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ADP TotalSource payroll services review
6:01 pm | January 19, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

ADP is a large multinational company offering a range of professional service software to businesses across the world. The ADP TotalSource review software we're looking at here is specifically designed to streamline workplace processes, covering areas including HR, employee benefits, payroll, recruiting and performance benchmarks.

Selecting the best payroll software for your situation is vital to ensure you’re complying with legal and regulatory requirements and paying your employees the correct amount. In this ADP TotalSource payroll review, we take a closer look at the company’s payroll software to help you decide whether it’s the right option for your needs.

ADP TotalSource review: Plans and pricing

Unfortunately, ADP doesn’t openly advertise the prices of its payroll software. This means that you will have to reach out to the team for a custom quote. 

However, it does provide information about the different subscription options. There are four plans designed for small businesses with between one and 49 employees and four plans for larger companies. 

The small-business plans start with Essential Payroll, which includes basic tools to streamline the payroll process. Upgrading to the Enhanced Payroll plan adds background checks, state unemployment insurance and more. 

The Complete Payroll and HR Plus package comes with all payroll tools, plus basic HR tools, including an integrated HelpDesk, training and toolkits along with other useful functions. Finally, an HR Pro subscription adds even more advanced HR tools, including employer and employee training and sexual harassment prevention training. 

On top of this, all small-business plans come with three months for free if you meet certain criteria. 

Larger businesses can access ADP payroll software through one of the four ADP Workforce Now packages, or through the ADP TotalSource program. Once again, though, prices for these aren’t openly advertised, which means that you will have to contact the sales team for a custom quote.

ADP TotalSource review

There are four small-business plans available (Image credit: ADP TotalSource)


If you decide to use ADP TotalSource or any of ADP’s other payroll solutions, you will benefit from a range of advanced features. 

ADP’s payroll software includes powerful tax tracking and processing features that streamline the entire process. When an employee’s details are entered into the system, the appropriate amount of tax will be automatically calculated. 

ADP also provides powerful time and attendance tracking features through its mobile apps. Let employees record their work hours, access payslips, and more from the comfort of their mobile device. 

Finally, the ADP payroll platform provides regular updates when state and/or federal regulations change. Pay attention to these to keep on top of your legal requirements. 

ADP TotalSource review

ADP TotalSource payroll is backed by a suite of advanced features (Image credit: ADP TotalSource )

Interface and in use

We tested the ADP TotalSource user interface briefly, and we were very impressed with both its useability and its power. At the simplest level, it allows you to monitor, preview, and approve employee payroll inputs. You can connect bank accounts or other payment methods for automatic payments, view any of a range of custom reports, and add or remove employees as required. 

On top of this, the employee mobile app is great. It enables workers to sign in and sign out as required, keeping an accurate record of hours worked. It also provides information about payment details, benefits, retirement income, and more.

ADP TotalSource review

The ADP user interface provides a neat overview of payroll statistics and data (Image credit: ADP TotalSource)


ADP provides a range of different support and customer service options, although live support does appear to be a little limited. Automatic phone support and a virtual chatbot are available via the company’s main website, and other live support options may be available through your local service center. 

There are also numerous self-help resources and how-to guides available through the help center. These are separated into employee and client administrator sections, and there’s even a neat search bar to help you find the exact resources required. 

ADP TotalSource review

ADP offers a range of customer service options and self-help resources (Image credit: ADP TotalSource)


Since ADP’s payroll software deals with very sensitive information, the company naturally uses strong security measures to minimize the risk of hacks or data breaches. In fact, it has an entire security division dedicated to maintaining security and identifying potential breaches before they occur. 

On top of this, ADP has top security certifications from a range of certifying bodies around the world. It uses multiple layers of advanced security to ensure problems don’t get out of hand, and its fraud prevention tools are among the best we’ve seen. 

ADP TotalSource review

ADP’s software is backed by powerful security integrations (Image credit: ADP TotalSource)

The competition

ADP TotalSource comes with extremely powerful, industry-leading payroll features, but there are still plenty of alternatives that we’d recommend checking out. 

Gusto is a powerful, US-based payroll program that incorporates a range of features, such as benefit management, time tracking, compliance, and tax management. It’s quite an affordable option, with prices starting from $19 plus $6 per employee per month. 

Another great option is QuickBooks, which is designed with a focus on versatility and ease of use. It’s available across mobile and desktop devices, enables you to generate automatic payslips and reports, and more. It’s available from $13.50 plus $4 per employee per month. 

Final verdict

ADP TotalSource is a great option for those looking for powerful payroll software combined with other HR and employee management tools. Reports suggest that it’s slightly expensive for smaller businesses, but its advanced features mean that it still provides great value for the money. 

What’s more, ADP payroll is backed by great desktop and mobile interfaces, a range of advanced features, and various support services. All things considered, we’d recommend reaching out to the sales team if you’d like to find out more about this program and how it could work for your company. 

McAfee antivirus solutions review
8:01 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off
Mcafee antivirus review - Please note

This is our all-in-one roundup reviewing all McAfee+ security solutions for 2023. On this page, you’ll find

(a) a full evaluation of McAfee+ Premium, its tools included for both individuals and families, recent test findings, and identity theft features,

(b) McAfee+ Advanced, for both individuals and families,

(c) the top-end package McAfee+ Ultimate.

You can jump to the reviews of those individual products by clicking on the links in the bar on the left-hand side of the page.

McAfee has recently left its signature antivirus software behind and has replaced it with a stronger offering that focuses a lot on privacy and identity protections. The interface still says "Total Protection" but McAfee+ programs build on the already impressive malware protections we've come to expect from this leading antivirus solution.

McAfee+ has both individual and family plans available. The biggest difference, between these, is a) the inclusion of parental controls, and b) all identity theft tools included within the individual plan extend to two adults and four children within your household.

It may feel like there aren't any big differences between the three McAfee+ solutions, but there are definite perks are each level. We'll guide you through the features and tools included with each one, give you some in-depth information on its virtual private network (VPN), and explain in detail the identity protections you get with each subscription.

McAfee Total Portection dashboard

(Image credit: McAfee)

Plans and pricing

All three McAfee+ subscriptions cover unlimited devices, and it works on them all, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even Linux. This means everyone in your family can be protected against malware with a single subscription. All packages include a firewall, password manager, file shredder, and VPN access. There are differences when it comes to identity theft protection and the level some tools work.

McAfee+ Premium starts are $49.99/year, or $62.99/year for its family plan. This includes online account and personal data clean-up scans, but no help in removing the data. This subscription also includes identity theft monitoring. The family plan monitors two adults' and four children's identities, plus gives you access to McAfee's parental controls.

Moving up to McAfee+ Advanced, you get everything included with Premium, plus identity theft restoration. This helps you recover your identity in the case of ID theft. It will also monitor your credit history through a single bureau. Advanced starts at $79.99/year, or $107.99/year for the family plan. The family plan includes identity theft monitoring and ID recovery for two adults and four children, plus credit monitoring for both adults.

Finally, McAfee+ Ultimate has full service for online account and personal cleanup. It has a credit lock to prevent anyone from freely requesting your credit history, and credit monitoring with all three major credit bureaus. This service costs $179.99/year for a single individual and $224.99/year for the family plan.

If you choose to stick with McAfee after your first subscription package runs out, the overall cost to continue with the level of protection you're used to will increase substantially.

Compare McAfee subcriptions

McAfee+ Premium

McAfee Total Protection insalled

(Image credit: McAfee)

McAfee+ Premium has a lot of steps to download and install it properly. Thankfully the process is straightforward with lots of prompts to help you through the entire process. If you get stuck, you can read our step-by-step guide on how to install McAfee.

Once installed, McAfee will run a deep scan for you and check everything for any possible threats already on your device. Found threats, or anything remotely suspicious, will be placed in the quarantine folder.

The McAfee dashboard is a little busy with lots of information and links, but the important tools you need can be found by clicking the various icons on the left side of the view window.


There was a time when we wouldn’t have recommended McAfee for malware protection. Over the last decade, it has really focused on being a top performer and consistently scores high marks for protection from independent test labs. Our own in-house tests show McAfee is good at quickly identifying malware and stopping it before it can infect your devices.

In the latest, both AV-Comparatives and AV-Test gave McAfee perfect marks for malware detection and protection. This includes correctly identifying and stopping new threats that haven’t been officially identified or added to malware databases. McAfee uses learning technology to understand the unique behaviors of malware and quickly recognize these patterns in new threats.

AV-Comparatives did see that McAfee has trouble leaving legitimate files alone. It recorded 13 false positives, meaning 13 good files were tagged by McAfee as malware.

McAfee antivirus Alert

(Image credit: McAfee)

We can't compete with the time and resources the big labs put into their work, but what we can do is verify and add to their findings with more tests of our own.

We created our own test files to see how well McAfee works in real-life scenarios. It didn't stop our test threats from downloading, but it did round them up once they attempted to embed themselves into our system. We would prefer an antivirus program to stop malware sooner, but since McAfee stop malware attacks we still credit it with good protection.

It didn't do as well with our ransomware testing. We created a program to simulate a ransomware attack and watched how McAfee reacted to it. The "threat" was able to encrypt some of our files and McAfee never tagged it as a threat.

AV-Comparatives malware test results for McAfee June 2023

This is only a single file and nowhere near the level of testing seen at independent labs. We can't fault McAfee entirely since there isn't a way to test with real ransomware. But other antivirus software we tested, like Bitdefender, was able to spot it, stop it, and even restore some of the encrypted files. In short, we would have liked to see McAfee perform better in our protection tests.

McAfee scored much better for URL filtering. We collected some brand-new malicious links from MRG Effitas and found it blocked 74%, around twice the amount we saw from Windows SmartScreen alone. (Don't be concerned that this was “only” 74%; some of these links were only hours old, so it's no surprise many were unblocked. That doesn't mean we were vulnerable, though, as McAfee may have been able to detect any malware on download, execution, or via its behavior.)


Scan Types

(Image credit: McAfee)

When we talk about performance, the first thing we look at is how easy the program is to use. There's a lot of text and links on the dashboard that can be confusing if you're not familiar with how an antivirus program works. However, if you click on the various icons on the left side of the view screen you'll find all the tools you need.

Something that is common with antivirus software, and McAfee is no different, is there will be tools listed that you won't be able to use based on the subscription level you choose. For example, some of the identity theft tools, like Credit Lock, will be there, but you can't use them unless you subscribe to the McAfee+ Ultimate package.

Mobile apps are scaled down, so they are easier to navigate. In fact, McAfee's mobile apps are so simple and protect so well, we prefer to use them on our devices. We were given a free trial with a new phone subscription through our cellphone provider. Even after the trial was over, we kept McAfee on our phones because it kept our devices clear of threats and hasn't interfered with phone speeds or usage. Both Android and iOS phones run McAfee and neither has any issues.

With mobile antivirus, you get browser protections, including web blocking of dangerous sites, and full access to McAfee's identity theft protections depending on the subscription level you pay for.


The intelligent firewall uses smart features to give added security to your network. It looks for threats sneaking into your device through your internet connection, which is especially important when connected to public hotspots that aren’t very secure. The firewall also keeps an eye on devices connected to the same network as your computer, like mobile and smart devices. Sometimes these have malware that travels through a network connection and infects other devices also on the network. McAfee’s firewall stops these threats from getting to your protected devices.

