Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012
Annual fee: $79.95 (until September 6, 2012, price covers 15 months)
OSes protected: Windows, Android, iOS
No. of devices protected: Up to three PCs, and an unlimited number of Android and iOS devices
Webroot SecureAnywhere has a simple, clean, straightforward interface combined with the ability to dig deep and customize how the software works. Unlike some of its competitors, Webroot's Web-based console actually does what it promises -- shows you the state of all of your systems at a glance, and offers recommendations on how to fix any potential problems. On the other hand, it is the only package among the four covered here that doesn't have any kind of OS X coverage.
Unlike the other all-in-one-suites in this roundup, the Webroot Web-based dashboard truly is a dashboard, and does more than merely list what devices use the software. For each device, it shows you the state of its security, including past history. For example, for each PC, it lists the last malware scan, how long the scan took, the results of the scan, when it was last infected, and a history of past scans.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012, Web interface: Click to view image
It presents similar security information for mobile devices, and includes the phone number associated with the device, the manufacturer and version it's running. You can also use the dashboard to locate a missing device, as well as remotely lock it, wipe it or make it "scream" to scare away someone who might have stolen it.
In addition to all that, it reports if any of your devices has a security issue, and if so, it recommends how to fix it. This is a dashboard that has been built for actual use, rather than one constructed so that it can be a checkmark on a marketing feature list. Because of that, I frequently checked it, so that I could see the security state of my various devices.
Webroot's basic Windows security offers exactly what you'd expect -- malware scanning and real-time protection, including a firewall and a variety of shields such as checking any system modifications to make sure nothing is being done that might compromise your security.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012, Windows: Click to view image
Also included are privacy tools, such as protecting against so-called "man-in-the-middle" attacks in which hackers take control of an Internet connection and route all data through the victims' computers. You can also download an additional module to back up your data to the cloud and synchronize the data among the devices running Webroot SecureAnywhere. Each PC can back up a maximum of 10GB of data.
In addition, there's a useful feature that cleans your Registry and deletes duplicate and unnecessary files. It's not quite as useful as a similar tool in Trend Micro Titanium, which can also keep unnecessary programs from loading at startup, but still, it's a good addition.
Webroot packs all of that into a compact main screen divided into five sections: Overview, PC Security, Identity & Privacy, Backup & Sync and System Tools. Click any section and you can change settings and take actions such as launching a scan or system cleanup. You can also dig quite deeply into your settings -- in fact, it offers a higher degree of customization than any of the other packages covered in this roundup. I found that it offered the best balance between depth of customization and ease of use.
Overall, Webroot's mobile security is top-notch -- but first you'll have to get past the potentially problematic setup process.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete 2012, Android: Click to view image
You first download the free version from Google Play. During the installation process, you have to enter the user name and password you used to register with Webroot SecureAnywhere Complete. After that, you'll need to upgrade (since you are entitled to use the paid version of the products).
But careful -- it's not as simple a process as you would expect. Don't tap anything that asks you to upgrade to the paid version; if you do that, you'll end up paying again for something you've already paid for. Instead, press the app's menu button, select Register, and from the screen that appears type in your Webroot user name and the 20-character keycode you used to register your Webroot product with. After that, you'll have to download the paid app and have the free app removed. And then you have to type in your Webroot user name and 20-character keycode yet again. Clearly, this awkward setup needs to be fixed.
Once installed, the app itself is comprehensive, well laid out and thorough, and includes not just malware scanning, but also the ability to find a stolen or lost phone and remotely lock and wipe it, block Web sites that are security threats, and block unwanted calls and texts, among other features. It also examines all of your devices' settings and warns you about any that might present a security risk -- for example, it warned me that my USB debugging feature was enabled, something that none of the other apps covered here did.