Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) review

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) is a tiny powerhouse that offers the usual security protection plus password management, backup and sync, and more. As long as you don't need antispam or parental control it's a great choice.
Photo of Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014)

Microsoft’s OneCare pioneered the concept of enhancing a security suite with backup and system tuneup components. OneCare is long gone, but its memory lives on in mega-suite products like Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014), which includes all the features of Webroot’s entry-level suite plus a system optimizer and an impressive backup and sync feature.

Just looking at the product’s main window, you really can’t tell it apart from the entry-level suite or from Webroot’s antivirus product. The main difference is that Backup & Sync is actually available in the accordion-style panel at right. Open the Utilities panel below it for access to the System Optimizer.

The product costs $79.99 per year direct for five licenses, but you don’t have to use all five licenses on PCs. You can also use them to install protection on your Mac or Android devices. New in this edition, the Mac version has just about everything the PC version does. The program’s designers have also brought the user interfaces for the Mac and PC editions into line and, as much as possible, the Android edition too.

Oddball Antivirus
I tested the heck out of Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (2014) and wrote an extensive review. You’ll want to read that for full details about the antivirus; I’ll summarize here.

While Webroot does maintain an online database of signatures for common viruses and other threats, its main thrust involves detecting malware based on program traits and behavior. A program doesn’t have any behaviors until it actually has a chance to run, so this system is bound to let some malicious programs launch and start functioning. An unknown program is presumed innocent until its behavior reveals otherwise.

Webroot journals all activity by unknowns, so if at some point its analysis pinpoints the process as malicious, it can roll back everything that the process did. This delayed-reaction style is decidedly incompatible with many of the tests performed by third-party labs. The chart below summarizes recent lab tests, most of which don’t include Webroot. For more about the labs, please read see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) lab tests chart

In my own hands-on testing I found that Webroot installed in a flash, even on malware-infested systems. A quick remote-control session using a bootable Webroot utility cleared up ransomware that made installation tough on one system. Two systems needed a couple hours of remote-control tech support help to fully complete the cleanup process, but in the end they did succeed.

Webroot’s detection rate of 89 percent and overall malware cleanup score of 6.6 points are both tops among products tested using this same malware collection. F-Secure Internet Security 2014′s 86 percent was the next-best detection rate. F-Secure and Bitdefender Total Security (2014) also scored 6.6 points. The chart below summarizes results; for an explanation of what goes into that chart, see How We Test Malware Removal.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) malware removal chart

As noted, Webroot won’t necessarily detect an unknown malicious program until it actually does something bad, like trying to upload your personal data. Even so, it did a decent job in my malware blocking test. Webroot detected 91 percent of the samples and scored 8.8 points, putting it about in the middle of current products. Norton 360 (2014), which also isn’t fully compatible with all current tests, scored 8.5. To learn more about my malware blocking test, see How We Test Malware Blocking.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) malware blocking chart

I repeated the test with the Internet connection initially cut off. Cut off from its brains in the cloud, Webroot had to treat all the samples as unknowns. After loading the samples I restored the connection and watched Webroot get to work identifying the malware and rolling back its effects. Webroot’s scores came out roughly on par with the previous test. Of course a direct comparison isn’t sensible because some of the samples themselves don’t function without an Internet connection.

Shared Antivirus Features
Webroot blocks browser access to dangerous websites, including fraudulent (phishing) sites and sites hosting malware. When I tried to re-download my current malware collection, it blocked every single URL that was still viable. In my antiphishing test, it became one of just three programs to demonstrate a better detection rate than Norton (the other two were Kaspersky PURE 3.0 Total Security and Bitdefender). For a full explanation of how I gather the freshest phishing sites and score this test, please see How We Test Antiphishing.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) antiphishing chart

Webroot doesn’t include a full firewall. Rather, it relies on Windows firewall for protection against outside attack and supplies its own outbound-only firewall helper. By default, it only ever asks the user whether to allow Internet access for a program when the system is infected and hasn’t yet been cleaned. If you see a firewall popup from Webroot, it’s probably important!

The antivirus comes with quite a few additional tools, but most are just not meant for the average user. They’ll most likely be used by a tech support agent performing remote-control diagnosis.

Shared Suite Features
The basic antivirus contains high-end features like firewall and phishing protection, and Webroot doesn’t bother with not-for-everybody antispam and parental control. The biggest addition that distinguishes the entry-level suite from the antivirus is password management, and it’s an impressive feature.

If you’re familiar with Editors’ Choice LastPass 2.0 Premium, you know exactly how Webroot’s password manager works. That’s because it’s licensed from LastPass and includes almost all of LastPass’s features. For a full description, please see my review of Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus (2014).

Briefly, the password manager captures passwords as you enter them and replays them when you revisit the secure site. Its browser button offers access to all of your saved passwords, and to a high-powered password generator. Webroot will also fill forms using personal data that you’ve stored, and it does so more accurately than the password manager in Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2014.

The My Webroot Online console gives you access to your saved passwords and personal data profiles from any Internet-equipped computer. From the console you can also manage your mobile installations and invoke anti-theft features if necessary. The PC Security page offers an overview of your PC installations, with the ability to drill down for detail and perform a number of remote actions. For example, you can launch a scan, lock the PC, or turn it off remotely.

Backup and Sync
You get an impressive 25GB of hosted online backup with your Webroot subscription. Even breaking it down to 5GB of backup for each of your five licenses, that’s impressive. Trend Micro offers 5GB total, and Norton 360 just 2GB. A number of other suites “give” you online backup hosted by Mozy, something you could get for free without buying a suite.

