Most home Internet Security (IS) suites are aimed at a single platform and three PCs – but these days, few people have only Windows desktops or laptops to protect. Webroot obviously sees this problem, as its SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete product caters for five devices and they can be Windows, Mac, iOS or Android, in any combination you choose.
While it’s still true to say that more functions are available in the Windows version of the software than on the other platforms, it's probably also true to say that the other platforms are less at risk, too.
Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete 2014 (we’ll just call it Webroot 2014 from now on) has a discreet interface in which, at first sight, little seems to be going on. There are two panels, showing the security status of your system and a link to the Webroot Community, with a third, down the right-hand side, which does most of the business.
Automatic scans are scheduled from the time you install the product and things such as the two-way firewall and security shields are turned on by default, so you only need to tweak settings, rather than setting up from scratch.
Core functions like anti-virus, anti-malware and identity theft protection are as expected, as well as extensions for all the main web browsers to help protect against spoof websites or threats from Facebook and Twitter pages. The one thing conspicuous by its absence is parental control, so this is not the ideal family IS suite.
One particular strength of the 2014 package is its online backup and sync facility. Once you've set up your Webroot account, you have access to 25GB of storage on the company's servers, and you can backup from any of your registered devices.
As well as providing an online backup, where you can specify the files and folders you want to be automatically backed up, Webroot 2014 also automatically sets up a folder called Webroot Anywhere and syncs its contents with the cloud. This makes it particularly easy to sync files between all devices registered to use Backup & Sync. A simple scheduler is provided, so you can set the time and days on which you want backups to occur.
System Optimiser spends most of its time cleaning out temporary folders, and although there’s a good degree of flexibility in which folders this covers, with the inclusion of the major browsers and other key applications, there’s little in the way of start-up control, to tailor the apps permitted to start when you first boot.
Other utilities include a sandbox for testing new and untried software in a safe environment, and a secure data shredder, which wipes deleted files so they can’t be recovered.
The iOS and Android apps concentrate on Internet protection with website warnings, social network scans, password management and online backup. They can lock-down their host devices remotely, if stolen, and provide location details from their GPSes. The online account manager shows details of all the instances of Webroot 2014 you have on your various devices.
Webroot makes a big noise about the “ridiculously fast scans” produced by its scanning engine. Although it did scan our 30GB test file basket in just 4 minutes and 3 seconds, it only examined 11,130 files, giving a scan rate of 45.8 files per second. This is fourth from bottom of the IS suites we’ve tested, so not particularly impressive.
A low number of files scanned doesn’t necessarily indicate less effective protection, though, as it depends on the algorithms used to select files ripe for checking. What is more unusual is that a second scan of the same basket of files showed an increase in the number of files checked, which went up to 13,475.
We normally expect to see a reduction in the files scanned on a second pass, as most IS suites flag (or “fingerprint”) files they’ve checked and that haven’t changed since the last scan, to save scanning time. It’s hard to understand why a second scan would examine more files – why weren’t the extra ones looked at in the first scan?
In its most recent group test, German test site AV-Test scored Webroot at 15.0/18.0. This is better than respectable, putting the suite just behind the front runners.
Breaking down the overall score shows a full 6.0/6.0 rating for Performance, which evaluates the resource hit of the software while undergoing a range of typical activities. The average hit for the group was 6, while Webroot showed an exemplary value of 0.
This fits with what we found when we ran our copy tests, copying 2GB with and without a scan running. The copy time was only increased by 5 seconds while the scan was running, the fourth best result we’ve seen.
AV-Test gave the suite 4.5/6.0 for Protection, its ability to detect and remove malware. It spotted 100 per cent of widespread threats, but missed 8 to 9 per cent of zero-day attacks over the two month test period.
The final category, Usability, again produced a rating of 4.5/6.0. Webroot did quite badly when it came to giving false detections of legitimate software, producing 14 over two months, against a group average of 5. In other areas of Usability, the suite was at or above average, though.
Webroot 2014 offers better than average protection, multi-platform support, and a generous online storage allowance. It may not be the best choice for a family – if parental control is required – and its system optimiser is a little single-minded, but it’s still a sound Internet security option at a good price.
Manufacturer and Product
Webroot SecureAnywhere IS Complete 2014
Yes, including Facebook and Twitter
PC, Mac, iOS and Android
Cleans files and registry, app and browser temp files
Backup & sync, password protection, sandbox, remote lockdown of stolen devices
Number of devices covered