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Webroot 2016 Review: Super Quick Scans & Low Resource Impact

By: Danielle P

The 2016 version of Webroot's SecureAnywhere Antivirus has taken a different approach to combating malware.

The product's scanners are extremely quick, less than two minutes, and use a small amount of resources, and yet this antivirus provider still offers powerful protection.

It demolishes spyware that attempts to deceive users or to exploit vulnerabilities in an operating system, it blocks and removes rootkits to protect settings, and it busts keyloggers which keep track of a user's keyboard activity.

What's more:

It takes up a negligible amount of storage space on the PC because it leverages cloud technologies.

Cloud security is designed to analyze files, malicious URLs, phishing sites, mobile applications, and IP addresses in order to provide a real-time view of recent threats to enable immediate protection from new infections.

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Super quick scans & low resource impact - Webroot

Webroot - Super quick scans & low resource impact

Read my review to see why Webroot is a good choice to protect users from online threats no matter where the user connects from.

Pros and Cons

  • Very fast scans
  • Leverages cloud technologies
  • Scored perfect in our in-house tests
  • Limited extra features
  • Muddled user-interface
  • No firewall rules customization
  • Few independent lab tests available

14-Day Trial & 70-Day Money Back Guarantee

Webroot believes in a "Try before you Buy" policy whereby you have a 14-day trial period to test out the product of choice.

One of its kind in the industry, Webroot offers a whopping 70-day money back guarantee on all its products in accordance with the relevant end user license agreement.

On the other hand, the business products come with a 30-day free trial.

Background of Webroot

Founded in 1997, Webroot is an antivirus vendor that provides Internet security for home users and businesses.

The company was originally established in Boulder, Colorado with its headquarters now in Broomfield, Colorado.

There are offices in San Diego, San Mateo and international operations in Austria, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan.

In 1997, Webroot's first commerical product was launched by Steven Thomas called the Webroot Window Washer, a trace removal agent.

Then in 2002, the Webroot Spy Sweeper spyware blocking and removal technology was launched, and in 2006 this technology was released alongside the Antivirus product.

From then on, Webroot continued to launch other antivirus, anti-spyware, and firewall products, as well as Mobile Security for smartphones and tablets.

Comparison: Which Webroot Product is Right for You?

Webroot offers three products for home users without too many extra added features, and some basic ones are missing that other antivirus vendors provide in their lower-tiered antivirus products.

What makes Webroot unique are its super quick scans and low resource impact, and the fact that the antivirus engine offers formidable protection despite the low impact.


If you are looking for as many cyber security features as you can get within a package, it's probably best for you to opt for some of our other antivirus providers.

If protection and quick scans are your priority, then Webroot is a winner!

Comparison Table of Webroot Home Products

Webroot Comparison Table of Home Products

My Recommendation

I would go for the Anti-Virus package if you can make-do without any fancy additional features. But if you want extra-added security, then opt for Internet Security Complete.

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Business Packages

Webroot offers services and solutions for businesses concerned about cyber security and protection.

There are Endpoint Protection products based on real-time protection with fast scans without the inconvenience of time-consuming signature updates and patches.

Businesses of various sizes have different protection needs, and therefore Webroot has designed products such as Global Site Manager, Mobile Protection, System Analyzer, Web Security Service, and Threat Intelligence to provide protection in all aspects of cyber security.

Key Features

Here is a breakdown of the key features to expect from Webroot packages:

Antivirus Scan

Webroot's anti-malware scanner works by comparing suspicious malware found on a PC with a huge database of known malware in the cloud in order to detect zero-day viruses.

Users need to click on the scan button on the main panel of the interface in order for a scan to run, or they can perform on-demand quick scans and custom scans by clicking the icon shaped like a gear in the Settings. The on-demand scan is positioned on the left and the custom scan at the bottom of the next panel.

Webroot scan selection

Scan selection on Webroot

I must mention that other antivirus providers make their on-demand scan buttons a little more accessible.

Scheduling scan times for known and newly discovered malware is easier with the set-and-forget setting. This can be done for the regular anti-malware scanner by entering the Advanced Settings menu.

Daily scans are automatically enabled; if a user wants to refine the settings so that the scans do not run during video games or other PC activities, this can be done as well.

The scans take anywhere between 3-4 minutes which is a stark contrast to the industry average of 45 minutes.

Once a scan is complete, Webroot conducts another scan just to make sure that everything is clean.

So, this might seem like a lot to swallow, but I put it all to the test.

I conduct all the tests on the same dedicated standalone PC to ensure the results of all the other antivirus providers can be compared to one another.

The PC has a clean Windows 10 64-bit installation with all available Windows updates installed.

The PC hardware has 4GB RAM, and is an Intel Core i7 CPU 3.20 GHz.

Webroot's full scan in process

Full scan in process on Webroot

The duration of the full scan: 1:36 minutes. Extremely quick!

The second full scan took 1:03 minutes.

Duration of full scan on Webroot

Full scan duration on Webroot

Independent Test Scores by AV-Test

Webroot works differently to the other antivirus providers in that in no longer lends itself to testing by AV-Test and other third-party testing labs.

