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TP-Link Unveils New HomeShield, Powered by Norton, with Better Pro Version

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TP-Link today announced a new version of its HomeShield add-on, an "upgrade" that's now powered by Norton, a known online protection company.

The networking vendor said the new version would be available in its Wi-Fi 7 Deco mesh system. Going forward, Norton likely will be the security provider for all TP-Link's consumer-grade Wi-Fi broadcasters (routers and access points). But that remains to be seen.

In the grand scheme, this is just a change of guard. The idea remains the same.

TP-Link Deco XE200 vs Archer AXE300
Here are TP-Link's two latest Wi-Fi hardware, the Deco XE200 mesh router, and the Archer AXE300 Wi-Fi 6E router. Both come with the HomeShield suite of online protection, QoS, and Parental Control -- you need the Pro tier to really enjoy them.

TP-Link HomeShield: A nice way to, well, nickel-and-dime users

HomeShield is not new, both within TP-Link and the industry.

A few years ago, it used to be named "HomeCare," which was completely free. And then it started to require a subscription in some models yet was still free in others -- such as the Deco X60.

It was a back-and-forth kind of thing for a while, and it was pretty confusing.

Around late 2020, TP-Link changed the name to HomeShield as the free (basic) tier and added the HomeShield Pro, which has always been a subscription.

"HomeCare" remains with models that came with it.

The table below shows the current state of HomeShield vs HomeShield Pro

HomeShield free vs HomeShield Pro

 BasicPro
IoT Device IdentificationYesYes
IoT Device SecurityNoYes
Network Security ScanYesYes
Public WiFi ScanYesYes
Malicious Content FilteringNoYes
DDoS ProtectionNoYes
Port Intrusion PreventionNoYes
QoS (Device Priority)YesYes
User Profiles16 family members16 family members
Time LimitsNoYes
BedtimeSet one fixed timeSet different time schedules for different weekdays
OfftimeNoYes
Time RewardsNoYes
Block WebsitesYesYes
Professional Content FilterYesYes
Traffic StatisticsNoYes
Pause the InternetYesYes
New Access Devices StatisticsYesYes
Device Type StatisticsNoYes
Safety StatisticsNoYes
Online Time AnalysisNoYes
Visited URLs AnalysisNoYes
Overview of Online InformationNoYes
Insight1 days30 days
Weekly/Monthly ReportsYesYes
URLs InterceptionYesYes
Security Reminder and DiaryNoYes
Subscription Expiration NoticeNoYes
Security EventsNoYes
SubscriptionFree$5.99/month.
Or $54.99/year
HomeShield is part of most TP-Link routers and the Deco mesh systems released in the past couple of years. Each device generally includes one month of HomeShield Pro free trial.

HomeShield has since been powered by Avira, an antivirus company that's a competitor of Bitdefender, which powers a similar add-on called Netgear Armor in Netgear's hardware.

So the practice is not new. Basically, the networking vendor outsources the router-level online protection to a known online protection company. In return, the security party gets a cut of the premium service or the online data of the users (or both).

It's important to note that you can't have online protection without sharing your Internet traffic with a third party -- there are privacy risks. That's similar to having a security detail in real life, which means you'll have somebody watching your every move.

In the end, it's the consumers who pay. So if they feel happy with the service, everyone is happy.

Asus offers a similar, albeit much less comprehensive, protection feature for its routers called AiProtection -- powered by TrendMicro -- which has always been free for the lifetime of the hardware, including the "Pro" version, which is just a moniker change.

And that brings us to what the new Upgraded HomeShield has in store for you.

TP-Link Archer AXE300 HomeShield Pro
If you use a TP-Link router released in the past three years or so, you must have been nagged about HomeShield Pro at least once.

Upgraded HomeShield: More premium features and apps

The upgraded HomeShield feature, initially available in TP-Link's Deco family, remains largely the same, with some added features for the premium tier.

Specifically, per TP-Link, HomeSheidl Pro now has Ad Blocker, VPN clients, App Blocker, SafeSearch, YouTube Restrictions, and even more in the future.

TP-Link says the most significant updates are two new separate mobile apps: The KidShield for parental controls and another for device security. In other words, the upgrade version will make TP-Link's Tether app, which has been one of the requirements to use HomeShield, less bloated. And that's always a good thing.

Better application-based QoS

On top of that, the new HomeShield comes with a new customizable Quality of Service (QoS) that allows users to assign bandwidth to the devices they use most.

The way it has been, QoS in TP-Link hardware can only prioritize by the device. That's the case even with the company's "top-notch" gaming routers, such as the Archer AX11000 or Archer GX90.

The new version, however, adds the ability to prioritize based on applications, meaning no matter what device you use, the application needing the prioritization will get it.

While the application-based QoS is not new, it's been available in other vendors' hardware for a long time; it's a welcome change in TP-Link hardware.

The takeaway and availability

Charging the consumers extra to use the hardware to its full potential always rubs me the wrong way.

But if you're OK with that, in TP-Link's case, the upgraded HomeShield's changes seem promising. So if you've already subscribed or are about to do so, it sure is a push in the right direction.

Per TP-Link, the new Upgraded HomeShield, powered by Norton, is still under development and will be available with TP-Link's Wi-Fi 7 Deco system, which the company announced back in November.

When it becomes available, the new HomeShield Pro will cost the same. Check back sometime later in the year to see how it, and the latest hardware, will pan out. Like usual, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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13 thoughts on “TP-Link Unveils New HomeShield, Powered by Norton, with Better Pro Version”

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  1. Hi Dong,

    Really appreciate your insights.

