Heimdal Security Review: Quick Expert Summary
Heimdal is a decent anti-malware solution for Windows, macOS, and Android that provides some advanced protections, but it also has some annoying bugs — overall, it’s not a great value compared to top antivirus suites like Norton and Bitdefender that provide more security features for less money.
Heimdal’s malware scanner scored an impressive 98% detection rating during my testing, and I appreciate how little system slowdown I experienced during most of Heimdal’s system scans. However, the scanner also crashed several times during full system scans — this is something that shouldn’t happen, and this doesn’t happen with the best antiviruses on the market.
Heimdal also includes the following features:
- Advanced packet inspection.
- Automatic software updater (X-ploit Resilience).
- Gaming mode.
Heimdal’s deep packet inspection features and firewall are both really good — they provide advanced network protection that can prevent sophisticated threats like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, exploit attacks, and ransomware.
I also like the X-ploit Resilience feature. It unobtrusively installs updates to your software, automatically patching potential vulnerabilities on your device. Competitors like Avira and McAfee both have vulnerability scanners that flag out-of-date software, but X-ploit Resilience is a little bit more intuitive.
The main drawback of Heimdal’s antivirus offering is that it’s missing many of the essential security features offered by its competitors (and it’s not much cheaper than them). For example, Norton includes all of the same features as Heimdal, plus a virtual private network (VPN), a password manager, identity theft protections, system cleanup tools, and parental controls — all of this for only a few dollars more than Heimdal.
Simply put, Heimdal is a decent antivirus product with advanced threat protection — but it charges too much money for the few features it offers (after all, Avira Free Internet Security offers a similar set of tools, and it’s completely free).
Heimdal offers 3 different plans, and they all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Overall Rank||#22 out of 66 antiviruses|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Operating Systems||Windows, Android, Mac|
Heimdal Full Review
Heimdal performed well in my malware scanning and real-time threat protection tests, which is the main selling point of this software. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there just aren’t enough additional features to justify Heimdal’s price.
Competitors like Norton and Bitdefender offer excellent malware protection, plus a VPN, cloud backup, a password manager, parental controls, and other extra features for only a few dollars more than Heimdal.
Heimdal offers 3 plans for home users, and each plan includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Heimdal’s antivirus scanner provides excellent malware detection when it works, but it crashed repeatedly on my gaming PC during testing — thankfully it didn’t crash on any of my other devices. Bitdefender and Avira offer similarly advanced antivirus scanners that were able to scan all of my devices without any issues.
Other than these crashes, Heimdal’s scanner and real-time protection are fast, effective, and lightweight. In my tests, I was able to use my devices as normal during scans — I worked in Google Docs and Google Sheets, surfed the web, and even played video games on my Windows 10 PC, and also I watched a movie on Netflix on my Android smartphone without noticing any dip in performance.
Heimdal offers more scan options than many other antiviruses out there. It has:
- Quick scan.
- Active processes scan.
- Full scan.
- Hard drive scan.
- Local drive scan.
- Removable drive scan.
- System scan.
- Network drive scan.
While this may seem like a confusing array of options, most users will just stick with the quick scan (for checking on commonly infected areas like temporary files, downloads, and the registry) and the full scan for a thorough scan of the whole system.
Heimdal’s 8 scan options may be helpful for some users, but I’d rather have even greater flexibility and see Heimdal simply include a custom scan option, which would allow users to select specific drives, files, or folders to scan. Bitdefender’s quick, full, and custom scans are easier to use and understand, while also providing a similar amount of functionality as Heimdal’s scans.
I used a large database of nearly 1,000 malware files, including trojans, viruses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and rootkits to test Heimdal Antivirus. It detected 98% of the malware samples in my testing — when it worked.
Unfortunately, Heimdal’s full scan always froze on a particular file after about 3 hours on my larger 2TB hard drive. And unlike Bitdefender, Heimdal doesn’t allow you to add exceptions to scans (such as excluding this one particular file). So I was stuck without a way to execute a full scan on my primary PC. Even after emailing back and forth with Heimdal’s customer support, I was unable to find a fix for this issue. This is a major malfunction, as a full scan is absolutely essential in any antivirus and should work seamlessly — Bitdefender, McAfee, and Norton all have excellent full scans that scan large hard drives without issues.
However, when I tested Heimdal’s full scan on my laptop, which features a much smaller 200GB drive, the scan never froze and was complete in just over 1 hour.
It’s easy to schedule all of Heimdal’s 8 scans on a weekly or monthly basis — and you can add custom names and notes for each scan.
However, I would like to see Heimdal implement a more detailed scan report system, as there is no way to see the detailed results of a scan once it has run.