McAfee antivirus Firewall settings

(Image credit: McAfee)

The True Key Password Manager allows for creating and syncing passwords across devices. It's strong on multifactor authentication — email, fingerprint, a second device, Windows Hello, and more — but not so good in other areas, with no general form-filling abilities and no secure password sharing.

McAfee+ Premium comes with its Personal Data Cleanup and online account cleanup. Both of these help you scan the web for your stored information so it can be removed. The first looks at people search pages, like People Finder. McAfee will let you know when your information has been found there, but you will have to reach out to each site on your own to ask for the info to be taken down.

The online account cleanup looks for old accounts you may have forgotten you’ve opened online. For example, you may have an old Hotmail account or a MySpace account that is still saving your information. McAfee helps you find these so you can delete your information and permanently shut down the account.


VPN access is included with all McAfee+ subscriptions. The virtual private network shields your online identity by encryption your data so it can't be read if it's intercepted. Your information is also routed through a secured server and reassigned an IP address. Both IP reassigning and encryptions make it impossible for your online browsing history to be logged, stored, tracked, or traced back to you.

The VPN app is integrated with the McAfee interface, and while it's ugly and basic, it covers some core essentials. There's an On/ Off switch that connects you to the nearest server by default; you can choose from 22 other countries (not cities) from a list; settings enable connecting manually, or it can connect automatically when you connect via wifi or wired networks.

VPN Locations

(Image credit: McAfee)

There are no other technical details or options, but looking under the hood we found our connection used OpenVPN with industry-strength AES-256-GCM encryption. 

We didn't notice any other features. In particular, there's no kill switch to protect you if the VPN drops. When we forcibly closed our VPN, our internet connection remained active and unprotected and there was no attempt to reconnect. McAfee did at least display a 'couldn't connect' warning, which would alert us to the problem in a real-world situation.

There's nothing outstanding about the rest of the service, either; speeds are average at best, and unblocking performance is poor. Safe Connect works in a very basic way, and that's enough to make it a valuable addition to the suite, but it's not a match for buying directly from a VPN vendor. (See our full Safe Connect review for more details.)

If you do decide to take advantage of McAfee's VPN, be aware that there is a caveat if you want unlimited access. McAfee requires you to agree to its auto-renewal in order to use the VPN without any restraints.


(Image credit: McAfee)

Final verdict

McAfee+ Premium has lots of features, but none are outstanding, and they're not always well implemented (i.e., the VPN has almost no features)There's no doubt you get plenty for your money, and the target audience of undemanding consumers might be happy, but you'll find faster, more accurate, and more reliable suites elsewhere.

McAfee+ Advanced

McAfee+ Advanced doesn't all too much more than what you get with Premium. It has the same level of protection, doesn't cause any more slowdown, and requires auto-renewal for unlimited VPN access. It does add a system scan.

The system scan looked for possible vulnerabilities like junk files or remnants of deleted apps that cause your computer to run slower. One big disappointment with this is McAfee only finds the issues. It won't clean them up. For an expensive upgrade, we expect more, es[eciall for a "premium" subscription.

This package does add a few helpful tools to its identity theft protection service.

McAfee Android App

(Image credit: McAfee)

Identity Theft Protection

The first advantage of using McAfee+ Advanced is access to its identity theft restoration service. This takes ID monitoring to the next level and helps you reclaim your identity. Live agents are available to walk you through each part of the process, including notifying credit bureaus, financial institutions, and tax agencies like the IRS. Some of these tasks McAfee can do for you. Others you have to do yourself, but McAfee will help you write the letters, fill out the forms, and provide you with the correct content numbers.

There are very few antivirus software that include this part of identity theft protection. Norton is one that does it, and does it very well. In fact, we'd recommend using Norton's LifeLock servers. But what McAfee has to offer is still impressive and helpful.

Along with identity recovery, McAfee+ Advanced has credit monitoring. It lets you see monthly reports from a single credit reporting bureau, TransUnion and will flag any important changes. For example, you'll be able to see if a company has requested your credit history, if you're behind in your payments, or if someone has opened a new account in your name. This is a helpful tool for keeping on top of your identity.

McAfee Protection Score

(Image credit: McAfee)

Final verdict

When it comes to overall value. McAfee+ Advanced doesn't include much more than Premium. However, it is only $30 more if you're a new user, and does include identity. Whether this is good enough to make you choose McAfee is an open question. It may not be, but then the identity protection service just might win you over.

McAfee+ Ultimate

The jump between Advanced and Ultimate is a lot more impressive than going from Premium to Advanced. McAfee+ Ultimate includes many more identity theft protection and credit monitoring tools.  At this level, both the Personal Data Cleanup and online account cleanup are automatic. McAfee will ensure your information is scrubbed from these sites for you.

However, the price jump is also significant. Where there is only a $30 difference between the lower two tiers, it costs  $100 more to choose Ultimate over Advanced. Let's see if it's worth it.

Password Manager

(Image credit: McAfee)

Identity theft protections

The two biggest addition to its identity theft protection services is additional credit monitoring and credit lock. Credit monitoring expands to include all three credit reporting companies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can choose to have a daily report sent from one of them, but you'll also get a monthly report from them all.

The other important tool, credit lock, lets you quickly lock down your credit so unknown companies or individuals can't get a copy of your credit history without your permission, or you unlock your credit first. This adds an additional line of defense that's hard for identity thieves to break through.

The only other antivirus security suite that includes this level of protection is Norton. When compared to Norton, McAfee+ Ultimate is cheaper by at least $120. However, Norton partners with LifeLock, the leading identity theft protection company that has a very long history of success in both monitoring and recovering identities. Whether or not McAfee+ really is the better deal is up to you. We haven't seen anything to give us questions about McAfee's ability to secure your identity.

McAfee+ Family

McAfee+ subscriptions all give you protection on unlimited devices, so there isn't an increase in user licenses when you choose its family plan. However, there are important inclusions that are focused on keeping you and your kids safe.

First, all the identity theft protections included at each level are also included with the family plan for that tier. Rather than monitoring a single individual, McAfee's family plans include identity protections for two adults and four children in the same family. This means if you're kids' social security numbers, birthdates, or other personal information is found on the web. McAfee will let you know quickly so you can protect them from identity theft and future credit issues.

Credit monitoring and credit lock don't cover children, but you do get coverage for two adults so both you and your spouse will be protected.

The biggest inclusion in McAfee's family plans is Safe Family, its parental controls.

McAfee antivirus Safe Kids 1

(Image credit: McAfee)

With these controls, you're able to block websites by content type, restrict access to specific apps, or limit device access to particular times of the day.

The package is easy to configure, too. It uses default settings based on the age of your child, getting you off to a quick start, then you can tweak them further to suit your needs.

Furthermore, it's flexible. You can add multiple schedules to decide exactly when your kids can and can't use their devices. If the content filter doesn't quite suit your needs, you're able to allow or block your chosen websites. And, unusually, Safe Family recognizes that absolute rules don't always work. If your kids need more screen time or want to access a specific site, a Requests messaging system allows them to ask you, and – if you approve – they can benefit right away.

McAfee Safe Family

(Image credit: Future)

Safe Family does a good job of keeping you up to date on what your kids are doing. As soon as it's set up, you're able to view the apps and websites they're accessing, along with any attempts to break the rules. You can even check the location of your kids' devices on a map and get alerts when they visit or leave specific areas.

It's far from perfect – we'd like more content filtering categories, for instance, and there's no built-in protection to prevent anyone from uninstalling the Windows edition — but Safe Family tramples all over the parental controls tools in most security suites.

IceDrive review
10:02 am | January 14, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

IceDrive is a cloud storage solution that aims to make cloud storage feel like a physical hard drive with what the company calls “revolutionary” drive-mounting software. With IceDrive, you’ll be able to access your cloud storage just as easily as on your own device’s hard drive, but without taking up any space.

The cloud storage provider is a relative newcomer to the market, founded in 2019. So, we’ll look at how the experience compares to some of the best cloud storage providers in the business across performance, platform availability, pricing, and support. 

IceDrive: Plans and pricing

There is a free account with 10 GB of online space, which matches some of the best free cloud storage providers. You’re limited to 3 GB daily (not monthly) bandwidth, but it doesn’t have client-side encryption.

There are three subscription tiers named  Lite, Pro, and Pro+ offering 150GB, 1TB or 5TB of storage which should be enough to cover most people’s needs. You can’t get Lite on a monthly subscription, unlike Pro ($5 a month) and Pro+ ($18 a month). All are available on an annual plan for $20, $50, and $180 a year. 

You can also get a lifetime plan for a one-off purchase. These are interesting because they’re similar to buying an external hard drive. You’d pay less for a physical device, but in the likely scenario where you need a cloud backup, with the lifetime license, you’d be killing two birds with one stone. Expect to pay $100, $500, or $1000 for one of these, as there are currently huge savings to be had offering around one-third off the usual price. 

If you do choose to pay the full price for one of these lifetime subscriptions, you’ll need to keep it for between five and seven years, depending on the tier, to make your money back.

It’s worth considering other providers like pCloud for lifetime subscriptions, or iCloud and OneDrive, which offer family plans with centralized billing and shared storage support if that’s important to you. 

IceDrive cloud storage showing the interface

(Image credit: IceDrive)

IceDrive: Interface & experience  

The cloud storage service features a clean, easy-to-navigate interface. Even if you’ve never used any form of cloud storage before, understanding how to use IceDrive will take next to no time. Searching for files and transitions between pages happens very quickly, as does uploading documents to your account.

It is also easy to create public links for files and folders or share them with people by entering their email address. Shared content can have passwords and expiry dates, but there is little else in the way of collaboration features.

We found the overall experience to be much slicker using the browser. It looks just as up-to-date as the likes of Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, all of which put a heavy emphasis on user experience. However, the desktop app - in our case, the macOS version - let the experience down somewhat with not as clear a layout.

Windows users also have the option of mounting the virtual drive. This has the same interface as Windows’ file explorer, allowing them to interact with files in the drive in the same way as anything else on their computer.

The mobile app experience mirrors the functionality of the browser-based access and desktop client, sitting somewhere between the two in terms of design and ease of use. The lack of consistency in design and layout depending on how you access IceDrive can present navigational challenges for those who are less familiar with the technology.

IceDrive cloud storage showing file sync options

(Image credit: IceDrive)

IceDrive: Features

One of IceDrive’s best features is the ability to use it like a virtual drive that is attached directly to your computer. In fact, you can mount it like any other drive with a single click from within the client app. When we used the Windows version, appropriately enough IceDrive assigned itself the drive letter 'I'. 

IceDrive uses special software so that all the operations you’d need to perform on files—open, edit, delete, and upload—feel as fast as they would for files on your own hard drive or an attached drive. Intelligent caching of your recently used files means you’ll notice almost no slowdown. The only downside of this feature is that it is Windows-only.

Other operating systems aren’t left out completely, though. IceDrive has a ‘portable’ app which can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s portable because it doesn’t actually need to be installed; just download it, and then you can run it directly from wherever you’ve downloaded it to.

With it, you can upload and download files and folders, stream media, and preview documents and images without needing to download them first. You can edit files on your computer and the portable app will watch them for changes and upload new versions to your account in the cloud.

