Best Security Suites: PC Bodyguards

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Best Security Suites: PC Bodyguards
Illustration by Thomas Fuchs
Have security suites reached the point where they all work?

From afar, it seems that way: All of them attempt to protect you from viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and other malware. And for the most part, each of the suites we tried did a good job of detection. However, other factors are important as well--some suites are easier to work with than others, and some make more efficient use of your PC’s resources. We put 14 suites to the test to see which ones you should consider, and in the end G-Data Internet Security 2012 came away the winner.

2012 Suites: Faster, Slimmer, More Effective

This year’s suites emphasize being lightweight and speedy, as well as showing a friendlier face. Bitdefender and Eset revamped their packages to make them easier to use. Webroot scrapped its entire line, starting fresh in 2012 with its SecureAnywhere products and building a suite that’s both friendly and fast.

Packages are also shifting toward using cloud computing to help detect new malware. Such efforts may be paying off: The suites did notably better in our real-world detection tests this year versus last year. (See “Security in the Cloud” for more information.)

Once again, we partnered with AV-Test, a trusted security software testing company based in Germany. AV-Test puts security products through a veritable torture test to determine not only which package is the best at detecting threats, but also which one cleans up the mess most effectively. On top of that, AV-Test performs a battery of speed tests to discover which suites will slow a PC to a crawl--and which ones won’t. (For additional details, see "How We Test Antivirus Software and Security Suites.")

This year’s roundup was perhaps our most competitive one ever; all of the suites in our Top 10 did an excellent all-around job on malware detection, and even the remaining suites performed fairly well. As a result, we put more weight than before on how easy the suites are to use, and on whether they eat up system resources.

Our Top Security Suite Picks

Best Overall: G Data InternetSecurity 2012
The interface isn’t wonderful, but G Data’s software is our top pick on the strength of its excellent malware detection and removal capabilities, plus the minimal impact it has on PC performance.

Best Protection: Bitdefender Internet Security 2012
This product outdid the G Data software in detecting and removing baddies. That effectiveness comes at a cost, however: This suite was the slowest of the packages we tested this year.

Best Speed: Webroot SecureAnywhere Essentials
Although it didn’t quite do well enough overall to crack our Top 10, Webroot’s revamped suite adds very little drag to common tasks.

Best Interface: Bitdefender Internet Security 2012
Bitdefender overhauled its entire product line this year. The company’s updated suite is friendly and approachable for regular users yet maintains plenty of power for advanced users.

Security Suites: Read Our Reviews

Top 10 Internet Security Suites (chart)

  1. G Data InternetSecurity 2012
  2. Norton Internet Security 2012
  3. Bitdefender Internet Security 2012
  4. Kaspersky Internet Security 2012
  5. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2012
  6. Avast Internet Security 6
  7. Eset Smart Security 5
  8. F-Secure Internet Security 2012
  9. AVG Internet Security 2012
  10. Check Point ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2012
  11. Avira Internet Security Suite 2012
  12. Panda Internet Security 2012
  13. Webroot SecureAnywhere Essentials
  14. McAfee Internet Security 2012
At a Glance
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