There aren’t many security companies out there that can proudly boast the experience, reputation and history as solid as McAfee’s. Founded back in 1987, the vendor has been through pretty much the entire evolution of computer viruses, hence the precious expertise due to decades of dedicated malware fighting endeavors. No wonder McAfee stays on top of cybersecurity in a variety of its forms, delivering an extensive line of products for home and business.
The company’s Internet protection software underwent a very recent update, so we couldn’t miss the chance to test it from different perspectives and see what’s new and how good it performs. The product’s name is McAfee Internet Security 2015. Frankly, we were more than curious whether drastic changes are the case with the brand-new version, so there are definitely some verdicts to come up with.
As for the functional filling, McAfee has undoubtedly managed to keep their upgraded product competitive: it goes with virus and malware protection; anti-spam and email guard; parental controls; data protection and backup; home network defense; and certainly decent online security instruments. The latter feature hits the point due to the world-famous SiteAdvisor service encompassing a huge URL reputation database. Having installed McAfee Internet Security 2015 you get SiteAdvisor add-on automatically embedded in your browser to monitor the domains you hit, so that’s another substantial advantage for those using this software.
- Windows Vista SP1 (32- and 64-bit) / Windows 7 (32- and 64-bit) / Windows 8 (32- and 64-bit) / Windows 8.1 (32- and 64-bit)
- 1 GHz processor
- 1GB RAM for Windows Vista & 7 / 2GB RAM for Windows 8 & 8.1
- 500 MB free disk space
- Internet Explorer 8.0 or later
- Firefox 4.0 or later
- Google Chrome
Unfortunately, our excitement and anticipation to see a revamped product was virtually to no avail. McAfee Internet Security 2015 looks basically identical to the preceding version, although some of the previously reported usability issues appear to have been fixed. Let’s look at this step by step though.
Our acquaintance with the software started with the setup. The time span for installation was not very competitive, taking a total of about 8 minutes in our case, despite stable and decent-speed Internet connection. Downloading installation files turned out to be the most time-consuming part of it. During the process, you get a couple of intermediate dialog boxes, such as incompatible software removal window (which you can skip), and the one suggesting opt-in McAfee Customer Response program participation. Overall, the installation went fairly trouble-free.
Hoping to get a better experience exploring the user interface, we moved on to see how McAfee team did on that one. Well, the GUI turned out to be quite functional. The home screen contains current security status bar whose color varies depending on whether your computer is safe or at risk. Statuses of Virus and Spyware Protection, McAfee Updates, Web and Email Protection, and Subscription are displayed there as well.
A little further to the right there’s the rest of the product’s feature arsenal: Data Protection and Backup, PC and Home Network Tools, and Parental Controls. The way these are structured is rather convenient, the prime advantage of such design being the optimized GUI space. All in all, getting used to the interface is a matter of a not-so-long time and a bit of patience.
Furthermore, it would be kind of truth-stretching to assert that McAfee Internet Security 2015 is fast and light on the system. We did spot a slight slowdown during scans and updates. Also, scanning is more time-consuming than with most of the competing products we’ve reviewed: even Quick Scan took 14 minutes, while Full Scan was a 1-hour-long procedure.
Summarizing usability details of this software, it’s fair to point out that McAfee might have done a better job. Scans are long and there is a noticeable system performance impact. A good thing is the availability of fully functional 30-day evaluation version.
Functionality-wise, McAfee Internet Security 2015 is an attractive suite with the essential features in place. What it has in store is effective virus protection, exceptionally reliable online security instruments, data guard, family protection and outdated software detection tools.
- McAfee Active Protection is composed of versatile security components targeting different types of threats that may come from a variety of sources. The product is tough on viruses, Trojans, rootkits and spyware, delivering unfailing on-demand and real-time protection. Furthermore, accommodating anti-bot measures is McAfee’s great move, as a response to the growing trend of cyber criminals exploiting unsuspecting users’ computers in their large-scale attacks.
- Safe searching and browsing is something McAfee is particularly good at. Its SiteAdvisor browser extension that goes bundled with the Internet security product is a powerful URL sandboxing instrument that prevents harmful websites from loading in your browser. This is an immense reputation based system that hardly any other can compare to.
