Which kind of security suite you choose depends on what kinds of devices you need to protect.
If you’re strictly a PC household, a traditional Windows-centric suite should do fine.
But if you use multiple platforms, you’re better off with a cross-platform suite like Trend Micro Maximum Security.
It offers an impressive feature set on Windows and Android, but less so for macOS and iOS devices.
For $89.95 per year you can install Trend Micro security on up to five PCs, Macs, smartphones, or tablets.
That’s up from three licenses in the previous edition.
If five seems insufficient, you can pay $10 more for Trend Micro Premium Security, which gives you 10 licenses but is otherwise identical to the suite reviewed here.
Symantec Norton Security Premium’s pricing is similar, except that besides adding five more licenses, the top-of-the-line suite includes 25GB of hosted online backup and a full premium license for Symantec’s parental control system.
During the installation process, you must create a Trend Micro account to activate the software.
From this account, you can download the appropriate software for the device you’re currently using, or send an email with a download link for a different device.
The online console very clearly shows which devices you’ve protected and how many licenses remain.
On a PC, the suite’s main window is almost indistinguishable from that of Trend Micro’s entry-level suite, or from the standalone antivirus.
A big round Scan button sits in the center, below a row of icons for Device, Privacy, Data, and Family. You’ll find a couple of new items on the Data page, and the window that appears when you click Protect Another Device offers Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Trend Micro’s password manager is also included, but as a separate download.
Shared AntivirusFor Windows systems, antivirus protection is the same throughout the Trend Micro product line. Read my review of Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security for a full discussion of Trend’s antivirus technology.
To counter the uptick in ransomware attacks, Trend Micro includes Folder Shield, a component that bans unauthorized programs from making changes in your Documents folder.
The company also maintains a ransomware hotline that’s free for anybody who needs help.
Trend Micro’s scores from the independent testing labs are mixed.
It earned a perfect 18 points in the latest test by AV-Test Institute, as did Kaspersky and Bitdefender.
Simon Edwards Labs certified it at the AA level, the second-best of five certification levels. However, it failed one of two tests performed by MRG-Effitas (to be fair, many products fail these tests). Out of three tests by AV-Comparatives, Trend Micro took a just-passing Standard rating in one and a second-best Advanced rating in the other two.
Its aggregate lab test score, 8.7 of 10 possible points, is good, but Kaspersky Total Security and Norton managed 10.0 and 9.7 points respectively.
In my hands-on malware blocking test, Trend Micro detected 97 percent of the samples and earned 9.7 of 10 possible points, exactly the same as Symantec Norton AntiVirus Basic.
But in a separate test that challenges each antivirus to block downloads from malware-hosting URLs, Norton exhibited a 98 percent protection rate, better than Trend Micro’s 89 percent.
Norton is my touchstone for antiphishing success.
Trend Micro’s detection rate was just two percentage points below Norton’s which is better than the vast majority of competitors. ZoneAlarm tied Norton, though.
And Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security Complete, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky all scored higher than Norton on this test.
The antivirus boasts a wealth of bonus features.
It marks up links in search results and social media, identifying them as safe, iffy, or dangerous.
A firewall booster component works alongside Windows Firewall, with the particular aim of foiling botnets.
The antivirus even includes a full-blown spam filter.
And of course, all of these features are found in Trend Micro’s suite products.
See How We Test Security Software
Shared Suite FeaturesOne step up from basic antivirus, Trend Micro Internet Security adds a number of security components, some more effective than others.
I’ll briefly summarize here. You can read my review for more information.
I wasn’t impressed by the parental control system.
It keeps kids from accessing websites matching 32 content categories.
It does filter HTTPS sites, but I found some secure anonymizing proxy sites that weren’t caught.
Connecting through such a site eliminates Trend Micro’s ability to control and monitor access.
Trend Micro has the unusual ability to cover up naughty images in search results, but it’s not completely effective. You can put a daily cap on Internet usage, set a weekly schedule for when kids are allowed online, and even schedule use of individual programs.
A simple report lets parents view which sites were blocked.
That’s the extent of parental control.
Some competitors, Check Point ZoneAlarm Extreme Security 2017, Norton, and Kaspersky in particular, offer a much wider set of features.
A security scanner checks your social media accounts (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter) for settings that might be giving away too much personal data, and for insecure browser settings.
Data Theft Prevention blocks transmission of user-specified private data, though it doesn’t work on HTTPS sites.
Secure Erase wipes out sensitive files beyond the possibility of forensic recovery.
And PC Health Checkup attempts to improve system performance by wiping out junk files.
Advanced optimization features include managing startup programs and finding space-wasting duplicate files.
That’s it for shared features. Next I’ll look at features only found in Trend Micro Maximum Security.
Password ManagerTrend Micro Password Manager 3.7 costs $14.95 per year as a standalone product, but you get it for free as part of your Maximum Security subscription.
