Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 provides real-time protection that can identify and shut down known malware before it inflicts any damage. Upon encountering some potential malware, Comodo will wall it off in a sandbox, thereby keeping the system safe from an infection.
This sandbox also has other uses, such as running web browsers or other software in an isolated environment. It can even be used to create a virtual desktop, which will totally isolate the rest of the system from any potential threats, including attempts to hijack online data and activities.
Expert users will also appreciate Comodo’s Host Intrusion Protection System, which provides complete control over what software can do on your system.
One noticeable omission is web filtering, which means Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 has no ability to block malicious URLs. The auto-sandboxing function can confine many threats, but this is a less direct solution than preventing you accessing malicious sites in the first place. However, despite this lapse, there are plenty of other bonus features that complete this security solution.
This particular release, Comodo Antivirus 11, doesn't offer many significant upgrades from the previous version, but the developer says "major changes" are due to arrive with version 12.
Details aside, Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 remains a capable solution, and climbing up to Comodo's starter commercial product, Comodo Advanced Antivirus 11, only brings a few more features, such as protection for shopping and banking, and unlimited support. This edition costs $19.99 (about £16) to cover one device for one year.
Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 is free to use, and has a few annoying quirks that are common to free software. During installation, it went right to work modifying our browser, resetting its home and new tab pages to Yahoo, as well as changing the default search engine.
It is possible to avoid this by unchecking various boxes during installation, but speeding through without really reading the fine print will leave your browser in a mess. It's quite simple to prevent this that Comodo left our browser alone, and realize that this really doesn’t make our PC more secure.
It's not all bad news though; the installer also offers to install some important features, including Comodo's secure Dragon Browser and Comodo Secure DNS.
When you install the Comodo Dragon browser, your full Chrome settings (such as bookmarks, cookies, and history) are imported automatically. This is convenient if you're a fan of Google's browser, but we'd also like to see some support for others as well. Avast, for example, grabs settings from both Chrome and Firefox when its secure browser is installed.
Setup takes some time due to a slow pre-installation scan and a virus database update that took two minutes to complete in our tests.
Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 provides a flexible interface with options to suit different purposes. Security status check-ins and scans are easily initiated with a tiny desktop widget, with another option to access the more traditional antivirus console. There's also an Advanced View available, which provides instant access to Comodo's most powerful features.
There are plenty of options for new users (Comodo can perform just like other antivirus programs, with a choice of quick and full scans), but power users will want to step up to Comodo's advanced options.
These include a Rating Scan, which checks running processes, focusing on commonly infected areas, and provides a reputation score for everything it finds. Some processes aren't full fledged malware, but are marked out as untrusted due to their behavior. If you suspect that your PC might be infected by a new type of malware, but need verification, the Rating Scan can point you in the right direction.
When it comes to regular antivirus scans, Comodo can check your whole PC, or focus on specific files and folders. It can also focus on commonly infected locations, or just scan the processes currnetly running.
Individual scans can be fine-tuned in various ways, with adjustable heuristics (the ability to check for new threats that haven't yet been catalogued), the option to check for reputation scores online, and an adaptable scheduler. You can choose to run scans on a regular schedule (Tuesdays at 3pm, for example), or scan your PC only on weekdays, or when the system is totally idle powered by AC current. The choice is yours.
Comodo also offers the ability to create your own bootable CD or USB thumb drive, which you can use if your PC is too badly infected to boot into WIndows. It's important to create this while your PC is running smoothly, and keep it in a safe place for emergencies.
Additional security tools
The Comodo sandbox lets you run software from questionable sources in a safe environment, keeping it isolated so it can’t do any damage. You can also run a web browser inside the sandbox for a defense against web-based malware.
It's also possible to create a complete virtual desktop, providing a secure, isolated environment where you can install potentially risky software without any threat to your actual system. We appreciate this option, but we're not sure why it requires you to install Microsoft SIlverlight. Microsoft stopped development of Silverlight in 2013, with the exception of criticual secuity updates, and Google Chrome ended support for it several years ago.
Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 also includes a secure browser, Comodo Dragon. This is a Chromium-based browser with antivirus protection baked in. Unlike Chrome, Comodo doesn't provide activity reports back to Google, blocks third-party tracking cookies, forces HTTPS connections, provides alerts for dubious SSL certificates, and more.
Unfortuntely, Comodo seems to force Dragon on its users, with frequent pop-ups urging you to make it your default web browser, even if you're not interested.
Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 also offers Host Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), a powerful security layer to give complete control over what other software does on your PC. If a program carries out a potentially dangerous action (such as running an executable file), HIPS will warn you and let you choose whether the software should be allowed to proceed.
It's possible to tweak the HIPS behavior rules, but this requires some expert knowledge. Interrupting running processes can make your system unstable, but it's a handy tool for experienced users, offering plenty of ways to improve and fine-tune your system for optimal security.
The Comodo KillSwitch is a big step up from the Windows Task Manager, allowing you to quickly terminate malicious programs. One highlight is the KillSwitch Repair option, which can determine whether malware has affected your PC's HOSTS file, DNS settings, Explorer policies or even more, and restore the default settings with a single click.
The package is rounded off with an array of settings that are handy for all users, including a chocie of interface theme and power-aving options that prevent software updates if you're using a laptop away from its charger.
A downside of Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10 is that it's not included in the majority of tests from independent antivirus testing labs. However, AV-Test has examined Comodo's Internet Security Premium protection, and rated it very highly overall with a few exceptions.
AV-Test found that that programs launched more slowly with Comodo running, and ranked it an unimpressive 19th among 20 contenders in terms of system performance.
AV-Test found that a typical website that normally takes six seconds to load will take seven seconds with an average antivirus suite installed. With Comodo installed, the site loaded in 7.75 seconds – a difference so minor you're unlikely to notice it in real-world conditions.
To test Comodo Antivirus for Windows 10's protection, we pitted it against our own custom ransomware simulator, which tests the security software's ability to identify new threats. We initiated our simulated ransomware and used Comodo's default option, running the program partly isolated, and allowing only limited rights on our PC. The ransomware did run, but because it was sandboxed, it was unable to encrypt any of our files.
We were impressed by this, and appreciate that this strategy will deal with many threats. The shortcoming is that human intervention is needed, with the user successfully classifying safe software from malware that requires sandboxing. This path is fine for experts, but novices will prefer an automated antivirus that can do the heavy lifting.