When yoursays it smacked down a Trojan or blocked an exploit attack, do you trust that all is well? Or do you call your security-savvy buddy to have a look, make sure it didn’t miss anything? With Comodo Internet Security Complete 10, that second opinion is built in. Just connect to the included GeekBuddy tech support system to deal with any problems related to the program. You also get an impressive warranty, 50GB of hosted online backup, and a simple VPN. I had a tough time getting the VPN and backup system working, though, even with GeekBuddy help, and the core antivirus component has some issues.
It’s not so easy to compare Comodo to other suites. At $89.99 per year for three licenses, it costs $10 more than and PC Matic. However, its 37 percent protection rate in my malicious download blocking test was dismal, especially considering that Norton managed 98 percent protection. Comodo includes a component that should block malware-hosting URLs and phishing URLs, but it it isn’t working as I write this review. I’ll test these features as they become available and update this review.
The firewall component does everything it should, blocking attacks from outside and controlling how programs access the Internet. I thought I found a way to disable it programmatically, but on reboot it fixed itself.
Comodo automatically runs suspect programs in its sandbox, meaning they can’t make any permanent changes to the system. You can run any program in the sandbox, or switch to a separate Virtual Desktop.
You can also switch to a separate desktop for Secure Shopping, but the purpose is different. The sandbox’s virtual desktop exists to run programs that might be trouble, while the Secure Shopping desktop safeguard your online transactions, isolating them from keyloggers, spy programs, and man-in-the-middle attacks. It offers a secure connection when it detects that you’re about to log into a known shopping site, but the list of known shopping sites is tiny: just four.
The Chromium-based Comodo Dragon browser comes with a useful collection of bonus add-ins, including a best-price finder, a media downloader, and more. A component called Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) aims to block suspicious program actions. In testing, it flagged more good programs than bad ones. A handful of more advanced bonus features round out the collection.
In the past, I have treated Comodo Internet Security Premium as a feature-limited suite, consisting of antivirus, firewall, and bonus features. But given that many nominally standalone antivirus products now include firewall, antispam, and other suite-level features, I moved Comodo into the free antivirus category. However, before I made that decision, I ran it through my usual performance tests.
The results were quite dreadful, enough so that I reimaged the physical test system, reran my baseline tests, and repeated my testing of Comodo. The results didn’t improve. I considered running the test yet again with Comodo Internet Security Complete, but given that the less feature-rich free product is already at the bottom of the list, I didn’t bother.
With Comodo installed, the time to boot the system went up by 165 percent, a vastly greater slowdown than any current product. The average impact for this test is 18 percent, with some products exhibiting no slowdown at all. The second highest boot-time impact was 64 percent. Comodo didn’t have such a pronounced effect on my file manipulation tests, fortunately. It slowed my move/copy script by 22 percent, and didn’t have any effect on my zip/unzip test. But that massive hit to boot time is unprecedented among modern security suites. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from Webroot, which had no measurable impact on any of my three tests.
After you’ve gotten Comodo Internet Security Complete installed and running, it will remind you to activate your warranty. You can also click a link at the bottom right corner to perform this activation. Don’t neglect this step; Comodo’s warranty is one of the best I’ve seen.
Of course, you must use the product correctly to merit warranty service. The activation wizard walks you through the steps. You must keep the product’s security components turned on and configured correctly. The easiest way to do that is to just retain the defaults. You must correctly enable logging. And you must run a full scan. Finishing that scan activates the warranty.
Comodo guarantees that your computer won’t get infected with malware, but that doesn’t mean that the program alone handles every zero-day problem. If something gets past the antivirus, you contact GeekBuddy and give the technicians a free hand to try fixing things remotely. Norton’s Virus Protection Promise and the guarantee you get withfor better performance.
I had several occasions to use GeekBuddy support, and I found the agents to be helpful and knowledgeable, for the most part. I never encountered a significant wait for an agent.
In addition to handling live chat and remote remediation, the GeekBuddy app includes a tool to scan your PC for problems and a separate diagnostic report. Note, though, that cleanup of things like junk files and Registry problems doesn’t fall under what’s covered with the suite.
When I ran the diagnostic report, it stated “Your computer is not protected against malware.” That was strange enough that I clicked the button to fix the problem. A GeekBuddy agent came online and cleared whatever was producing that erroneous message. He also went ahead and fixed several other problems in the report, things like browser issues and Registry errors, even though technically he didn’t have to.
With this release, Comodo enlisted partnerjob options are clear and simple. The default is to back up the entire machine to cloud storage. That’s straightforward, but there’s a good chance the contents of all drives on your machine will overrun the 50GB of hosted online storage, forcing you to pay for additional storage space. You can trim the size of the backup job by choosing just specific drives, or specific files and folders.