IceDrive cloud storage showing drive mount capabilities

(Image credit: IceDrive)

There is also a web app that has been designed to work almost identically to the portable app. This means you can access your account from anywhere that has a web browser installed. Apps for iOS and Android provide similar functionality, including the ability to share content and back up your entire device. The web app also supports previewing some files such as images and audio.

Although online collaboration tools and editing are is limited to basic file sharing, when we reached out to IceDrive in April 2022 we were told that it is “not yet possible to edit documents online however [IceDrive’s] development team are working on this,” which suggests that the company is willing to part with some cash in order to keep its services up-to-date and competitive.

The email continued: “File sharing is currently available as well as file request features for [collaboration]. Our development team are working to implement more enhanced collaboration as a priority and will be releasing within the next few weeks and will feature:

  1. Set different access permission for files and folders
  2. Extensive, intelligent discussion system implemented for collaborating on files and projects
  3. Track discussions through the dashboard and get alerted on new comments, and more
  4. Upload and download to shared access folders for true collaboration”

Since May 2022, we noted that Access Control had been introduced for files and folders. While file sharing works well, it's not yet possible to collaborate on documents as you would with Microsoft 365 or Google’s G Suite

The number of file versions saved differs based on your plan, however regardless of subscription these are kept indefinitely. We were told that “this may change” in the future, though, so bear this in mind.

Of particular interest and use is the lack of file size limits. That means even content like large videos can be uploaded and stored in IceDrive. However, the company has said that some browsers can impose limits, so it’s better to use the dedicated software when performing heavy uploads. By comparison, other companies often limit file sizes, presenting limitations that are hard to overcome.

IceDrive support options are a bit limited. The company is based in Wales in the UK, and publicly lists a phone number and Skype ID, but the contact page suggests submitting a support ticket for a faster response.

There is also a help center where you can search for articles, but the few searches we tried didn’t yield too many results.

IceDrive: Support

IceDrive support options are frankly somewhat limited. The company is based in Wales in the UK, and publicly lists a phone number and Skype ID, but the contact page suggests submitting a support ticket for a faster response.

There is also a help center where you can search for articles, but the few searches we tried didn’t yield too many results.

IceDrive: Security

IceDrive is the only cloud storage solution to use the Twofish algorithm, which is recognized as one of the most secure encryption algorithms available. It also features client-side encryption for paid subscribers, so that your data is encrypted on your device before even being transferred to servers. And the service takes a zero-knowledge approach, which means that only you can view and decrypt your data. Note that the separate, encrypted drive within the drive also is only available to paying customers.

Of course, as the software is proprietary we have to take IceDrive at their word that end-to-end encryption and the encrypted drive has been set up and implemented properly for paid customers. One way to reassure privacy-minded users would be to have the encryption algorithms used by the client audited by independent security researchers. Alternatively IceDrive could make their software open source so that the security features can be reviewed by the coding community. Still, few cloud providers do this so we aren't singling IceDrive out for criticism. 

We like the addition of two-factor authentication, which works with an authenticator or a physical key. SMS authentication is available to premium customers but we don't recommend using this, as text messages are far easier to intercept than one-time passwords generated by the best authenticator apps.  

IceDrive cloud storage showing access options

(Image credit: IceDrive)

IceDrive: Alternatives 

IceDrive does many things well, but, we do feel it lacks collaboration features. If those are important to you, some alternatives to consider are Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, which both have more robust collaboration options.

Google Drive comes with 15 GB for free with any Google account. Paid plans range from $2 a month for 100 GB, up to $300 for 30 TB. OneDrive also has a free plan, but with only 5 GB of storage. Its paid plans go from $2 a month for 100 GB, up to $10 a month for 6 TB, which accommodates up to six people (1 TB per person). 

IceDrive : Our tests 

For IceDrive, we ran three core tests measuring sync speed, file recovery and versioning. Our tests were conducted on a Windows 11 virtual machine running the IceDrive desktop client. The VM was connected to the internet via fiber broadband via VPN server, which in our speed tests consistently showed an average upload speed of 70 Mbps  

  • Test 1 - Sync speed

To gauge sync speeds, we copied a folder containing 22 files including MP3s, images, metadata files and a PDF into the application directory. We then measured how quickly the desktop client was able to sync the files to the cloud. 

Our most recent tests showed a huge improvement over our previous tests, which showed upload and download times a little behind competitors. Our 22 files totalling just under 625MB of date took less than 74 seconds to upload. This is slightly faster than big name cloud storage providers like OneDrive.

When we set up the Sync Pairing for our test files we also noticed three options. The default is Two Way, so that any changes either made on the local device or in the cloud will be updated by the app in both locations. You can also choose One Way (PC to cloud or cloud to PC) so changes only go in one direction. 

  • Test 2 - File recovery

In this test we simply deleted the audiobook folder from the application directory, removing it from the device. We then checked to see if the files had been removed from the cloud drive and if it was possible to recover them. 

As we'd chosen to sync files one way from the device to the cloud, for this test we deleted the local synced folder on our device. The client app didn't seem to register this at first and when we opened the IceDrive web interface the folder was still listed there.

However, when we deleted the folder from the web interface. It was moved into the cloud Trash. From there we were able to right click to restore it, generating a ZIP file of the folder for download. The files were recovered intact, but we'd like to have seen the option just to restore the folder to its original location without having to download and extract an archive.

  • Test 3 - Versioning

To test versioning in IceDrive, we copied a Microsoft Word (.docx) file to the cloud application folder. Once it synced, we then deleted all the text except the introduction, then saved and closed. We then tried to restore the document back to its original form, complete with all chapters. 

IceDrive doesn't support syncing individual files so we created a new Sync Pairing with the Documents folder which contained our test Microsoft Word document. Once syncing was complete we removed all text from the document except the introduction, then saved and closed the file. 

However, the IceDrive client didn't register this change to the document, simply saying all files were still up to date. It was only when we quit the client and relaunched that the updated version of the file was synced to the cloud.

When we went to the IceDrive online portal we could then see both the original and modified versions of the document in Version History. We clicked the download icon to save the original to the Downloads folder. Again, it would have been better if the original could simply have been restored from within the app but it opened without issue. 

IceDrive cloud storage showing file versioning options

(Image credit: IceDrive)

IceDrive: Verdict 

IceDrive impresses in a number of areas, including its approach to security, ease of use, and market-leading features like its virtual drive - although it would be better if the virtual drive were available for operating systems beyond Windows.

Its pricing is attractive, with the lifetime license options in particular representing good value. We also like the unlimited file size support, which adds an extra layer of protection for long-term investments, helping you to futureproof your decision. However, support options are limited, as are collaboration features. Despite the promises of adding more features in the future, it’s important to base any purchase off its current offering, as things can change.

If collaboration is important, IceDrive wouldn’t be your best choice. But if you’re more concerned with security, and are looking for a well-designed, easy-to-use cloud storage solution, IceDrive is a great choice.

F-Secure Antivirus solutions review
10:03 am | January 12, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off
Please note

This is our all-in-one roundup reviewing F-Secure's two consumer security solutions for 2023. On this page, you’ll find a breakdown of

(a) F-Secure Internet Security, along with our reviews of the features included and an overview of the testing we conducted and other independent test labs, and 

(b) F-Secure Total Security is the top-end, all-in-one security suite that includes all the features of functions of Internet Security bundled with F-Secure's VPN and Identity Theft services.

Malware is no longer limited to viruses, bots, and ransomware, so the best antivirus software has changed its focus to look closer at privacy and identity theft protection. F-Secure is no exception.

F-Secure has dropped its Anti-Virus program and no longer supports or upgrades its Internet Security software if it was purchased before Feb 14, 2023. You can re-purchase F-Secure Internet Security and take advantage of its new antivirus engine, app layout, and advanced tools. You can also choose F-Secure Total Security, the all-in-one security suite that F-Secure is trying to slowly direct all its users to purchase.

These changes have created some confusion, especially among F-Secure users that have enjoyed the protection and benefits of F-Secure Anti-Virus for so long. Lucky for you we've continued our testing and evaluation of all F-Secure products and can help you learn about the tools included in each, how well it protects, and any issues we've found that you should consider before buying an F-Secure antivirus solution.

Screenshot of the F-Secure Total Security dashboard

(Image credit: F-Secure)

Plans and pricing

F-Secure Internet Security comes with several advanced protection tools that we feel are important to have in antivirus solutions. These include a firewall, banking tools, and even parental controls. You can choose to protect a single device with Internet Security, but F-Secure also has options all the way to 25 protected devices. F-Secure Internet Security starts at $49.99 for one device for one year, though its renewal is only $10 more making this antivirus solution one of the better overall values when it comes to computer protection

You can try out F-Secure Internet Security free for 30 days, It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee. It works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

F-Secure Total Security builds upon the Internet Security program and adds the F-Secure VPN and its identity theft protection services. If you buy F-Secure VPN on its own, it will cost you $49.99 to use on four devices while ID protection is $39.99. But if you bundle both of these with F-Secure Total Security, you can take advantage of all of these for $49.99 on one device for the first year, $59.99 for five devices, or $64.99 for 10 devices.

Compare F-Secure subscriptions

F-Secure Internet Security

Screenshot of F-Secure virus scan in action captured during testing

It's unclear if F-Secure will continue supporting Internet Security in the future. For now, as long as you purchase, or repurchase the program, after Feb 2023, you'll still be able to take advantage of any updates, including to any malware database it uses for real-time protection, and 24/7 live support for any issue that might pop up.

In the past, F-Secure has offered its advanced antivirus solutions in multiple downloads. This means you would have to install some tools separately, like parental controls. F-Secure now truly bundles all these features together into one program making it much easier for users to get started and use from a single dashboard.

The F-Secure app has a lot of white space, so it doesn't feel overwhelming, and just enough color to make you feel comfortable while also taking F-Secure seriously. There are sections of text, including some text links, scattered around the dashboard which doesn't help with overall navigation. This can get frustrating for a new user that isn't familiar with how antivirus programs work.


We tested the overall security of F-Secure using our own test files. Some of these contained known malware while others, like our ransomware file, only simulated true threats without being a true threat. This is important because antivirus companies routinely create test files of their own that their antivirus software easily blocks. Using files that antivirus software has never seen before gives us a better look at its true ability to stop malware.

During the testing of F-Secure, our test executables used all kinds of very suspect tricks - launch one Windows tool, which launches PowerShell, scripting it to use another Windows tool to download a malicious file - and F-Secure jumped on most of these, raising an alert and killing the process so it couldn't cause any more damage.

For our next review, we launched our custom ransomware simulator. As the simulator has never been publicly released, F-Secure couldn't have seen it before, in theory making the threat far more difficult to detect.

Alert from URL blocking of a harmful website

F-Secure has blocked our simulator from its file signature in the past but missed it this time. Our test threat launched successfully and encrypted thousands of user documents without F-Secure's behavior monitoring raising any red flags.

F-Secure's Protected Folders system enables defining specific folders which the app says are then "protected from encryption blackmail (like ransomware.)" That would surely protect our test data, right? Nope: our simulator encrypted them all.

