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Computer Protection Software Review
What Makes Great All-in-One Computer Security Software?
As we tested and evaluated computer protection software, we looked closely at how well the antivirus portions of the programs protect against malware on all platforms. In addition, we considered how much the software slowed down our devices and the additional tools each one includes such as password managers, parental controls and antitheft tools. Based on our testing, we feel Norton Security Premium is the best option for protecting all your devices, regardless of the operating systems they run. It provides the best protection overall, plus it has more security features for all platforms, including Apple and Android cell phones, than any other program.
Overall Best Computer Protection Software
Norton Security Premium is compatible with all platforms and devices, including Macs, PCs, Android devices, and devices running iOS. This software has good protection tools and detects malware very well, no matter what type of device you use. This is impressive since many computer protection suites tend to skimp on security tools for Macs, iPhones and iPads. Norton doesn’t tax computer resources very much, so you shouldn’t experience any lag while it runs. Some of the program's advanced protection tools include a password manager, parental controls and lots of online backup storage.
Best Value for Computer Protection
Bitdefender Total Security 2018 comes with separate programs for PCs, Mac computers and Android mobile devices. The program protects against malware very well on all these devices, though we found that it causes some slowdown on Mac computers while running virus scans. It comes with a fair number of security tools for all the platforms, such as parental controls and antitheft tools, and you can use Bitdefender’s password manager on Mac and Windows computers. In addition, all devices have access to 2GB of online backup storage. Bitdefender offers multi-device protection for $10 to $30 less than similar products.
Best Computer Protection Software for Families
We feel Trend Micro Maximum Security is the best choice for families who need to protect different types of devices because it’s compatible with Macs, PCs, and Android and iOS mobile devices. Its parental controls work on all platforms, plus its antitheft tools for mobile devices can be used to keep track of your kids.
Trend Micro consistently receives high scores for detecting and blocking both Windows and Mac malware, and it doesn’t use a lot of computer resources, so you won’t notice much slowdown on your computer while it runs. Trend Micro Maximum Security comes with individual programs for each operating system, so you don’t have to download the ones you don’t need.
Testing Computer Protection Software
We tested computer protection programs to evaluate their security tools; to learn how each software works; to determine how well their antivirus portions detect, block and remove security threats; and to find out if they used enough computer resources during scans to cause lag.
In our in-house tests we evaluated how well the programs detected keyloggers and adware. In addition, we considered results from tests conducted by independent test labs, including AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Our final protection score takes all these results into account and reflects how well each software detects and protects against malware.
As we tested performance, we sent email, browsed the web, watched videos, played games online and shared files, first without the computer protection software running and then again during full virus scans. This gave us an idea of how much the programs tax computer resources while they run as well as how much slowdown you can expect. We compared our results to similar evaluations done by third-party laboratories and found similar outcomes across the board.
We tested each program on both Windows and Mac computers. Programs with an iOS component were tested on iPad Pros.
Beyond the Tests: Evaluating Computer Security Programs
We also considered the programs’ feature sets, which vary according to the operating system you use them on. The Windows components of these computer protection programs usually have the most complete feature sets.
Antiphishing protection is now just as important as antimalware protection. Fortunately, all the products include it in their Windows components. Furthermore, most of the programs we reviewed can detect threats that attempt to infiltrate your computer via emails and instant messages. All the applications we reviewed automatically check for Windows threats on removable storage like USB thumb drives.
Ransomware is an emerging threat, and recovering from attacks costs users thousands of dollars and hours of time. Each of the programs we reviewed uses a learning algorithm to identify new threats by looking for patterns that match known malware, which allows them to stop these threats before they infect your computer.
The programs’ Mac components don’t usually have as robust feature lists as those in their Windows components. In addition to providing antivirus protection, most of the products we reviewed support antiphishing on Mac machines – it isn’t by coincidence that the three lowest ranking products do not protect Macs from malicious websites.
You can expect to find antitheft features, call blocking and message filtering in the Android components of the software we reviewed. Many of the mobile products also protect against malicious websites. In addition, some of them include parental controls and backup utilities. Each product we evaluated has an Android application advisor that warns you if an app demands permissions that might threaten your privacy.
One of the most important things to consider when buying computer protection software is how easy it is to manage preferences and subscriptions. All the programs we tested have centralized dashboards where you can manage all your devices. The ones that stand out go a step further, letting you perform scans on the devices from a central console.
Ultimately, the computer protection software that is right for you depends on your situation. Each one we tested is missing features you might need, and looking at our side-by-side comparison chart may help you find one that has the right combination. Whether you plan to use the program on a Mac computer, PC, or Android or iOS device, all the products we tested scan malware effectively, tread lightly on system resources, demonstrate accuracy in discerning safe files from infected ones and protect you from malicious websites. Also, the publishers respond to support requests with live operators 18 to 24 hours per day.