Webroot used to focus its attention solely on system utilities and antispyware programs, such as Spy Sweeper, arguably it’s most popular product. Starting in 2006, Webroot widened its security net and now offers a fleshed-out lineup of antivirus products, the one reviewed here being its flagship suite.
Minimum System Requirements
- Windows XP 32 bit SP2, SP3
- Window Vista 32 bit (all Editions), Windows Vista SP1, SP2 32 and 64 bit (all Editions)
- Windows 7 32 and 64 bit (all Editions), Windows 7 SP1 32 and 64 bit (all Editions)
- 300 MHz processor (minimum) 1GHz (recommended on Windows Vista and Windows 7)
- 256 MB RAM (minimum) 2GB (recommended on Windows Vista and Windows 7)
- 300 MB Hard Disk Space
- Internet Explorer 6.0 and higher, Firefox 3.0 and higher
Webroot overhauled the look of all their home security software for 2011. The home screen has a sleek and modern look, though I have to admit the purple and green color scheme takes some getting used to.
A large icon in the center indicates overall protection status; red means your computer is at risk, yellow means there are minor issues, and green means good to go. If anything but green, the program displays options next to the icon showing what needs to be done (usually just clicking a “Fix” button).
There are four categories in the main interface: PC Security, Sync & Sharing, System Cleaner, and Identity & Privacy; placing your mouse over any of them shows statistics and options.
Security Complete is preconfigured for maximum protection; program components can be customized by clicking “Edit Settings”:
Most of the settings are self-explanatory, though there is really no need to change anything here. It took me a minute to figure out I could change other components’ settings by clicking the icons at the top. Clicking on the Home icon in the top left goes back to the main screen.
Clicking on the items in the purple bar at the bottom of the screen brings up settings for the program as a whole and your account. Examples of options found here include scheduled scans and proxy settings. The My Account button shows how much time is left on your subscription, how many products are registered under your account, and which computers they are installed on; the notifications button displays any actions you might need to take (usually nothing; Webroot will tell you if anything needs to be done without having to go here).
I like the Support section, mostly because it displays a telephone number in plain sight.
On the whole I like the interface though it is not as well structured as it could be; that is a side effect of trying to make it look pretty. Some of the settings could have been grouped together in a more efficient (read: compact) manner. On a more positive note there is no information overload and most of the options are in plain English.
Features and support
Webroot Internet Security Complete 2011 certainly gives users a lot to work with, but be prepared to shell out for the privilege. It’s got a sharp list of solid security features, from antivirus and antimalware to a firewall, online storage, synchronization, and password protection. Webroot’s features are a mish-mash of tools developed in-house and licensed from third parties, yet they all appear to function organically and with no noticeable hang-ups. There’s a solid emphasis on making sure the user understands what’s going on, with tutorials readily available, but at the end of day the goal of a security suite should be to keep the user safe with a minimum of fuss, and Webroot doesn’t always hit that in each of its features.
Most notable of Webroot’s problems is the excessively noisy firewall. Pop-ups occur regularly and require user action, often merely to approve a legitimate, well-known program. Several Webroot competitors utilize their reputation-based threat detection networks to keep these common firewall interruptions to a minimum, and that’s sorely missed here because firewall makers have discovered that people tend to deactivate noisy firewalls, rather than configure them properly.
Webroot’s also missing parental controls, which for a premium security product is very unusual. The antispam protection is restricted to Outlook and Outlook Express only, making the suite much more tight-fisted than the competition.
In most other areas, Webroot handles itself decently. Password protection has been licensed from LastPass, one of the best cross-platform password managers available. SugarSync provides the engine for Webroot’s customizable and robust online storage and syncing tool. The 10GB of storage in the cloud is at the high end of the spectrum for this feature, something that ought to ease the concerns of the cost-conscious.
The system cleanup tools have been brought in from another Webroot program, Webroot Window Washer. Like the externally sourced components, the Window Washer tools–which are listed only as System Cleanup–have been so smoothly integrated into the suite that it’s impossible to tell that they were developed separately.
Webroot’s support is tied to the account you create when you install the program, unless you’ve got a pre-existing one. It’s well worth doing, however. In addition to the live, free phone tech support, available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain Time in the United States, Webroot has included a link to five tutorial videos. The videos are quite helpful, although we’d prefer it if Webroot notified you that the link opens in your browser. At least the videos aren’t autoplay.
Webroot offers some genuinely useful, and rather novel special features to its suite. There’s a system cleaner, though it’s not the strongest part of the suite. While it’s fast, and it claims to have recovered 161MB of space, it doesn’t do as much as other suites which can repair permissions and find orphaned or duplicate files. Far better is the 10GB of online backup, and the syncing folder which will allow you to keep documents synced up between all your machines that have Webroot installed. Webroot uses SugarSync for this, an online backup service that we’ve reviewed and that we love.
Webroot also has one of the most advanced password management tools we’ve encountered. Passwords are stored in the “cloud” and managed via a web control panel. That means you can access your passwords from any web browser, only requiring you to remember your Webroot password. Have trouble coming up with good passwords? Webroot will come up with passwords for you, and then store them so you don’t need to remember them. This functionality expands to include auto-filling of addresses, credit card numbers, and other commonly used pieces of information. Password protected auto-filling also has the advantage of foiling keyloggers.
A particularly intriguing part of Webroot’s bundle has always been the addition of basic identity theft protection services by TrustedID. The service will monitor those Internet black markets for evidence that someone is selling your info.
Rounding out the suite is the anti-spam component, which works on Outlook and Outlook Express.
Speedy scanning performance, strong real-time protection, anti-phishing tools, effective form-filling and password management, 10GB online storage space with useful file synchronisation and sharing options.
We Don’t Like:
General lack of configurability, below average firewall, high RAM use when syncing files, spam filter supports Outlook/ Outlook Express only, limited browser support beyond IE and Firefox
This suite offers simple but powerful antivirus protection, a remarkably flexible backup and file sharing system, and a top-of-the-line password manager, among other impressive features. The one feature that needs work is the firewall, which will bombard you with warnings about both good and bad programs.