McAfee Internet Security 2009 review

McAfee had not released its 2010 product and told us that it expects to upgrade users in early 2010. This means that the interface is the same as last year’s and features remain largely the same, including parental controls, the SiteAdvisor web safety rating toolbar, POP mail scanning, a personal firewall and a backup management facility.

The main interface is cluttered and dated compared to the latest releases from Kaspersky and Symantec. All the key features are fairly easy to find, but advanced options such as firewall configuration and personal information protection (to prevent unauthorised users from sending specified data over the internet) are buried in sub-menus. We found the Advanced Mode interface a little easier to navigate than Basic Mode, thanks to clearly marked tabs.

The program doesn’t take up a lot of system resources when sitting in the background, but full scans were time-consuming on even small hard disks and tended to slow the performance of lower-powered computers.

McAfee’s VirusScan Plus 2009 won last year’s test, but with current updates it failed to make such a impression in our web-threat tests. It removed just half of the web threats we exposed it to, and was unable to prevent six of the threats from completely taking over our test system. It didn’t flag up any false positives when we installed a range of programs, but later detected the mIRC internet relay chat client as a potential threat when we ran a full scan. Fortunately, although it flagged this up, it didn’t automatically do anything to remove or interfere with the program’s operation.

McAfee Internet Security was outperformed by all the other anti-virus programs we tested alongside it, including the free ones. It has a wealth of features such as parental controls and backup management, but if you want protection against malware, you’re better off with Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 or even the free protection provided by Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

See page 2 for benchmark results.

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