This is unfortunate as it makes it hard to compare the performance of this antivirus vendor; however, we run our own tests hands-on performance tests anyway.

Have a look at our antivirus comparison page to check out the results for the other antivirus providers according to AV-Test and our own tests. Hands-On Performance Test

Our professional team always puts the products to the test based on our own hands-on performance tests just to be sure.

I ran a hands-on test on the same computer system mentioned under the Antivirus Scan section.

The objective is to clue in on 3 parameters:

  1. CPU Usage
  2. Memory Usage
  3. Hard disk (read/write) usage

These parameters are checked during 3 significant moments:

  1. A clean windows installation without any software.
  2. A full antivirus installation following software updates and a computer reboot.
  3. During a full scan process of the antivirus.

The results that Webroot achieved are as follows in graphic presentations:

Webroot's System Performance Impact

System performance impact by Webroot

Idle - Windows 10 without Webroot

Windows 10 without Webroot - Idle

Webroot idle installation CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by an idle Webroot installation

Webroot during a full scan - CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by Webroot during a full scan

The score for Webroot after I ran the hands-on performance test is therefore 98.5%.

Malware Blocking

Webroot has cloud-based servers that maintain a huge database of known programs, both good and bad.

The cloud-based database is instead of a local PC database which ensures that users do not experience all the headaches that come with keeping this database up-to-date. The local Webroot server installation queries the database to compare a detected program.

If the program is legitimate, Webroot will let it be; if there is a known threat, Webroot will clean up the traces of it.

It gets interesting when it comes to unknown threats:

Webroot will send a detailed telemetry to HQ to analyze when it encounters an unknown program. All the actions of the suspicious files get monitored and journaled by HQ for possible rollback.

However, some events cannot be rolled back, such as transmitted data to an outside source. Webroot will not let an unknown program perform such an action!

The issue is that some valid unknown programs will not be fully functional for some time, but in saying that, valid programs usually don't spend time in monitoring limbo.

There are cases in which Webroot makes a correlation between an existing threat and an unknown app which results in real-time protection.

Once the unknown program has been analyzed, the server will notify the local Webroot antivirus servers. If the program is legitimate, the probation period will come to an end; if it's a virus, Webroot terminates the program and reverses all of its actions so that when another user happens upon the same threat, Webroot can clamp down on it with immediate effect.

You are probably wondering what happens if the user loses Internet connectivity and cannot contact the cloud server.

When this occurs, all trusted programs remain as is, and all the programs that haven't yet launched on the PC get treated as if they are unknown. When connection is restored, Webroot runs a check on the server to release programs that are trusted and rolls back on malicious ones. 

All this means is that with no Internet connection, user are less likely to encounter new malware.

Lastly, just as Webroot tracks threats in the form of files and programs, it also makes a note of dangerous websites. Its browser extension supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome to keep users safe from surfing malicious websites by accident.

Excellent Anti-Phishing

Phishing sites usually get detected and blacklisted pretty quickly; however, there is the window period - that of the site's appearance and demise - during which the cyber criminals victimize as many users as possible.

Webroot doesn't just rely on blacklisting tools; it rather performs real-time analysis to find the brand-new perpetrators.

You can see the real-time tool unfold before eyes: the page starts to load only to be replaced by another page with the warning "Phishing attack ahead."

Excellent Anti-phishing - Phishing Attack Ahead

Phishing Attack Ahead - Excellent Anti-phishing

Ransomware Detection & Protection

Webroot can recover files that have been encrypted by ransomware with its journaling and rollback feature.

The company invested a lot of energy into the development of a technology that can recover from just about any ransomware attack.

What the technology does is that it monitors the behavior of a file and then the process list blocks the program manually. Webroot then terminates the encrypting ransomware and a scan then restores the encrypted files.

Unique Firewall

Unique firewall - Webroot

Webroot's unique firewall

Webroot's firewall works slightly differently to the conventional kind of firewall technology.

This firewall doesn't try to put a user's system ports in stealth mode or to fight off network-based exploits; rather, it leaves that task to the built-in Windows firewall. You just need to ensure that the latter is turned on!

Webroot's firewall kicks in when an active infection is detected which causes the main window to turn red. The firewall then clamps down on all the network traffic by unknown programs, but it does not keep users from performing normal activities, such as web browsing.

The firewall's settings can be tweaked in Advanced Settings if you would like the tool to send a pop up warning when an untrustworthy program tries to gain Internet access. You can even take it a step further by blocking all suspicious programs from the get-go.

You might not need to do any of the above if your operating system has its own firewall, like Windows 7 and 8 do.

Identity Protection

Identity protection works stealthily in the background to stop typical malware attacks, to protect usernames, account numbers, and security codes from theft, and prevents keylogging and browser process manifestations.

Webroot's Identity Protection tool protects specific applications that a user chooses to protect, with some browsers on the protected list by default, such as Internet Explorer.

