7 all-in-one security suites: Anti-malware for all your devices

We examine how the major security suites compare in terms of features, ease of use and which devices they actually protect.

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Bitdefender Family Pack

Bitdefender

Price: $9.99/mo. or $99.95/yr. for 3 users; $11.95/mo. or $129.95/yr. for 5 users

Number of devices: Unlimited

The Bitdefender Family Pack isn't so much a well-integrated suite for protecting multiple devices as it is a way to package several of them in a single product to save you money. Each component must be installed separately, via a Web link, and although there is a basic Web dashboard, that dashboard won't let you install and uninstall the software.

Windows

Bitdefender offers a full suite of PC protection tools, but the interface is so confusing, you'll take some time figuring out how to use it. There are two dueling interfaces, a compact one on your Windows system and a Web dashboard, which is necessary not just for getting an overview of all of the devices protected by Bitdefender, but also to use some of Bitdefender's features, such as Parental Controls and Facebook protection.

BitDefender
Bitdefender Family Pack (Windows version)

The Windows component is simple to use. To access or customize any feature, click the associated icon in the application, such as firewall, privacy protection or anti-malware scanning. It offers two different modes: Autopilot and User Mode. In theory, in User Mode, you'll receive notifications if major actions need to be taken, such as rebooting in order to finish cleaning an infection. In Autopilot, Bitdefender takes those actions without asking you. In practice, I found no difference between the two modes, likely because I never encountered an issue that required a major action to be taken.

Bitdefender offers the full complement of anti-malware along with a firewall, and goes well beyond that. There are parental controls, and the ability to find and remotely wipe devices. It also scans your Facebook pages for malicious links. And there's 2GB of free cloud-based backup so you can sync files among all of your devices.

OS X

Bit Defender's Mac protection is the most basic of those included in any of these suites. It's a straight-ahead anti-malware scanner that lets you scan your entire system, what it calls critical locations or a custom location. But there's nothing beyond that -- you can't even schedule scans for more convenient times, like overnight for instance.

You can download add-ins for Safari, Chrome or Firefox that offer protection against phishing attacks and block downloading malicious content. But this isn't part of the package itself, and you don't need to buy Bitdefender to use them -- just install them as you would any other browser extension. They're free.

iOS

There is no iOS protection.

Android

Bitdefender's Android app comes with full suite of protection: anti-virus; anti-theft, including remote locate, remote lock, remote wipe and even a "remote scream" feature that helps you find your device if you've mislaid it; browsing security that includes anti-phishing and blocking malicious downloads; and a Privacy Adviser with some features not found in the other Android apps reviewed here.

BitDefender
Bitdefender (Android version)

It gives your Android device an overall privacy score based on the apps you have installed on it. It also lists every app on your device and color-codes it for privacy risk (red for big privacy risk, orange for moderate privacy risk and green for no privacy risk). Tap any app to see details about its privacy problems; tap the Uninstall button to uninstall the app.

Dashboard

The Web dashboard does double-duty. First, it controls individual components such as Facebook protection, parental control and locating your Android device.

It also acts as a traditional dashboard, giving you an overview of all the devices you have protected. However, in this role, it's only moderately useful. You can see all the devices on which you've installed Bitdefender, but you get information only about their operating systems. You won't be able to see the results of scans or any potential issues such as outdated virus definitions. And you can't install and uninstall software from the dashboard either. All in all, it's no winner.

Bottom Line

Bitdefender's confusing interface and lack of iOS protection puts it near the bottom of the list of useful all-in-one security software. That being said, its features goes beyond what others offer in some cases, including solid Android protection and the ability to remotely wipe laptops if they're lost.

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