On the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization website and WICAR website where we do hands-on testing with EICAR files, Emsisoft Anti-Malware was able to recognize them, which is standard for most antivirus software.
Even so, the outdated and missing third-party lab results leave us with only the 2018 results from AV-Comparatives. We’re hesitant to give it a high rating in a situation like this.
Support is pretty solid. Clicking the help button on the main screen takes you to the website, which has a lot of written user guides.
Clicking the chat button on the website consistently brought up a floating menu that said no one was available but to leave a message and “we’ll get back to you.” While initially disheartening, our question with promptly responded to, and thoroughly, at that.
There is a community forum that’s, thankfully, very active. As an example, under the ransomware section of the forum, there are four threads that have received replies in the last 24 hours. While not Reddit or anything, the forum is a solid support resource.
Emsisoft Anti-Malware Home has nice, user-friendly features. It also has issues. Of particular concern was the spotty record on laboratory testing and the way it ignored the EICAR files.
With the low price, we think it’s worth your time to give it some consideration. If you’re willing to take the good but not perfect protection, it may be the antivirus for you.
As the saying goes, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, so if you’d rather try a different product, we have more listed in our best antivirus reviews.
What do you think about Emsisoft Anti-Malware? Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.