Your PC needs antivirus protection, and Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus aims to please by providing malware protection.
For $40 for one PC for one year, and $50 for three PCs for one year, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus provides all the basics of a modern antivirus program. However, its lack of extra features and somewhat muddled interface leave it out of the running for our top pick.
Setup and Interface
To install Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus, I went to the company website, downloaded the trial version and entered a product code where prompted. The whole process took less than 10 minutes over our office Wi-Fi.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus has the busiest interface of any antivirus program I've tested recently. A large, rectangular section is devoted to the PC's anti-malware protection; there's a clearly marked Scan My Computer button and a short column of computer statistics, including how long it's been since the last scan was run.
Below that is a button that will launch the Webroot Community Web page, where you can ask questions and learn more about the product.
Not all of these features are actually available in Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus. To get the full package, you'll have to upgrade to Webroot Internet Security Plus ($60 for one year on three devices) or Webroot Internet Security Complete ($80 for one year on five devices).
Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus also comes with a browser add-on called Webroot Filtering Extension, which works for Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer for PC and Safari for Mac. It looks at the Web pages you visit and warns if it detects anything malicious. This add-on can be downloaded separately from Webrot’'s website.
Like most modern antivirus programs, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus detects malware by comparing suspicious programs found on your computer with an enormous database of known malware.
In Webroot's case, that database is not on your PC, but in the cloud. Users can either click on the Scan button on the main interface to run a scan, or perform on-demand quick scans and custom scans by clicking the gear-shaped Settings icon in the upper left and then clicking Custom Scan at the bottom of the next screen. Other products we reviewed make on-demand scan options more accessible.
Overall, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus covers the basics, but its interface feels busy and muddled. I also dislike how many of the feature buttons lead only to advertisements for higher-tier Webroot products that do include those features.
Webroot's PC security features include Realtime Shield, which scans computer files as you access them; Web Shield, which checks URLs you visit against Webroot's database of malicious URLs; and a firewall. The first two are standard features of starter-edition antivirus products; the last is a nice, if not absolutely necessary, extra.
The Firewall feature, like all firewalls, monitors your PC's network traffic and looks for any strange processes. You can further tweak Firewall settings by going to the Advanced Settings section, but you may not need it if your operating system has its own firewall, as Windows 7 and 8 do.
The Identity Protection section contains two tools: Identity Shield and Phishing Shield. The first blocks snoops' ability to steal keylogs or screenshots, and blocks malicious software from accessing sensitive data, such as login credentials stored in a browser. The Phishing Shield identifies Web pages that ask for users' personal information.
Backup & Sync and Password Manager also are listed in the Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus interface, but they're not included in this entry-level product. To get them, you'd have to pay for an upgrade. Below those two options on the main interface, the Utilities section lets you view logs of anti-malware scans and other security-related actions the program has performed.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus lets users schedule regular anti-malware scans via the Advanced Settings menu. Daily scans are enabled by default. Users can further refine these settings; for example, you can set it so the scans won't run while you're playing a video game or other full-screen application. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has a similar feature.
Webroot was not included in AV-TEST's evaluations of antivirus products this year. So, we'll use its score from August 2013.
Because each antivirus company uses the same malware-detection "engine" across its entire product line, AV-TEST generally tests only the mid-tier product from each manufacturer. In Webroot's case, that was Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 8.0, tested on Windows 7. Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 8.0 detected 99 percent of widespread malware, which is significantly above the industry average of 97 percent. (In antivirus testing, it's what isn't detected that matters.)
But Webroot flopped at detecting zero-day malware, which antivirus engines must detect through analysis of suspicious behavior or other means. Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 8.0 snagged only 82 percent of zero-day malware, which is well below the already-undesirable industry average of 91 percent. However, it's certainly possible (if not likely) that Webroot has improved its antivirus engine since last year.
AVG Internet Security 2014 & 2015
Kaspersky Internet Security 2015
Bitdefender Internet Security 2015
TrendMicro Maximum Security 2015
WebRoot SecureAnywhere Complete 8.0
A good antivirus program shouldn't drastically slow the PC on which it's installed. That's why we tested each antivirus program's performance impact while running antivirus scans, using both the benchmarking software PCMark7 and our own OpenOffice test, which involves matching 20,000 names and addresses.
We tested the latest starting-tier products from AVG, Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Trend Micro and Webroot. Each product was installed on an Acer Aspire E1 laptop running Windows 8, with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 64-bit operating system.
We specifically chose a PC with a less powerful processor so that any performance issues would be clearly apparent.
Without any antivirus program installed, our Acer Aspire E1 test laptop earned a score of 2,191 on the benchmarking software PCMark7. When Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus was installed and running a full scan, the score dropped marginally to 2,014. During a quick scan, the score was 2,164. Webroot SecureAnwhere Antivirus had the best PCMark7 full-scan scores of any program we tested, and was essentially tied with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus for quick-scan scores.
Without an antivirus program installed, our Acer Aspire E1 completed our OpenOffice test in 8 minutes and 39 seconds. While a Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus full scan was running, the test completed in 8:58, and during a quick scan, the time was 8:47. Overall, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus was the lightest, most performance-friendly program we tested.
Webroot SecureAnywhere does a great job of emphasizing its Web-based security features and its firewall. However, these features aren't much different from what competing antivirus products offer, and Webroot SecureAnywhere doesn't offer as many extra security tools as other programs on this level.
It also doesn't help that AV-TEST hasn't evaluated the latest version of Webroot for malware protection, or that the interface isn't as intuitive as competing programs'. Yes, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus has very little performance impact, but that's not enough. We'd go with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015 instead.
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Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can email Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.