Norton, in contrast, provides detailed scan results — including the number of threats detected, the number of threats resolved, and the time and date of each scan.
Overall, Heimdal’s malware scan scored impressive malware detection ratings with little system slowdown in my testing on my smaller laptop. However, Heimdal Antivirus lacks a custom scan option and the full scan was unreliable on larger drives. I recommend that prospective buyers take advantage of Heimdal’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test its full scan on their computers before making a final decision.
Heimdal’s firewall isn’t very special — it’s more like a user interface for the built-in firewall that comes with all Windows devices. The firewall feature integrates with Windows, but I didn’t see any difference in my Windows firewall’s efficacy after I installed Heimdal.
However, I was pleased to see that Heimdal provides a ton of options for adding rules to its firewall, which is easier than navigating the clunky interface of the Windows firewall. This allows you to permit a specific program through your firewall, or set rules for specific network ports.
However, even though it’s better than Windows, Heimdal’s rule setting method isn’t a particularly easy process — for example, in order to add a program, you have to manually navigate to the program path instead of simply selecting it from a list (like Norton and McAfee). Additionally, while Heimdal’s added layer of customization is great for advanced users, beginners or less-tech savvy users may find it overwhelming.
Overall, I wasn’t especially impressed with Heimdal’s firewall. It doesn’t really work any better than the firewall that comes with Windows, but advanced users may enjoy its in-depth rule-setting features.
Deep Packet Inspection
Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service is very effective, but its name is confusing and it’s quite difficult to understand. In layman’s terms, deep packet inspection looks at every single piece of data being sent through your network and analyzes it for suspicious activity.
In technical terms, Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service analyzes all incoming and outgoing DNS (Domain Name System), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) traffic using machine-learning technology and TTPC (Threat to Process Correlation). This allows Heimdal to detect and prevent MITM attacks and spoofing attacks, and it can also help Heimdal recognize if malware like rootkits or spyware is communicating with users outside your network.
Heimdal splits its deep packet inspection service into 2 tools:
- DarkLayer Guard. Blocks malicious connections in real-time.
- VectorN Detection. Monitors the connections DarkLayer Guard has blocked and searches for patterns using machine-learning technology.
Arguably, DarkLayer Guard, VectorN Detection, and Heimdal’s firewall can all be grouped under a single feature: a “next-generation firewall”, which is quite common in modern premium antivirus software (Norton and Bitdefender both use similar technologies in their firewalls and real-time malware detection systems).
The fact that Heimdal splits its deep packet inspection service into 2 parts, lists them as a separate feature from the firewall, and gives them both confusing names is a major blow to the software’s usability — DarkLayer Guard and VectorN Detection seem intentionally vague and hard to understand.
Based on my malware simulation test, Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service works very well — Heimdal was able to block all 23 of the scenarios that I simulated. In contrast, Windows Defender only blocked 19. Unfortunately, Heimdal also blocked some legitimate programs and connections, which is annoying, especially for users that have a hard time figuring out if their antivirus has flagged a false positive or not.
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to whitelist specific sites, files, and processes with DarkLayer Guard, as you simply add the site, file, or process inside a clearly-marked box. However, it would be nice if this was integrated into the firewall’s rule system — I don’t want to have to set up a rule in the firewall and add an entry to DarkLayer Guard’s whitelist every time Heimdal blocks something unnecessarily. Competitors like BullGuard and McAfee make it a lot easier to add firewall rules.
In summary, Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service is good for security, but it’s pretty annoying. It’s very effective at catching malware files and network threats in real-time, but it’s not intuitively designed and I didn’t like how many false positives it returned in my testing. However, its use of TTPC and machine learning make it a great feature for users looking to ensure that their devices and networks are as safe as possible.
X-ploit Resilience is a useful tool that flags outdated software and automatically patches and updates most programs — and it’s available as a free download. Since hackers often take advantage of the security vulnerabilities of outdated software for exploit attacks, this feature is an excellent security add-on. While antiviruses like McAfee offer vulnerability scanners that flag out-of-date software, Avira is the only major competitor other than Heimdal that also offers automatic software updating.
After you open X-ploit Resilience, Heimdal scans your system for software, giving you the option to “monitor” or “auto-update” any programs on your computer.
X-ploit Resilience is pretty slow — it took almost an hour to patch 6 programs on my laptop. But it’s still a really convenient feature, especially for users that aren’t used to keeping their programs updated.
I was also impressed by the long list of software that X-ploit Resilience works with — I was pleasantly surprised to find the tool recognizing and updating some of my more niche software, such as Wireshark and Tortoise SVN, as well as more common programs like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
X-ploit Resilience also provides a long list of commonly-used software — along with some more specialized programs — which you can install with a single click. Just like X-ploit Resilience’s automatic updating, this works well and functions very unobtrusively.
X-ploit Resilience is great, but I’d like to see Heimdal add more device optimization features to its plans, such as a startup manager, disk optimizer, file cleanup, or a method of visualizing computer resources. Avira Prime provides all of these features plus update scanning in its paid plans.
Overall, X-ploit Resilience is an excellent feature — it’s easy to use, it can auto-update and auto-install hundreds of different programs, and it’s even available as a separate free download for users that want a helpful addition to their existing cybersecurity protections.
Heimdal’s gaming mode is a pretty basic feature that prevents antivirus scans and security notifications from interrupting gaming or other CPU-intensive activities. The gaming mode can be accessed in Heimdal’s General Settings tab. With gaming mode enabled, Heimdal won’t perform scans or give you any security notifications, running only basic real-time protection.
It’s great to see that Heimdal has included this feature in its antivirus — I just wish it was a little easier to find. I didn’t like digging around in Heimdal’s settings every time I wanted to launch a game, especially when most gaming modes from competitors like Norton and McAfee launch automatically when you enter full-screen mode.
While gaming mode does disable notifications, it won’t actually increase your computer’s gaming performance. If you’re interested in a gaming mode that actually increases framerate and performance in games, there are better antiviruses for gamers out there. (BullGuard is my favorite gaming antivirus in 2021).
While it’s not as good as many competitors’ gaming modes, Heimdal’s gaming mode is a helpful tool for users that don’t want their antivirus to interfere with their games.
Heimdal Antivirus Plans and Pricing
Heimdal offers 3 premium plans for home users, all of which allow you to install the product on up to 10 devices (Windows, macOS, and Android) and come with either 1-, 2-, or 3-year subscriptions:
- Threat Prevention Home. Includes vulnerability scanner and deep packet inspection features.
- Next-Gen Antivirus Home. Includes malware scanning and firewall.
- Premium Security Home. Includes all of Heimdal’s features in the same program.
Heimdal doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can test out the software risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Heimdal’s pricing is around the industry standard for premium antivirus software, but it doesn’t provide nearly as many useful features as similarly-priced competitors. Norton 360 includes far more additional features for just a few more dollars, Malwarebytes offers a super-cheap basic scanner for users on a budget, and Bitdefender provides lightweight cloud-based scanning for users looking for advanced protection that won’t slow down their systems.
Heimdal Threat Prevention Home — Real-Time Security Features
Heimdal Threat Prevention Home costs and provides some really helpful real-time security features:
- Deep packet inspection. Includes DarkLayer Guard and VectorN Detection.
- X-ploit Resilience. Provides automatic software updates and one-click software installation.
This plan is ideal for advanced users who already have a good antivirus but want to supplement their protection with Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service. While premium antiviruses like Norton and Bitdefender provide sufficient protection for most home users, Heimdal Threat Prevention Home is a good option for adding another layer of network security.
Heimdal Next-Gen Antivirus Home — Solid, Unobtrusive Antivirus
Heimdal Next-Gen Antivirus Home provides solid antivirus protection, but it’s missing the deep pack inspection and software updating tools offered by Threat Prevention Home. Heimdal Next-Gen Antivirus offers:
- Antivirus software.
- Heimdal’s firewall technology.
This plan is intended for users who want a solid malware scanning program but without any of Heimdal’s advanced network security features. However, Malwarebytes and Bitdefender both offer better low-cost antivirus plans. At , Heimdal Next-Gen Antivirus is slightly more expensive than Heimdal Threat Prevention Home, and it isn’t really a good value. If you’re looking for a cheap and bare-bones antivirus solution, Avira Internet Security Free is a much better option, and it’s totally free.
That being said, Heimdal’s anti-malware scanner scored great marks in my testing and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Heimdal Premium Security Home — Best Value
Heimdal Premium Security Home includes all of the features of the previous 2 plans in a single program — and it’s priced at . However, programs like TotalAV and Avira offer more features with their premium plans, including VPN protection, password managers, identity theft protection, and more.
This plan easily offers the best value. It’s only a few dollars more expensive than Heimdal Threat Prevention Home and Next-Gen Antivirus Home, and it offers double the features. While it’s not as good as full-featured competitors like Bitdefender and Norton, it’s still a decent choice for users looking for a stripped-down antivirus product with good anti-malware capabilities.
Heimdal Ease of Use and Setup
I installed Heimdal Antivirus on all of my devices in under 3 minutes — the whole process was incredibly easy. Unfortunately, some of Heimdal’s features are deactivated by default, and the settings menus are a little confusing.
Heimdal is available for PC, Mac, and Android, and it’s offered in the following languages:
Heimdal’s default settings are mostly good — nearly all of Heimdal’s proactive security features are activated by default, so you’re pretty well protected the moment Heimdal is installed on your device.
However, the X-ploit Resilience automatic software updates are off by default, as well as the antivirus scanner’s removable drive scanning, real-time archive scanning, and real-time network scanning, which is kind of annoying.
In the future, I would like to see Heimdal enable these options by default, instead of having users hunt through the software’s settings menu to find them. I ended up using Heimdal’s online knowledge base to figure out how to activate all of the security features offered.
The program itself is reasonably well laid out and it’s easy to find essential tools like deep packet inspection, the antivirus scanner, firewall, and software updating features.
Navigating around the application is relatively easy, but it can be a little clunky — Heimdal has both “Quick Settings” and “General Settings” menus, which is confusing because they often have exactly the same contents.
Overall, I think Heimdal is a pretty easy-to-use antivirus, but that’s not saying much — it basically only offers 4 different security features. Competitors like Avira and TotalAV are equally as easy to use but offer a lot more functionality with their products. I was a little frustrated about Heimdal’s useful security features being turned off by default, and I didn’t really like the similarities between the settings menus, but overall Heimdal was pretty intuitive and easy to manage.
Heimdal Mobile App
Although Heimdal doesn’t prominently advertise one on its website, there is a Heimdal Android app — called Thor Mobile Security (Heimdal doesn’t offer an iOS app). All Heimdal plans cover up to 10 devices, so once you’ve bought a plan, you can quickly and easily download Thor Mobile Security to your Android device. Heimdal’s Android app claims to offer the following features:
- Malware scanning.
- Deep packet inspection.
- VPN (but it doesn’t work).
Heimdal’s Android malware scanner makes quick work of scanning your apps, and it works well. I downloaded a cache of nearly 400 Android-specific malware files, and Heimdal was able to detect 95% of the test files, which is really good. While it’s not quite as good as the 100% malware detection rate for Android by McAfee, it’s still pretty impressive.
DarkLayer Guard (Heimdal’s deep packet inspection service) also works well and runs in the background even when the app is closed. I was impressed that it detected all of the MITM and network spoofing attacks in my testing.
However, the app misleadingly suggests that DarkLayer Guard is a virtual private network (VPN), which is not the case. A VPN allows you to connect to an encrypted server that replaces your actual IP address with an IP address from a different location (or country), allowing users to navigate the internet privately and securely.
But DarkLayer Guard isn’t a VPN — instead, it acts more like a firewall and blocks malicious connections (and Heimdal’s “VPN” doesn’t provide an option at all to connect to a server in a different location). I don’t like at all how Heimdal falsely advertises that it includes a VPN when in fact it doesn’t provide one.
There are plenty of good antiviruses that include a VPN for Windows, Mac, Android, and even iOS — for example, TotalAV and Avira both offer a good VPN with their premium antivirus plans. However, the best VPNs on the market are from standalone providers like ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN, which both offer excellent mobile apps.
Another slight gripe I have with Thor Mobile Security is that it doesn’t look and feel as polished and professional as Heimdal’s desktop application. Additionally, I would like to see Heimdal implement some anti-theft features into Thor Mobile Security, such as a remote locking system, remote alarm, GPS tracking, or remote image capture. Norton, Bitdefender, and McAfee all offer more professional-looking Android apps with far more features, including anti-theft protocols.
Overall, while Thor Mobile Security is a decent mobile anti-malware solution, there are a lot of better Android-based antiviruses in 2021. I hope Heimdal adds useful features to its Android app, making the app a more worthy companion to its desktop software.
Heimdal Customer Support
Heimdal’s customer support is relatively quick and efficient, but I wish there were more support channels. Currently, Heimdal offers:
- Email support.
- Online knowledge base.
It’s a shame that Heimdal doesn’t offer options like phone support, live web chat, or a user forum. Competitors like McAfee and Bitdefender offer rapid support via phone and live chat in a variety of languages, which is a lot more convenient than having to dig through an online knowledge base or wait on an email reply.
Heimdal’s online knowledge base and email support are easily accessed through both the desktop and the Android app. I was particularly impressed by the knowledge base, which includes a huge number of articles and tutorials, as well as a cybersecurity glossary, comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQ) section, and even a weekly cybersecurity course for beginners, available by email.
I was pretty surprised that Heimdal’s cybersecurity glossary doesn’t include its own proprietary terms — e.g. DarkLayer Guard, VectorN Detection, X-ploit Resilience, etc. — which makes looking up specific parts of the program difficult.
On the plus side, Heimdal’s email support was among the fastest I’ve experienced. Each time I sent Heimdal a support ticket, I received a helpful response within a few hours, and often within 1 hour. For an antivirus email support service, this is very fast — some competitors, like BullGuard, can take as long as a whole day to reply to email support requests.
Overall, Heimdal’s customer support options are pretty well-executed, but it’s too bad that there aren’t any options for live phone help, web chat, or user forums, which other competitors offer for their users.
Is Heimdal Worth the Money?
Heimdal provides a decent antivirus scanner and some impressive network security tools for Windows, Macs, and Android devices, but it’s a little glitchy and doesn’t provide enough additional features to compete with other premium brands like Norton and Bitdefender.
Heimdal’s antivirus scanner detected 98% of the malware files in my testing, which is a great score — it found malware like man-in-the-middle attacks, exploit attacks, ransomware, and more. However, Heimdal crashed numerous times during full disk scans on my gaming PC, and I wasn’t able to whitelist the file that was causing Heimdal’s scanner to crash.
Heimdal also comes with a firewall, advanced packet inspection, an automatic software updater, and a gaming mode.
I really like the X-ploit Resilience software updater tool, which is user-friendly and keeps your software protected from exploit attacks. And Heimdal’s deep packet inspection tools are excellent, providing advanced detection of sophisticated network attacks — but Heimdal is missing a lof of other useful extras. Competitors like Avira and Norton include password managers, VPNs, system tune-up features, web shields, and more.
All 3 of Heimdal’s antivirus packages are available for 1, 2, or 3-year subscriptions and for up to 10 devices. The 3-year subscriptions are a pretty good value, but Heimdal is still too expensive when compared to competitors like Bitdefender and McAfee. Heimdal covers all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Overall, Heimdal provides good anti-malware protection, a good firewall, and it’s pretty easy to use, but there are other antivirus companies that offer more features at a similar or even cheaper price than Heimdal.
Heimdal Antivirus — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Heimdal free?
No, Heimdal doesn’t offer free antivirus protection, but all of its plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I don’t usually recommend free antivirus programs (because they usually lack many important security features), but Avira Free Internet Security is the best free antivirus on the market.
However, Heimdal’s excellent X-ploit Resilience software is free. X-ploit Resilience auto-updates and auto-installs hundreds of different programs, which protects your devices from exploit attacks.
Is Heimdal safe?
Heimdal is a pretty safe security program — as long as it works with your device. In my antivirus testing, Heimdal returned excellent malware detection results for most of my devices, but it crashed every time I ran a full disk scan on my gaming PC. By comparison, Norton 360 has never crashed during a scan on any of my devices.
I think there are better antivirus programs out there other than Heimdal. But Heimdal backs each plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out on your system without wasting your money.
Does Heimdal include a mobile app?
Yes, but only for Android users. Heimdal’s mobile app is called Thor Mobile Security, but it’s not very good. While it offers network traffic scanning and a malware scanner, Heimdal’s Android app misleadingly suggests that its DarkLayer Guard feature is a VPN, which it is not. And it also doesn’t provide any of the useful features provided by competitors like McAfee and Bitdefender, such as anti-theft protection, a VPN, parental controls, and system cleanup tools.
If you’re looking for a good Android antivirus, check out our list of the best antiviruses for Android in 2021. If you want to protect your iPhone or iPad, check out our selection of the top internet security apps for iOS.
What is Heimdal Thor Agent?
Thor Agent is the in-app name of Heimdal’s antivirus software. It’s confusing, but Heimdal’s Premium Security Home package contains an antivirus program that is labeled Thor Agent in the user interface. Heimdal Thor Agent includes antivirus scanning and real-time malware detection — it performed pretty well in my testing, except for the fact that it crashed repeatedly while scanning my gaming PC.
Also, Heimdal’s security software is packed with confusing terms, like X-ploit Resilience, DarkLayer Guard, and VectorN Protection. I’m not the only one who finds it confusing, though — I was surprised to see that Heimdal doesn’t properly label its own features on its online knowledge base!
Does Heimdal include a VPN?
No, Heimdal claims that its advanced networking monitoring tool DarkLayer Guard for Android is a VPN, but this is misleading and incorrect. While DarkLayer Guard detects threats like man-in-the-middle attacks, the feature is unable to perform even basic VPN functions, like allowing users to connect to different servers all over the world, replacing your IP address, and encrypting all of your internet traffic. If you’re looking for the best antivirus with a VPN, check out TotalAV or Avira.