- The NetGuard feature is powered by the Two-Way Firewall whose task is to monitor both in- and outbound traffic for potential risks of intrusion and data theft, so you can rest assured hackers will fail accessing your system and your private information.
- It’s common knowledge that removable devices are not only convenient to use, but they are perfect contaminants to use for malware distribution purposes. USB and removable drive scan keeps malicious payloads on portable media from executing on your PC.
- The Anti-Spam feature is intended to filter out dangerous and/or offensive emails that may pose threat to both your computer’s health and your identity. Emails containing attributes of spam, corrupt payloads or phishing get quickly identified as unsafe and blocked from being opened by the user.
- Network Manager prevents unidentified devices from accessing your home WiFi network. This feature also allows monitoring and controlling WiFi related activity remotely.
- Vulnerability Scanner focuses on finding outdated software on your computer and recommends the respective updates so that known vulnerabilities don’t get exploited by hackers.
- Parental Controls is a flexibly customizable function that enables defining restrictions for online activities of other people who might be using your machine – this applies to kids in the first place. This feature allows you to block certain categories of web content that you deem inappropriate, and limit the time your kids spend surfing the Internet.
- Surfing Report is sort of complementary to the previously described feature, making it easy to get complete web browsing stats such as login times, banned websites visiting attempts, etc.
- The McAfee QuickClean feature is meant for eliminating redundant cookies and temporary Internet files in order to optimize system performance.
- McAfee Shredder is an instrument for irreversible removal of sensitive information that might disclose your private details to third parties if accessed. The default locations to clean up are Recycle Bin and Temporary Internet Files; you can select other files at your discretion as well.
Judging from independent lab tests, McAfee Internet Security delivers decent protection against malware, but still falls behind many competitors by this criterion. According to the latest published review by AV-Comparatives, the product shows 94,7% summary protection score, which is generally good, but that appears to occupy 18th position out of the 22 tested applications. That being said, it has one of the highest false positives rates in the industry.
From our perspective, the average user is not likely to lack protection while using McAfee, despite the not-so-high test scores. It’s important to understand that the competition in the Internet security niche is rough, and a couple of points do not make too much of a difference here – all products are good, and so is McAfee. In our test, this utility did not miss any infections at all – moreover, it detected one (Generic PUP.z!ed) which others failed spotting. In regards to browsing protection, the program works flawlessly, blocking all malicious URLs we deliberately attempted to visit. On the whole, we like the way this software copes with cyber threats: it detects and removes them appropriately, and does not annoy the user with false positives.
Help & Support
The structure of McAfee Help is split into 3 sections: Technical Support, Customer Service, and McAfee TechMaster. The latter comprising advanced paid services, regular support is accessible in several ways, being provided as both interactive and live help. Self-help opportunities are represented by McAfee Virtual Technician, as well as FAQ and knowledgebase search. The Virtual Technician is an application that checks your McAfee product for problems and fixes them automatically. Should you encounter an urgent case, live chat and phone support are at your disposal. Regarding the telephone contact option, it is free of charge but you don’t get the number until a form is filled out, with some personal details and problem description; by the way, same applies to live chat. One more option to get help is through the Community, which is a dedicated forum. Overall, customer support is one of McAfee’s strong points.
- Light-weight and fast
- High ransomware detection rate
- Protection against online threats added
- Extensive scan options
- Scan scheduling
- Intuitive GUI
- Runs alongside main AV or antimalware
- Privacy extras included
- Significant impact on system resources
- Relatively long scan times
McAfee’s spotless reputation extends over to their entire product line, the Internet security suite by no means dropping out of this pattern. The software we have reviewed is well assembled and does a fairly good job combating malicious software and hacker attacks. Plentiful feature set and customer support are on the plus side of the utility as well. Main disadvantages of McAfee Internet Security 2015 are in the realm of usability and false positives. It significantly slowed down the system during scans, and had the second worst false positives rate in AV-Comparatives’ latest Real-World Protection Test. Nonetheless, there is hardly any room for doubt when it comes to protection and functionality supplied by this software.