F-Secure’s Safe software differentiates itself from the competition by having a modern pricing plan. These days most people have a main computer, a smartphone, and maybe a laptop or tablet, so F-Secure offers protection for up to three devices with just a single license. Its Safe package includes the standard stuff like antivirus and malware protection, but it also includes protective tools for ransomware, safe banking, and better than average parental controls too.
A three-device license for Safe will cost you $69.99, which is about average when you do the math on how much it costs for one device (See it on the F-Secure website), but you can get five-device protection from Norton for $49.99. If the standard Safe package is too rich for your blood, the company offers straight-up antivirus for just $39.99 for three devices. You can install F-Secure on Android, iOS, and MacOS in addition to Windows machines.
F-Secure Safe – Design and Features
Installing F-Secure is relatively painless. You visit the F-Secure website and create a login and you’re off to the races. The website itself offers more than just a place to download and purchase the suite, as you can also manage protected devices from it as well. You can add new devices to your license, be it a computer, tablet, or smartphone, as well as devices for your children, or even a friend’s device if you’re feeling generous. Adding a device sends an email to the user with instructions on how to download and install F-Secure.
The user interface for the app itself is clean and easy to navigate. As soon as it opens, it lets you know what your current protection status is. The app landing page also has a dedicated button to scan for viruses, as well as administrator settings. The initial scan on my 250GB SSD was slightly longer than average, taking just over five minutes to comb through my files, and then less than a minute for follow-up scans.
A full scan of all my drives took longer but was still fast compared to other suites at around 15 minutes, and setting it to “full scan” involved a bit of digging around the interface. For tech savvy users, this probably won’t be a problem, but for non-power users, the “full scan” isn’t readily apparent. Not being able to choose Quick or Full Scan in the same easy-to-find location is a pain.
For banking protection there’s a browser plugin that goes to work when you visit your bank’s website. It automatically shuts down other connections and programs it considers un-secure while you’re on a banking website so that none of your data is leaked to a third-party without your knowledge. In testing, as soon as I visited my bank’s website a small box appeared at the top of my browser letting me know I was operating in banking mode, and I appreciate the notice instead of just having it run in the background. It’s a handy feature but the implementation isn’t great. For example, I had to manually shut it off when I left my banking site, and its position at the top of the browser caused me to accidentally bring up the menu more than once when my intent was to just change tabs.
Another unique feature in F-Secure is there’s an option to submit links to F-Secure for further analysis. If one of your favorite websites is triggering an alert, and you know it shouldn’t be, you can click the “Submit a Sample” option, which opens up a web page with further instructions. You can also submit suspicious URLs for analysis if you’re surfing dangerously, not that you would ever do that.
Ransomware protection is turned on by default, and protects the most commonly used folders on your C: drive. You can set it up to protect any folders you want though, so if you have multiple drives, you can protect the files on them too. Overall this is an excellent implementation of this feature.
Since this is a software package dubbed Safe, it also features Parental controls. Using them requires you to visit F-Secure’s online portal. The window for the program itself shows what parental controls, if any, are in place. If you’re away from your computer and want to set rules for your other devices, or your kids, for different types of content, website restrictions, or time limits, it’s handy to be able to do so from any place you can access the web. You can also whitelist or blacklist websites, which is a must-have in my opinion for these types of filters, since they’re not always 100 percent accurate.
F-Secure Safe – Testing
Aside from my own hands-on testing, I relied on the data provided by our sister site PCMag.com as they do incredibly thorough antivirus reviews. Even though I reviewed the Safe version of the software, all of the variants from F-Secure use the same threat detection technology.
When it comes to testing by third-party security labs, F-Secure received four “Advanced” ratings and one “Advanced+” from AV-Comparatives, which is decent but not as good as several other suites, including Bitdefender and Kaspersky. It performed similarly in the tests setup by the AV-Test Institute, taking home a score of 16 out of 18 points available. Again, Bitdefender and Kaspersky (along with Trend Micro) all scored a perfect 18.
When it comes to Malware detection, F-Secure uses a behavior-based detection system named DeepGuard that performed well in testing. When the tester opened a folder full of malware files the software kicked in, instantly eliminating 71 percent of them, which is decent. When the tester tried to open the remaining undetected programs, the software blocked all of them, ending up with a 100 percent score. When it comes to malicious URLs, F-Secure blocked 78 percent of them, which is higher than average. In this test, Norton was able to block 98 percent of URLs, however.
F-Secure has a straightforward pricing model. You just select how many devices you want to protect (the maximum is 25), and whether you want a one-or-two year subscription. The base subscription costs $69.99 for 1-3 devices for one year, and one welcome feature is you can choose whether your subscription automatically renews or not when you order: