4 security suites that protect all your devices

McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro and Webroot offer protection for all your devices plus Web-based management.

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If you're one of the many people who own several computers and mobile devices, using one of these suites is your best bet for keeping them all secure. You'll find that you'll save a substantial amount of money, and to a greater or lesser extent you also get a Web-based dashboard for managing the devices individually.

These dashboards are still in their infancy, and in several of the suites do little more than give you a common way to install the apps and a glance at what devices are using the software. However, I expect that to change in the future, and eventually they may offer more features, including in-depth information about each device.

In addition, if you're looking for protection for an iPhone or iPad, don't expect much. Even the two suites that offer apps for iOS devices -- Trend Micro and Webroot -- don't offer much more than very basic protection through their own built-in browsers.

As for which of the suites is best, they're all so different that there's no true overall winner. My favorite was Webroot SecureAnywhere because of the suite's simplicity and excellent protection, and because its Web dashboard showed detailed information about all of the covered systems, as well as recommendations about how to fix problems. But Webroot doesn't include Mac protection.

If you're looking for Mac coverage in addition to security features for Windows PCs and mobile devices, the Norton and McAfee offerings are your best bet. Although Trend Micro offers a good sets of tools and a well-designed, easy-to-use interface, its Mac support is limited. Norton and McAfee have a better balance between comprehensive protection and ease of use.

However, Trend Micro costs $47 less per year than McAfee All Access, which costs $50 less per year than Norton One. So if you're budget-minded, Trend Micro is an affordable compromise that offers some OS X protection, even if its OS X protection isn't as complete as that offered by the more expensive suites.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld.com and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

See more by Preston Gralla on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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