By: Charles P. Jefferies
McAfee is back for 2010 with a revised version of its AntiVirus Plus product, claiming improved performance and faster scan times. Is this just marketing hype or is this product the real deal? We find out.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 is a $39.99 basic protection suite for home users. It is designed to guard against all types of malware including viruses, spyware, adware, and rootkits. The product also includes a two-way personal firewall, which is not a feature typically found in basic protection suites at this price point. The company claims the 2010 version is up to 10 times faster than the McAfee AntiVirus 2009. Our review will test all of these claims.
Download & Installation
The installation process begins with downloading a download manager from McAfee's site, which handles the download of the actual program files. The files totaled over 90MB, which is somewhat large. Once the files are downloaded the installation process can begin. We chose the recommended install since that is what most people will want to do. The install takes about five minutes and no restart is required. Overall the installation is smooth though not as slick in this regard as Norton 2010.
The McAfee AntiVirus Plus interface has been completely revamped for 2010. While we found the 2009 interface to be functional it was drab and unattractive; AntiVirus 2010's interface is greatly improved in this regard. It has a more cohesive and slick feel and improved simplicity since only essential items (read: information that matters) is listed. A stand-out colored stripe going across the top displays the overall protection status; it is the first item that catches the eye. Individual program components are listed below the bar with a status indicator next to them.
The Features section at the bottom of the window categorizes different functions of the program. For example, clicking on the Virus and Spyware Protection section as shown above reveals controls to scan your PC. We have a small nitpick here: the use of links to launch actions is not intuitive mainly because there are two links listed for each item; Scan Your PC is a link as well as Learn More after the description. The former actually launches the scan while the latter navigates to a web page. It is not immediately obvious what to click to start a scan. Links fit the visual style of the program well but the headings (Scan Your PC) should have been made more obvious through formatting.
In Use and Effectiveness
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 stayed out of the way in the background. Updates were performed automatically without our intervention. We did not notice any apparent performance decrease, such as increased log on time or lag when opening programs.
To test the effectiveness of McAfee I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security website. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests.
AntiVirus Plus immediately quarantined the first two files upon download (they never even appeared in the download location) however it let the second two compressed files through. It found and removed them only after I performed a manual scan. Overall McAfee AntiVirus 2010 is on par with competitors in proactivity but behind Norton and Kaspersky 2010, which went the extra step and did not even let the files download.
We evaluate the performance impact and system resource usage of using anti-virus software in three ways:
1. Overall system performance measured before and after installation using PCMark
2. Memory footprint
3. Time it took to perform a full system scan
Our test system is an HP Pavilion dv5t.
Overall System Performance Impact Measured with PCMark05
The PCMark benchmarks as measured before (left) and after (right) the McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 install are shown above.
A 7 percent difference is more than we are used to seeing, however such a difference will in all likelihood not be noticeable to end users. Our test system "felt" no different after the McAfee install.
The Windows Task Manager reports McAfee's five processes use about 50MB of memory. This is an insignificant amount of memory and easy for modern computers to handle. In our testing most competitors use about 25-35MB of memory, however most do not have a personal firewall component like McAfee AntiVirus Plus (which slightly increases resource usage).
Time it took to perform a full system scan
McAfee AntiVirus took about 50 minutes to scan our test system's hard drive containing 132GB of data. This is a very reasonable scan time and is on par with competitors. While it is not the advertised scan time speedup, it is difficult to complain about the time.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 is an above average basic protection suite for home users. The new interface is greatly improved over the 2009 version. Performance impact was minimal and McAfee scanned our test system in a reasonable amount of time. One stand out feature is the inclusion of a personal firewall; most competitors do not offer such a feature at this price bracket. While McAfee does not differentiate itself as well as Norton or Kaspersky, overall we find McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 to be a solid and well-rounded product worthy of consideration.
Software & Support
* Ratings averaged to produce final score
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