It’s not outstanding as a password manager, but it does the job. My review goes into detail about just what this product does and doesn’t do.
To get the password manager on your devices, you go to the online portal and download it separately.
In a similar situation, McAfee’s suite links to True Key by Intel Security.
The password manager has the ability to import passwords that are insecurely stored in your browsers, remove them from the browsers, and turn off browser-based password capture. However, the only competitor it imports from is LastPass 4.0 Premium.
As expected, the password manager captures credentials as you log in to secure sites, plays back saved credentials when you revisit a site, and lets you pick from a toolbar menu to both navigate to a saved site and log in. However, it doesn’t handle non-standard logins. When you’re signing up for a new account, you can use the password generator to gin up a strong, random password.
Trend Micro does rate password strength, but it’s too permissive.
Any password of eight characters or more containing all four character types is rated maximally strong.
Do you consider “1Monkey!” a super-strong password? Neither do I.
By the same token, if the Password Doctor analysis tool declares that one of your passwords is weak, that means that it most definitely needs to be changed. You have to make the change yourself; there’s no automatic password updating like you get with LastPass and Dashlane 4.
Like many password managers, Trend Micro lets you record personal information for use in filling Web forms.
This feature is limited to a single profile and just one instance of each field.
In testing, I thought it was broken, as it failed to fill in details at two huge online retailers. When I did get it to work, its form filling was spotty.
Bonus features include a secure browser for financial transactions, a slightly odd keylogger-foiling utility, and the ability to sync passwords across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.
It’s a decent password manager, just not an outstanding one.
Cloud Storage ScannerAntivirus protection scans all of your local files, but these days your files may live in the cloud.
If you link the Cloud Storage Scanner with your OneDrive account, you can scan those files too.
The process happens totally in the cloud, so you just start it and walk away.
This year’s edition adds support for Dropbox, and even includes the Dropbox-specific ability to scan new and changed files every 15 minutes.
I gave this feature a whirl and got an interesting surprise—it found several dozen malware-infested files! Fortunately, they weren’t active.
During another review I enabled storage of backups in my Dropbox, and some of my malware samples got backed up because they were in a folder on the desktop.
During the scanning process, all of your PDFs, Office documents, and executables get sent (securely, of course) to a Trend Micro server for scanning.
According to the explanatory text, “Trend Micro deletes the temporary files after every scan to help preserve your privacy.” It’s probably fine, but those with an enhanced paranoia level may want to forego using this feature.
Encrypted VaultKeeping your most sensitive files encrypted is just plain smart.
A malefactor who hacks into your computer remotely or steals your laptop still won’t be able to get at those particular files.
Bitdefender Total Security 2016, Kaspersky, and McAfee LiveSafe are among the security suites that let you store files in an encrypted vault.
These three let you create multiple vaults for different purposes, but each vault’s size is fixed at the time you create it.
Trend Micro works a bit differently.
There’s just one vault, but it doesn’t have a predefined size. When it’s open, it acts more or less like any other folder, with a few exceptions.
Dragging a file into the vault always moves it; you can’t force a copy by right-dragging or holding down Ctrl.
Dragging a file out of the vault always copies it.
The only way you can copy a file into the vault is using the venerable keystroke combos Ctrl+C to copy it and Ctrl+V to paste it inot the vault.
Why is that important? If you just move the file, it’s as if you copied and then deleted it.
But that leaves the file subject to forensic recovery. You need to copy into the vault and then use Trend Micro’s file shredder to securely delete the original.
I like the fact that when you transfer files into Kaspersky’s vault, it offers to automatically delete the originals.
On the plus side, Trend Micro lets you remotely seal the vault in the event your device is lost or stolen.
Sealing the vault forces a reboot, and when the device has restarted, the vault isn’t even visible.
If you get the device back, you can remotely unseal the vault.
Extensive Android Support Installing Trend Micro on an Android device gets you a well-rounded collection of security features.
It starts with the security scan, of course, but this scan does more than just look for malware.
It also identifies apps that pose a security risk for other reasons.
These include unreasonable permissions, code errors that could allow access by malware, and unsecured communications, among other things.
A scan runs automatically as soon as you’ve installed the app.
If it finds any issues, you’ll see a notification prominently displayed at the top of the screen.
Loss or theft of your Android device is actually more likely than getting hit with malware.
Trend Micro offers a full range of anti-theft features, managed through an online console.
There are a few settings you’ll configure on the device itself. You can specify a message to be displayed after you remotely lock the device, and you can choose whether a remote wipe just clears your personal data or performs a full system wipe.
From the online console, you can check the device’s position, remotely lock it, or wipe all data. You can also trigger a loud alarm, handy if you’ve misplaced the device somewhere in your home.
If the battery is just about to die, the device sends a last-gasp position notification to the Web console, similar to the Signal Flare feature in Lookout Mobile Security Premium (for Android).