If you choose to back up files and folders, you can either choose them directly or select files for backup using policy rules. I liked the sound of the latter, but in practice it involved choosing from a list of items such as %ALLUSERPROFILE% and [All Profiles Folder]. Most users will prefer selecting folders directly. For testing, I chose my Windows account folder below C:Users, thereby pulling in such things as Documents, Pictures, and Music.
The default destination for your backups is cloud storage, but you’re also free to choose a local or network drive to hold your backups. There isn’t an option to use optical media for backup.
By default, backups run at 11 p.m. every weeknight. You’re free to set your own monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly schedule, or turn of scheduling entirely. You can also set Comodo to encrypt your backup. It defaults to using government-approvedencryption. I can’t think of any reason to choose the AES-192 or AES-128 algorithms, which are less secure.
I configured and launched a backup with no trouble. A small, circular progress meter let me keep tabs on the process.
To recover files from a backup set, you start by choosing some or all of the files. You can then recover files directly to their original locations, or download a ZIP file containing the backup’s contents. Other options include recovering a backup of one machine to a different machine, or creating bootable media to recover a backup from a machine that won’t boot.
The new Acronis-based backup system is easier to use than Comodo’s previous combination of local Comodo Backup and online cCloud. That system relied on a daunting collection of configuration options that surely confused some users. Once I got past the initial connection problem, I found the new system to be a smooth and pleasant experience.
When you’re connecting to the Internet over a Wi-Fi network you don’t control, there’s always the chance some malefactor might intercept your online interactions. Using a VPN like Comodo’s TrustConnect, you can foil any attempts at interception. Do note that with Comodo’s VPN you’re limited to 10GB of VPN traffic per month. My colleague Max Eddy, who has reviewed plenty of, tells me that any kind of bandwidth limit is very uncommon, except in free VPNs.
I didn’t see TrustConnect anywhere, so I asked a GeekBuddy for help. He explained that TrustConnect is a separate installation, and proceeded to remotely install it for me.
When I launched it, I got an error message saying, “Comodo TrustConnect must be run under Administrator privileges.” That’s something I know how to do, but a less-savvy user might have to go back for more help from GeekBuddy. Once I did run it and log in, it appeared as a simple icon in the notification area.
When I clicked Connect, nothing visibly happened, but then, a VPN’s work isn’t visible. However, I determined that it did not actually connect, and the logs verified that problem. So, I got back in touch with GeekBuddy. The support agent told me that this failure to connect was a known issue, and that developers were working on the problem. This information proved to be incorrect, as I’ll explain.
Note, too, that GeekBuddy can only help you with a problem if you know you have a problem. The average user would have clicked Connect and just assumed everything was fine.
I pursued this problem with one of my contacts at Comodo, and learned that I was coming at TrustConnect in completely the wrong way. By default, the VPN kicks in when Comodo detects you’re on an unsecured wireless network. You can also configure it to activate any time you’re on a public network. You do have to log in the first time you use it, but after that, its fully automatic. There are no settings. If you want to see how much of your 10GB allotment you’ve used, you log in to your Comodo account online.
Where did that separate installation come from? My company contact explained that it’s an alternate way to access TrustConnect, but it’s never installed except by a GeekBuddy technician. He couldn’t tell me why it didn’t work, or why the technician incorrectly told me that the TrustConnect network wasn’t working.
Comodo Internet Security Complete 10 offers a better warranty than the competition, but you’ll probably never need it. GeekBuddy technicians can log in to your PC to fix any problems with the program, but in testing one couldn’t fix the problem and another gave me misinformation. Automatic VPN protection for insecure connections is great, but it’s limited to 10GB of traffic per month. Comodo makes 50GB of hosted online storage available for your backups, but I had a rough time getting the system working. The antivirus aced one test, but utterly failed others. For every positive factor, there’s a big “but.”
In past years, I’ve given Comodo a four-star rating, based in large part on the availability of GeekBuddy assistance. Based on my experience, I can’t do that this time around. I’m sure GeekBuddy does help many users, however, so I’m not going below three stars.
If you want a security suite that includes hosted online storage for backups, look at Symantec Norton Security Premium or Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete. Editors’ Choice security suite Kaspersky Internet Security has VPN built in. Bitdefender Internet Security, also an Editors’ Choice, boasts a wealth of features including password management and file encryption. None of the products I’ve mentioned gave me anything like the headache I got trying to evaluate Comodo.
Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product’s overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.
Parental Control: n/a