- Good parental controls
- Low system performance impact
- Included utilities are useful
- Alerts aren't always obvious
- Anti-spam compatibility lacking
- Large installation file
By Charles P. Jefferies
We have reviewed several antivirus suites — now it is time to take protection to the next level by looking at full Internet security suites. Our first contender is McAfee Total Protection 2010 — read on to see what makes it different.
Total Protection 2010 is McAfee’s highest-end security suite; the company bills it as “the most effective protection against virus, online, and network threats.”
The MSRP $79.99 package protects up to three PCs for one year. Notable features include:
- Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware: detects, blocks, and removes viruses, spyware, adware, and rootkits
- Two-Way Firewall
- Home Network Defense: defends your PC from intruders on your home network
McAfee says it made a number of improvements to the 2010 version vs. the 2009 version, such as faster update and scan times, a smaller installation file, and improved performance. The user interface has also been redesigned for the 2010 version.
Compared to the basic McAfee AntiVirus Plus suite, Total Protection has a number of extra features to justify the higher price:
- Anti-spam and email protection
- Enhanced parental controls
- Home Network Defense protection
- McAfee SiteAdvisor Plus: alerts users to unsafe links in web pages, email, and instant messaging
- McAfee Online Backup: 2GB online storage included
Download & Installation
Total Protection is a hefty 127MB download; it takes two clicks and several minutes to install. We used the recommended settings since that is what most users will want to do.
Once installed, however, the software spent nearly 15 minutes downloading and installing updates, which required a restart. While not a big deal, I prefer slimmer download packages.
2010 saw a complete redesign of the user interface for all of McAfee’s consumer security products. The 2010 interface is both easier to navigate and better looking by comparison.
Overall protection status is displayed at the top; green means good and red means bad. Individual program components are shown below. Oddly, the status of each component is only displayed on mouse-over, even if attention is required — most users would not think to do this. It would be better if all the components were color-coded to indicate their status.
Clicking on any of the components expands them and shows available actions and help documents. I think the action links should have more obvious formatting — they can be confused with the help links, which merely launch a web browser and go to a support page.
Overall the user interface is easy to navigate though I have some minor qualms with the formatting and presentation.
One of the main reasons to shell out extra money for a protection suite is to get enhanced parental controls. I found it easy to set up permissions for users — a wizard guides you through the process. McAfee includes preset settings for age groups, or you can specify your own. The settings specify which websites users under the selected account can visit and can also limit the amount of time spent on the Internet.
The settings can of course be modified — for example, specific websites can be added to the filters.
The parental controls are simple enough for less-than tech-savvy parents to use and a useful tool for a family computer.
McAfee Total Protection includes several other extra features which I will take a brief look at.
The PC Optimization section includes three utilities:
- QuickClean: removes unwanted junk files and registry keys
- Defragmenter: rearranges files on your hard drive for best performance
- Shredder: securely deletes files in a selected location
I found all three worked as described; the defragmenter and QuickClean utilities were nothing out of the ordinary; a defragmenter is included with Windows and QuickClean-like utilities can be downloaded for free off the Internet. The Shredder utility is the most useful — it will securely erase selected files off the system so they cannot be recovered; files deleted normally in Windows can be easily recovered with basic tools.
Total Protection also includes a McAfee Online Backup subscription. The backup wizard is simple enough to follow (shown above-right). The included 2GB of storage is meager, however; it is enough to store some important documents but forget about backing up music and pictures. Of course, more space can be purchased.