These results must be interpreted with care. We know from lab testing that F-Secure blocks most ransomware without difficulty, even the most sophisticated of zero-day threats, so it seems odd that our tiny simulator got through. As it isn't real malware, perhaps F-Secure believed it was a legitimate application, maybe a genuine encryption tool, and so allowed it to run unrestricted.

AV-Comparative's June 2023 malware protection test results for F-Secure

Still, while we can't be sure what happened or why, these results make us a little nervous. When an antivirus is faced with an executable file it's never seen before, engaging in very ransomware-like behavior, and encrypting files within a protected folder, we would expect it to at least raise an alert, asking the user if this was okay. The fact that didn't happen has to be a concern.

Independent test labs, like AV-Comparatives and AV-Test, had more success than we did with F-Secure in their evaluations. Both gave perfect, or near-perfect overall scores. Neither showed that F-Secure struggled to identify or block existing, new, or unknown threats. Combining all these findings together, we feel F-Secure overall is a very, solidly secure antivirus program.


When you first install the program, F-Secure automatically begins scanning your entire device while also offering a quick walk-through of the program. On top of malware, F-Secure will check your entire system and look for any vulnerabilities on your computer where threats like worms, ransomware, and hackers can sneak through. You'll be given a list of recommended fixes, and F-Secure will offer to fix them for you if you'd like.

F-Secure has a few scanning options that are also speedy, accurate, and easy to use. Even the first scan will take less than 10 minutes to run whereas other programs, like Bitdefender, take up to 45 minutes, or sometimes an hour. It supports scheduled scanning that allows the package to automatically check the system

You can run targeted scans by right-clicking a file, folder, or drive and choosing Scan For Viruses. These, too, are speedy, even initially, and get faster in subsequent runs. The app checked 50GB of executables in around 19 minutes at first, for instance, faster than most, dropping to 14 minutes when we checked again.

Screenshot of F-Secure completed scan captured during testing

Extra features

F-Secure Internet Security has safe banking tools. These help shield your personal and financial information while banking online. 

When you visit a known banking website, F-Secure disconnects all untrusted applications from the internet and prevents them from going back online while you're there. It also blocks untrusted websites until your transactions are complete. 

These are drastic steps, but an alert warns you what's happening, and F-Secure highlights your screen with a green border as a reminder. Banking protection ends automatically when you leave the site, or you can shut it down manually with a couple of clicks if it's interfered with any legitimate apps.

You also get parental controls with two important parts. The first is web filtering. You can click the various content presets to quickly block webpages about abuse, drug and alcohol use, pornography, or gaming websites.

Screenshot of F-Secure parental controls quick web filtering feature

There are both white and black lists that you can use to further customize content access. We've found that some websites slip through the filters, so we simply add the URL to the blacklist to ensure kids can't view them. On the other side, there are some gaming websites that we are okay with our kids playing, so we add these to the whitelist while keeping the majority of the gaming sites securely blocked.

The other controls in this feature let you set time limits for when and how long your children can use the internet. While your child is online, they will receive warnings about when their time is about up to help with the transition.

F-Secure Internet Secure is missing some tools that we would like to see included at this level. These include a password manager and Wi-Fi protection. These are reserved, however, for Total Security users.

Final verdict

F-Secure Internet Security is fairly priced, compact, easy to use, and with mostly positive results from the testing labs, but unexpected review issues including its ineffective Protected Folders system leave us with some concerns. We do like the few extra features it includes, mainly the safe banking tools and parental control, though we would like to see just a couple more. 

F-Secure Total Security

F-Secure Total Security all tools view of dashboard captures during testing

The jump between Internet Security and Total Security is impressive. Where other antivirus solutions tend to only add a few extra tools, or increase the number of devices you can protect, F-Secure hands you two important feature packages, Privacy and Identity Protection.

Freedome VPN

Freedome VPN

(Image credit: F-Secure)

A virtual private network (VPN) is a security tool designed to shield your online identity and movements by routing your information through a secured server. As your data is passed through, it is encrypted to prevent anyone from being able to read it. Your device's IP address is also changed so online activity can never be tracked or traced back to you or your device.

Freedome VPN has been tested and reviewed by our VPN test team and while it is limited in many areas compared to the best VPN clients, F-Secure has included tools and features we do like to see in a VPN.

To begin with, Freedome uses the OpenVPN protocol to encrypt data but it doesn't offer the highest level available. Militaries and banks use AES 256-bit encryption to secure their sensitive information and is the level we like to see offered by VPNs. Even though this level isn't used by Freedome, it still encrypts data well enough to make it hard to read if it's ever intercepted.

Our overall security tests showed Freedome kept a tight connection and didn't allow DNS leaks. When we forced the connection to drop, the kill switch was quick to turn on and kept our information shielded until the connection was re-established. This is exactly what we want to see.

Server list inside the Freedome VPN Windows app

One feature we were impressed to see with Freedome is that it doesn't disconnect a server connection when we choose to connect to a second server. Other services drop the first connection, but F-Secrue keeps you solidly secured until the next server connection is made.

The server network is smaller compared to other VPN services. F-Secure doesn't list the exact number of servers it has, but we do know it's limited to only 20 countries. Surfshark has 3,200 servers in 100 countries while Private Internet Access has over 20,000 servers worldwide. There isn't anything wrong with a smaller network, but it can affect when and where you connect and your overall connection speeds.

This VPN also doesn't put any caps on bandwidth meaning you can use it any time and for as long as you'd like without hitting a usage cap or experiencing slower speeds once the limit is reached.

Tracker Mapper

(Image credit: F-Secure)

Another perk of using Freedome VPN is its ability to bypass geo-restrictions. We tested out its ability by attempting to access our online tv streaming accounts. These typically are the hardest to work around. Freedome VPN gave us access to US Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. It didn't allow us access to other Netflix regions or to BBC iPlayer. But what it does do is impressive.

Speeds are fast enough to support streaming, but they do fall below the industry average, especially since it doesn't offer the newer Wireguard protocol. We don't recommend using Freedome VPN while gaming online or for torrenting.

ID protections

F-Secure ID Protections breach alerts on a laptop and phone

F-Secure ID Protection starts with a password manager. This gives you a safe place to store your login credentials. This helps in two ways. First, you don't have to worry about remembering long, complicated passwords. F-Secure will keep these for you to make it easier to log into online accounts. The second benefit is shielding passwords from keyloggers, online snoops, and hackers looking for passwords stored locally on your device. In a big way, keeping passwords away from cybercriminals is an important way to protect personal information from identity thieves.

The ID protections of F-Secure include dark web monitoring. This looks for any personal information that may have been swiped due to a data breach and alert you when it is found. We didn't test F-Secure's dark web monitoring, but it is limited and basic compared to other antivirus programs that offer ID protections.

ID Protection

(Image credit: F-Secure)

For example, Norton looks for more of your personal information in more places. It looks at criminal records to see if your identity is being used as an alias. Norton also looks at medical records in case someone is using your identity to get medical care and leaves you with the bill.

Another difference between Noton and even McAfee's identity protections and F-Secure is the inclusion of deep ID recovery services. F-Secure has some help in this area, but it doesn't match the depth and years of expertise Norton has.

You're welcome to try out F-Secure ID Protection free for a few days to get a feel of what it offers and if it is a benefit worth including with your F-Secure antivirus solution. 

Final verdict

Buying F-Secure Total makes a lot of sense for F-Secure fans. Freedome isn't the best VPN, but it covers the basics, and the ID protections are handy to further protect your overall identity. The best part is for new users you get a steal of a deal at $49.99 for the first year. While the price does bump up quite a bit when you renew, it's still an overall great value for the VPN, ID protections, and antivirus tools to get with the program.

You can try F-Secure Total Security free for 30 days and it will come with both its VPN and ID Protection to try along with it.

TaxAct review
2:31 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Comments: Off

TaxAct, like all of the other tax filing software packages, has been updated over the years and is now better than ever. The online tax solution packs in several enhancements for this year with improved tools for speeding up the time it takes to complete tax returns. There are several options for individuals and professional business users too.

Another bonus with this package is that TaxAct aims to remain competitively priced for anyone filing a federal return, which is always going to be welcome news. There has also been the implementation of a live Tax Advice feature, which is offered as an optional add-on for all packages.

Being an online software solution it follows a similar path to others in the field including TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt Online, Credit Karma Tax and FreeTaxUSA, with a step-by-step series of screens that walk you through the hurdles for filing your taxes

TaxAct has done a sterling job of late too, with plenty of refinements that make the whole process as painless as is realistically possible. If you’re a novice user you’ll still be able to make solid progress in not much time, which is clearly a boon for those of us who procrastinate when it comes to tax return time. 


TaxAct comes with a good selection of variations on the theme for any filing requirement (Image credit: TaxAct)

TaxAct: Pricing

As is the case with any tax filing software package, price is everything. Little wonder then that TaxAct has moved to make its pricing look more appealing in light of the competition, although package prices have actually increased. On top of that, the Premier and Self-Employed options don’t include live agent support from CPAs or other tax experts, although this will be tempered by the rollout of TaxAct’s Xpert Help service in due course. 

The TaxAct website gets you off to a great start in that it lets you select various scenarios such as if you have children, have retirement income and investments too. There are the more obvious considerations too, with the free W-2 jobholders edition (State included) proving ideal if you’ve got fairly basic requirements. The free version also covers filers with dependents and if you have college expenses or retirement income to declare. 

Next up, the Deluxe package costs $29.99 (+ state additional) delivers everything in the free edition plus more besides. It’s ideally suited to homeowners plus those with deductions, credits and adjustments to file. The Premier model comes in at $39.99 (+ state additional), which includes everything in Deluxe with added features for investments, rental property and prioritized support. Top of the tree is the Self-Employed package, which for $69.99 (+ state additional) adds on Deduction Maximizer and year-round tax resources. All options offer the ability to add a live Tax Advice feature.


Along with standard pages to complete TaxAct has been carefully honed to take into account changes in legislation (Image credit: TaxAct)

TaxAct: Features

Changes have been implemented on the TaxAct feature front for 2021, with improved integration, better workflow and the capacity for importing data directly into the application. This is particularly useful in the case of 1099 forms, but the same goes for W-2’s and 1099-NEC’s too. As before, TaxAct still allows you to enter business income, rental/royalty income and, basically any other income that is relevant to completing your return in a timely and accurate fashion. 

However, while the basic edition is free and offers support for 1040 and retirement income with state returns being gratis, you’ll need to pay for the more powerful feature set editions. Getting the paid for version of TaxAct will arm you with more options, but it can be a little tricky to squeeze the best out of the system, particularly if your tax situation is less than pedestrian.


Completing the steps in TaxAct is essentially a case of basic data entry and checking boxes (Image credit: TaxAct)

TaxAct: Ease of use

One of the criticisms of earlier incarnations of TaxAct was that the filing software was a little too hard to get your head around. However, the TaxAct developers have taken this on board and the latest edition has had some improvements made in terms of usability. Navigation is snappier, with less faff involved than with previous editions and users can pick through stages much more swiftly than the clunkier way things worked before. 

Boosting the user-friendly appeal is the way it is now easy to import forms, such as W-2, 1099 and 1099-NEC’s. Indeed, you can also add in tax returns from earlier years, which makes much lighter work of the overall filing process. Granted, TaxAct still can't be described as a doddle to navigate, and there are still some clunky aspects to the experience. Nevertheless, TaxAct is on the up in terms of ease of use.

