Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus Review: Small Install

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, for PC and Mac, has a number of great features, including real-time threat protection, anti-ransomware capability, URL filtering, real-time anti-phishing and a software firewall.

A standout aspect of the Webroot suite is how lightweight it is. Unlike many programs that have a bloated install file, on our test system, the Webroot folder is only a single 3.77MB executable, an INI file and nothing more. This means Webroot runs with minimal impact on your PC’s resources. It also translates to speed; Webroot claims that its  program can perform up to 60 times faster than other antivirus software.

Price

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus’ price is quite average at $29.99 (£22) for a one-year, one-device license. It goes up to $39.99 (£30) for a renewal.

Putting this into perspective, the plan is a little less expensive than Bitdefender Antivirus Plus ($39/£30 with no first year discount), but more costly than Kaspersky Anti-Virus ($29.25/£22.50 year one, $32.50/£25 on renewal) and Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security ($26/£20).

There is also the option to add more devices or years, decreasing the per-device price. For an example, a three-year, three-device license for PC or Mac costs $109.99 (£84), which is a quite reasonable $12 (£10) per device annually.

Setup and User Interface

Setting up Webroot begins with the user registration, which includes providing both your name and email address. We appreciate that neither credit card info nor any payment is required to use the trial. After, the website sends you the download link and a license key for the 14-day trial.

Since Webroot’s file is downright tiny, the installation process was uber fast. We also appreciate that, unlike some of its competition, Webroot plays nicely with other antivirus installed. Our PC already had Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security installed, and Webroot had no issue.

With our setup complete, Webroot next launched into an initial scan of our PC, which proceeded at breakneck speed. Believe it or not, the scan was actually done in a brief minute! This was a thorough cleaning with identification of a couple of adware-related items, which some other antivirus programs did not locate.

The user is then given the opportunity to review the scan results and can take action on the findings with a click. After this initial scan sequence, Webroot moves on to its primary mission: real-time protection of your PC.

Webroot adds just two additional background processes to whatever you’re PC’s already doing, so even with a slower PC, you won’t notice it running. The first is a user application, and the second is a service. Combined, they consume just under 10MB of RAM, which shouldn’t bog any modern PC down.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, on first glance, can look kind of busy, with many icons, panels, buttons and switches. This is hardly a serious issue; however, more advanced users might prefer all the options be more easily findable. Still, Webroot overall is still quite simple to use.

In addition to antivirus scans, Webroot comes with a series of extra functions (more in the Other Security Features section below). However, the the SecureAnywhere interface does not easily highlight that these tools are available. This leaves the user to search through every area of the program as the only method to find out everything it is capable of, which takes away from the software’s usability.

Antivirus Scans

To launching a basic antivirus scan, click the Scan My Computer button. Alternatively, you can right-click on the icon in the system tray.

There are four other scanning options:

  • Quick Scan - only scans your RAM
  • Full Scan - for scanning the local hard drives
  • Deep Scan - to search out rootkits and Trojans
  • Custom Scan - to specifically target the antivirus efforts on specific files or folders.

Unfortunately, Webroot buries these four other scanning modes some users may not ever find them. To launch any of these additional types of scans, click PC Security > Settings > Custom Scan.

The scan times were longer than the 20 seconds Webroot claims. In fact, the fastest Quick scan option took 50 seconds. All things considered, that’s still pretty quick. Plus, the quite-thorough Deep scan was comparatively quick at a lengthy 75 seconds. The Deep scan has high detection rates, and it easily found the sample prepositioned malware; although, we also had a few false alarms from some non-malware downloads.

Another option is for users to scan a file, folder or drive via a right-click from the Explorer menu. This option sets off the Full Scan, which searches through every last file on the system. This is a pokey option that has a longer duration than the better optimized scans but can be useful when a totally thorough cleaning of the system is needed.

Antivirus Testing and Performance

SecureAnywhere AntiVirus performed well on the basic task of simple malware detection, but that merely provides a rough estimate of this program’s performance. To dive deeper, we pitted it against our own custom ransomware simulator. This is an internally developed package, which cannot be identified from any predefined signature or pattern in a database. That means Webroot could not have seen it before, making it the ideal test for Webroot's behavior monitoring.

The results were disappointing. On this test, SecureAnywhere was fully oblivious to the simulated ransomware, which then allowed encryption to proceed unchecked on thousands of files and gigabytes of data.

