TotalAV Antivirus Review
TotalAV is a well-designed antivirus solution that just doesn't have the chops to be called "good." There are very few third-party test results for it, and its pricing structure is just plain weird. Read our full TotalAV review for the details.
Total AV, from Protected.net Group in the UK, is a complete antivirus software for many devices and platforms. The company was incorporated on May 4, 2016, which means it’s the new kid on the block, and, unfortunately, its lack of experience shows.
In this Total AV review, we’ll look at lab results and hands-on testing to see how it performs in the real world. We’re also going to discuss features, user-friendliness and support before rendering a verdict.
It isn’t among the best antivirus software, but it has a clean, modern interface that reduces eye strain. It has a few issues, too, including its pricing structure. We’ll cover all that as we go, along with what we found when we installed it on our own machine.
- Real-time protection
- Safe website browser extension
- PC optimization
- Windows support
- macOS support
- No parental controls
- No webcam protection
- No microphone protection
- Identity protection is U.S.-only
Total AV comes with an abundant feature list across all price ranges. The basic package includes real-time protection for downloads, installs and executable files, as well as protection against malware, spyware and ransomware on all versions.
Browser extensions are common to all versions, too, including one that checks websites against a database of phishing websites and stops you from accessing them. It also throws in a firewall that can be remotely managed, which is comparable to what we found in our AVG review.
There are no parental controls or explicit performance boosters for games, but the system boost feature lets you decide what applications to allow at start-up and the disk cleaner gets rid of junk and duplicate files. If you need parental controls, check out our Norton Security review.
All of those features are available on the low-price version, which would be a good deal if it wasn’t for the difference between the “promotional” price and the “regular” price you’ll have to pay at renewal time. The renewal rate is significantly higher and Total AV will automatically charge you unless you tell it not to.
You can change the auto-renew option on the website, but you’ll still have to pay the higher price to renew the license when it comes up, so be aware of that.
There are additional features that are only available on the upper tiers, such as the password manager which Total AV calls the “password vault.” It stores the encrypted password file on your local machine and it can only be opened with a master password. It’s not as complete as Dashlane, our best password manager, but it’s easy to use (read our Dashlane review).
The highest-tier package includes 24/7 priority support, along with smartphone optimization and protection.
All versions run on Windows and macOS. Smartphone optimization and support are available on the top-tier package, so if you’re willing to spend extra money, you can get coverage on your mobile devices, too.
Total AV Features Overview
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.95 billed every year
1-year plan $ 10.00/ month
$119.95 billed every year
1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
$149.95 billed every year
Total AV has a standard three-plan lineup, as well as a “free” plan that lets you try it for seven days. The free plan disables most of the features, though. It’s like test driving a car in the dealer’s parking lot.
As mentioned, the regular price on each version is higher than the promotional price. You’ll have to pay two to five times more when you renew than you did when you bought it. The promotional price makes it cheaper than anything in our antivirus reviews, but the regular price makes it more expensive than Avast Pro (see our Avast Pro review), which has the highest price.
The bottom-tier package has the essentials and, unsurprisingly, it is called Essential Antivirus. It’s a good deal at the promotional price, but not so much at the regular price. It offers plenty of protection as it stands, though it lacks VPN services and a password manager. Those come in the middle tier. If you need an inexpensive VPN, check out our best free VPN services guide.
The same goes for password managers. There’s no need to pay to get a more expensive package when there are plenty of free options to choose from. Read our best free password managers for ideas.
If you need priority support or smartphone optimization, the top-tier Ultimate Antivirus is available as long as you’re willing to pay a premium price for it. Otherwise, you should stick with the bottom-tier software and look into free VPN services and password managers.
To make matters worse, PayPal is the only payment option. We use PayPal, but a lot of people don’t. Limiting payment methods is a good way to lose customers.
Besides the payment limitations, the differences between the promotional prices and regular prices are too extreme. It’s not fair to customers to lure them in with low prices, then jack the prices up at renewal time. It smacks of price gouging.
Downloading and installing the antivirus takes around 20 minutes, including the initial quick scan and quarantine of infected files. This is about average in the industry and a good benchmark to aim for during the installation of this or any other antivirus.
The main interface is clean-cut and well-designed, with plenty of contrast to make it easy to read. The menu on the left side of the interface has options for diagnostics, antivirus, system boost, disk cleaner, web security and a password vault. Clicking each one opens new information, icons and options on the main part of the interface.
