In general, I dislike and distrust ALL security "suites". While convenient in that everything can be managed from a central point, they also share a great deal of common code. If any of this code should contain some kind of exploit, then the entire suite can be toppled.
Now if you have an AV program from one vendor, a firewall from another, and well you don't really need anything more if you do simple things like not use Internet Explorer or file sharing programs... But if you have each component supplied by someone else, there's no one exploit that can bring your computer's entire security grid crashing down. And any time you increase the amount of work someone has to do to get into your system, the more likely it is that they will simply move on looking for easier targets. That's why not using Internet Explorer is so effective. It's such an easy target, it takes almost no effort to exploit it.
But if you have an AV program and a firewall from different vendors, then even if one is toppled, the other is likely to remain functional, providing you with at least some protection. That, and outside of those two functions, everything included in Internet security suites is completely unnecessary if you just do simple things... Like not use Internet Explorer, file sharing programs, go to porn/warez/hacking sites... Simple stuff really. Sort of like don't try and pet the growling dog baring its teeth at you. Things that sound very much like common sense once you actually hear them. And the rest... There are free options out there for the rest that are every bit as good, if not better. In some cases, the commercial product is actually BASED on the free stuff. Spam is really not the biggest thing in the world to avoid. Some is inevitable, but you just have to be a little more careful about to whom you give your email address out to.
I'd say save your money. AVG Free or Avast are fine AV products, and they're free. The firewall in Vista and XP is also equally sufficient to fend off the automated probes that are your primary threat on the Internet. So if you keep up with your security updates via Windows Update, avoid using Internet Explorer, avoid file sharing programs, don't visit porn/warez/hacking sites, and are pretty selective about to whom you give your email address... You've just done virtually everything security suites charge you $60-$100/year for and at no monetary cost.
It's not rocket science or voodoo magic, it's just taking the time to stop and think about the consequences of your actions. Whatever you think the reasons are, the fact remains that Internet Explorer is by far and away the primary target of malware peddlers. So why would you continue using this product? Even if we assume it's purely a function of popularity (it isn't) and sooner or later Firefox will hit that critical mass that malware peddlers sit up and take notice. That still leaves you all the time between now and then that you can rest easy, without constantly having to look over your shoulder, and have an army of 50 different resource sucking programs constantly running just to try and contain the mess that one wrong click with IE can cause. It may only be a temporary reprieve, but I'd say it's better than nothing.
Has anyone used ESET Smart Security? If so, how did you like it? I'm looking for the bset program for my money so I really like your help in this matter