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McAfee used to be the best computer security that money could buy. It was by far the safest choice out there, yet still at a fair price with competitors, making it the overall best option. Therefore, when my new computer came with McAfee pre-installed I decided I would give them a shot after using Kaspersky for the past three years. Unfortunately, I have been extremely disappointed with McAfee Internet Security, and have already both uninstalled it and put in the serial key to install my copy of Kaspersky 2012.
The first thing that really annoyed me with McAfee Internet Security 2011 is the fact that they wouldn't let me delete their desktop icon. Every time I sent it to the Recycle Bin, it would be back the next time I started up my computer. Furthermore, there didn't seem to be an option to turn it off. In fact, I had trouble configuring just about any options with McAfee with its strange interface that doesn't seem to support free will. The only things I seemed able to configure were turning different security features off. I suppose they were going for a simple interface type of look/feel, but its backfired in that more experienced users have to go through hoops to do simple tasks.
Another thing I found frustrating with McAfee Internet Security 2011 is their annoying SiteAdvisor tool, which of course came pre-installed. Now obviously I can't put them too much at fault because it came pre-installed, so for the sake of this review, let's say that I installed it voluntarily... either way I find it aggravating. It likes to give me warnings and make me give myself permission to access sites that I put the URL in for. Sites that I've been visiting for years. It seems that the software works and best determines what websites are dangerous by what links they can find to other "hazardous" corners of the internet. In a way, this makes sense, except McAfee doesn't seem to have taken into account advertising, and the fact that many webmasters don't have much control over which websites advertisers place on their banner space after they agree to it. And with this net that catches links from "dangerous" location to "dangerous" location, pretty soon you start to get warnings every time you want to visit a site with advertisements enabled. I believe this is something like a "false positive", something Norton was known for a few years back. But at this point I would take Norton (back then or the improved 2011-2 version) over this version of McAfee.
The one good thing I can say about this software is that in the 20 days that I used it, I didn't have any issues with malware, though that is hardly a glowing recommendation. As I said earlier, this was a new computer, so most of those 20 days were spent re-downloading software like Microsoft Visual Basic, Mozilla Thunderbird, CCleaner, etc., as well as transferring files from my old computer. Since I already new this stuff was safe, it wasn't like I was scanning potentially hazardous files to begin with, and odds are I would have been fine without any AV to begin with. However, on the off chance that Google and Mozilla have started putting hidden viruses into their web browsers upon installation, McAfee handled any problems I may (or may likely may not) have had.
@ About and Virus protection @
I bought this software because I thought at least if I get a virus, this thing will remove them, and it when it scans files it won't let me download them when it sees them. Unfortunately I have had a few problems with the software since installation.
The first problem occurred when I downloaded some work files, it kept telling me the files were infected, and then immediately after downloading them I scanned and they were clean. A little over sensitive perhaps, but I continued to download since I knew they were from a trusted source.
The next problem is the complexity of the software. When you load it up you are given a menu of several different options, followed by more menus and different settings and options. There is also an advanced menu which is mostly in jargon I can't understand and has options which don't make any sense, for example, it asks if you want to block all third party cookies. No need for this, since my Internet browser does it for me. That would just cause a fight between the two if one has a set of instructions different to the other.
The software likes to take over and keep nagging you when you haven't run a scan for a while, try to download anything at all, and then gives you lots of pop ups about internet security certificates when the site is clearly clean and after scanning, has left no viruses.
@ Scans and Accuracy @
Mcaffee does at least give you the option to choose the scan you want on your computer, and if you have lots of files you don't want to be running a full scan all the time so you can pick out files to scan, or if you don't have time, you can run a quick scan which for me takes 30 minutes. A full scan lets mcaffee run through all of your files and seek out viruses and spyware, but this takes an age to complete.
For me I have returned to the computer after three whole hours since I hit start and it was still running. If you run a full scan regularly though work doesn't build up and it won't take as long. You can also set it to run scans in the background and perform what it calls "scheduled scans" so you can set it to run a full scan every Thursday at 23:00 hours if you know you will be online then. Very convenient way to not forget a virus scan.
Actually detecting spyware is a downfall for mcaffee because when I ran spybot search and destroy immediately after my first full scan it came up with a few things mcaffee had missed. (spybot found four pieces of spyware.) Not very accurate although it did pick up a few pieces from casino downloads.
@ Overall @
Not the best anti virus, and probably one of the most confusing. It does overreact a bit when you download things from the web but in a way this is useful because I'd rather have it nagging me than get infected. Smart software and on the whole, a little expensive - You can get cheaper anti virus software but Mcaffee does the job. It's not perfect so I would recommend getting used to the software when you install it at first to learn your way around and operate things you need to. E.g setting the auto scan.
