Webroot Internet Security Essentials marks the antispyware firm’s first foray into all-in-one web security. [UPDATED, MARCH 18 2009.]

Webroot Internet Security Essentials consists of a Sophos virus scanner, a Privacyware firewall and online backup based on Webroot’s servers. But it lacks parental controls, antispam and browser-based antiphishing, and struggled with its core task: malware identification.

Webroot Internet Security Essentials identified only 89.6 percent of AV-Test’s malware zoo. It also disappointed in heuristic tests, detecting just 39.8 percent. The suite did a good job of identifying and removing rootkits, but was mediocre at adware identification, with a score of 90.4 percent.

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The licensed firewall uses an old-school approach: it starts out in a training mode for seven days, after which it will prompt you about any new software it notices. Webroot Internet Security Essentials’s backup feature offers 2GB of free online storage, but we encountered server problems. The suite also had difficulty keeping Windows Security Center notified; we got false alerts about a ‘missing firewall’ and the suite being out of date.

While the Webroot Internet Security Essentials interface looks good and has a clear presentation, some aspects need tweaking. For one thing, locating activity logs is a challenge. This is an important oversight, since you may go searching for those logs to learn the filenames and locations of quarantined items – alert pop-ups don’t list either of these.

NEXT PAGE: our original review, from December 2008

OUR EXPERT VERDICT

Webroot Internet Security Essentials is an assembly of Webroot's Spy Sweeper anti-spyware with other companies' malware protection

Webroot is perhaps most well known for its best-of-breed anti-spyware tool, Spy Sweeper. Webroot Internet Security Essentials - or WISE - builds on the strengths of this by adding anti-virus, firewall and automatic backup, to create a security bundle.

These aren't in-house add-ons - the anti-virus comes courtesy of Sophos, the firewall from PWI PrivateFirewall and the backup from the well-regarded SOS Backup Online.

The WISE bundle covers most security angles but anti-spam, personal information and parental controls are absent. Given the suite's name, these must be considered non-essential, presumably!

However, the package's simplicity doesn't make WISE fleet of foot. Not only is installation relatively slow but you'll notice longer boot times once WISE is installed.

WISE's user interface, which uses muted autumnal colours, is based in that found in Spy Sweeper. The core of WISE rests on over a dozen 'shields', each one designed to detect and prevent specific types of malware.

The spyware side of WISE achieves the usual high Webroot standard, as does the AV side, scoring goods results with the independent testing labs such as ICSA and West Coast Labs and obtaining four VB100 scores out of the past five Virus Bulletin tests.

As well as offering a full range of protection WISE also incorporates a gamer mode to ensure you can play games uninterrupted. However this appears to turn off some protection rather than just the irritating pop-ups. Scanning is also a tad slow. Apart from this, we have no real complaints on the malware side.

The firewall didn't disappoint, successfully ‘stealthing' the first 1056 ports according to the GRC ShieldsUp! test. The firewall learns your Internet usage over a definable period but this initially allows access for all programs, even the bad ones.

WISE's backup lets you backup either locally or online: you get 2GB of online backup space and extra capacity can be bought. Even with fast broadband the initial backup was painfully slow, which is only to be expected.

However, subsequent backups are much faster because only changes to existing files are backed up. You can access your backed-up files from any Internet connected PC, which could prove handy in a scrape.

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

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Webroot Internet Security Essentials: Specs

  • Windows Vista (32-bit Home Basic, Premium, Business or Ultimate), Vista SP1 (32- and 64-bit versions of Home Basic, Premium, Business or Ultimate) or XP SP1 SP2, SP3 (32-bit versions of Professional, Home, Media Centre or XP Tablet), 300MHz CPU, 100MB hard drive space, 256MB RAM, Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher or Firefox 2.0 or higher for connecting to the Webroot Web site
  • Windows Vista (32-bit Home Basic, Premium, Business or Ultimate), Vista SP1 (32- and 64-bit versions of Home Basic, Premium, Business or Ultimate) or XP SP1 SP2, SP3 (32-bit versions of Professional, Home, Media Centre or XP Tablet), 300MHz CPU, 100MB hard drive space, 256MB RAM, Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher or Firefox 2.0 or higher for connecting to the Webroot Web site

OUR VERDICT

Webroot Internet Security Essentials needs a few tweaks – and better malware detection – to be worth serious consideration. WISE is the proverbial curate’s egg and suffers from appearing to be a suite cobbled together from various components. Overall, an unbalanced security suite.

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