Since the beginning of the year 2020, manufacturers of antiviruses and antimalware started releasing the latest versions of their programs… each one proclaiming to be the best.
How I Evaluate Antivirus Programs – What I Look For
I have a certain set of rules that I follow when evaluating these programs. I format my computer's hard disk drive, install the operating system, include a database of hundreds of viruses and malware, and then install the antivirus I want to test to check its capability.
I also check for the speed at which the program performs its task and whether it eats too much into the system resources or not.
Ability to Block Malicious Websites
I visit sites infamous for the malware they inject into the visitor's computer through their browser and check to see if the software prevents the browser from opening such sites.
Ease of Use
The ease of use is another factor I keep in mind… I prefer the program to be user-friendly.
Cloud Server Scanning
Most such security programs, nowadays, offer cloud functions… meaning that files I try to download are first scanned on the cloud server of the program, and allowed to download to my computer only if they are safe.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
As more and more security software, nowadays, offer “artificial intelligence”, I shall check for that aspect too.
If I Have to Choose Between Two Antivirus Programs that Have More or Less Equal Functions
In case both security programs offer the same type of protection, I tend to check their pricing and give higher points to the one that costs less. In this review, I shall compare Sophos and McAfee to check which one of them offers the best security.
The Comparison Between Sophos and McAfee
Both of these programs have been available for many years and have earned a reputation for themselves in the computing fraternity, both for home and business users.
Artificial Intelligence Module
The first thing that caught my eye on visiting the website of Sophos was its new artificial intelligence module, which, according to the vendor, would be able to block advanced viruses, zero-day exploits, malware, and the deadly ransomware.
Sophos Free Trial
Sophos offers a free trial of their program, which you can access after filling up their online form with your name, email, and password.
Their home page also has an attractive offer which allows you to get a 50% discount on the second year if you apply for a two year subscription. As far as pricing and ease of use are concerned, Sophos stands ahead of its competitor. A single year and a two-year license cost $60 and $90 respectively.
Downloading and installing the program was fast. A single click of the mouse button allows the user to scan their entire computer.
Sophos Machine Learning
While undertaking this Sophos vs McAfee 2020 review, I found that the former boasts of artificial intelligence. This means that the program employs a predictive and deep learning algorithm to check files for suspicious bits of code and blocks them. This includes the latest zero-day malware.
For your information, leading businesses, as well as banks, depend on Sophos for this exclusive aspect.
As is common with all security programs, you should not expect too much from the free version that only offers:
• Web protection
• Real-time antivirus
• Remote management
• Parental web filtering, and
• Can be installed on up to three devices
Sophos Free vs Paid
Sophos scores over its rival, once again, as its free version also includes a 30 days trial of its premium counterpart, which has all the modules in the free version plus:
• Malware Remover
• Ransomware security
• Artificial intelligence
• Privacy protection
• Banking protection
• Advanced web security
• Identity protection
• Premium support, and
• Can be installed on up to 10 devices
I strongly recommend readers to go for the paid version as it has many more features than that of the free one.
Sophos for Mac & PC
Macintosh users will be happy to hear that this antivirus, supports both Windows and the Mac operating system.
With fewer people making use of the Mac when compared to those who use the PC, not as much programs have support for the Mac. However, Sophos has excellent support for Mac users.
Blocks Malware Proactively
Unlike most other antivirus programs available that only provide protection against known malware, Sophos goes a step ahead with its heuristic engine that can analyze programs for suspicious behavior and block them before they can cause harm to your computer.
The real-time threat intelligence provided by 24×7 SophosLabs makes sure that your computer is protected against new and developing zero-day exploits, ransomware attacks, malware, OS exploits, malicious websites, phishing attacks, PUAs (potentially unwanted programs), and viruses.
Protection Against Ransomware
The number of ransomware (also known as cryptoware, as the ransom to unlock the data has to be paid in cryptocurrency) attacks are on the increase, encrypting the data of unprotected computers, and forcing the owner to pay a hefty ransom to receive a key to unencrypt the data.
Most antiviruses cannot filter this threat. However, with Sophos installed on your computer, you can keep on working with peace of mind. If the software detects any activity trying to make changes that result in encrypted data, it will block the cryptoware and will also roll back the data on your computer's hard disk drive to a previous and pre tampered state.
What I Obtained from Testing Sophos
As mentioned above, I had pre-loaded my Windows computer with nearly 1,000 strains of viruses and malware. After installing Sophos and scanning the hard disk drive for the first time, the program was able to clean 99% of the threats on the first run.
It then rebooted into safe mode to clean certain malware, such as rootkits, which reside in memory and cannot be removed in the normal mode.
After the second round of cleaning, this software removed all traces of preloaded viruses. I deliberately tried to visit a potentially harmful site, but the program blocked my browser from accessing it and even informed me about the type of threat present on that site.
Most other and similar programs just remove viruses and malware, but Sophos goes the extra mile by removing remnants and traces of all viruses and malware.
