Premium Internet security suites go beyond their budget siblings, with convenient extras to make life easier. They'll automatically back up your data to the cloud, protect your laptop from thieves, and more.
Bitdefender Total Security (2014) (Est. $60 for 3 PCs) runs away with the crown. It mercilessly blocks all kinds of threats -- but that's just the beginning of what's available in this feature-laden suite. "If you want a mega-suite that does just about everything conceivable in the realm of security, Bitdefender will suit you perfectly," says Neil J. Rubenking at PCMag.com, awarding Bitdefender Total Security its Editors' Choice prize.
In addition to stopping new infections from taking root, Bitdefender Total Security does a great job of scrubbing away existing infections. It protects you while you're web surfing, paying online and on Facebook. It steers you clear of scam websites. And it does it all silently, on autopilot -- and it won't slow down your computer too much, experts say.
Plus, Bitdefender includes some extras you won't find in other mega-suites. Bitdefender can safeguard your data in an encrypted vault, back it up to the cloud (the first 2 GB are free), sync it among your devices and shred your files completely when you're done with them. If your PC is lost or stolen, Bitdefender will let you locate it, remotely lock it down or wipe it completely. You can also check the location of your GPS-equipped device, or trigger a loud alarm on an Android device (handy if you've lost it).
To keep your PC running like a dream, you get Bitdefender's smarter-than-average Tune-Up tool. It'll defragment your drive and clean it up, like most security suites. But it's also clever enough to delete space-hogging duplicate files (even if they're named differently), and its registry cleaner includes a recovery tool in case something gets wiped out by mistake.
Parental controls are especially robust. You'll be able to control your kids' Windows and Android accounts -- block unwanted sites and apps, cut off suspicious phone and IM contacts and monitor your child on Facebook. You can get hourly alerts and full reports -- daily, if you like -- telling you every website your kids visited (or tried to visit), what they searched for, what texts they received and from whom, and whom they chatted with.
Norton 360 (Est. $55 for 3 PCs) is Bitdefender's closest runner-up in reviews. Norton doesn't block or clean up malware quite as well in tests, and it's not as full featured. Parental controls are more basic (unless you buy a $50 upgrade), as is the tune-up tool, and there's no device anti-theft feature.
PCMag.com does like Norton well enough to make it co-Editors' Choice (alongside Bitdefender), and it gets mostly high marks from Amazon.com users. But for the same price, more experts like Bitdefender a little more.