F-Secure Antivirus Review
F-Secure is an excellent antivirus solution that could take the market by storm if it weren't for its high pricing and lack of alluring features. If, however, you have money to burn and care more for security than bells and whistles, check out our F-Secure Antivirus review.
F-Secure has long been the go-to choice for reliable antivirus, earning the AV-Test award for best protection five times in a row. Those awards came in previous years, however, and recent test results show F-Secure slouching in performance.
In this F-Secure Antivirus review, we’ll put the tradition to the test using recent lab results and hands-on testing. We’ll talk features, pricing, user friendliness, protection and support before giving our verdict.
F-Secure still has a spot at the table when it comes to highly secure antivirus. It performed well across the board, and even made it onto our best antivirus software list. However, its lacking feature set and high price point deter from the otherwise excellent package.
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- Strong lab results
- Easy to use
- Robust support system
- Minimal performance impact
- Lightweight application
- Lacking features
- Cheap plans are Windows only
F-Secure doesn’t have many features, especially on low-end plans. While the bases are covered with a banking mode, browser extension and basic virus protection, other antiviruses come with more features for less money.
We’re going to pass over virus protection and browser security as these are features that any antivirus should include. Antivirus and Internet Security users have one notable feature outside of that: Banking Protection.
Whenever you land in a payment portal, F-Secure will begin Banking Protection. It checks the URL against its database to see if the site is trusted or not. After that, if you’re a Windows user, F-Secure will disconnect all untrusted applications from the internet and block them from reconnecting while the transaction takes place.
The features start piling up on Safe and Total plans. The roster of supported OSes is opened up to macOS, iOS and Android, the mobile versions coming with specific features. Android users have Safe Browser, which will monitor mobile sites you visit before you access them.
Safe also comes with ransomware protection. This devilish piece of malware encrypts your files and holds them hostage until you pay a ransom. You can set folder paths for F-Secure to encrypt and monitor beforehand so the virus can’t dig into your data.
Total plans come with the Freedome VPN. It’s a decent VPN, fit with a no-log policy and based in Finland, a country with strict privacy laws. Freedome is better than other antivirus-bundled VPNs, but not as good as ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Overall, the feature set is sparse. There are ways that F-Secure could improve it, though. For example, we can’t figure out why F-Secure Key isn’t included with any of the antivirus plans. It’s a good password manager, one that we rated highly in our F-Secure Key review.
Extras like a password manager and VPN, even if they’re limited, would help ease the Windows-only restriction of inexpensive plans. It’s hard for us to recommend Antivirus or Internet Security with how scarce the features are as it stands now.
F-Secure Features Overview
F-Secure is slightly more expensive than the rest of the antivirus market. We’re not fans of Antivirus and Internet Security being Windows only and coming with a limited feature set. Counter intuitively, the best value from F-Secure comes from the more expensive plans.
1-year plan $ 3.33 / month
$39.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 4.17 / month
$49.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 5.83 / month
$69.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 7.50 / month
$89.99 billed every year
Antivirus is too basic of a plan to justify a price tag. You can protect up to three PCs for the same rate, but we like the feature set and protection offered from Avast at this price point (read our Avast Pro review).
Internet Security is better as it provides desktop and browser protection. It’s most easily compared to Norton Security Standard (read our Norton Antivirus review). F-Secure’s rate is higher for the initial term, but $20 cheaper upon renewal. Unlike Norton, though, F-Secure is Windows only on this plan.
The sweet spot plan we’d recommend is F-Secure Safe. It’s the first plan to break the Windows-only trend and comes with support for three to seven devices. As artibitary of a number as seven is, it makes sense for antivirus as often five is too little and 10 is too large. You also have ransomware protection and parental control.
If you have cash to blow, we’d recommend F-Secure Total. This all-out antivirus is the same as Safe, but comes with F-Secure’s Freedome VPN. It doesn’t stack up great against our best VPN list but is still a nice inclusion for the money.
The best value for Total comes when signing up for two years. You get up to seven devices along with a free Sense router. F-Secure’s protected router runs $199 alone, meaning you’re getting the antivirus package for free.
It’s a high price to pay upfront, but not unreasonable. A decent router will run about $150 as is, plus an antivirus package such as McAfee Total Protection for around $90 (read our McAfee Total Protection review). Oddly enough, the most expensive option at F-Secure provides the most value.
F-Secure is not cheap. Antivirus and Internet Security are priced competitively but there are better options on the market. It’s best suited for those that have a little money to spend on protection, as the top tier plans come with more than enough features to justify the price.
Once you sign up for an account, you’ll be brought to a web portal to add your device. F-Secure will show you how many licenses you have left and ask which kind of device you want to secure, be it yours, a child’s or a friend’s.
After you choose, F-Secure will ask you if you want to download the installer directly onto your machine or email it to another. The installer is lightweight, only 1MB in size, and installation finishes in under a minute.
The interface is familiar if you’ve used another antivirus. There’s a large main window that shows your device status with quick links for scanning. On the left-side, there are four tabs for controlling the software, though two are just links to open the browser UI.
The main window has a button labeled “virus scan.” It seems this is a scan of your root drive only and F-Secure went through a 250GB SSD in under two minutes. There was system impact, but it was minimal. CPU usage spiked around 40 percent during the scan over a 10 percent idle for short bursts throughout.
