It’s important to invest in the best antivirus software in the market. Bitdefender tops our recommendations list for the depth of features and protection it offers. Sophos has its own competitor to Bitdefender, Sophos Home, which we’ve had mixed opinions about in the past.
We’re going to put these two antiviruses to the test in a head-to-head, Sophos Home vs. Bitdefender comparison review. We can’t cover everything, so take a look at our separate Bitdefender review and Sophos Home review to get the full picture on both.
Setting Up a Fight: Sophos vs Bitdefender
To make sure you’re getting value for your money, we’re going to test Bitdefender and Sophos Home in five rounds.
Our comparison will cover features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and customer service. We’ll declare a winner for each round and award that service with a point. We’ll also explain our reasoning in a quick roundup after each section.
The overall champion will be the first to reach three or more points overall, and we’ll do a quick recap of our final thoughts at the end. We’ll use our best judgment, combined with the evidence, to make our decision, but if you disagree, please leave a comment at the end.
There’s more to a good antivirus than protecting you against viruses. Newer, more damaging threats like ransomware can put you at risk, and you need to trust that your antivirus has the right features to protect against the worst of them.
To help you sort through the marketing speak, we’ll compare the features offered from Bitdefender and Sophos Home.
Although Bitdefender makes you pay for certain features, most are standard across its product plans. Some antiviruses are “just” antiviruses, but Bitdefender tries to be a wider security suite for your devices.
Even its bottom plan, Antivirus Plus, includes more than the typical antivirus, especially when you compare it to another “basic” antivirus options, like Trend Micro Antivirus+ (see our Trend Micro Antivirus review).
Malware protection is still center stage, with multi-layer protection included across all packages. Ignoring the jargon, the protection that Bitdefender offers is high-grade, as we’ll talk more about later.
You also have web filtering tools and a network scanner included — both designed to block threats from outside your network — along with a software vulnerability scanner. A network firewall adds to this defense for Bitdefender Internet Security and Total Security customers.
One highly regarded Bitdefender feature is its isolated web browser, Bitdefender Safepay, which helps keep you safe on the web. It’ll let you safely sign in to your favorite shopping sites and pay without your sensitive data being intercepted, thanks to an on-screen keyboard.
Bitdefender’s own VPN service is included with Safepay to protect you on open WiFi networks. It comes with a 200MB daily data limit, so although you’ll be able to encrypt your basic web browsing, you won’t be able to overdo things.
To beef up your web protection even further, Bitdefender includes a password manager and web-filtering add-ons. The password manager isn’t a Dashlane replacement, but it’s a good manager to start with (see our Dashlane review).
Anti-theft, anti-tracking and anti-spying (with webcam and microphone blocking), along with protection for your files, help to cover you further. Bitdefender’s feature list is extensive, as it tries to carve out an image as the only protection you could possibly need.
Sophos Home customers get a lot without even needing to pay a dollar. Along with antivirus protection, Sophos’ free plan includes web monitoring and parental controls, making it an appealing choice for parents.
It also borrows features from its business line with remote management tools to help you keep track of the security and protection of multiple devices. This is offered with the expectation that you’ll upgrade to gain more features once you’ve settled in.
With that in mind, the best features are for paying customers. Sophos is another security firm that believes prevention is the best protection, offering defenses to protect your device from video monitoring or keylogging.
USB devices are screened, with each device requiring the user’s explicit approval before it can access your PC. This, again, feels like another crossover from Sophos’ focus on business protection, as we’d expect you to trust most of your own USB devices, but we’re not complaining.
Bitdefender has Safepay, but there’s no isolated browser from Sophos. There is, however, “banking protection,” which watches for and blocks suspicious malware while you’re banking online. Whether this is any different from Sophos Home’s standard protection is unclear.
However, web filtering is included, which should block any suspicious phishing or other compromised sites from being accessed. This should help to improve your online safety.
One big area of protection that Sophos is keen to promote is its ransomware protection. This will monitor and stop any suspicious access to your most important files and folders, restoring them if any damage occurs.
Round One Thoughts
Extra features mean extra protection, and Bitdefender is well ahead of many of its competitors in this regard. Sophos Home tries hard to compete, but many of its features are pretty standard.
There’s nothing that stands out about Sophos, while Bitdefender has plenty, from isolated browsing to anti-theft protection, making Bitdefender the winner of this round.
Unless you decide to go for one of the best free antivirus software options currently in the market, you’ll need to pay. Investing in an antivirus will give you better protection, but unless it’s value for money, there’s no point paying.
To help you decide whether Bitdefender and Sophos Home are affordable options, we’re going to look at the price plans for both antiviruses.
New customers are well catered to by Bitdefender, thanks to a number of significant signup discounts. There are discounts of up to 50 percent available across Bitdefender’s four product plans.
1-year plan $ 2.92 / month
$34.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.33 / month
$39.98 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.75 / month
$44.99 billed every year
Each of the four Bitdefender plans have varied pricing, with the customer able to change the length of coverage from one to three years, or by the number of devices.