We’re not certain why Webroot failed to identify the malware, but we do know that some other antivirus solutions performed significantly better on this identical test. For instance, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security was able to stop the simulated ransomware within a few moments after launch and recover the three files that had been encrypted.

Other Security Features

As mentioned, Webroot comes with a secret stash of bonus features that can be hard to find. However, when discovered, the expert set is sure to appreciate Webroot’s unique and powerful extra functions.

Antimalware Tools Dialog

The Antimalware Tools dialog includes a utility to manually remove suspicious programs, along with their associated Registry entries. Although this is a more limited solution and not on par with the full Revo Uninstaller software, we found the results are good enough for those not currently using a dedicated software for this function.

URL Filtering

Webroot’s URL filtering feature leverages the security firm’s far-reaching database of malicious websites, to which it adds 25,000 new websites daily, to provide real-time phishing protection. Methodologically, this is hard to put to a definitive test, but after visiting some sites of poor repute, we can say that this module functioned as expected and can block malicious sites that standards like Google Chrome and Windows SmartScreen miss.

Firewall

Webroot also includes a basic firewall of the software variety, but color us unimpressed. It lacks the expected control settings for protocols and ports and instead uses an autopilot approach that searches for new and untrusted processes that connect from your PC to the Internet. It then issues a warning about these potential new connections via untrusted applications and requests approval prior to your data moving through them. The experts will miss the fuller control, but others will welcome this firewall feature to the antivirus package.

Identity Shield

Another useful feature that goes beyond basic antivirus protection is the background Identity Shield for protecting web browser sessions. It secures your data from a variety of possible attacks, including keyloggers, screen grabbers, clipboard snoopers and other nasties that want to steal your information.

To test Identity Shield, we added a basic freeware keylogger and did some web surfing on Chrome. With the Identity Shield off, the keylogger recorded URLs, usernames, passwords and every last key that we pressed. With Identity Shield engaged, recording of the alphanumeric and symbol keys was completely shut down. This left the keylogger file with only worthless data, since there were only references to a few keys: Spacebar, Enter and Ctrl.

Sandbox

Webroot also comes with a handy sandbox for running questionable programs safely from within an isolated (‘sandboxed’) environment, keeping your system safe from changes.

Additional handy system repair features include the ability to “Set system policies to defaults.” With one click Webroot will fix things when malware or other programs disable the Task Manager, Regedit (Windows Registry Editor), or impose another policy-type restriction.

Bottom Line

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus doesn’t take up a lot of your PC’s storage, yet features precise URL blocking and several additional handy bonus features.

Alternatively, tests results were quite mixed, running the gamut from strong to very weak. That concerns us, particularly since antivirus software reliability is super critical. Still, some test results were satisfactory, and Webroot happens to play nicely with any other antivirus products you might have installed.

If you’re not interested in using more than one antivirus, consider a more consistent software like Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. But the option of installing Webroot alongside another antivirus program, like Windows Defender is a strong one, and using multiple programs should keep you safe from the multitude of threats out there.

Image Credits: Webroot, Tom's Hardware

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2 comments
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  • Hank Jones
    I can't tell from the article if the author is aware that Webroot takes a very different approach to its duties. It doesn't care what sorts of malware gets downloaded. It doesn't have a database that it searches as the program encounters files and that's why it is such a small installation. Instead, it monitors what the file is doing and then flags suspicious behavior. It then rollsback any changes that the malware did. This makes it a very hard AV to test as is noted in other reviews on other sites. It may well have failed the test(s) he did, but if all the author looked at was whether or not his malware executed may not have been a complete look at Webroot's abilities.

    That being said, it is a great program to run alongside other AV. Since it isn't actively scanning each file, it doesn't conflict with other AV generally.
  • 727stretch
    Webroot is a great, although not well known option. Webroot is the only AV I'll install on PCs with 8GB of RAM or less, because it uses so little in the background. I use it on my personal Dell '2-in-1' that isn't particularly high-powered. I've never had any complaints from users about infections or config issues. I run a Malwarebytes scan once a week on all my PCs just as a safeguard, which is wise regardless of what AV you use. As Hank said above, Webroot is in an entirely different solution than Bitdefender, in how it operates (and how few resources it uses). Bitdefender 2019 uses almost half a gig of RAM when idle. That's a lot.