As soon as you activate the backup system, it creates an “Anywhere folder” on your PC. This folder automatically syncs with the Anywhere folder on all of your other devices. Add a file on one device, it shows up on the others. Edit a document in one place, and your edits will propagate… well… anywhere!

You can designate any folder as a sync folder; Webroot will immediately start copying its contents to cloud storage. Then from another device you can find that folder in the cloud and sync it to a local folder. Simple!

Webroot distinguished backup folder from sync folders by the fact that backup folders only get uploaded to the cloud when a scheduled backup occurs. It keeps ten previous versions of backed-up files, so you can go back to an earlier version if a damaged document gets backed up. For files in sync folders it stores five previous versions.

From the My Webroot console you can view all of your synced and backed up files. If an online folder contains images, you can shift to a slideshow view. However, if you want to restore from a backup, you’ll have to do a little work. First you select the files to restore, then you download a ZIP file containing those files, and finally you put them back in their original locations. To be fair, backing up happens all the time, restoring, hardly ever.

Trend Micro offers a similar backup and sync system, including a media viewer for online files much like Webroot’s. However, it goes quite a bit further, with the ability to securely share files from your backup sets and even set a time-limit on how long sharing lasts.

Norton 360 doesn’t do file syncing, but its users can backup to local, network, and removable drives as well as to the cloud. It, too, offers secure sharing of backed-up files.

I should point out that Webroot’s backup and sync system carefully re-uses as much code as possible from existing security components. I measured its on-disk footprint as barely 7MB larger than that of the entry-level suite, both under 100MB. Compare that with the Trend Micro mega-suite, weighing in at over 1,100MB and nearly twice as big as Trend’s entry-level suite. I’m impressed with Webroot’s tight coding.

File Shredder
You might overlook this feature, but if you right-click any file or folder you’ll see a menu item titled “Permanently erase with Webroot.” Note, though, that at its default configuration, all this item does is delete a file without sending it to the Recycle Bin. Forensic recovery software could still reconstruct the file from its now-available storage chunks.

If you want true secure deletion, open Advanced Settings and click Secure Erase at left. Slide the slider one notch, to Medium. This tells Webroot to overwrite a file with random bits three times before deletion. That’s definitely enough to foil any reasonable attempt at recovery. If you feel the need to wipe your files so thoroughly that recovery is demonstrably impossible (it’s a physics thing) you could set it to overwrite seven times, but I wouldn’t advise it.

Simple System Optimizer
Including system tuneup may be a nod to the fact that security suites occasionally get blamed when the user’s PC runs slowly. That’s a less-likely accusation for Webroot users, given the suite’s tiny footprint, but the System Optimizer still will do its best to speed operations by getting rid of useless files. Basic operation is extremely simple. You just click the “Optimize Now” button and wait a minute or two. When it finishes, you can click to view a simple text-file log of what it did.

Kaspersky separates cleaning unnecessary files from wiping traces that could impact your privacy. In both cases it lets you preview and fine-tune its actions and, if necessary roll back a cleanup operation. The QuickClean feature in McAfee Total Protection 2014 lets you see what it will delete, but you can’t pick and choose items for deletion, nor can you roll back its actions. Bitdefender’s tuneup options include cache clearing, useless file removal, Registry cleanup, and even a scanner that will delete all but one of identical duplicate files.

Webroot doesn’t attempt to clean up useless or erroneous Registry items, just files. It doesn’t let you pick and choose what will be deleted, or roll back a cleanup operation. In truth, for most users that’s just fine. Only the truly dedicated will take time to, for example, review 400 proposed Registry fixes.

Tiniest Performance Impact
Speaking of tight coding, Webroot had a very, very small impact in my daily-use performance tests. I tested this suite separately from the entry-level suite and the results were so close as to make no difference.

Webroot had no measureable effect on my zip/unzip test, and it slowed my move/copy test by just 4 percent. Given that the average for the zip/unzip test is a 16 percent slowdown, and 20 percent for the move/copy test, Webroot is looking good.

Webroot uses just a single process while some other suites have as many as 14 running. With just that one process to get started, it’s no surprise that Webroot’s impact on boot time was low. I measured it at 5 percent, way less than the suite average of 24 percent. For full details on how I measure system performance impact, see How We Test Security Suites for Performance.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) performance chart

Tiny Product, Big Power
 Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) has a tiny installer that installs the program in a flash and uses very little disk space. It also had a tiny impact on system performance in my hands-on tests. Even so, it excelled in my malware blocking and antiphishing tests, and it offers top-of-the-line password management, online backup and sync, and more.

Admittedly, it won’t filter out spam from your Inbox, and it won’t keep your teenager from surfing for nudie cuties, but not everyone needs antispam or parental control. If its feature set matches your needs, this is a great mega-suite, an Editors’ Choice.

If you really need those features that Webroot omits, or if you just want something more traditional, Norton 360 (2014) will certainly do the job. For a huge collection of uniformly effective security components, consider Bitdefender Total Security (2014). These two are also Editors’ Choice mega-suites.

Virus removal:
Virus blocking:
Antispam: n/a
Parental Control: n/a

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete (2014) is a tiny powerhouse that offers the usual security protection plus password management, backup and sync, and more. As long as you don't need antispam or parental control it's a great choice.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc