McAfee All Access
Annual fee: $99.99
OSes protected: Windows, OS X, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian
No. of devices protected: No limitations for a single user
McAfee All Access offers the widest range of security tools of the suites in this roundup. With one subscription, you get protection software for an unlimited number of Windows PCs, Macs, Android smartphones and tablets, and BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones. Because it covers more mobile operating systems than its competitors, it's the one to choose if you have multiple types of smartphones -- unless it's an iPhone.
As with most of the suites reviewed here, McAfee's Web dashboard doesn't really live up to its name. Unlike Webroot's dashboard, it doesn't show you any potential security issues on any device, or make recommendations about how to fix those issues. Instead, it's a central location from which you can see what modules you have installed, and install them on any device.
McAfee All Access, Web interface: Click to view image
So if you log in from your Mac, you can download Mac software; log in on your Windows PC to download Windows software. Android is a little trickier. If you want to install the software on, say, a tablet, you're sent a link via email from which you can download the software. If you want to install it on a smartphone, you're sent a text message with a link to download the software.
For some reason, the text message never got sent to my phone, even though I tried several times. But I was able to install the software by writing down the link sent to my tablet and typing it into my smartphone's browser.
As with the Norton suite, I rarely used the Web interface, simply because it didn't offer much of value.
On PCs, McAfee gives you malware protection, a firewall, anti-spam software, Web security, parental controls, a system cleanup tool, online backup, a "digital vault" that protects files you don't want seen by anyone else, a disk defragmenter...and yes, more as well. It's all presented in a neat, compact interface that makes it simple for you to see at a glance what tools you're currently using and to turn any on or off. McAfee Total Protection also lets you customize the way those tools work to a significant degree.
McAfee All Access, Windows: Click to view image
One of All Access' more intriguing tools is what it calls Home Network Defense, which lists every device connected to your network and provides details on each (if it can find out those details, which isn't always). If you find any devices you don't recognize, you can use Home Network Defense to block them from the network. In addition, whenever a new device makes a connection to your network you get a warning. You can then examine the alert, decide whether it's an intruder, and can block it if that's the case.
For each device, Home Network Defense can give you the device's name, type (Windows computer, for example) manufacturer, model, IP address and MAC address (a universal ID for devices that connect to the Internet). If it can't find out many details about the device, it provides bare bones information -- just the IP address and MAC address.
The tool is a useful one, although not nearly as useful as it could be. During testing, I found that it only rarely provided details about most devices connected to my network. In almost every case, it merely reported the IP address and MAC address.
It makes sense that it couldn't identify devices such as the Sonos wireless speakers that I've got connected to my home network. But it also couldn't identify many common pieces of hardware, such as a MacBook Air and an Acer Aspire One netbook. It did, however, properly identify my Linksys WRT160N router and a computer on which I'd installed Windows Home Server.
Home Network Defense shows not just basic information, but details about the security state of each device on your system, such as whether it has security software installed or whether it has file- and printer-sharing turned on (which can be a security risk).