4 security suites that protect all your devices

McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro, and Webroot offer protection for all your mobile devices plus Web-based management

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Norton One

Symantec

Annual fee: $149.99

OSes protected: Windows, OS X, Android

No. of devices protected: Up to five devices for any combination of Windows, OS X and Android systems

Norton One offers several choices, depending on what you want to protect. If you're using a Windows-based PC, you can choose whether you want to install Norton 360 (which offers a full gamut of protection software and system tools) or Norton Internet Security 2012 (which is essentially the same product as Norton 360 except that it doesn't have Norton 360's backup-and-restore and tune-up capabilities). Macs get Norton Internet Security for Mac, while Android devices (both tablets and phones) get Norton Mobile Security. In any case, you also get 25GB of online storage.

Norton One, Web interface
Web interface Norton's Web dashboard can't be considered a powerful addition to the security suite. Like McAfee's interface, you can only use it for installing and uninstalling software, and for checking what software is installed on your various devices. Because of this, in my tests I found myself generally using it only for installation; after that point, I rarely returned to it.

Norton's Web dashboard can't be considered a powerful addition to the security suite. Like McAfee's interface, you can only use it for installing and uninstalling software, and for checking what software is installed on your various devices. Because of this, in my tests I found myself generally using it only for installation; after that point, I rarely returned to it.

Norton One, Web interface: Click to view image

To install a part of the suite on a new device, you click "Add device" and then enter an email address. A setup link is then sent to the device that, when clicked, sends you to a Web page where you can download the software. In the case of Android, you can also scan a QR code that appears onscreen and download the software that way.

Apart from installing software, though, there's little else you can do on the Web dashboard. It shows you when a device is using a part of the suite -- for example, when a PC is actively using Norton 360, the dashboard will say that it's "online." But just showing that a device is using a product isn't a particularly useful feature. And it doesn't always work -- it never, for example, showed when my Android phone was using Norton Mobile Security.

Norton One, Windows
Windows protection Those not already familiar with Symantec's Windows-based suite Norton 360 will find an excellent security suite that includes extras for juicing up system performance and backing up files. You'll find all the usual security tools, including anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam and firewall; there is also identity protection, which includes anti-phishing, malicious Web-page blocking and password management. It's unlikely you'll need to change any default settings, but if you want to, the Settings area lets you tweak to your heart's content.

Those not already familiar with Symantec's Windows-based suite Norton 360 will find an excellent security suite that includes extras for juicing up system performance and backing up files. You'll find all the usual security tools, including anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam and firewall; there is also identity protection, which includes anti-phishing, malicious Web-page blocking and password management. It's unlikely you'll need to change any default settings, but if you want to, the Settings area lets you tweak to your heart's content.

Norton One, Windows: Click to view image

Particularly noteworthy is Norton's System Insight feature, which checks any currently running software for safety and reliability. It does this by leveraging the experience that Symantec product users have had with the application, and shows the application's relative trustworthiness, rating it either Poor, Good or Trusted. System Insight also shows whether that rating is based on input from a few people or many. And it shows a rating for each application's stability level, also based on other people's usage.

System Insight also warns you if any of these applications are slowing down your system. Stability and trust ratings are shown in a list side by side with resource usage, so it's easy to see at a glance how each app rates.

Norton 360 also includes a solid set of tools for improving PC performance, such as a disk optimizer and file cleanup. Especially useful is Startup Manager, which provides details about each application and helps you decide which to run (and which not to run) at startup, so that you can speed your bootup and possibly improve overall performance. You can also delay applications from starting until some time after startup. And it includes Parental Controls as well.

I found that despite of all these tools, my PC took no performance hit from the use of Norton. Until I wanted to use it, I didn't even notice it was there.

Norton One, OS X
OS X protection Norton Internet Security for the Mac (which works with OS X Lion or later) offers a full suite of security software, but it doesn't include most of the extras in the PC version, such as system performance tools and System Insight.

Norton Internet Security for the Mac (which works with OS X Lion or later) offers a full suite of security software, but it doesn't include most of the extras in the PC version, such as system performance tools and System Insight.

Norton One, OS X: Click to view image

So you get anti-virus, firewall and Norton Identity, which blocks phishing sites. There's also a File Guard feature that blocks changes to files and stops files from being accessed if personal information might be compromised.

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