All-in-One Security

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It takes a multifaceted strategy to fight today's complex range of security threats, which can no longer be neatly separated into distinct categories. Worms may ride in with spam, and spyware apps may unleash Trojan horses, so your PC requires multiple kinds of security software to stay safe.

You can build your system's defenses with stand-alone antivirus, antispyware, and firewall products, or you can get everything in an all-in-one suite. Opting for three or more separate security apps lets you pick the best of breed in each category, but running them can be a complicated--and expensive--task. Security suites offer convenience and affordability; their individual components, configurable from one interface, are designed to interoperate smoothly. That said, suites require a certain degree of trust in that you're depending on one company to protect your computer and data completely. Since running multiple antivirus engines and firewalls can invite major system problems, people who want a suite should buy one and stick to it. (See "10 Tips for Running Security Suites" for more information.)

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