As a long-time McAfee user it saddened me at the state to which the software has declined. Perhaps a victim of its own success, with malware writers actively seeking to evade detection by this software, McAfee has declined immensely and allowing it as the only piece of protection between you and the nasties out there in the Internet is foolhardy at best.
With the proliferation of malware downloaded simply by clicking on the wrong link in Google, it is now more important than ever to have pro-active protection in the form of system guards and real-time monitoring. On more than one occasion over the past few months, McAfee's "proactive" safeguards have utterly failed, leaving my system at the hands of a number of irritating nasties easily detected, stopped and removed by its competitors.
Although the McAfee Siteadvisor tool, freely available from their website, is a novel inclusion and can assist in keeping you away from the iffy sites, it is fundamentally flawed in its application allowing dangerous sites to receive Green or Good ratings and harmless sites feeling the ire of its Bad ratings.
McAfee is also prone to being something of a resource hog, and unlike competing products such as Avast and Kaspersky, it is simply not feasible to attempt to perform demanding tasks while running a McAfee system scan. Given the old adage of time meaning money, McAfee is likely to cost you a lot of time and I'll leave that up to you over whether that will cost you any money.
Even simple and commonplace protective tasks such as virtualisation seem alien to McAfee, who have been all too content to rest on their laurels, presumably feeling that as their now bloated security software comes pre-installed on many a system they no longer need to actively innovate and revolutionise the industry as they had done ten years prior.
From a practical perspective, the slow, clunky scans, the over intrusive and strangely configured firewall and the snoozing real-time guards are not conducive to a safe and stress free computing experience. Instead, one unfortunate click of the mouse and you'll find McAfee being shutdown by a programme that is instead urging you to buy its rogue software; although who knows, it can't be that much worse than McAfee, can it?
Further irritation is found in the form of their customer service reps who claim to have performed a simple task such as stopping your annual subscription from recurring, only for you to find out 12 months later that they have billed your credit card yet again. The all round incompetence of the software seems to now weave itself through the rest of the organisation, much to my sorrow, as I used to be a fond supporter of this package.
Unfortunately, the latest offering is more of the tired same and the few visual interface tweaks simply cannot make up for the fact that this software simply isn't fit for purpose anymore. While it is telling you that your computer is protected and free from malware you might as well be playing Russian roulette with five loaded chambers as its detection rate is beyond atrocious.
Firstly, I would consider myself quite knowledgeable in the area of computers and have tried many anti viruses over the years, but this takes the biscuit as by far the worst. First off, it's bloated and is too much of a memory hog for my liking, taking up your computers precious resources. Lots of my friends and family were using McAfee a few weeks ago, when lots of their internet connection dropped, and it wouldn't reconnect. After lots of troubleshooting I found the problem and you guessed it - McAfee. It had appeared McAfee's firewall had decided it was going to block any internet connection and render it useless. On disabling the firewall the internet went straight back to normal, resulting in me being forced to leave it permanently off and forced to download a new firewall. Also, there seems to be too many false positives. What this means is that it's flagging legitimate files and viruses, which is annoying at the best of times. Going from to detecting legitimate files and next thing I discover is that it isn't detecting actual viruses. This left me incredibly annoyed, and I was forced to do the time consuming task of cleaning up my computer. Whilst cleaning it up, I uninstalled McAfee, saying bye to it for good, and set about installing one of the superior anti viruses out there such as Avira, Avast! or AVG.
I have been running Mcafee for a number of years now ever since I switched from Norton due to its power-hungry nature that slowed my computer down considerably.
Mcafee is useful and appears to pick up a number of viruses, tough I am not convinced of its ability to scan within zip and rar files, though I ahve not had a virus inside a file that I can test (safely!)
The suite comes ith firewall and antivirus, but requires downloads to ensure it is up to date and thsu on first installation, your computer is vulnerable. This is the case with any internet suite and I highly recommend a full system scan as soon as you are up to date and backing up all your files before installing for the first time. New computer users often get a three month trial version of Mcafee installed and you can often get a decent deal by hunting around, which is what I would highly recommend rather than just going with the Mcafee adverts.
Updates are fast and silently run in the background and you can use scheduled scans and allow programs full or no access as you wish. There are also funky activity maps to show virus and hacker activity around the world.
However, I woudl still recommend using anti-spyware and anti-malware programs for full peace of mind.