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Between office computers, home computers, and smartphones, modern folk can stay connected to the Internet 24/7. At any time, day or night, we can check stocks, look up movie details, play games... the possibilities are endless. Remember, though, that the connection runs both ways. Hazards range from widespread spam and random drive-by downloads to targeted "spear phishing" attacks aimed squarely at a specific target. Security software defends your devices and your data from attack. What should you buy?

Cross-Platform Multi-Device Security Suites
If you'd rather spend time using and enjoying your devices than fooling around with protection, one of the modern cross-platform multi-device security suites will do the job. Quite a few have come out in the last six months; which you choose will depend on several factors.

First, naturally you want a product that will protect all of the device types you own. All of the contenders will protect PCs, Macs, and Android devices.

Online management of your devices and licenses is another point of distinction.

PC Security Suites
A standard security suite will protect your PCs, typically up to three of them. Every suite needs to offer antivirus and firewall protection. Most add spam filtering, parental control, and some form of privacy protection. Prices don't vary all that widely among product with different feature sets, so be sure to select a suite that includes every feature you need.

Integration is the main reason to choose a suite rather than a collection of individual tools. You can check and manage all security issues in one place. And, of course, a well-integrated suite should have less impact on performance than a collection of separate processes.

Mega-Suites with Backup
Some of the larger security vendors offer a higher tier of suite protection, with backup to protect important files and tune-up features that can keep your PC running efficiently.

Avoid a mega-suite that only offers local backup, without an online option. The set-and-forget nature of online backup means you actually will back up your files, while tedious local backup routines are often abandoned. Tune-up features like cleanup of unwanted file and Registry items should spell out what they're going to do, or spell out what they did with the option to reverse any problems.