While some of the questioning might prove a little more trying for the less confident, there is also a decent level of help along the way that allows you to master the nuances of TaxAct. Given that the design setup is basically screen after screen, TaxAct has done quite a nice job of making the process workmanlike but, dare we say it, quite good on the eyes too. 

Mention should also be made of the app version, which can work hand-in-hand with the desktop edition so you can switch between the two as and when time allows it. 


There is a reassuringly large area of help topics that can answer many of your questions (Image credit: TaxAct)

TaxAct: Support

Along with numerous other improvements, TaxAct has been spruced up in the support department too. Users should lookout for handy videos that offer pointers into getting the best from key areas of the tax filing software. In fact, TaxAct’s knowledge base area has definitely improved and its pro-level tips come in mighty handy as you work your way through the various stages.

Due to some of the clunkier areas of TaxAct we think that it’s entirely likely you’ll need to call upon the help that’s available within this package. That’s not to sell TaxAct short of course as it’s a potent performer but you might need assistance to get to the final return stage. 

Enter then the TaxAct Answer Center, which is a very comprehensive area of the site that has multiple topics that will answer many of your questions and queries. The other benefit with TaxAct is that it has a constant Help and Tools area over on the right side of the page while you work. 

Quick and easy access is therefore just a click away. Email support is available across the different editions, while phone support is also on hand towards the filing deadline, details of which can be found on the TaxAct website.


TaxAct lets you complete all of the steps and then carefully review and amend any areas as required (Image credit: TaxAct)

TaxAct: Final Verdict

TaxAct has had a much needed dust down and the designers have clearly been hard at work making improvements where needed for 2021. While we’re yet to see first hand what the Xpert Help option brings to the table, or indeed how much it’ll cost, the rest of the modifications to TaxAct have beefed up its appeal. 

While there’s clearly a ways to go in terms of the tax filing package as a whole, the overall feeling generated from the newest edition of TaxAct is a positive one. That said, it’s up against the low budget FreeTaxUSA and H&R Block at the other end of the spectrum, plus a host of other tax filing software inbetween.

Nevertheless, the interface and usability have both been tweaked to work better for a variety of different subscribers using it in 2021, so the benefits are clear to see. Plus, TaxAct has also been given a once over to bring it bang up to date in light of coronavirus and the resulting changes to legislation. Tax reforms can be difficult to keep up with, so it’s reassuring to know that the TaxAct team have that base covered.

Avira Antivirus solutions review
7:51 am | January 11, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off
Please note

This is our all-in-one roundup reviewing every Avira consumer security solution for 2023, one of our favorite free antivirus apps. On this page you’ll find:

(a) a quick look at Avira Free

(b) a full evaluation of the entry-level Avira Antivirus Pro, along with our reviews of the additional features incorporated with the rest of the range: 

(c) Avira Internet Security, and

(d) the top-end package Avira Prime.

You can jump to the reviews of those individual products by clicking on the links in the navigation bar to the left.

Avira antivirus software has been around for a while and has consistently don't well in protecting against many types of malware including ransomware. It has a good free antivirus program to get you started, but its true value lies in the advanced security tools included with its paid subscription option.

Some of the add-on features included with higher-tiered Avria offerings include a firewall to protect your network connection, a password manager to hide your online credentials, external drives and USB device scanning, and unlimited access to a VPN. All of the antivirus software from Avira includes a clean interface that's easy to find the tools you need, but there are some usability issues depending on the version.

The biggest question when it comes to choosing an Avira antivirus solution is which one is best for you. We break down each of the different subscriptions, what's included, and how well they work. We'll let you know of any issues we've discovered during testing so you can be aware of these issues, too.

Plans and pricing

Each of the four products offered by Avira builds on the tools and features of each other. All have the same level of security and use real-time protections to keep malware from infecting your computer. There are good differences between them all, so it's worth looking closely at what's offered to make sure the Avira antivirus solution you choose has what you need.

Avira Free Security doesn't have much beyond malware blocking. This is done in real-time so that online threats are stopped before they have a chance to infect your computer. You can only protect a single device, but you can choose which device to download Avira Free to. It has Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS versions. Of course, the best part is Avira Free Security doesn't cost you anything.

Avira Antivirus Pro is what we consider its basic antivirus solution. It doesn't do much more than the free version in terms of overall protection, but it does include a firewall. This is worth the cost since a firewall helps prevent malware attacks from coming through your network or internet connections. Avira Antivirus Pro has 1-month, 1-year, and 2-year subscription options. The best deal, though, is the 1-year subscription. This starts at $26.99 for a single device, though a five-device option is available. The cost of the month-to-month option starts at $4.99, and $77.99 for 2 years.

Avira Internet Security starts at $34.99/ year for a single device. It, too, has a monthly subscription of $5.99, and a 2-year option for $102.99. You can pay a little more a protect up to 5 devices on any of these plans.  Internet Security comes with a few more tools than Antivirus Pro, and in my opinion, is the best deal of the Avira offerings. The balance between good security and overall value is met at this price point.

The biggest difference between Avira Prime and Internet Security is the number of minimum devices its lowest-priced subscription covered (5 total), its compatibility with mobile devices, and the inclusion of unlimited VPN access. You can choose between its monthly offering of $9.99, $59.99 for a single-year subscription, or $189.99 for 2 years. You do have the option to cover up to 25 devices, but there isn't an in-between offering. You jump from 5 devices straight to 25 with Prime.

Compare Avira subscriptions

Antivirus Free Security

Screenshot of Avira's first deep scan captured during testing

Getting started with Avirs Free Security is easy. It prompts you through the entire download and installation process. It does have a few steps to follow once it's installed in order to have the right tools enabled. If you're tech-savvy, think is pretty intuitive, and if you're new to antivirus software, Avira has prompts to help you find the files and tools you need to turn on. Real-time protection will be on already, so you'll be protected the moment Avira is installed.

The software will start a deep scan of your system right away. This looks for any existing malware lurking on your computer, and potential weak points. The full report will show you outdated software, old junk files, and other bits of remaining deleted apps that can be removed so your computer runs faster. However, specific details and the ability to have Avira fix them aren't available unless you upgrade to one of its paid subscriptions.

To be better protected, you'll need to enable the Avira browser extension in the browsers you use. When you open a browser for the first time after installing Avira, you will see a prompt encouraging you to enable the extension. This helps stop malware files from downloading onto your computer. It also blocks you from visiting dangerous websites known to harbor threats including phishing schemes.

Avira Free Security allows you to protect only one device, but you do get to decide which device to use. it has a single download for each of the main operating systems, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.


Both AV-Comparatives and AV-Test give Avira the highest marks for detecting and blocking malware. It was just as effective in stopping brand-new malware that hadn't been formally classified or added to malware databases. This is because Avira uses learning technology to recognize familiar patterns of a new threat based on what it's seen from old malware and stops it.

In our own testing, we saw how well Avira stops malware during the download process, so the threat can't infect your computer. Captures malware is placed in the Quarantine folder. This gives you a chance to look at the file in a secured, safe place and decide if it's okay to allow it to install, or if it really is a threat. From here you can manually ask Avira to scrub the threat clean or leave it until Avira does it for you, usually within 14 days from the time the file is placed in quarantine.

AV-Comparatives May 2023 Avira malware protection results

Every so often Avira will tag a legitimate file as malware. However, its overall rate of miss identifying safe files is only 0.2%. Neither of the independent antivirus labs nor our own testers have seen Avira let a real threat through thinking it is okay. Overall, you're secured from online threats when using Avira Free Security.

Avira Free Security lets you run basic or deeper scans of your system. These look for viruses and vulnerabilities that open you up to other types of threats. You're given a good report of what Avira finds, but it won't fix most of these for you unless you opt to upgrade to a paid version. You can find these issues on your own and manually fix them. You will see enough details to know where the files are located to delete them, or which software apps need updating to the most current version.

Avira Free Security doesn't have any advanced security tools. There isn't a firewall, though the icon link is available on the dashboard. There also isn't a password manager or software updater. All these features, and many more, are available when you upgrade to a paid option.

Screen shot of Avira scan results captured during testing


This free antivirus software is clean and clutter-free. It feels natural to navigate through it, and the dark mode is easy on the eyes. It uses icons to help direct you to the functions and tools you need. However, just because there is an icon link doesn't mean you can actually use that feature in full, if at all.

While running Aivra on our test and home machines, we did notice some slowdown. It took longer for browsers to open and other apps to launch. We also noticed websites loaded slower. Sometimes the lag was enough to freeze our computer and cause brief moments of panic. Once the apps were open or the site loaded, we didn't have the same drag issues.

Both AV-Test and AV-Comparatives saw similar performance issues. Both logged slowdown while Avira was installed. The slowdown can be frustrating, though it isn't a big issue if you're online for causal browsing, or sending email. We don't recommend Avira if you're a gamer since the lag could cause buffering and interrupt gameplay.

Final verdict

Avira Free Security is very basic in what it offers, but this overall protection against online threats is impressive. We feel comfortable using it, though it does cause some slowdown while running. We got a little impatient waiting for a browser to open and websites to load, but the slowdown wasn't too extreme. 

It's a good place to start if you're new to antivirus because of its easy interface. Once you feel comfortable upgrading to one of Avira's paid subscriptions will feel natural while giving you additional security benefits.

Avira Antivirus Pro

Screenshot of Avira Antivirus Pro dashboard

Avira has revamped its interface since our last review and now features a dark-themed and simplified dashboard with little more than a status indicator and a Smart Scan button to run some instant system checks.

There's still plenty of functionality, though, and choosing Security, Privacy, or Performance on the left-hand sidebar gives you access to everything you need: scans, firewall, the Software Updater, VPN, optimization tools, and more. As with its Free version, if there are tools you're not allowed to use on this level, you won't be able to click through and access them.

We tapped the Smart Scan button on the dashboard. This looks for malware, network issues, privacy, and performance problems (tracking cookies, junk files, startup apps, orphaned Registry entries), yet still took less than a minute on our test system.

A Quick Scan option runs a more conventional check on system files, running processes, and the Registry. It doesn't cover a lot, but it's likely to catch the most common threats, and it only took 60 seconds for us.

Screenshot of Avira antivirus scan results captured during testing

Choosing a custom scan in most antivirus apps results in a prompt asking you which drive or folder you'd like to check. Avira gives you many more options, with predefined scans to check your Documents folder, Windows folders, removable drives, active processes, and more. You can also save new custom scans to check specific drives and folders, making it easier to recall them later.

You're not able to define how these custom scans work (file types to check or ignore, detection methods to use, and so on), as you can with Avast and some others. Avira's approach is an improvement on what we usually see, though, and manages to give more scanning control to expert users while keeping everything very easy to use for everyone else.

You can also run a full system scan, or check selected items from Explorer's right-click menu. We found this took 28 minutes to scan 50GB of test data, a good mid-range time (Kaspersky took 29 minutes, but Bitdefender took 39.) But other apps make more effort to optimize subsequent scans, for example only checking new or changed files, and that makes a real difference. Avira's second scan of our test data took 24:41, for instance, while Bitdefender's was only 27 seconds.