    I am currently very confused about what system to purchase, and was finally settling on TP-Link Deco AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6e.

    However, given that colleagues have previoulsy recommended Asus products, I have paused at the last step given Asus offers free AiProtection for the life of the product, while TP-Link only offers free HomeShield not HomeShield Pro. For a relatively simple / basic user, how important / valuable (if at all) is HomeShield Pro as compared to HomeShield?

    Simply put, I consider that I am unlikely to use many (if any) of the additional features that come with HomeShield Pro, but I wanted to check whether I have missed something and it might make more sense in the long run to go with a (up front) more expensive Asus mesh system and free AiProtection than the TP-Link system and pay for HomeShield Pro.

    Many thanks

    Nick

    Reply
      • Thanks for such a quick response, Dong!

        I have read the link and appreciate what you’ve said in that article.

        If paid add-ons are overrated, am I wrong in that you’re saying that TP-Link HomeShield is sufficient? If so, the TP-Link Deco AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6e is far cheaper (here in Australia at least) than a compareable Asus mesh system. Given my home, I am reasonably confident that I need a mesh system.

        However, if I was going to simple purchase a router. Why would I not purchase something like the AX11000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router as compared to the Asus RT-AX86U pro. Which again, in Australia, appear to be similarly priced.

        Is Asus a far superior product to TP-Link?

        (Apologies if this appears very obvious, but having done a reasonably extensive amount of research, these issues still do not appear all that clear to me!)

        Reply
  2. What would one suggest if they wanted to access the more intricate details of their router, without being sent around in loops using Consumer Apps, targeted to the untrained, such as Home Shield?

    I’m using an AX6600 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router and in order to view any traffic logs, I have been forced into purchasing Parental Controls (Homeshield) @ $50+ p/yr. To view those “logs”, or rather “stats”, I can only access them via the Mobile App, which I cannot store in log format.

    And System logs, which I can send to myself via file or smtp email contain everything… ‘except traffic logs’.

    I understand privacy concerns and blah blah, yadda yadda, but at the end of the day, it’s my protected router, it’s my hardware, the internet is paid for by me, and living solo, it’s my traffic.
    Having to lump my IoT devices like Google Home under “Grampa”, just so I can get an holistic summary report of the traffic they cause via mobile app only…. ?

    There’s got to be a more advanced option for accessing logs without a subscription or via Parental Controls that cost, but I’m not sure what my options are on a consumer grade router.

    Suggestions?

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong,

    I have the new BE85 mesh WiFi 7 setup. I have 3 units. I have no other TP-Link Decos mixed into my setup. It’s all BE85 model.

    I signed up for the new free trial of the “HomeShield Pro” but I let it expire. It was $54.99/year.

    However, now I signed up again. This time they are calling it Security+ and it’s only $35.99/year. I have no idea what this “Security+” is and I can’t find any reference to it on TP-Link’s website.

    Do you have any idea what Security+ is and why it’s cheaper than HomeShield Pro?

    I only had two options:
    1. Security+ for $35.99/year (discounted from $59.99/year)
    2. Total Security Package for $129.99/year (discounted from $219/year)

    What’s strange is they are offering me “Total Security Package” that comes with Avira Prime on the new BE85 model.

    I think there’s a bug in their system once I cancelled the free trial of HomeShield Pro. I can no longer get that and they only have me the 2 options mentioned above.

    Reply
      • TP-Link has had issues with naming their services, Richard. HS was once called HomeCare, etc. I guess they are still working on the name and services tiers, etc. In any case, only TP-Link can answer your questions, and as mentioned in the review of the BE85, I wouldn’t use any of that for myself. πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • Thank you. I will reach out to them someday and see what they say. I’m not complaining about the cheaper price, but I want to have the right protection for my product. I don’t mind the subscription. I have a lot of devices on my network, and my spouse has been known to sometimes click links they shouldn’t LOL!

          Reply
  4. All of the major companies that offer home routers offer offerings similar to Homeshield Pro. All partner with anti-virus/malware companies to do so. But there is a surprising lack of information on:

    1. How effective this protection software actually is, i.e., no objective, systematic third party testing.

    2. Under what circumstances is their functionality impacted- for example, by use of guest networks, 3rd party DNS providers, VPN clients, etc.

    3. How does their use impact privacy and security?

    4. In the case of TP Link, using the tether app, one can remotely access the router from anywhere by tying ones router/account to their Cloud. This is apparently different from remote access, that generally should be disabled. But it is not clear how vulnerable this cloud based access makes your router/network.

    Finally, it is interesting how different each vendors handle firmware updates, particularly their frequency. TP Link, for example, offers fewer firmware updates it seems than Asus on supported routers. Does this difference in frequency impact router security? Are some vendors more vigilant than others?

    Also, software like Homeshield Pro is intended to reduce router vulnerability- but how effective is it, if for example, there are undressed router firmware security issues?

    The topic is complex, but there seems to a lack of transparancy from vendors and a disinterest by 3rd parties to test vendor claims.

    Reply
    • 1. It’s impossible to tell. But generally you cannot count on software effectiveness on this front, it’s ALWAYS on you — more here.
      2. This, of course, depends — your questions is too broad.
      3. You can’t have protection wihtout exposure to a third party. So this depends on the third party. That starts with using a router.
      4. That depends on how you safeguard your login info.

      Regular firmware releases has little to do with better security. Sometimes, the opposeite is true. More here.

      The topic is not comlex, it’s just too broad — there are too any topics. It’s like asking if a house is safe, or cozy based on the color of the walls and the number of windows it has or how large its driveway is. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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