Note: This article is from the March 2009 edition of PC Authority Magazine. See the magazine for the full security software roundup.
In our tests, F-Secure acquitted itself with honour, but didn't quite break into the top rank. Its 87% score in our malware test was creditable; its 37% in our web threats test less so. Its strongest suit was its firewall, which managed to completely conceal our PC from would-be attackers, so that our security scan couldn't even confirm the machine was switched on.
If this performance is good enough for you, F-Secure is quite pleasing to use. Its main interface is compact and clean, though this is largely achieved by hiding controls - six main tabs contain more than 30 links, which open further configuration panels. It might be daunting for beginners, but it largely follows Windows user interface guidelines, and the layout is logical enough to feel intuitive to more knowledgeable users.
We also liked the simplicity of its email integration. It didn't add any buttons or toolbars to our mail client, but simply brought up a summary window when infected mail was found, detailing the nature of the threat and the action taken.
Unfortunately, simple doesn't necessarily mean nimble: F-Secure Internet Security 2009 had one of the largest RAM footprints of any suite this month, and one of the slowest startup times. That's hard to excuse given its relatively sparse feature set - just the bare essentials plus parental controls.
Still, if you have three PCs to protect, F-Secure is reasonable value and unusually it comes with a bootable Linux-based recovery CD - a nice touch. It's not ideal for everyone, but technical users may appreciate its no-nonsense approach.