The App Manager shows you how much storage each of your apps is using and offers a quick way to uninstall any of them if you’re running low.
As on other platforms, Safe Surfing blocks malicious and fraudulent websites.
The handy Wi-Fi Checker warns when you’ve connected to an unsecured hotspot, and shows how to make your device stop connecting to it automatically.
I installed Trend Micro on a Nexus 9 to see it in action.
Its security scan found two risky apps, so I removed them.
The System Tuner claimed that I should be able to use the device for 50 hours and 13 minutes on its current charge, which I found extremely optimistic.
From this screen you can put the device in Power Saver mode or set it to automatically go into that mode when the battery drops below a certain percentage.
The Smart Power Saver mode manipulates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to minimize battery drain.
For example, it can stop the device from seeking a Wi-Fi connection after a certain time with no Wi-Fi discovered.
The System Tuner also reports on how much of the device’s memory is in use, along with a list of apps and their memory usage. You can shut down memory-hungry apps or click a button to optimize available memory.
As with the Windows edition, you can scan social media for security risks. However, on Android this only works with Facebook.
Trend Micro can alert you to dangerous links in instant messages, but only if you use Line or WhatsApp.
Parental control is available on Android, but it’s not the same as under Windows. Parents can choose to block use of specific apps, if desired.
There’s a content filter, but you can only choose an age range, Child, Preteen, or Teen.
That’s about the extent of it.
It’s nothing like ZoneAlarm’s powerful parental control (licensed from Net Nanny), which has you create a child profile online and then apply that profile to any number of devices.
Independent of the mobile security app, you can optionally install an Android edition of the password manager, and sync it with your other devices.
Limited Mac Support You can use one of your licenses to install Trend Micro Antivirus on a Mac, but as the name suggests, this is antivirus protection, not a full security suite. On the bright side, like the Windows-based antivirus it includes more than just the basics.
Trend Micro’s ransomware protection applies to the Mac edition, along with the expected antivirus, antiphishing, and protection against Web-based threats. You get spam filtering, and it marks up search results and social media links to show you whether they’re safe, iffy, or dangerous.
As with the Windows version, a privacy scanner checks your social media settings to make sure you’re not exposing too much private information.
It also checks settings in your browser, ensuring they’re configured for maximum security.
Finally, unlike the Windows edition, Trend Micro’s Mac antivirus includes a parental control system. You can also install a Mac edition of the password manager, syncing data with your other devices.
Some Support for iOSGiven that licenses for this product are a finite resource, you may not want to use up one by installing protection on an iOS device.
Trend Micro Mobile Security doesn’t offer many features on iOS, in large part because iOS is so thoroughly locked down.
There’s no security scan, and the anti-theft features are limited to locating the device and sounding an alarm.
To get the benefits of Trend Micro’s website reputation system, you must use the internal SafeSurfing browser.
There is an option to back up your contacts, but not other data.
There are some features not found in the Android edition.
Trend Micro can track your Cellular, Roaming, and Wi-Fi data usage.
The social-network scan coves both Facebook and Twitter.
But that’s about it.
Tapping More Tools takes you to a page where you can install the password manager.
Tiny Performance Hit When I tested Trend Micro Internet Security for impact on performance, it exhibited almost none.
Trend Micro Maximum Security, with its additional features, displayed just slightly more of an impact, but it’s still way lower than most competitors.
To check for impact on boot time, I run a script that waits for ten seconds in a row with CPU usage no more than five percent, meaning the computer is ready for use.
Subtracting the start of the boot process, as reported by Windows, yields a measure of boot time.
I averaged multiple runs on a clean test system, then installed Trend Micro on that system and averaged another set of runs.
Boot time came in just 5 percent longer with the suite installed, well below the current average of 17 percent.
In my file move and copy test, Trend Micro’s presence caused the script to take 13 percent longer, which is also less than the average for current products.
And in the zip and unzip test, like the entry-level Trend Micro suite, it didn’t cause any slowdown.
While it’s not quite as light on resources as Webroot, Trend Micro’s performance impact just isn’t something you need to worry about.
Good, Not BestWith a subscription to Trend Micro Maximum Security, you can protect up to five devices—10 if you pony up an extra $10.
Its support for Windows and Android is comprehensive, but you get less on a Mac and still less on an iOS device.
McAfee LiveSafe follows a similar pattern, offering its best protection on Windows and Android. However, for the same price as Trend Micro, McAfee lets you install protection on every device in your household.
That unlimited licensing is a big part of the reason McAfee is an Editors’ Choice for cross-platform multi-device suite.
Symantec Norton Security Premium is our other Editors’ Choice.
It includes top-notch password management and parental control.
Its Windows antivirus and Android security products are both Editors’ Choice in their fields.
Sub-Ratings:Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product’s overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.Firewall: n/aAntivirus: Performance: Privacy: Parental Control:
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