You may know Webroot best for free security software, particularly its tools designed to make web surfing safer. However, the company offers one of the most compelling security suites we've tested, Internet Security Complete. In addition to a simple interface, it offers a generous 10GB of storage, as well as thorough identity theft protection and an easy way to port your security settings to other PCs you may be using. If it offered parental controls, it would be practically perfect.
User Interface and Setup
After installing the 300MB program, we had to restart once, making it a pretty painless process. The program's user interface is intuitive, and does a particularly good job of keeping the home screen streamlined while quarantining a host of advanced settings elsewhere.
Like other security programs, Internet Security Complete relies heavily on green, yellow, and red color-coding to communicate to users that their PCs are either safe or in danger. If your PC is secure, for example, the home screen will appear green with a large check mark and the words, "You are protected." You'll see a short list underneath showing how many items have been removed, how many have been blocked, and most importantly, when your last update took place.
Beneath that is a row of four squares, the program's pillars: Identity & Privacy, PC Security, Sync & Sharing, and System Cleaner. Each has a color-coded icon in the upper left-hand corner that lets you know how well your PC is covered in that area (e.g., a green check mark or yellow exclamation point). Roll over each square to see a pop-up menu that lets you edit settings in that category.
If you click Edit Settings, you'll be taken to one centralized page where there are settings tabs for each section of the program. We appreciated having a one-stop shop for adjusting settings instead of having to bounce around through menus. These settings, too, can be advanced for users who crave that kind of control. For instance, users can modify the filters allowing content through the firewall, as well as decide which third-party applications' files are subject to cleanup (more on that when we get to the program's PC tune-up features). When you're done, a home button sits in the upper left-hand corner, which will you bring you back to the minimalist main screen.
Performance and PC Tune-Up
In addition to scanning for malware, Webroot also includes ratings next to search results in a web browser, and attempts to block unsafe sites (users can bypass these warnings at their own risk). While Webroot isn't tested by Anti-Virus Comparatives or AV-Test.org, it did pass West Coast Labs' and ICSA Labs' tests for virus detection and removal. Power users will appreciate Gamer mode, which delays routine scans while a game is in progress. Users (or the parents of users) can also set time limits on their gaming--say, four hours--to ensure they don't get carried away.
Like other security suites, such as McAfee Total Protection, Webroot Internet Security Complete caused Firefox to launch in two seconds, not one, a small blip for end users. What impressed us most, though, was that it shrank our boot-up time from 1:17 to a much shorter 43 seconds (Total Protection brought the startup time down to 54 seconds).
As with the rest of the interface, the PC optimization feature, called System Cleaner, is easy for novices to use, but also offers enough advanced options to satisfy more tech-savvy users. You can simply click Cleanup Now to run all of the cleanup processes, which removes Internet items, Windows and Microsoft Office files, and third-party application files, as well as permanently delete files. Or, you can disable any of these processes, even customizing which browsers and third-party applications are exempt. Norton 360, to name a formidable competitor, doesn't have a button for running all of these processes at once, nor does it offer as many advanced settings. Best of all: it's fast. Our system cleanup took just 13 seconds (you can see on-screen how much time has elapsed).
The software also has robust identity protection controls, which are located not in the desktop client, but at my.webroot.com. Through these controls, you can add favorite sites, as well as your passwords for them. You can also add profiles containing information that you're frequently asked to fill in, including credit card numbers. By default the anti-spam filter is turned off, but the anti-phishing tool is enabled.
Although we sometimes resented having tot launch our browser to access this feature, we appreciate that working in the browser allows users to install a toolbar (Firefox and IE-compatible) that lets users fill in forms and passwords no matter what computer they're using. As an added bonus, Webroot throws in a free credit report so that users can make sure their reputations are still pristine.
Webroot Internet Security Complete comes with a generous 10GB of online backup, whereas most of its competitors offer 2GB. Setting up an online account was easy: through a website, we provided our e-mail address and selected a password, whose strength Webroot rated on a weak-to-strong spectrum. Once you've signed up, you can view your stored files, identity protection settings, and remaining free space at my.webroot.com.
In addition to the relatively large amount of storage space, the versatile features offered in Webroot's online backup won us over. Not only can users back up and store files, but they can be synced across multiple PCs. Use the Magic Briefcase feature to do the syncing, and Web Archive to save multiple versions of a file. Also, when you upload photos, you can create an album whose link can be shared with either the public or specific friends (you can always keep your stuff private, too). There's even a music player for audio files stored in the cloud. While every security suite offers online backup, Internet Security Complete is the only one that pulls extra duty as a file syncer, cloud-based music player, and photo sharing service.
If one thing is missing from this feature-rich, beautifully designed security suite, it's parental controls. For some people, of course, this won't be a deal-breaker, but parents who take comfort in being able to monitor and even control their childrens' web surfing, chatting, and social networking will be more satisfied with suites such as Norton Symantec 360, which offers thorough parental controls that cater to different parenting styles (e.g., those who seek to keep kids from doing certain things, and others who just want to keep an eye on what they're doing).
Although parents looking to monitor their childrens' computer use will be disappointed (we recommend they check out Symantec Norton 360 for $69.99 a year instead), we still like Webroot Internet Security Complete (a relatively pricey $79.95 per year) for its simple user interface, and rich identity protection settings. Additionally, you get a generous (and more usable) 10GB of online backup. If you don't require parental controls, its interface and practical amount of storage won't disappoint.