Remote Security Management Offered By Sophos
As a computer security professional, I have to manage the computers of my clients too. The online portal of Sophos allows me to log on to my account on their server and remotely check other computers.
As the professional version allows support for up to 10 computers, I can easily use it to keep an eye on 9 different computers through the online Sophos dashboard.
Sophos Parental Control
The parental web filtering permits me to remotely block my kid's computer from accessing social networks, blogs, and sites containing inappropriate content.
Alerts You If Someone Attempts to Spy and Control Your Computer's Webcam or Mic
The software further alerts me when someone attempts to access my computer's microphone or webcam.
It also prevents malware from stealing confidential information such as username and passwords stored in my computer's memory.
Sophos Home vs McAfee
Let me format my computer and prepare it to test the capability of McAfee in this Sophos Antivirus vs McAfee evaluation.
The first thing I noted was that McAfee is available in two different avatars… one for home users and the other one for businesses.
Sophos Home Vis A Vis McAfee Home
As I have only tested the home version of Sophos, it is fair that I test it against the home version of McAfee.
McAfee Free Trial
While this company also offers a free 30 days trial, it only offers a crippled version. Therefore, I was unable to test the capabilities of the paid version.
Like Sophos, the free version of this antivirus also allows users to install it on up to 10 devices and has support for the Macintosh too. However, I was shocked to see the pricing for the paid version and the fine print that most people are apt to miss.
A huge banner on their site offers protection for up to ten devices for one year for $109.99. The price for a single device is $69.99 and $89.99 for 5 devices.
The single device version does not offer ID theft protection or a safe family module. The five device license does offer the former but does not include the latter. Therefore, you have to purchase a 10 device license to get all facilities such as:
• Safe family
• ID theft protection
• File encryption
• Password manager
• Network monitoring
• PC boost
• Ransomware protection
• Antimalware, antivirus, antispam, and
• PC optimization which includes a shredder and quick clean module
I can understand the necessity for a quick clean module, but I see no reason to include a shredder.
Manage All Connected Devices
Like with Sophos, McAfee, too, allows you to log into their server and take control over the additional devices your license permits.
Prevents Videos from Playing Automatically
The performance optimization option keeps your computer running like new and minimizes bandwidth usage by blocking auto-play videos on websites. However, this is not much of a concern as the latest policies of YouTube prevents videos from playing automatically. As more than 95 websites have a link to videos hosted on YouTube, the videos on them will not play automatically. For all purposes, this module is not worth it.
Similar Features in Both Sophos and McAfee
To be frank, I did not find much of a difference between the two programs as both of them have nearly the same features.
McAfee also provides you with protection against all types of malware, spyware, keyloggers, ransomware, viruses, and the rest.
Unlike Sophos that works properly even on a low-speed internet connection, you need to have a high-speed internet connection to get the full value of McAfee.
Support for Mac and Windows – Both
I would like to point out in this Sophos vs McAfee comparison that both have support for Mac and Windows operating systems.
As both of them have versions for the Macintosh, it answers the queries of individuals asking whether they should use Sophos or McAfee for Mac.
Smartphone Support – Both
It is no use comparing McAfee vs Sophos 2020 for smartphones as they both offer apps for the Android and iOS platforms.
In Terms of Security
I would rate both Sophos home or McAfee equally as far as security is concerned as they both offer 128-bit encryption.
McAfee Livesafe vs Sophos Home
People often ask me about McAfee livesafe vs Sophos home. The reality is that both are identical. Livesafe is the term given by McAfee to its online dashboard you use to keep an eye on other devices protected with this software. This is the equivalent of the Sophos remote security management that also lets you control all the other devices connected to your account.
Impact on System Resources
I was disappointed with McAfee as it slowed down my computer significantly. This is despite the fact that the company states on its website that their software uses cloud-based threat analysis that protects your computer without slowing it down.
This should provide an answer to those who ask, “is Sophos better than McAfee?” In my opinion, a good cybersecurity program should not bog down system resources.
In Terms of Support
If you go by the number of rewards received, both programs are at par. Both of them claim to offer quality customer support. However, Sophos is ahead when you need support on an emergency basis. Their support page already contains an updated list of problems faced by their users along with answers to the same.
In the case of McAfee, I had to download and run their “virtual technician” program. This is not what users will prefer, especially if they need to get problems resolved immediately.
In Terms of Performance
Performance wise, both of them were adept enough at trapping all types of threats I threw at them. Both of them have identical modules under different names and both are user-friendly.
This brings us to the question… which antivirus is better?
Sophos versus McAfee — is McAfee Better Than Sophos?
To round it up, I was impressed by both these programs. They offered everything that a professional cybersecurity program should. However, I would opt for a program that costs less, provides the same functionalities that its competitor does, and offers protection for the identical number of devices.
I would also give more preference to a program that does not slow down the speed of my computer. Keeping all these facts in mind, I would rate Sophos as the winner. Sophos compared to McAfee is cheaper and hardly eats into system resources. If you ask me which is best amongst these two, I would vote for Sophos.