Premium core security just got cheaper in Trend Micro Titanium 2013

A gentle footprint on your system, solid security efficacy, and an attempt to make it easier to understand what differentiates its suites makes Trend Micro Titanium one of the best security suites of 2013.

Two years after Trend Micro's big consumer suite overhaul, Titanium continues to improve. This year, there's a big change to which features are available in the different suites to make the suite structure easier to understand.

All "basic" security features have been moved to the entry-level Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus Plus ($39.95 for one computer), while multiple computer and multiple device support, as well as some extra features, are available only in the significantly more expensive Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security ($79.95), Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security ($89.95), and Trend Micro Titanium Premium Security ($99.95). Full details are below under the Feature and Support section.

Installation
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2013 sports the same rapid-fire installation it's had for a few years. Once you've completed downloading the installer, the entire process is over in less than a minute. There's one screen where you're asked to fill in an e-mail address before you can run Titanium Maximum Security, but that's the extent of the registration hoops that are required. Although a reboot isn't mandatory, the program seems to run better after one.

You can also disable your contributions to the Smart Protection Network, Trend Micro's behavioral detection net, during installation. Doing so won't make you less safe. It will only prevent your data from becoming part of Trend Micro's analyses.

Interface
The new Titanium 2013 look pleasantly and effectively reflects Trend Micro's new features strategy, putting the suite's myriad tools in sensible locations.

No doubt a large part of what drove the interface redo was Windows 8. After the past few years of vertically oriented controls, this year switches to a horizontal focus and big, touch-friendly icons at the top. Check boxes in Settings have been made bigger, too, something that your humble reviewer and his fat fingers can appreciate.

The Overview tab is likely where you'll spend most of your time, with its quick link to scans and scanning options, program settings, and security reports. The main part of the window is taken up by a security summary, too, so you get your essentials at a glance. There's also a button in the bottom left, if you're one of those folks who loves to customize your security suite background.

After the landing page Overview tab, there's PC/Mobile for accessing security for the computer you're on, along with System Tuner and Rescue Disk if you're on the more expensive versions of Titanium, as well as security for your Androids and Macs.

The Privacy tab toggles the Facebook Privacy Scanner and Social Networking Protection, while the Data tab accesses Data Theft Prevention, your Trend Micro Vault, Secure Erase, the password manager DirectPass, and Trend Micro's SafeSync for cross-device, cloud-based synchronization. The Family tab accesses the parental controls and the Online Guardian, a social networking control panel for people with children. It's a good idea to split the regular social networking controls from the family-based ones, since the requirements for what you want out of a Facebook wall scanner for yourself are likely to be less restrictive than what you want for your kids.

These are all in Titanium Maximum Security; cheaper versions have fewer features and we discuss the differences in the Features section below. Meanwhile, Support and Account links are located persistently at the bottom of the interface, and will take you to their respective Trend Micro Web pages.

Features and support
We mentioned that Titanium 2013 juggles all of its features around. What does that actually mean?

The short version is that even the entry-level Titanium AntiVirus Plus 2013 has the same core security features as its most feature-packed sibling, the $60 more expensive Titanium Premium Security. No matter which Titanium suite you get, you're getting protection against viruses, spyware, spam, and phishing. They all come with Titanium's Safe Surfing feature, which guards against drive-by malware; Safe Searching search results ranking courtesy a browser add-on for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome; a Facebook privacy scanner; and social networking protection including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace (yes, MySpace), Weibo, and Mixi.

These are solid features that will keep you safe, and putting them all in AntiVirus Plus makes it one of the most robust basic suites around and an excellent deal.

At the higher subscription levels, you'll get more features and more device support. Antivirus Plus works only on one computer. Titanium Internet Security 2013 will work on three computers, and includes parental controls, a system tuner, data theft prevention, and a secure file shredder.