The cheapest plan, Antivirus Plus, is also the plan with the fewest features included. It comes, as you’d expect, with the core Bitdefender protection against malware, but there are some added bonuses thrown in, like a firewall to block cyber attacks.
Antivirus Plus is for Windows PCs, but if you’re tied into Microsoft at home, you can vary your coverage, with plans that can cover one to 10 devices.
Most users will want to skip Antivirus Plus and go straight to Bitdefender Internet Security, which includes the majority of Bitdefender features. Like Antivirus Plus, it’s also Windows-only, but only costs around $5 more at the discounted rate, compared to its cheaper alternative.
Internet Security comes with a focus on privacy protection, with webcam and microphone blocking, file encryption and parental blocks to protect young families. Although the three-device option is the only plan with a discount, you can also protect one, five and 10 devices.
For an extra $10 per year, you’ll gain the mobile protection that we recommended as one of the best antiviruses for Android with Bitdefender Total Security, covering five or 10 devices. You’ll also gain anti-theft protection, alongside tools to help speed up your PC, as well as Mac protection.
If you’ve got a large family, you’ll instead need to look at the Bitdefender Family Pack. It comes with coverage for 15 devices, along with all the protection offered with Total Security, for $60 at the discounted rate.
Compared to Bitdefender, Sophos’ plans are easy to understand. They’re split into two categories: free and paid.
1-year plan $ 4.17 / month
$50.00 billed every year
Features for Mac and Windows customers vary, but the price plans are the same. The free plan offers malware and AI-threat detection, remote management, and web filtering to block harmful websites.
With the free plan, you’re allowed to secure and link three devices (Mac or Windows) to your account. Free customers also gain a free trial of Sophos Home Premium for 30 days, which upon expiry reverts to the free plan.
Sophos Home Premium costs $50 per year, with coverage for 10 devices. The modest features included with the free plan are upgraded, with extra malware blocking and drive encryption to block ransomware, as well as increased web protection to block phishing and other dangerous websites.
Sophos Home Premium also offers privacy-blocking options to protect your webcam, screen and keyboard input from being logged. Premium also comes with customer support during weekday office hours.
Round Two Thoughts
Bitdefender’s price plans are about average for the market, but the generous discounts for new customers make it much more competitive, especially with so many features.
Sophos Home’s simple $50 fee can’t be ignored, however. Although there are fewer features, the price plan is hard to ignore. With so many pros on both sides, this round is a draw.
With so many features and options to deal with, the best antiviruses are the ones that are easy to use for both pros and beginners alike.
User-friendliness is critical, which is why we’re looking at how easy both Bitdefender and Sophos Home are to install and use.
Bitdefender’s simple installation doesn’t take much effort to work through from start to finish, and should be complete within 10 minutes. The Bitdefender client is modern and clearly organized, with a side panel to allow you easy access to features and other settings.
The initial dashboard makes it easy for you to access your regular features, like quick scanning. This area can be customized to add in other features you might use regularly, like Safepay.
The side panel lets you access your other features, with menus for privacy and protection. The “protection” section gives you quick access your firewall and software vulnerability scanner, for instance.
If you need extra support, Bitdefender tries to encourage better security habits with taskbar alerts. For example, Bitdefender will alert you to use Safepay when you access certain shopping sites.
Bitdefender also offers user profiles to customize your Bitdefender settings in certain environments. You might wish, for instance, for Bitdefender’s taskbar alerts to be muted while you’re gaming, or for harder firewall rules while you’re on an open WiFi network.
The “settings” area, accessed from the side menu, is clear to use, with extra support tips available above each area to explain any unusual settings.
Ease of use is coupled with user choice in the overall Bitdefender user experience. The Bitdefender client is almost unrivaled, with only top-tier providers like Avira proving to be as user-friendly (see our Avira review).
Installing Sophos Home is simple and requires little interaction from the user. Once it’s complete, Sophos Home will begin an initial scan of your PC.
Sophos Home has a clean and simple interface, one of the simplest we’ve ever seen. It shouldn’t scare new users, but we do have some complaints.
The resolution of the text in the client is poor, and in some places it’s hard to read at all, especially the descriptions under main buttons. If you’ve got poor eyesight, this would put you at a disadvantage. However, Sophos Home has generally improved in design since our main review.
The client has more options for users, but much of the changes are skin-deep. Sophos Home can still only perform a deep scan of your main system drive. Scanning individual files or folders is possible, but you need to do this within Windows File Explorer, and at no point is this made clear to users.
Only the “scan computer” button does anything within the client. The rest are links to Sophos’ web management tool, which opens within your browser.
The online interface, like the main client, is clear to use with a modern interface.
You can disable or enable certain features within the web settings page, which loads as well as add other Sophos Home devices. It isn’t confusing, and most features have a brief and helpful explanation.
Truly innovative antiviruses are rare, with cloud solutions like Webroot SecureAnywhere sticking most in our mind (see our Webroot SecureAnywhere review). It’s good that Sophos Home offers something different with its online interface, but it may be confusing for new users.
Round Three Thoughts
Bitdefender is one of the best antiviruses to use, showing that innovation doesn’t have to take away from a great user experience.
