More and more security suites are offering added extras to try and pull one over rivals that decide to stick with antivirus and firewall oriented components and Webroot is the latest to throw a bunch of extras into the mix.

Accompanying system security are backup tools that include 2GB of free online storage and cleanup utilities that cover all of the essential areas of your computer, including web browsers, third party applications and the operating system. These tools, along with traditional security, are split up into manageable chunks on the main interface with a home page that shows the status of each component and flags any areas of potential concern.

Once properly configured through the appropriate menus the main features are all accessible from here where you can run sweeps, backups and cleanups with a single click. There’s also a gaming mode, access to online updates and a list of alerts containing recommendations for improving the efficiency of the software, such as creating a scan schedule.

Delving deeper into each component reveals an impressive degree of control over exactly what areas of your computer are targeted. “Sweeps”, which is Webroot’s way of saying “Scans” can be custom-controlled and scheduled through a series of straightforward forms and the software also includes a wide-range of shields to protect your computer against incoming threats. These can again be configured to a very specific degree including control over startup programs, emails, network activity, web browsers and the operating system. Advanced users may well appreciate this degree of flexibility but beginners will rarely have to venture too deep into the settings as we can’t think of many reasons why a lot of these would need to be adjusted.

Thankfully this impressive degree of control is backed up by impressive operation. We were particularly pleased by the efficiency of Webroot’s scanning and blocking tools in diagnosing and removing threats and preventing infection, which is reflected by certification from independent bodies such as Virus Bulletin's VB100, ISCA and West Coast labs.

Sadly the same cannot be said of the firewall. Not only does this appear to be particularly ineffective at actually safeguarding your machine against intrusion, there’s also very little control over application access and features such as port forwarding and blocking. We were actually quite surprised that Webroot thought it could get away with such a poor degree of control here after offering such promise through its shields and scans, to the extent that we’d recommend most users who purchase the software use the Windows firewall or a third-party alternative instead, which really defeats the point.

This is a bit of a killer blow for Webroot and when you throw in the lack of anti-spam and parental controls, two areas that are becoming commonplace among rival suites, it becomes very difficult to recommend it in today’s competitive market.

Price when reviewed:
£39.95 (3 PCs, one year)

Webroot’s shields and scans are effective enough, as is the degree of control available over each component and the added extras such as the backup and cleanup. Despite the fact that it offers all of this at a very reasonable price it lacks in some key areas, the most damning of which is the underwhelming firewall. This is an essential component that really cannot be neglected in the light of a range of very capable rivals and is a killer blow in terms of Webroot making any serious impact in this market.