Titanium Maximum Security 2013 offers all of the above, as well as the Trend Micro Online Guardian social monitoring service, Trend Micro's password management service, Trend Micro Vault for securing files on your local hard drives, and 5 GB with the company's SafeSync cloud storage. It also features a change in the license, so that Titanium Maximum Security will work on any combination of Windows, Android, and Mac, up to three devices. The new Trend Micro Premium Security 2013 is identical to Maximum Security in terms of features, but it comes with 25GB of SafeSync storage, and will work on up to five devices.

More and more security suites are approaching their features as services, so while Trend Micro's approach here is welcome, it feels a bit thin when compared with Norton's 10-device limitation.

Performance
Now into its third year, Titanium's updated detection system has proven itself handily. Independent efficacy tests indicate that Titanium 2013's initial performance has been stellar, following reasonably strong scores for Titanium 2012. That combined with zippy scan speeds and a very light system impact means that Titanium is one of the best security suites for 2013.

CNET Labs' benchmarks showed that the Titanium suites performed much better than in previous years. The scan was not the fastest CNET Labs tested as it was last year, but Titanium 2013 suites still completed in the low 500 seconds. Our real-world computer test pegged the Quick Scan at just over 60 seconds; both are very good times.

Titanium Internet Security and Maximum Security 2013 also has had the smallest impact on computer boot times, adding only three seconds to the boot time, while Titanium AntiVirus Plus was a skidge slower. Likewise, Maximum Security added only two seconds to shutdown, while Internet Security added three seconds, and AntiVirus Plus added 5 seconds. These are all excellent.

While MS Office performance was slower than average, the other in-use system performance benchmarks showed that Titanium was light-handed on the system while running processor-intensive software.

Security program Boot time Shutdown time Wake from sleep Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 47.5 7.8 11.5 n/a 412 124 344 17,116
Average of all tested systems (to date) 59.4 12.2 11.8 954 415 125 345 17,150
Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus Plus 2013 52.2 12.5 14.7 507 437 124 343 17,013
Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security 2013 50.5 10.8 9.5 519 414 124 343 17,215
Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security 2013 50.7 9.6 14.8 536 407 125 344 17,094

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

Third-party labs that look at the efficacy of virus detection and removal found Trend Micro 2012 and 2013 to be extremely good, overall. AV-Test.org checked out Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security three times in 2012.

During May and June of 2012 on a Windows 7 computer, the 2012 version of the suite scored 5.5 out of 6 on Protection, 4.0 out of 6 on Repair, and 4.5 out of 6 on Usability for a respectable overall score of 14 out of 18. In July and August, both the 2012 and 2013 versions struggled a bit on Windows XP and only hit 4.5 out of 6 on Protection, 3.5 out of 6 on Repair, and 3.5 out of 6 on Usability for a barely passing score of 11.5 out of 18. But in September and October, testing on a Windows 7 computer, Titanium 2013 notched a perfect 6 on Protection, 4.0 out of 6 on Repair, and 4.5 out of 6 on Usability for a solid overall score of 14.5 out of 18.

So, in short, AV-Test.org found Trend Micro Titanium 2011 and the new 2012 to be very effective.

The most recent AV-Comparatives.org Whole Product test, which looks at on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and "real-world" guards including cloud-based protections, puts Trend Micro 2012 in the top six suites tested -- the same as last year. The November 2012 test found that it was one of three suites that amazingly blocked 100 percent of attacks and threats thrown at it, along with GData and Bitdefender. Meanwhile, looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January to November 2012, Trend Micro 2012 came in sixth, blocking 98.8 percent of threats.

It's fair to conclude that according to third-party tests, Titanium has been very effective over the past year, but with room to tighten up some of its false positives and malware removal scores. On the count of blocking threats, though, Titanium is a clear leader. Combined with its low system impact, and this just may be the right suite for you, performance-wise.

Conclusion
Trend Micro is taking another big risk by making all its core security features available in its basic Antivirus Plus suite, but it's a risk the company has to take. The consumer security field grows ever-more competitive, and the free suites -- especially Microsoft Security Essentials -- are gobbling up newer computers.

The appeal of Titanium is solid security numbers backed by low system impact. If you want to pay for your computer security, Trend Micro Titanium 2013 and especially Antivirus Plus are excellent bets to place.

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