F-Secure SAFE is a clean and simple anti-malware suite that’s a little light on features beyond parental controls.
Good range of featuresClearly highlighted renewal fees
Less accurate than some rivalsLacks webcam protection
Parental controlsTime limits and content filtering for children of various ages
Gaming modeCeases notifications and CPU-intensive activity when a game or application runs at full screen
Protected browserProtected browser mode for secure online banking and purchases
Per-folder ransomware protectionSelect specific folders to be protected against unauthorised changes
F-Secure SAFE provides a simple, unobtrusive selection of antivirus and parental control tools for home users.
It’s very clear about subscription renewal costs, doesn’t enable auto-renewals by default, and is reasonably competitively priced. But is it one of the best antivirus options?
F-Secure SAFE doesn’t automatically sign you up for an auto-renewing subscription, but subsequent years still cost more than the first.
Expect to pay £39.99 per year for one device, renewing at £59.99; £49.99 for three devices, renewing at £79.90; and £59.99 for five devices, with a renewal fee of £99.99.
Malware detection performance
F-Secure’s detection engine scored a 100% defence rating in all of AV-Test’s real-world and malware reference sample-scanning tests. However, it was among the worst performers in SE Labs’ recent tests, with a total protection rating of 96%.
While this isn’t terrible, its protection test performance is significantly worse than that of Microsoft Defender, which comes built in to Windows 10 and 11, and which F-Secure SAFE seeks to replace for you.
With consumer anti-malware suites, you’re paying for more than just virus protection, and F-Secure provides a good range of tools for your money. Parental controls are introduced at install time, with options for immediately setting up time limits and content filtering for children of various ages, and you can install the software for use by a younger member of the household, too.
There are, of course, a range of real-time and on-demand scans available, although your options here aren’t as granular as those of rivals such as ESET Internet Security. For example, if you want boot sector scanning, you’ll have to run a full system scan.
A lot of F-Secure’s activity happens under the bonnet. For example, DeepGuard only allows you to run applications that F-Secure’s cloud knows to be safe, and ransomware protection prevents selected folders from being changed without permission. There’s also a notification-free gaming mode that you can activate via a right-click menu on the software’s notification area icon.
Browsing protection blocks suspicious websites and those that are known to be dangerous, and browser extensions are available to help provide a secure banking experience that protects against spyware. F-Secure’s settings interface closely resembles that of Windows’ own settings, which is comfortable, but there really isn’t much there when it comes to features.
Should you buy it?
You want a simple antivirus:
F-Secure has a pleasing interface that blends in well with Windows. It has the core features you need for family virus protection, good parental controls and is unobtrusive.
You want best value for money:
F-Secure’s virus detection is generally good, but it isn’t up to either Kaspersky or Microsoft’s anti-malware offerings, and Microsoft Defender is free.
Although it’s pleasant to use, there’s little in terms of malware defence or features to recommend F-Secure SAFE over Microsoft Defender. If you’re here for the extra features, paid-for consumer rival Kaspersky Internet Security offers more of them, but F-Secure’s parental controls are easier to deploy.
How we test
We use every antivirus software ourselves, so we can check out the various features.
We also use reliable websites to determine the malware detection performance, including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use trusted and approved websites to determine the malware detection performance
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Yes, you need to pay for a subscription in order to use F-Secure SAFE.
Microsoft Defender scored better in the malware detection tests recently, but F-Secure does have additional features.
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