F-Secure Internet Security 2010 review

Great protection, but there are some wrinkles to be ironed out of the new interface

Darien Graham-Smith
22 Sep 2009
Price when reviewed 

The big thing that's new about F-Secure's 2010 security suite is its revamped front end. It's certainly cleaner than the old design, which over the years had come to look pretty clunky.

Alas, it isn't as big an improvement as perhaps was intended: the big buttons merely open further displays, and finding the feature you want isn't much easier than with the old system. For example, details of your protection are hidden behind the Status button, but if you see something you want to change you have to come out and go hit the Tasks button instead.

The default installation now includes parental controls as well. This is more of a pain than it sounds, since it requires you to enter your password to (among other things) allow a program through the firewall. And that happens more often than you'd expect; during our tests, F-Secure 2010 complained about network access requests from Live Mesh and Windows Media Player, which it surely ought to know about.

On the plus side, the firewall proved perfectly robust at repelling intruders. Our attacking computer was unable to confirm the existence of the test PC, even while the client machine was happily able to communicate back and forth over the internet.

Malware detection was good too. Although the software took several minutes to churn through this month's collection of malware, it identified 96% of our threats, just 2% behind our A-List choice, Avira Premium Security Suite. That figure includes a generic trojan (identified by F-Secure as IS.585803), which Avira missed.

When it comes to resource usage, there's good and bad news. F-Secure added a relatively small overhead to a running system, with system RAM usage under Vista resting at 602MB, compared to 595MB with Avira and 477MB for a bare Windows installation.

But the suite added four seconds to our boot time, and then spent 12 seconds grinding the CPU in two big spikes - one shortly after the Windows desktop appeared, one around a minute later - before settling down. Most annoyingly, the software brings up a self-important splash screen at every boot, which for us appeared an infuriating 20 seconds or so after the desktop had appeared - and there's no obvious way to disable it.

F-Secure's underlying detection and firewall engines are clearly sound, and the price is reasonable by security suite standards. Hopefully, next year's iteration will turn the package into a slick contender. Right now, however, alternatives such as Avira or Kaspersky provide comparable protection and are simply more pleasant to use.


Software subcategoryInternet security

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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