As Avira Antivirus Pro claims to have top-quality ransomware detection, we decided to pit the program against our own custom ransomware simulator. This is very basic and doesn't use any stealthy malware tricks, but as we coded it ourselves, we knew it wouldn't be in Avira's signature database. The only way the package could detect our threat was by recognizing its behavior.

We launched our ransomware simulator, then watched as it successfully spidered through multiple folders in our test folder tree, encrypting more than 6,000 documents and data files, without Avira Antivirus Pro raising any alarm or making any attempt to spot it.

You can argue that this was the correct decision. After all, our simulator is malware-like, but not genuine malware, so letting it run makes sense. And we also know from test results that Avira does block the huge majority of real brand-new threats.

Still, we prefer the more cautious approach taken by Bitdefender and Trend Micro. In their last reviews, the apps not only managed to detect and kill our test software, but they also recovered the handful of files our simulator managed to encrypt.

Screenshot of Avira ransomware test captured during testing


Browse Avira's Modules list and you'll find an On/ Off switch for a firewall, but don't get your hopes up, this isn't how it looks. There's no extra network protection here, it's just an alternative interface for the Windows firewall.

This doesn't do very much, beyond making it fractionally easier to turn the firewall on or off and tweak a handful of settings for your network profiles. Accessing any of the more features - setting application rules, for instance - just opens the regular Windows firewall dialogs. If you really need to take control of the Windows firewall, you'd be better off learning to find your way around the standard interface.

The new interface integrates many of Avira's other free tools and makes them easier to try out than previously (no need to run each installer separately, for instance.)

Some of these are cut-down versions of other Avira products, and are available separately for free, whether you buy Avira Antivirus Pro or not. Still, many are genuinely useful. 

Avira's Software Updater finds needed updates and installs them automatically.

Screenshot of Avira antivirus software updater in action

Privacy tools include an ad and tracker-blocking extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera. A file shredder securely deletes confidential files; a simple password manager stores your logins and syncs them across your devices, and a Privacy Settings module helps you choose more secure Windows settings. There's also a 'secure browser', although this isn't some custom-built isolated browser like Bitdefender's SafePay: it's just a standard version of Opera.

There's also a surprisingly comprehensive Performance section, with tools to free up drive space, optimize boot times, find and remove broken Registry items, delete duplicate files, update drivers, and more.

As this is a free build, it only handles the most common cleanup and optimization tasks. That's enough to be useful and we're glad to see it here.  However, its System Speedup tool is more effective, but it's not included at this level.

Avira antivirus provacy tools listed on its dashboard

Final verdict

The new Avira Antivirus Pro interface does a great job of integrating its many features. You can install many of them separately for free, though, and current protection results from the labs are mid-range at best. 

Avira Internet Security

Screenshot of Avira Internet Security interface

Avira Internet Security is a bundle of products that includes Avira Antivirus Pro, Software Updater Pro, and Password Manager Pro.

Avira's Software Updater Pro is an easy-to-use patch manager which regularly checks for missing application updates, and can automatically install whatever it finds. There's nothing for you to download, and you won't see any installer apps.

Avira's Password Manager Pro generates secure passwords, automatically fills in login forms for you, and syncs new credentials across all your devices.

If you're used to security suites that come with parental controls and maybe a spam filter, this could seem a little underpowered. But if patch management and passwords are top of your priority list, it might be worth giving the suite a closer look.

Software Updater Pro

Avira's Software Updater Pro claims it automatically updates 'over 150 programs', which is less than many competitors. The freeware Patch My PC updates more than 300, others can handle many more. Software Updater's list is well chosen, though, and covers some very important apps and components: .NET, Acrobat Reader, CCleaner, Google Chrome, Firefox, IrfanView, Java, Opera,, TeamViewer, VLC Media Player, and updates for Windows and assorted Windows components and layers.

The package mostly worked as advertised for us. We installed some old versions of supported apps, Software Updater found a decent 11 updates and silently downloaded and installed 10. It couldn't automatically update FileZilla, the same problem we saw in the last review. Still, just having an update alert was useful, and Software Updater also gave us a link to the FileZilla site where we could download and install it ourselves.

Avira's Software Updater Pro settings and details on its interface

Software Updater can check for driver updates, too, although that's much less useful. If it told you that your NVVHCI Enumerator driver was out of date, for instance, what would you think? Could that be causing problems, should you update it? Or is it the latest version that's compatible with some other part of your system, and updating it would break your PC to the point it wouldn't even boot?

It's okay, we don't have the faintest idea, either. Software Updater's driver side might still be useful in that it could highlight a missing update which you can manually explore further, but that's about it. The vast majority of people will be better off leaving driver support to Windows Update.

We have some issues with Software Updater, then, but it's better than the patch managers you'll get bundled with most security suites. Most users will get some value from it, and if that's not you, you're an expert who hates this kind of tool, no problem - you can use it for manual checks only (no automatic updates at all), or just uninstall the module and focus on the rest of the suite.

Avira Password Manager Pro

Password Manager Pro

(Image credit: Avira)

Avira Password Manager Pro is easy to set up just about anywhere. Install the Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS apps, or the Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Opera extensions, import any existing logins and you're ready to go.

The package includes a secure password generator, saves new credentials as they're entered, and can automatically complete login forms when you return.

The latest version supports logins and credit cards, but that's it. There's no support for saving names, addresses, or any other identity information.

Avira Password Manager Pro does have some advanced features. You can access your passwords with touch and face recognition, for instance, if they're supported on your device. Two-factor authentication enables logging in via a security code sent to your phone. And the app can alert you to weak or reused passwords, or raise a notification if one of your accounts might have been hacked.

If you don't have another password manager, Avira's offering will simplify your logins and could help make your accounts far more secure.

The service can't begin to match the best of the competition, though, and if you're after real password management power, you should probably look elsewhere.

Final verdict

Overall, Avira Internet Security is a lot like Antivirus Pro - it's a decent package, but just doesn't have enough functions or features for us to recommend it ahead of the competition.

If you're after a more traditional security suite, particularly with a firewall and extra layers of network protection, you'll be better off elsewhere.

But if you like Avira, and are just not so interested in Software Updater and Password Manager, keep reading. Avira's high-end Prime bundle gives you a lot of more general-purpose power for a very fair price.

Avira Prime

Avira Prime antivirus interface

At the top of Avira's consumer range is Avira Prime, a powerful bundle that comes crammed with essential functions and features. The key security benefits are access to Avira's premium Android and iOS apps, and a license covering up to five devices. You can increase this to an impressive 25 devices.

The most valuable extra is full access to Avira's Phantom VPN Pro. And we do mean full access, with none of the data limits or user restrictions you'll often get with other security suite VPNs. The license enables using the VPN as much as you like, on as many devices as you need, just as though you'd purchased it separately.

Avira mobile and Mac applications

Experienced Windows users will also appreciate Avira's System Speedup Pro, a very full-featured PC optimization tool. Forget the feeble apps you've seen in other suites, which often do less than Windows' own Disk Cleanup - this outperforms many stand-alone specialist PC optimizers.

The suite is great value at just $60 for a five-device, one-year license. If you'll make regular use of the VPN, that's one of the best deals you'll find anywhere, but even if you don't, Prime has more than enough power to justify a closer look. There's a 30-day trial available if you'd like to find out more, and optional monthly billing (just $9.99) means you can try the services for longer with no real commitment.

Mobile apps

Avira's free Android and iOS apps cover the antivirus basics and more but upgrading to Avira Prime gets you the full commercial editions with some valuable extras.

The Android app gains automatic blocking of malicious websites, for instance, along with more frequent updates to protect you from the very latest threats.

Webcam and microphone protection ensure apps can't record you without authorization.

You're able to lock your most sensitive apps with a PIN code, and there's free customer support if you run into any problems.

Avira's iOS app is a bundle of more general security tools, including anti-theft, a call blocker, content backup, and a network scanner. You can use the VPN on your mobile devices, too.

This isn't the longest list of upgrade benefits we've seen, but it's still impressive with helpful tools that bring additional security benefits to your devices.

Avira Prime interface with list of VPN locations

Phantom VPN Pro

Avira Phantom VPN Pro doesn't have a market-leading feature list, but there's still a lot to like: 50+ locations including multiple US cities, P2P support, a kill switch (on Windows), malicious URL blocking, optional automatic connection when you access a wireless network, mobile and desktop apps (Windows, Android, iOS, Mac) and a Chrome extension, too.

Although the full Avira Prime package covers up to five devices, Phantom VPN Pro covers as many as you need, an unusually generous touch.

The Windows app delivers on the basics. It's easy to use (choose a location, click Connect), performance is reasonable, we couldn't find any DNS leaks, and the kill switch correctly blocked our internet connection when we forcibly dropped the VPN.

The service couldn't unblock BBC iPlayer or Amazon Prime Video, but it got us into US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, a better result than you'll get with many VPN providers.

Phantom VPN Pro doesn't offer much low-level control. You can't change or tweak its choice of protocol, for instance, and you can't manually set up the service on other devices.

It's still a decent service, though, which does everything most users will need, and adds a huge amount of value to the suite.

System Speedup Pro

Security suites often claim to include some kind of device optimization, but usually this means little more than deleting a few temporary files, something PC users can already do for free with Windows' own Disk Cleanup (often more effectively, too.)

Avira's System Speedup Pro is a rare exception, a tool with so many features and options that you might want to use it stand-alone.

Its cleanup tools check areas all across your PC, for instance: the Recycle bin, temporary files, browser junk, third-party leftovers, surplus reports and logs, even invalid Registry entries. This found more files to free up than CCleaner on our test system, a real achievement.

Then there's the Startup Optimizer. Most tools just display a list of programs configured to start when Windows loads and enables removing any you don't need. Speedup Pro comes with its own boot tracker which measures boot times and analyses apps to show you which has the most impact. And it goes further, with the ability to raise a notification if a system change increases your boot time or an automatic optimization feature that keeps your system running smoothly at all times.

Avira's System Speedup Pro benefit list

That's good, but Avira's just getting started. Browse the menus and you'll find a duplicate file finder, a software uninstaller, an undelete tool, a file shredder, disk wiping, file encryption, a Windows service manager, a disk doctor, a +Windows troubleshooting app, a game booster, Registry, and disk defraggers, a context menu optimizer, power management tools and more.

All system optimizers come with some risks, and non-technical users, or anyone looking for a quiet life, should probably leave System Speedup Pro alone.

If you've any Windows experience, though, and you appreciate the value of cleanup tools such as CCleaner, you'll find a huge amount to explore here. System Speedup Pro is an excellent PC maintenance tool that not only tramples all over the underpowered offerings in other security suites but outperforms many stand-alone PC optimizers, too.

Avira's System Speedup Pro tools and reports within the interface

Final verdict

In conclusion, Avira Prime leaves out many of the features you might expect in a security suite - there's no firewall, no spam filter, no parental controls, no backup - and if they're high on your priority list, that's going to be a problem.

The top-rated antivirus engine is a major plus, though, and if you'll use the bundled VPN, speedup suite, and other tools, Prime offers great value. Give it a try.

Google Workspace MDM review
10:31 pm | January 7, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

 In 2020, Google decided to rebrand its cloud-based productivity suite, which was previously known as G Suite, to Google Workspace. This new platform has updated features and functions to cater to the growing remote work trend. One of the most notable features of Google Workspace is the inclusion of a chat and video conferencing tools, making it easier for employers and their employees to stay connected and productive, no matter where they are located. 