This tool contains two components:

  1. Identity Shield
  2. Phishing Shield

The Identity Shield blocks a cyber criminal's ability to steal screenshots or keylogs. It also blocks malicious software from accessing sensitive information, such as login credentials that are stored in a browser.

The Phishing shield identifies websites that ask for a user's personal credentials.

Note: This tool is compatible with Windows 10, and for the best performance users need to update to the most recent version of Windows 10.

Additional Features of Webroot

SafeStart Sandbox

This feature is only for those trained antivirus researchers who want want to launch a suspicious program.

The Sandbox lets the user create specified limitations to define the environment in which to test the suspect program.

Real-Time Shield

This tool scans the PC files as soon as a user accesses them in order to provide the real-time protection for unknown threats that I elaborated on in the Malware Detection section. 

Web Shield

Web Shields checks the URLs that a user visits against Webroot's database of malicious URLs.

Filtering Extension

Webroot's Filtering Extension is a browser add-on which works for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome for PC and Safari for Mac.

Its job is to look at the websites a user visits and to warn against any detected malicious sites.

This add-on can be downloaded separately.

Webroot for Android

Enjoy secure web browsing, locate a lost or stolen device, enable device security, and block mobile threats with Webroot's Mobile Security for Android phones and tablets.

There is a choice of the free SecureAnywhere Mobile security or the paid product SecureAnywhere Mobile Premier.

Webroot for Mac

The Mac version works much like the SecureAnywhere Antivirus package minus the journaling and rollback technique used against malware threats.

Webroot has said that it hasn't seen a need to add it to the Mac version, but that it can be added if there is a necessity in the future.

Webroot for iOS

Protect your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with secure web browsing, safe search tools, tabbed browsing, and technology that blocks mobile threats.

Ease of Use - Not Too Easy

The user interface is counter-intuitive and busy compared to the streamlined and clean designs of the best antivirus providers.

There is too much going on on the main panel:

Busy and counter-intuitive user interface

Counter-intuitive and busy user interface

The green main window has a lighter rectangular panel that features all the elements related to the PC's anti-malware protection, such as the "Scan My Computer" button and a short column which lists the computer statistics.

The statistics include how long the most recent anti-malware scan took.

Even if you don't press the scan button, Webroot will run a full scan during the installation process and run scheduled scans every day.

Another conspicuous panel presents the Webroot Community Forum along with a button to join in on the forum. There is also a button for the Webroot Community Web page where you can post questions and learn more about the products.

The Utilities section displays logs of anti-malware scans and other security-related actions that the antivirus has performed.

For access to the other important features like PC Security, Backup & Sync, Identity Protection, Utilities, Password Manager, Community/Support, and My Account, there is another panel on the right.

Note: For those who use the basic product, many of aforementioned feature buttons do not work and lead to advertisements to push users to buy the higher-tiered products.

System Requirements

Webroot supports all Windows PC platforms as in Windows XP, Vista, and 7-10, both 32 and 64 bit; however, it operates best on the latest version of Windows 10.

An Intel Pentium or other compatible processor will do with 128 MB RAM (minimum) and 10 MB of free disk space.

Mac users need the Mac OS 10.7 Lion or 10.8 Mountain Lion with 128 MB of RAM and 10 MB of free hard disk space.

Android users will require version 4.0 or higher, and Android compatible device with 10 MB of free storage space.

iOS users need version 8.0 or later with 20 MB of free storage space.

Customer Support

Webroot provides support to its customers via 4 support channels, namely: Email support, Telephonic support, FAQs, and Tutorials.

Support hours are Mon-Fri 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM (MST).

Certifications and Awards

Webroot has been awarded certificates and awards by renowned antivirus testing labs and publications such as AV-Test in 2015, AV-Comparatives, Gartner, PC Magazine, and MRG Effitas.

Value for Money

Webroot emphasizes its firewall and web-based security features; however, these elements are not much different from what the competing antivirus vendors offer.

Moreover, the basic package - Webroot SecureAnywhere - has basically no extra-added security tools that other vendors offer in their packages on the same antivirus tier.

In saying that, Webroot stands out for its super quick scans and low resource impact along with the ransomware detection and protection capabilities.

It is up to you to decide if Webroot fits the bill for your antivirus and Internet security needs.

My Conclusion

  • Very fast scans
  • Leverages cloud technologies
  • Scored perfect in our in-house tests
  • Limited extra features
  • Muddled user-interface
  • No firewall rules customization
  • Few independent lab tests available

Overall, Webroot offers strong protection with super quick scans and low resource impact.

I must note that packages of other antivirus providers offer much more for certain Internet security concerns. Webroot, for example, does not offer a bootable rescue CD.

Other downfalls of Webroot is the fact that the interface isn't intuitive and streamlined, and that AV-Test and other reputable third party testing labs do not evaluate Webroot anymore.


If you are looking for a very basic but formidable antivirus protection product, then Webroot is the place to look. The products are pretty standard with very limited additional features; however, what makes Webroot stand out is its super quick scans and low resource impact with an extremely strong antivirus engine and anti-phishing protection.

Date published:March 25, 2018
8.9 / 10 stars


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