McAfee AntiVirus (AV) Plus 2013 Review

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McAfee AntiVirus (AV) Plus 2013 is a sub-$50 home security suite featuring a redesigned user interface (UI), along with extra security tools such as a vulnerability scanner and a file shredder. How does the latest edition of McAfee’s AV suite stack up against rival suites like Norton AntiVirus (NAV) 2013? We take a look in this review.

Overview

McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2013 adds Windows 8 support to McAfee’s previous support for Windows 7, Vista and XP. The new interface for McAfee AV Plus is tile-driven, with each tile representing a particular status.

For example, the top-left tile displays the “Virus and Spyware Protection” status. You can click on any tile to get more options.

For the antivirus component, there are options to scan the PC and to set up scheduled scans.

Something I like about this AV suite is the fact that it contains several extras, including a vulnerability scanner, a file shredder, and a two-way firewall.

The Extras

The vulnerability scanner scans the computer to see if any installed software — including the operating system — is out of date. It also checks for vulnerabilities in your web browser settings.

The file shredder is a secure delete utility aimed at ensuring that erased files cannot be recovered. You can add it to the menu when right-clicking any file in the operating system; simply select the “Shred” option.

The shredder is a nice feature because files deleted in Windows can ordinarily be recovered using special software. McAfee’s shredder is especially useful for deleting files which contain sensitive information such as bank account numbers.

McAfee‘s inclusion of extras in its AV suite, a long-time tradition, can be seen as particularly important in that Microsoft‘s Windows 8 incorporates its own AV capabilities through Defender.

Performance

Download and Installation

In McAfee AV Plus 2013, the installer takes care of retrieving the latest files from the Internet for you as part of the install process. This method works out very well if you’re installing McAfee on a computer connected to the Internet but not so well for offline installs. That aside, the install is straightforward with no surprises. This is always a good thing in our book.

Use and Effectiveness

Most people don’t want an antivirus software to intrude on other PC activities by constantly asking for permission to do this and that, and so on. McAfee doesn’t disappoint here; it runs quietly in the background with zero interference.

Also, McAfee AV Plus 2013 performed better than previous editions in our malicious file download test. This time around, it detected two of the four files as malicious and did not allow them to be downloaded.

I was able to download two of the files, but McAfee picked these up during a later scan. However, this level of proactiveness doesn’t match top tier competing solutions such as Norton AV 2013, which detected all four files as threats off the bat in our tests and didn’t allow them to be downloaded.

Entering the license key is not part of the install. Instead, you enter it afterwards by opening McAfee.

Performance Impact

Our test computer showed no abnormal side effects after installing McAfee AV Plus 2013; the startup and shutdown times didn’t perceptibly increase and the computer continued to perform as though there was no additional resource strain.

We ran Futuremark’s PCMark 7 benchmarking software before and after the install, and we saw differences amounting to less than five percent – unnoticeable, in other words.

Time it Took to Perform a Full System Scan

McAfee AV Plus 2013 scanned 128GB of data in just 28 minutes.

This is a faster result than that obtainable with most competitors.

Conclusion

McAfee AV Plus carries a list price of $49.99, the same as that of Norton AV. Both packages, however, can be found at deeply discounted prices on the Web and in retail stores, even long after Black Friday.

I like McAfee’s redesigned interface, low performance impact and relatively quick scan times. I wish it were as proactive as some rivals, though; it didn’t immediately catch all of the malicious files we threw at it.

Pros:

  • Available at low price points
  • Includes extras such as Shredder and Vulnerability Scanner

Cons:

  • Still not as proactive as some competing AV solutions

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