Sophos Home proves the same point, but not in a good way. Changes to the client have made it poor to read, and by shifting much of the (limited) configuration online, users without a steady internet connection are left at a disadvantage.
One thing matters above all else when you’re looking at antivirus software: protection. If your antivirus can’t protect you, you’re at risk.
To give you peace of mind, we’re using the findings from three independent security labs to judge the quality of protection from Bitdefender and Sophos Home.
Our first lab, AV-Test, reported strong findings through July-Aug. 2019 tests. Bitdefender was awarded full marks, with a 6 out of 6 for protection and system performance. Its protection scores were almost 100-percent effective, with only a 0.05 percent drop in August.
At AV Comparatives, Bitdefender continued this exceptional theme with a 99.9-percent success rate. Out of 752 samples of malware, 751 were blocked, gaining AV Comparatives’ highest Advanced+ award.
Bitdefender also received the same award during AV Comparatives’ performance test in April 2019, matching Bitdefender vs Sophos Home: A Viral Antivirus Battle in 2019 (see our Bitdefender vs. Kaspersky comparison, as well as our separate Kaspersky Anti-Virus review).
There were no surprises from MRG-Effitas’ Q2 2019 malware testing. Out of 398 samples, all 398 were blocked by Bitdefender during tests. This put Bitdefender in the same category as Bitdefender vs Sophos Home: A Viral Antivirus Battle in 2019 (see our F-Secure Antivirus review).
Sophos managed to beat Bitdefender’s AV-Test scoring with a flawless 100 percent score from July-Aug. 2019. However, this was from testing Sophos’ business product, Endpoint Security. Sophos Home wasn’t tested, but the protection is likely to be the same.
Although Sophos achieved a 6 out of 6 for protection, it scored poorer for performance with a 5.5, due to slower performance against the industry average.
AV-Comparatives hasn’t tested Sophos Home since November 2016. Unfortunately, Sophos had a worryingly poor 96-percent success rate for an antivirus during this test, with 70 failures out of 1,868 samples.
MRG-Effitas also tested Sophos, but only the business protection it offers. Q2 2019 testing showed a 100-percent success rate with 94.52 percent blocked immediately, and another 5.48 percent blocked, due to Sophos’ sophisticated malware behavior tests.
We also conducted more thorough tests of Sophos’ protection ourselves in our earlier Sophos Home review.
Round Four Thoughts
Bitdefender offers gold-standard protection that very few other antiviruses are able to match, with near perfect scores across the board.
Sophos, with a focus on business protection, has more limited testing scores available. What scores are available show mixed results, although the scores are mostly high in more recent testing. Bitdefender’s protection has proved to be more consistent, however.
Good customer support isn’t just good business. For antivirus providers, customers need to have faith that they can call or message for help when they’re facing a problem they can’t fix themselves.
For our final section, we’re going to look at the customer support that both Bitdefender and Sophos offer to customers.
A global company with global support methods, Bitdefender has a wide range of support methods for customers, regardless of their country or language. To begin with, Bitdefender offers Bitdefender vs Sophos Home: A Viral Antivirus Battle in 2019 numbers across different continents.
Phone support is complemented by 24/7 support by live chat or email ticketing. If your support isn’t urgent, you can post questions on the community forum, where Bitdefender customers and staff will reply within a few hours.
The forum is active and has separate sections for different Bitdefender products, as well as language-specific forums for non-English customers.
There’s also a knowledgebase on offer, with simple how-to guides explaining how to perform certain tasks or solve common problems. Some of the guides come with video support, while most offer images to help explain steps.
Premium customers can contact Sophos for help during office hours, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. There are regional and international Bitdefender vs Sophos Home: A Viral Antivirus Battle in 2019 available across the globe, along with live chat and ticket support.
While Sophos offers a lot for free customers, support isn’t one of them. Once the free trial of Sophos Premium expires, free users of Sophos Home have no official support beyond the Sophos knowledgebase, which includes guides on installing and using the software.
Articles are detailed and clear, but they don’t (for the most part) go beyond simple topics. If you need help with anything complex, you’ll need to reach out to Sophos directly.
There’s also an official Twitter support account, where customers can tweet questions and requests for help.
Round Five Thoughts
Customers of both Bitdefender and Sophos receive well-catered support. Both offer phone and chat support, along with a knowledgebase for customers to look through.
Bitdefender’s offering is a little stronger, however, with 24/7 support, a better knowledgebase and a community forum where customers can ask questions.
Sophos Home is from a security firm that generally focuses more attention on its business protection. Many of the features it includes, like remote management, are reflective of that. It comes with a simple client, which could be the problem; the simplicity goes too far.
Bitdefender, on the other hand, is one of the best antiviruses because it offers more than its competitors. More features, more support and better protection make Bitdefender products worth their cost.
Sophos may not offer the same feature set, but it remains an affordable alternative. At the very best, it competes well against other top free antiviruses like AVG, as our AVG review will show.
Bitdefender is still our top recommendation, but it isn’t the only provider out there. Take a look through our other antivirus reviews to see how other big names compare.
Are you a Sophos Home fan? Don’t be afraid to let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.
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