The market is flooded with anti-virus suites that can keep your computer safe and secure, making it tough to pick the right ally. To grab your attention, many security software companies offer enhanced suites that do more than just scan your computer. We're talking about things such as built-in parental controls, privacy controls, smartphone anti-virus software and even identity-theft protection.
To determine which security suite is worth your investment, we tested suites from the biggest names in the business, including Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky, Bitdefender and Avast! We evaluated each program based on setup, interface, ease of use and security and privacy features.
What about protection? We used data rom AV-TEST, an independent institute in Germany that rates most major security suites based on their ability to detect zero-day malware and other recent threats. But we didn't stop there.
In order to see how much of a performance impact the latest security suites have on an average PC, we ran the PCMark7 benchmark and our own OpenOffice productivity test on an Acer Aspire E1, which features a Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM. We ran the tests while running a quick virus scan as well as a full system scan. The scan that caused the benchmark scores to drop the most was deemed to have a greater impact on our test PC.
Which security suite offers the best combination of protection and functionality? Check out our in-depth reviews to find out.
Bitdfender Total Security combines one of the best anti-virus and malware protection engines available with impressive parental controls and a customizable user interface to make it our favorite security suite of 2014. At $79.95 for one year of protection for three PCs, Bitdefender will help keep hackers from stealing your online banking information and let you monitor your children's social media accounts. If you're looking for a versatile security suite, Bitdefender Total Security is it.
Symantec's Norton 360 (2014) offers an impressively powerful protection engine capable of spotting almost anything the Internet's ne'er do wells can throw at it. And with its clean, intuitive user interface, rock solid parental controls and exceptional privacy protection, Norton 360 (2014) is easily one of the best security suites on the market. At $89.99, it's also one of the priciest, but you get a lot for your money.
McAfee LiveSafe is a PC security suite that covers everything from your laptop and desktop to your tablet for one flat fee. For $79.99 for 1-year of protection, you can keep up to five devices safe from the Web's most dangerous threats. The addition of robust parental controls and an slick user interface make LiveSafe an attractive package. Should this be the security suite that protects your range of devices?
Kaspersky is one of the best known brands in PC security, offering some the most powerful anti-virus and malware protection software in the world wrapped in an interface that’s easy to use. For its Internet Security 2014, Kaspersky is offering an updated design, improved security engine and enhanced parental controls. However, a noticeable impact on your PC's performance and limited privacy controls keep this suite from being a top pick.
Avast! Premier 2014 is a budget-friendly security suite that features a slick user interface and an easy-to-follow install process. Its relatively low system impact will keep the software from slowing your PC during a full scan, while its built-in data shredder will ensure your deleted data can't be recovered. Overall, it’s a good value.
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