The interface is the same regardless of the version you download, but some options will be disabled on the lower tiers. If you click one of the disabled options, it will bring up a floating screen prompting you to upgrade. Then, it will automatically launch your browser and take you to the website purchase screen.
There is unnecessary duplication with the “diagnostics” button. The main part of the interface for that button displays clickable icons for all the menu options, except for the password vault. Basically, it’s just a graphical version of the menu list.
Clicking the antivirus option on the menu brings up icons for performing quick scans, system scans, managing quarantined files and enabling or disabling real-time protection. The last two are self-explanatory and easy to use, but the scan options turn out to be identical.
To configure the types of scans, you have to click the small sprocket icon on the top right of the interface. Hovering the mouse pointer over the icon doesn’t bring up a floating label, so the only way you to know what it does is by clicking it. When you do, it opens a scrolling window on the interface.
When you scroll down, you’ll find checkboxes for “quick scan” and “system scan.” Other checkboxes let you determine the frequency of scans and the type of files to scan. We discovered that the changes we made to one type of scan were applied to both. There’s no way to configure the scans separately.
In other words, the two scan types are identical in spite of having different names. That doesn’t make sense. We don’t know if that is the result of a bad design or sloppy programming, but it’s not good either way. The young age of the company may be a contributing factor in the creation of an immature software.
We also discovered that there is no way to stop a scan after it has been started. Once it begins scanning, there is no “pause,” “stop” or “cancel” button to use if you decide you want to free system resources for another application. We couldn’t find a way out of the scan. You’re stuck waiting for it to finish.
That “no way out” routine extends to the website. If you click “buy now,” then change your mind, there is no way out of the purchase screen. There is no log-off button. Clicking the back button on your browser doesn’t work, either.
Frustratingly, the only way out was to close the browser. Then, as soon as we went back to the website, the cookies it put on our PC dumped us back on the purchase screen. We had to delete the browser history for the prior hour, mainly the cookies, to keep it from happening again.
Another way to lose customers is to uninstall their browser without telling them. Take a look at the screenshot above, then the one below. The browser manager decided that Firefox was infected and uninstalled it instead of cleaning it. We had to reinstall it and configure it again. That is the opposite of user-friendly and we didn’t appreciate it.
We keep coming back to the fact this is a young company. Perhaps that accounts for the lack of third-party test results from the labs we normally use. We were unable to find test results from AV-Test, AV-Comparatives or MRG Effitas.
We decided to do hands-on testing instead, using industry standard EICAR test files. They are dummy viruses used in the antivirus industry to test software without exposing PCs to actual viruses.
Total AV detected EICAR-infected files when we tried to download them and when a drive-by download was attempted. A drive-by download is the unintentional download of a virus or malware when you visit an infected or malicious website. It’s dangerous because you don’t realize anything has happened until it’s too late, but Total AV stopped it cold.
On the other hand, it didn’t detect EICAR infections in compressed files such a .zip or .cab files, when we downloaded them. It reacted instantly when we tried to open them, though. It also detected potentially unwanted applications and quarantined them for us.
Based on our limited testing, we’re willing to give Total AV the benefit of the doubt, but until we see some stringent third-party test results, we’re not comfortable giving it more than an average rating in this area.
There is a knowledgebase on Total AV’s website. Clicking it takes you to a sparsely-populated screen of video tutorials, which are half advertisements and half simplified instructions. The videos don’t tell you anything you couldn’t figure out for yourself in the client.
We logged on with chat support to ask why the software uninstalled Firefox on our system. The agent was unable to help us, sorrowfully enough.
Telephone support isn’t available unless you subscribe to the top-tier package, so we weren’t able to test that part. There isn’t a user forum on the website. The overall lack of support was disappointing.
Total AV has the potential to be good software but for the time being it has a lot of strikes against it. It seems like an immature product from a young company that is still finding its feet. That is especially apparent in the pricing scheme.
On the plus side, the interface is clean and neat. Navigating it is easy and there are a lot of floating information boxes that explain things as you go.
Unfortunately, those helpful items can’t overcome the sloppy programming choices that were made on the settings pane, the lack of payment options on the website or the absence of third-party testing.
We’d like to see Total AV evolve to match the promise we see in it. Perhaps in six months to a year, a new version that fixes the problems we found will be released. Until then, you can download it and give it a try.
What do you think about Total AV? Did we get it right? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.