You can perform a full system scan, but it’s located elsewhere in the UI. Under the “tools” tab, you can set your scan options. There’s a basic virus scan and a full sweep, but that’s it. The only customization you have is whether F-Secure looks inside compressed files or skips over known file types.
There are two issues here. First is that you can’t access all scan types from the main window of the UI. It’s not backbreaking to click over to another tab, but we could imagine someone forgoing a full system scan simply by not knowing the option is there.
We’d also like more scan options. A full scan is often too much and a virus tune-up is too little. These routine checkups are best when used in the background, so we would’ve liked targeted scans for manual prying. If, like us, you have a machine with multiple drives, you’ll need to sit through a full scan just to see if there’s a single infected file on one of your drives.
The “tools” tab is where you’ll find the rest of F-Secure’s settings. You can view your quarantined files, submit malware samples, check for updates and block websites. This is also where you can set the folder paths for ransomware protection.
There are tabs for parental control and My F-Secure, but they only show links to the browser UI. In your browser, you can filter content, set time limits and manage your devices, though it’s largely an overview of your account.
F-Secure is easy to use throughout, but that’s because it doesn’t provide much power. We felt at the mercy of what it would offer us instead of having an abundance of options to choose from. Too few options makes for a cleaner experience but at the price of power.
We use hands-on testing and lab results to get an image of how well an antivirus performs. Lab results, obviously, have a stricter testing environment and larger list of samples, so we put more weight on those while making our assessment.
Our hands-on testing was run with F-Secure Safe as it has protection for online and local malware and supports multiple operating systems.
We started with Amtso’s feature settings check for desktop antivirus. F-Secure passed five of the six tests, failing in the drive-by download category. It didn’t block the download, but removed the file afterwards.
Next was Wicar’s set of malicious URLs. F-Secure blocked all 13 of the samples in Internet Explorer and Firefox. We assume it would in Chrome as well, but the built in protection got to it first.
F-Secure False Positives
There’s a consistent thread throughout lab results for F-Secure. It’s highly secure against malware but has a knack for false positives and is weak against phishing attacks. AV-Test found it 100 percent effective against widespread malware and 0-day attacks in its May and June assessments, up over the 99.6 percent industry average.
Performance number were good, too, at least for some metrics. There was a 12 percent slow down when launching popular websites, better than the 16 percent industry average. Installation of frequently used applications saw a 70 percent performance decrease over the 23 percent industry average.
There were also eight false positive between legitimate software and system actions during the evaluation, earning F-Secure a good, but not perfect, five out of six points.
AV-Comparatives awarded it two out of three stars and an advanced rating, the second highest possible. It was effective against all malware tested, with an impressive 100 percent blockage. Even Bitdefender, who scored highly at all labs, shyed below this number (read our Bitdefender antivirus review).
The score is only weakened by false positives. F-Secure had 30 false positives in the March assessment where 216 samples were used. The number is far higher than any other antivirus tested, the closest competitor, Trend Micro, only having nine (read our Trend Micro Antivirus Security review).
MRG-Effitas’s harsh banking simulation showed the tipping point of F-Secure. It was 100 percent effective against real financial malware, but failed to block a botnet from capturing login data. The malware was blocked, but the goal of it was not.
It also failed the malware simulation from MRG-Effitas. Two thirds of the antiviruses tested failed this simulation, though. Webroot (read our Webroot SecureAnywhere review) was among the four that passed.
F-Secure has consistently been among the most secure antiviruses on the market. This current assessment shows just as impressive numbers, weakened only by false positives and a poor performance in MRG-Effitas’s testing.
F-Secure has a robust support system, accommodating DIY support and direct contact. There’s a long list of tutorials and FAQs along with a forum for product discussion and security news. For those that need a more direct line, you can contact F-Secure over phone or live chat.
The knowledgebase is split up by product, showing the most common topics for each. FAQs are long and consistently updated, addressing the ever changing concerns of the community. How-to guides are the opposite, stripped down to simple step-by-step instruction without screenshots.
We would’ve liked more attention to the how-to guides, with screenshots and video tutorials. Overall, though, it’s clear that F-Secure didn’t skimp in this area.
Forums are split up by product line and further by product. It can be a hassle to get through all the topics in each, but this is a problem that most forums have. F-Secure addresses the issue with a few pinned topics for fixes to common problems.
Phone support is available Monday through Friday in twelve different languages. If you fall outside of the times available, then you’ll need to use live chat. F-Secure is unclear about when live chat is live, but it was unavailable while we were scouring the support center.
While there’s no 24/7 form of contact, we’re impressed by F-Secure’s support. There are resources for self-help in the forums and knowledgebase, laid out cleanly, and direct support is available, even if it’s spotty. It’s not perfect, but better than we’ve seen from a lot of other antiviruses.
F-Secure provides reliable antivirus at a price. The premium is higher than other options on the market, though top tier plans come with some features like a VPN to justify it. Overall, we like F-Secure’s security but not its dumbed down interface and lack of features.
Those looking for a no-frills antivirus with good protection scores should consider F-Secure, as long as you have the wallet to flip the bill. If you’d trade fractions of a percent in protection for extra features, then you’ll want to read some of our other antivirus reviews.
If you’ve used F-Secure before, let us know about your experience in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.