If you're unfamiliar with G Suite, it is a collection of cloud-based applications, including a word processor and spreadsheet manager, designed to enhance productivity in the workplace. With Google Workspace, you can enjoy even more advanced features and functionality to help you get more done faster and more efficiently. Whether you're a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or a team leader, Google Workspace is the perfect tool to help you stay organized, connected, and productive, no matter where your work takes you.

In addition to the typical features defining top-notch office software suites, this one offers a comprehensive support system and a cloud-based work environment. Although the tools in Google Workspace can function without an internet connection, their primary function is facilitating online workflows.

Google Workspace review

Google Workplace is a complete online productivity suite from Google (Image credit: Google )


Google Workspace is an all-in-one productivity platform that’s home to several applications. Here, we take a look at them one by one and discuss their various features.

Beyond its basic email service, Gmail harnesses the power of algorithms and artificial intelligence to offer innovative features. One such feature is the Smart Compose, which predicts the next word or phrase you intend to type and offers suggestions to speed up the email composing process. This makes Gmail a highly efficient and user-friendly email service.

Google Workspace review

Gmail is a feature-rich email service wrapped in a sleek outfit (Image credit: Google )

With Gmail, you can enjoy advanced spam filters that effectively sift through and keep junk mail out of your inbox. You'll also receive regular reminders known as "nudges" to help you keep track of your conversations. Gmail uses an intelligent algorithm to categorize emails according to their nature.

In addition, you can access your emails offline using the offline access feature. This means you can still check your emails even when you don't have an internet connection. Gmail is available on various devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Google Workspace review

Google Docs is a cloud-based word processing application (Image credit: Google)

Google Docs is an online word-processing application designed for work purposes. It offers a simple yet efficient rich-text editor, and its user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate. While it may not have all the features of Microsoft Word, it has become popular due to its cloud synchronization and sharing capabilities.

Google Docs can be accessed through web browsers on computers and downloadable apps on smartphones and tablets. Although it has standard word processing features such as adding images, changing font sizes, and inserting tables, its true strength lies in allowing multiple users to collaborate on a document in real time.

With Google Docs, up to 100 users can simultaneously access and work on a single document. Any changes made by one user are immediately visible to the others. It also has a built-in tool that can automatically translate text into different languages, which is a helpful feature.

Google Workspace review

Google Sheets is a great spreadsheet management tool for businesses (Image credit: Google )

Sheet management is made easy with Google Sheets, a tool that operates similarly to Microsoft Office Excel. While Excel has many functions and features, Google Sheets stands out in collaboration.

Apart from the typical spreadsheet features, Google Sheets has excellent shareability. Like Google Docs, it can be shared with multiple users through a link. This allows for real-time collaboration and editing of the document.

Although it may take some time to get used to, Google Sheets still has a simple and minimalistic interface that's easier to navigate than Excel.

Google Workspace review

Google Slides is a presentation maker and slideshow designer for businesses (Image credit: Google )

Businesses and educational institutions use Google Slides as an online presentation maker. It enables users to create moving slideshows with animations and multimedia content to convey information and tell stories. Although not as popular or feature-rich as Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides excels in collaboration.

The user interface of Google Slides is easy to learn. The current slide is displayed in the center of the screen, with a blank space where users can make changes and add elements. The rest of the slides are shown on the left side of the screen in chronological order, in thumbnail format. The toolbar at the top of the screen provides ample tools and options to help users design their presentations.

Like other presentation software, Google Slides uses a combination of pictures, videos, animations, text, and vector graphics to convey information or tell a story. It offers a wide variety of pre-designed templates, and users can further customize their presentation by adding tables and charts.

Google Workspace review

Google Note is a note-taking application like Evernote (Image credit: Google)

Do you need a digital notebook to jot down important information? Google Keep, a cloud-based note-taking app, is an excellent option for personal and professional use. It's free to use, but paid plans are available for those requiring more storage and premium support.

While Google Keep doesn't allow link-sharing like Docs and Slides, you can still share notes over email and enable others to make changes. Notes can be used as reminders for tasks and set on repeat. Color coding and custom labels can also be used to categorize your notes.

To start with Google Keep, click the "Take a Note" option. The user-friendly interface allows for easy setting of reminders, adding checkboxes, and inserting images. If you're familiar with other note-taking apps like Evernote, you can easily use Google Keep.

Google Workspace review

Google Drive is the cloud storage solution that’s central to Google Workspace (Image credit: Google)

Google Drive is an essential tool in the Google Workspace online workflow. This cloud-based solution allows you to store and back up all your files, folders, and documents created using apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. 

You can easily upload files and folders directly onto the cloud using a web-based interface. You get 15GB of free storage when you sign up, and if you need more, you can purchase a Workspace subscription for additional storage. While it may not have all the fancy features, Drive is built for efficiency and is known for its speed and ease of use. 

In addition to its web-based version, Drive has downloadable Android and iOS apps. Desktop users can download official clients for Windows and macOS to back up data straight from their local storage. The drive also offers advanced features such as file versioning, advanced search, offline access, and more.

Google Workspace review

Google Meet is a video conferencing tool for businesses (Image credit: Google )

Google Meet is a fantastic video conferencing tool designed for modern businesses. It allows remote employees to hold face-to-face conversations from anywhere, making it an excellent solution for companies with dispersed teams. The interface is modern and sleek, and it's easy to use, even if you're new to video conferencing.

Google Meet can support video conferences with up to 250 people at once. It also has file, image, and real-time screen-sharing capabilities: a live polling feature and a text messaging system to keep your conversations engaging.

Starting a video conference with Google Meet is incredibly easy. All you need to do is open the application and share an access link with your participants. They can then use the link or dial-in number to join the conference. As the host, you can selectively admit participants into your meeting, denying access to unauthorized users. The process is straightforward and user-friendly.

Google Workspace review

Google Chat is a messaging service for teams (Image credit: Google)

Google Chat is an excellent messaging app for your workplace. Whether you want to communicate with your team or stay connected with your colleagues, Google Chat has covered you. It's not designed for personal use but for groups and organizations to collaborate and communicate more effectively.

One of the best things about Google Chat is its versatility. You can use it for both one-on-one messaging and group conversations. It's straightforward to navigate, with a sidebar that lists all your channels and chats. This makes it easy to keep track of all your ongoing conversations, and you can quickly switch between them.

Moreover, Google Chat has various features that make it an excellent choice for workplace communication. For example, it integrates seamlessly with other Google Workspace apps like Google Drive, Docs, and Sheets. You can easily share documents and have ongoing conversations on the same platform.

If you're looking for a reliable messaging app for your workplace, Google Chat is worth considering. It's easy to use, packed with features, and designed to help you and your team stay productive and connected. 

Google Workspace review

Google Forms is a free form builder (Image credit: Google )

Google Forms is a free tool that allows individuals and businesses to build forms and surveys without any limits on the number of questions, surveys, or participants. However, customization options are limited, and payments cannot be accessed via the forms.

You can choose from three types of questions: multiple choice, drop-down, and short answer. Participants can also upload files. However, image or video-based questions cannot be asked, and payments cannot be accepted.

One great feature is the ability to set acceptable answers and automatically score them. This is useful for administering online quizzes. Google Forms also offers conditional logic to change parts of your survey based on a participant's answers. Collaboration is seamless, allowing multiple team members to design a single form. Results can be visualized as a pie chart for easier data collection.

Google Sites is a website builder that is free to use but has limited features. It is ideal for creating simple websites quickly and efficiently but lacks other website builders' advanced features and customization options. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to create a blog or online store. However, the platform offers a basic set of responsive free templates that will enable you to embed multimedia elements like videos, forms, buttons, and sliders to personalize your website.

Google Apps Script is a coding platform developers can use to build add-ons for other Workspace products using Javascript. It helps personalize the Google Workspace experience, streamlining it to suit the specific requirements of a particular business. However, it requires some coding knowledge to get started. It can be used to customize Google Docs and Gmail, among other apps, for specific use cases and workflows.

Google Calendar is a free online calendar that helps you track events and manage itineraries in the workplace. You and your team can use it collaboratively to schedule and manage events like meetings, conferences, and tasks. It is designed to work seamlessly with the rest of Google Workspace, making it an invaluable tool for organizations.

Google Jamboard is a free online whiteboard for individuals and businesses to share ideas and convey information during online conferences and board meetings. It offers a shared white screen that allows you to draw, insert images, and add text.

Google Vault helps you collect, organize, view, and export data related to your organization's workflow on Google Workspace. It enables you to track conversations, document events, and oversee your organization's work process. However, it is not an alternative backup tool for your data on Workspace.

Google Cloud Search is an artificial intelligence technology that helps you locate data across all your apps on Workspace. It offers a digital assistant and search engine that can quickly pinpoint the location of your searched data. Unlike Vault, which company administrators use for eDiscovery, Google Cloud Search is used by employees to quickly find and access information about the organization across all of Google Workspace. 

Google Workspace review

Google Workspace offers three business-level subscription plans and two enterprise-level plans (Image credit: Google )

Plans and pricing

Google Workspace provides a range of subscription plans for businesses, including three business-level and two enterprise-level plans. 

The first plan, Business Starter, costs $6 per user per month and offers 30GB of cloud storage per user, video calls with up to 100 participants, security controls, standard support, and a custom business email. This plan includes all of Google's productivity applications.

The second plan is Business Standard, which costs $12 per user per month and offers 2TB of cloud storage per user and video conferencing with up to 150 participants, including recording features. This plan shares most of its features with the Business Starter.

The third plan, Business Plus, costs $18 per user per month and provides access to 5TB of storage per user and video calls with up to 250 participants. Along with all the features of Business Starter and Business Standard, this plan also includes access to Google Vault for eDiscovery.

Enterprise-level plans offer even more features, including unlimited users per account and unlimited storage per user. However, the pricing for these plans is customized, and interested parties need to contact the company's sales department. The estimated cost is around $20 per user per month for Enterprise Standard and $30 per user per month for Enterprise Plus.

Google Workspace review

Google Workspace comes with a free support plan (Image credit: Google )


Google Workspace comes pre-packed with a free support plan, which can be upgraded for even more features. The free plan offers a standard case and phone support with an average response time of up to 24 hours. 

Premium Support is available for Business and Enterprise customers and comes with 24/7 critical support and a response time of as low as 15 minutes. This plan also offers tailored, context-aware support and a technical account manager. You are required to contact Google Sales for custom pricing. 

Google Support can be contacted via phone, chat, or email. Phone support is available in 14 different languages. There is also a community forum accessible to all paid users.

Google Workspace review

Google Workspace is the first major data processor to receive an ISO/IEC 27701 certification (Image credit: Google)


Google Workspace was awarded the ISO/IEC 27701 certification, making it the first major data processor to receive this recognition. The update includes enhancements to Gmail, Chat, Meet, and Vault, which aim to improve security and organizational privacy.

Gmail's update offers administrators access to audit logs and data protection insights, which minimize insider threats and policy violations. Workspace admins can view detailed logs that highlight when a user sets up email auto-forwarding on their workplace account. Gmail also includes advanced spam filtering, malware detection, and anti-phishing features.

