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Security Suites vs Standalone Products: Which is the Best Option?

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011

Should you use a security suite or standalone security products? The fact is that there is no silver bullet to internet security threats and there are pros and cons to both approaches. Read on to find out more.

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    A security suite is an integrated security solution designed to provide protection against a broad range of internet security threats (viruses, spyware, spam, phishing, etc.). Standalone security products, on the other hand, provide protection against a single, specific threat. Which is the best option? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer.

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    Standalone Security Tools: The Pros and Cons

    Standalone security software is designed for people who have more knowledge on how to protect their system against most threats and wish to use particular tools to combat particular threats. As we know already, there are several types of risks: malware, spam, intrusion, vulnerability, exploits, potentially unwanted software (PUPs), rogue or misleading applications, phishing, fake or malicious websites etc.

    The main advantage of using standalone products is that you can choose the products that you think will provide your computer with the best protection against each threat rather than relying on a single vendor. For example, while most security suites now offer some form of parental controls, those controls will probably not be as comprehensive as the ones found in a dedicated, standalone product such as Net Nanny.

    Examples of standalone tools include:

    This main disadvantage of standalone products is that they can be time consuming. Simply deciding which products to use can be a challenge. And you then have to install them, learn how to use them, make sure that they work well together and keep them all updated.

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    Security Suites: The Pros and Cons

    The big advantage of a security suite is that it makes life easy ... it's the only product that you'll need to use how to learn and keep updated.

    The disadvantage of security suites is that some of the components will probably not be as effective as standalone products. Additionally, you'll almost cetainly be paying for some features that you neither want nor need (IM encryption, for example).

    Tip: When choosing a security suite as your protection, you might want to compare the price and features before deciding which one to get. Some are offering a wide range of features including online backup and file and folder encryption while others are more limited.

    Examples of security suites include:

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    The Bottom Line

    Whether a suite or standalone products is the better option depends entirely on your own preferences. If you're looking for an easy and speedy way to secure your data, go with a security suite. If, on the other hand, you have some time to invest and would like to use best of breed solutions to handle each aspect of security, go with standalone products. But, in either case, be sure to choose carefully.