F-PROT Antivirus Home
F-PROT products are made by FRISK software, an Icelandic company who’ve been around since 1993. The company is now a subsidiary of Commtouch.
F-PROT Antivirus is different from the off. It seems distinctly “old school” in nature, and is a Windows product that stands alongside versions for Linux and Unix, rather than as part of a larger range of “Internet Security” solutions.
Unfortunately, by the time we had finished our review, we had replaced “old school” with “old fashioned.” F-PROT Antivirus Home looks and feels like a dated product, and failed to pass all our real-life tests. We advise you to look elsewhere.
In the case of F-PROT Antivirus Home, a “purchase options” section is hardly necessary, as there’s only really one purchase option!
F-PROT Antivirus Home comes, by default, in a pack that allows installation on up to five computers, at the competitive price of $29 in the USA, or €23 in Europe.
This price is far below average. In fact, some vendors charge more for a single PC licence.
F-PROT offer a 30-day trial of the software, we we used for the purposes of this review.
It’s fair to say that the low price of F-PROT starts to make more sense when you examine the features list. There’s nothing there to get excited about, and F-PROT list (as features) things that most vendors include as a “given,” such as automatic updates and real-time protection.
The basic features list breaks down as follows:
Heuristic Protection: This uses heuristic analysis to identify “new and unknown” threats. F-PROT antivirus was historically the first antivirus program to include this. Nowadays it is standard stuff.
Email Protection: This protects both incoming and outgoing emails.
Password Protection for Settings: This prevents other computer users playing with the software settings.
Active-X Protection: This protects against malicious Active-X controls.
Command Line Scanning: Advanced users have the option of managing F-PROT with text commands.
F-PROT’s features list is more notable for what it excludes that what it includes. If we’re being honest, it looks more like the features list from a mid-90s antivirus program, with no mention of things like phishing protection or cloud based definition databases.
Even so, we try to begin every review with an open mind, so we proceeded with the installation with no preconceptions.
Installation and Configuration
As mentioned above, we used F-PROT’s 30-day demo to test the software. Our test machine was running the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Professional.
The installation file we downloaded was reasonably small at 34.8MB, and we weren’t asked to provide any personal details to access the download.
The install was all standard stuff, beginning with clicking “next” a couple of times, and accepting a license agreement.
We were then asked if we wanted shortcuts for the program on the desktop or “Start” menu.
Next, we were asked for our license details. As we were opting for the trial, we selected that option and then had to supply our name and email address details.
The install process then continued, taking several minutes. After it had concluded, we were required to reboot, which is relatively unusual with modern antivirus products.
After the reboot had completed, F-PROT Antivirus began an automatic definition file download. This completed quickly.
With the install now complete, we double-clicked the F-PROT icon and began to explore the interface.
While we had no significant reason to dislike the interface, but it did look dated, both in layout and in functionality. We had hoped there might be a few more features tucked away, but everything was very predictable and basic.
After flicking through the features available (which didn’t take long!) we decided to proceed with our real-life tests.
After our observations as to the dated nature of F-PROT Antivirus, we were not entirely convinced it would cope with all of our real-life virus tests.
Still, we hoped to be proved wrong as we plugged in our infected USB key.
We hadn’t noticed an option to automatically scan external devices, so we weren’t surprised to be presented with the standard Windows AutoPlay menu:
We clicked “open folder to view files” and were unsurprised to see all of our test threats sitting there. However, we were pleased that F-PROT quickly jumped to life and quarantined one of the three, our fake “scareware” antivirus program.
This left two threats on the key, a tricky fake Google Chrome installer containing malware, and a test virus from the European Expert Group for IT Security.
We decided to start with the latter, as it should be an easier threat to deal with. We double clicked it, and F-PROT recognised and deleted it.
Finally, we opened our fake Google Chrome installer. Unfortunately, F-PROT didn’t recognise anything wrong with the file, and allowed us to complete the installation, resulting in several undesirable programs appearing on our PC. In addition, our search functions were “hijacked.”
Finally, we began a manual virus scan on our machine – both to see if it managed to remove any of the malware, and to look at F-PROT’s memory and processor use.
Unfortunately, F-PROT grabs all it can in terms of resources. At the beginning of the scan, we saw over 300MB of RAM use, and the CPU seemed stuck on 100%. Admittedly this did calm down to around 80MB and 35% repectively, but this was still quite heavy resource use.
Worst of all, F-PROT found nothing wrong with our machine at the end of the scan, even though it did take just 20 minutes.
When we started looking at support options for F-PROT, the first things we found were a knowledge base and a ticket system. There is also a link to remote support, but this is only available after creating a ticket.
The “contact” options didn’t give us much more, beyond a link back to the section described above. There is a phone number (in Iceland) for the company, but it’s not clear whether support is available on this line.
- Command line control for techies
- Generous pricing
We weren’t so sure about
- Limited support options
- VERY basic feature set
- Left our test PC in a muddle with malware
F-PROT Antivirus home feels like something of a museum piece. The features list is tiny and includes things like “quarantine,” which are standard parts of any antivirus product nowadays. Even free products tend to offer more as standard.
If F-PROT Antivirus Home had somehow managed to cruise through all of our real-life tests, we would have still had something good to say about it, but it predictably failed to identify the most difficult one.
To us, it feels as if F-PROT is an abandoned product, and that it’s been some years since anything was done to improve on it. It may be very cheap for a commercial product, but we still strongly advise you to look elsewhere. We simply don’t feel confident that F-PROT is up to the task of dealing with modern Internet threats.