F-Secure Internet Security 2013: First-rate protection and usability has a small performance price

F-Secure's latest suite offers excellent protection and a friendly user interface.

F-Secure Internet Security 2013 (about $73 for one year and one computer, as of 12/19/12) came in first in several of our malware detection, blocking, and removal tests. It successfully blocked attacks, detected and disabled infections, and proved adept at cleaning up all traces of malware, landing at the top of this year's security suite roundup.

In our real-world attack test, F-Secure completely blocked 100 percent of attacks. This test indicates how well the product will successfully block new malware attacks as it encounters them in the wild. But F-Secure wasn't unique: Of the nine security suites we tested, four others also managed to completely block all attacks: Bitdefender, G Data, Norton, and Trend Micro.

F-Secure also put up great scores in our malware-zoo detection test: The suite detected 99 percent of known malware samples. This score puts it in the top five of the security suites we tested, though it's at the bottom of that group (G Data, McAfee, Norton, and Trend Micro all posted detection rates of 99.7 percent or higher). F-Secure flagged just two safe files (out of over 250,000) as malicious, which is a good false-positive rate overall. However, since four of the suites achieved a perfect score in false-positive testing, and two suites flagged only one safe file as malicious, on this measure F-Secure still ends up in the bottom half of the list.

In our system cleanup test, F-Secure performed very well. In fact, it's at the top of the list (alongside Bitdefender) after detecting and disabling all infections on our test PC and completely removing 90 percent of infections. So F-Secure should effectively dispatch any malware it finds on your machine.

While F-Secure does an excellent job of detecting, disabling, blocking, and cleaning up malware, all of this power comes at a price (a small one, to be sure): F-Secure added 6 seconds to startup time (compared to a system with no antivirus software installed)--the worst showing out of all of the suites we tested. It also added 5 seconds to shutdown time. F-Secure performed well in the rest of our PC speed tests overall, but it significantly slowed application installation.

Scanning speeds were better, though. F-Secure took second place in both on-demand (manual) scan tests (1 minute, 16 seconds) and on-access (automatic) scans (3 minutes, 50 seconds). Both results are better than average by a healthy margin.

The suite installs quickly and easily, with just four screens to click through and no restart required. It doesn't install any extras (such as a toolbar), nor does it change any of your default settings. It does install a launcher, which is what you open when you double-click the program's system tray icon. The launcher has three buttons to take you to different program screens: a computer-security screen, an online-safety screen, and a third for F-Secure's website.

F-Secure's user interface is sleek and easy to understand. It presents a large round checkmark (or X mark) that shows your protection status, as well as three modules for checking your security status, F-Secure's extra tools and features, and statistics and reports. Below these modules is a scan button, an update button, and a settings button. The settings are fairly easy to get around, and each screen has a quick explanation of what the feature does and how it works.

With excellent protection and a user-friendly interface, F-Secure is definitely worth a look. This security package adds a little extra weight to your system, but if you can get past those performance issues, it's a great program.

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