Google Meet's update focuses on audit logging and abuse detection to reduce incidents of workplace harassment during online meetings. The new feature classifies repeat offenders and automatically prevents them from joining meetings.

Google Chat's update provides administrators access to audit logs that detect phishing, data infiltration, and abuse. Additionally, certain chat rooms will be classified as abusive based on prior reports, automatically preventing employees from joining them.

Users and administrators can enable two-factor authentication during the login process for added security. This feature requires verification via a one-time password sent to their phone before logging into Google Workspace.

Google Workspace review

The primary competitor to Google Workspace is Microsoft 365 (Image credit: Google)

The competition

The primary competitor to Google Workspace is the productivity suite called Microsoft 365, previously known as Office 365 or Microsoft Office. Microsoft 365 offers a set of productivity tools that, while not as varied as Google Workspace, still manages to shine with the sheer number of features included per product. 

Microsoft Word, for example, is a more powerful word processor than Google Docs, although most people seem to prefer the latter for online collaboration. Similarly, tools like Excel and Powerpoint are more feature-rich offerings than Sheets and Slides. While it’s not the first choice for companies with remote workplaces, Microsoft has recently launched online and free-to-use versions of its office productivity tools and even enabled real-time collaboration features for businesses. 

A few other examples of decent office productivity suites include Zoho Workplace and WPS Office, both of which offer ad-enabled free versions of their software. While not necessarily as powerful as Google Workspace, they both offer decent cost-friendly alternatives for those short on a budget.

Final verdict

One of the most popular online productivity suites out there is Google Workspace, which places a strong emphasis on sharing and collaboration. While some may argue that it doesn't quite measure up to Microsoft 365 in terms of advanced features, Google Workspace truly excels in its ability to facilitate remote teamwork among employees in an organization. 

In addition to its practical and easy-to-use design, this platform also boasts a straightforward pricing system that makes it a reliable option for businesses of all sizes. All in all, if you're looking for an efficient and effective way to streamline your organization's productivity and collaboration, Google Workspace is definitely worth considering.

Logitech Z407 Bluetooth Computer Speakers with Subwoofer review
11:43 pm | January 4, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Computing Gadgets Mics & Speakers Peripherals & Accessories | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: January 2021
• Still on sale
• Launch price: $79 / £79 / AU$149
• Official price now: $119.99 / £119.99 / AU$249.95

Update: February 2024. Three years after our initial review, the Logitech Z407 remains the best computer speakers you can buy - even though they've actually increased in price since we originally reviewed them. How come? For a start, the computer speaker market doesn't move quite as fast as others, so we've not seen any speakers that beat the Logitech Z407 when it comes to quality and affordability. Also, the Logitech Z407 were so good, especially when it came to room-shaking bass, that they remain an excellent set of speakers to hook up to your computer, even after all these years. Logitech used to have a great reputation for making excellent computer speakers, and products like the Z407 are why. They sound great and are built to last.

Two-minute review

The Logitech Z407 is somewhat of a rarity. Even now, if you want an excellent set of computer speakers, chances are you’ll have to spend a little more than $100/£100. Spend less, and you’re likely to end up with ones that sound middling at best.

Once in a while though, we are treated with more than decent computer speakers that not only look great but sound great as well. And, the Logitech Z407 is one such peripheral.

Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

This fairly new release from Logitech has surprised us in many ways, delivering a powerful sound, rumbling bass, several connectivity options, and a nifty wireless dial for only $79 (£79, AU$149). 

For that same price, the older Edifier M3200 is slightly less powerful and doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity. Meanwhile, the 2019-released Creative T100 may boast satellites that offer the same level of audio power, but doesn’t have a subwoofer, is slightly bigger, and costs $20/£20 more – which makes the Z407 a better value. 

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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

That value starts in design. At 7.87 x 3.70 x 3.35 inches (satellites) with a 9.45 x 9.21 x 7.09-inch sub, the Logitech Z407 is small enough to fit perfectly on a small desk. The speakers also sport a smart look, with capsule-shaped satellites and a dark gray finish that makes it a classy addition to work and creative setups. And, it has an overall rigid build that should see it last several years.

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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)
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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)
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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

The Logitech Z407 is also versatile. The removable satellite stands may be attached in two ways so you can either have a horizontal or an upright setup. It also has a wireless control dial with a 20-meter range, and three connectivity options – Bluetooth, micro USB, and the 3.5 mm – which further boosts its versatility.

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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)
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Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

The wireless dial may be confusing at first, especially because not all media apps offer full support: Spotify does, but Apple TV on Mac doesn’t support the skip or forward functionality while Netflix on Windows won’t even let you rewind with it. On top of that, it may take you a bit to figure out whether you’re controlling the volume or the bass level as you’re essentially using the same physical dial for both.

We’re not saying it’s convoluted, just that it’s not as straightforward as most people (aka those who won’t bother reading the manual) would prefer. However, once you do get used to how the dial works, it’ll feel like an extension of the arm.

Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

Just because there’s wireless connectivity, doesn’t mean you’ll be going cable-free with these speakers. The satellites themselves need to be connected to the sub via RCA cables. However, you still have the option to connect the system to your computer or device via Bluetooth, which means that the clutter can stay behind your desk where it belongs. 

Since the Bluetooth connectivity is pretty darn good and up to par with the 3.5mm option, you can stick with it for convenience and still get excellent, lag-free audio. For slightly higher quality sound, the micro USB connection seems to have a bit more high end and detail.

Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to audio quality, the Logitech Z407 gets right what so many cheaper computer speakers fail to do. In fact, for a computer speaker system this compact, it blasts out surprisingly hefty audio in terms of quality and volume.

Its sound may be slightly lacking in detail and its sub can overpower the rest of the frequencies when it’s at a higher volume (though a simple turn of the dial should fix it right up). However, the  Logitech Z407 still sounds impressive. 

Unlike other affordable speakers out there that tend to bump up their bass and high end, which typically make them sound harsh and easily fatiguing, this offering from Logitech is mid-focused, allowing it to produce a richer, warmer sound. The subwoofer has a lot of power for its size, with a down-firing driver that gives it a whole lot of rumble. Trust us: even at a lower bass level, you will hear AND feel this sub.

You'll get decent separation when you’re sitting directly in front of it, which is where you’re meant to experience computer speakers. However, there’s no virtual surround sound feature here so you're really only experiencing 2.1 audio, which means that you’ll hear things from the left, the right, and somewhere in between… but that’s about it. 

As a result, it may not be immersive enough for hardcore gamers. If you’re looking for something that will help you game better, you’re better off with a gaming headset with surround sound features. 

Still, the Logitech Z407 boasts plenty of rumble and produces terrific sound quality that will satisfy most gamers as well as users looking to consume media – whether that’s music or movies. And, its added perk of being versatile will benefit every type of user.

Logitech Z407

(Image credit: Future)

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Rippling employee management review
1:37 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Rippling is a one-stop software solution that lets businesses manage their HR needs along with providing a series of add-ons that can help improve efficiency. Alongside HR, there are several benefits administration features within this all-in-one platform augmented by payroll and talent management tools. Adding wider appeal is the way that Rippling lets you expand the feature set to include IT products, with the option for managing employee apps such as Slack and Gmail

The IT aspect of Rippling gets an extra boost from the ability of the software to handle device management. Employee computers, software and security can all be administered using this innovative software package. On a practical level, Rippling offers lots of flexibility as you can scale it up to include as many add-ons as you think your business needs, with pricing that adjusts accordingly.


Rippling starts at just $8 a month per user but you'll probably want to enlist the help of its add-ons too (Image credit: Rippling)

Rippling: Pricing

You can start using Rippling from $8 a month, per user, which offers access to the Employee Management Platform. This is the core aspect of Rippling that allows management of vital areas including employee data and general operations. However, in order to make use of the other available features within the Rippling arena you’ll need to pay for the various add-ons. 

Rippling suggests that you get in touch with them for a customized quote, depending on your requirements. You’ll be able to pick from options including full service payroll, benefits administration, applicant tracking along with Rippling’s app management package, its device management option and more.


Rippling can be supplemented by its great payroll feature (Image credit: Rippling)

Rippling: Features

While Rippling can be used by smaller businesses, it’s certainly powerful enough to be employed by larger concerns, thanks mainly to its advanced set of additional features. Rippling is particularly useful for automating many manual tasks, such as the onboarding of new employees, along with offboarding and all points along the way. 

The Employee Management Platform sits at the heart of Rippling and comes armed with a variety of tools, while also providing a unified employee database structure. Business owners can carry out task management from here, keep tabs on workflow and approvals, perform reporting chores and customize other areas such as fields and alerts along with position management. 

Move on through the HR management aspect of Rippling and you’ll find the capacity for carrying out full service payroll too. This lets you pay staff across all 50 states, and international territories. It offers federal, state and local tax filing, W2, W4, 1099 and new hire filing while also being able to handle garnishments, multiple pay rates and more besides. 

In addition, benefits administration chores are covered, with management of medical, dental, vision and 401K areas all capable of being handled. Employees can also be given the option of utilizing online self-service features.


Other add-ons include this neat device management option (Image credit: Rippling)

Rippling: Performance

It’s all about the performance factor if you’re using Rippling to not only tackle HR and payroll duties, but also stitch together IT tasks too. For example, if you’ve got the IT products configured as part of the package you’ll be able to manage employee hardware including choosing devices, machines and software configurations. 

Meanwhile, everyday employee management tasks are similarly easy to handle thanks to the lean, almost minimalistic interface, which offers speedy performance even when you’re navigating more complex data heavy areas such as running payroll and collating detailed reports. Rippling also benefits from its easy integration with over 400 different apps, allowing you to add in extra functionality and speed up workflow with very little effort.


You also get access to a raft of powerful reporting tools inside Rippling (Image credit: Rippling)

Rippling: Ease of use

Full marks should go to the team who developed the Rippling interface as it’s got a great look and feel. The overall design is slick, easy to use and feels bang up to date. This makes working with the feature set very easy indeed, with a central dashboard area that lets you dip into core features instantly. 

The main menu offers quickfire access to key areas of Rippling, such as people, apps, tasks and reporting, while the central work area offers up a reassuringly straightforward overview of the task in hand. We also love the single sign on option, which lets users pick from their list of apps in one location. Add it all together and the Rippling user experience proves to be wonderfully fuss free.


Rippling also offers integration with over 400 different productivity apps (Image credit: Rippling)

Rippling: Support

There are all of the usual support options available to customers of Rippling, with subscribed users being able to log into a dedicated help center. You’ll find that the support is basically divided down the middle, with an option for administrators who handle all things Rippling for a company able to get help via the center mentioned above. 


There are options for administrators and employees when it comes to support (Image credit: Rippling)

Meanwhile, employees who make use of Rippling’s features and functions and who need support are encouraged to contact the designated Rippling administrator at their place of employment.

Rippling: Final verdict

Rippling is a great proposition if you’re a business that’s looking to streamline your HR workflow along with other administration tasks. With its slick interface, flexible package options and keen pricing there’s plenty to like about Rippling. 

While the costs might start to add up as you add on features, including the likes of the payroll and app management aspects of the software, the resulting increase in productivity looks like it could produce a decent return on your investment. 

The best bit about this arrangement is that you’ll only end up paying for the features that you need, with the provision for adding more easily if you find your business needs them further down the line.