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McAfee Internet Security 2011
VERSION:  Windows 7 / Vista / XP, 1-3 Users

PRICE:  $39.99 - Save 50%

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Other Versions:  McAfee AntiVirus 2011 download
Rating: Fair      

Information Below:  Review, Screenshots, System Requirements

Review of McAfee Internet Security 2011:

    By Jay Andrew Allen

McAfee It's still early, but so far the 21st century hasn't been kind to McAfee. Following a series of lawsuits and accounting scandals in the mid-2000s, the company brought more misery upon itself in April 2010 by shipping a faulty virus software update that crashed tens of thousands of PCs worldwide; hospitals, police departments and other organizations were forced to hobble through until the error was patched. Since acquired by Intel, McAfee has sought to bury the past with an enhanced Quality Assurance program and a suite of new offerings for mobile devices. To see how well they're doing, we put their latest Internet Security solution, McAfee Internet Security 2011, to the test.

1) Features & Ease of Use:  12/15

Dashboard: The McAfee Dashboard is a little less high-tech than some of its competitors, though it leverages the same basic concepts. A color-coded banner at the top of the screen reports the current security state of the computer. The Dashboard offers quick access to settings for Real-Time Scanning, Updates, Firewall, and Subscription status. (The inclusion of Subscription is odd: how many users will even look at this more than once a year?) A series of collapsible window shade controls provide access to McAfee's other options and features.

McAfee 2011 Dashboard:

View Larger McAfee Screenshots

McAfee Internet Security aims to give users their money's worth by providing a slate of useful features. Besides the usual anti-spam and real-time virus scanning features, McAfee offers SiteAdvisor, a browser-based scanner that blocks access to malicious Web sites. Unlike similar offerings from other vendors, McAfee's SiteAdvisor works in every major Web browser, including Google Chrome (many only work with Internet Explorer and Firefox).

Files that are deleted off of a PC aren't necessarily deleted: these files are marked for deletion, but the actual portions of the hard drive containing the data may never be erased. Hackers often scan drives from old PCs in search of credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other sensitive financial information. Shredder, which is available under Data Protection and Backup, is a permanent file deletion utility that erases every last trace of a file off of a user's system. Shredder is not only available from the Dashboard, but also from the Shred command in the Windows Explorer context menu. Only a very small number of anti-virus vendors include such a utility in their Internet Security suites - and McAfee's one of them.

My Network provides a birds-eye overview of the user's home network, including all PCs and connected devices. Users can even install McAfee on several PCs, and monitor and fix security problems from a single computer.

The Parental Controls feature in McAfee is a bit clumsy, but still not too difficult to activate and maintain. McAfee supports assigning a Windows account to an age range, and blocking Web content and Internet technologies that fall into one of 20 broad categories. Parents can also limit a child's Internet access to specific times of the day. McAfee forces parents to create a password before activating Parental Controls so that settings can't be altered by tech-savvy teens. On the down side, McAfee's implementation lacks a few features found in other platforms, such as the ability to block content or generate warnings based on custom keywords.

McAfee's Firewall implementation is both full featured and easy to understand. The Security Levels setting allows users to set the strictness of their firewall protection to one of five levels: Full Access (block no local programs), Outgoing Access, Monitored Access, Stealth (a user's computer is still connected to the network, but is not visible to other machines or devices), and Lockdown (no Internet access). The SmartAdvice component decides when to grant application's incoming or outgoing Internet access; it can also be configured to prompt users whether to allow or deny access to specific applications. The Security Level settings can be customized at the port and application levels.

2) Virus Scanner:  2/5

Unfortunately, while McAfee's feature set is rich and interesting, its basic anti-virus engine is slow and inaccurate.

Scan Types: McAfee Internet Security supports three basic scan types: Full, Quick, and Custom. The Custom scan can scan all types of devices, including CD-ROMS and external USB drives. McAfee also adds a Scan command to the Windows Explorer context menu: users can right-click any file or folder on Explorer to launch an immediate virus scan.

McAfee Virus Scanner:

View Larger McAfee Screenshots

Speed: McAfee Internet Security 2011 finished 10th out of 15 programs in terms of virus scan speed. It scanned our 1GB test file matrix in a languid 48.1 seconds, or 21.3 MB per second. It didn't fare any better in our Subsequent Scan test either, which measures average scanning performance across 10 scans: it ranked 9th out of 15 applications. (See Scan Speed Comparison)

Updates: McAfee ties for last place among its competitors in virus definition updates: the platform only downloads 1 update every day. Perhaps this is one of the reasons McAfee scored marginally in testing by the major antivirus testing labs (see Section #4 below). (See Updates Per Day Comparison)

*Reference Computer:  Windows 7 Home Premium running on a Toshiba Pentium Dual-Core T4200 (64 bit), with 3GB of RAM and a 210GB hard drive.

3) Performance Testing:  5.5/10

Memory Use: McAfee 2011 uses 46.2 MB of system memory. #12 ranked program of the 15 Internet Security programs we tested.

Reboot Time: McAfee added 26.1 seconds to our test computer's reboot time. #13 ranked program.

Installation Size: McAfee Internet Security 2011 requires 353 MB of hard-drive space for installation. #2 ranked program.

Initial Scan Speed: McAfee Internet Security scans files the first time at a speed of 21.3 MB/s. #10 ranked program.

Subsequent Scan Speed: McAfee performs subsequent scans at a speed of 47.0 MB/s. #9 ranked program.

Initial Application Launch: McAfee 2011 added 0.191s to launch a web browser for the first time after a reboot. #3 ranked program.

Subsequent Application Launch: McAfee added 0.203s on average for subsequent web browser launches. #5 ranked program.

File Conversion Time: McAfee added 0.58s on average to convert a MP3 file to four other file types. #11 ranked program.

System Impact Score: The "System Impact Score" is a cumulative score tallied from the above 8 software tests (15 points given for a #1 rating, while 1 point is given for 15th place for each test). McAfee Internet Security 2011 scored a total of 63 out of 120 points when compared to the other Internet Security programs tested. This placed McAfee as the #7 ranked overall program we tested this year - tied with G Data Internet Security for 7th overall, but well behind #1 performing Norton Internet Security, and #2 performing ESET Smart Security.

View above Internet Security Performance Tests.

4) Effectiveness: (Virus/Malware Detection) 8.5/15

McAfee Effectiveness - 8.5/15

5) Help & Support:  3/5

»Help Manual: McAfee Internet Security ships with an HTML-based Help manual that is downloaded from The manual contains extensive information on critical McAfee Internet Security features such as Firewall and Parental Controls, and is written in clear English.

»Online Support: McAfee's Web site contains a prominent Live Chat button that puts users in direct contact with technical specialists. McAfee only provides limited phone support, however: technical support by telephone is free for the first 30 days, but costs anywhere from $9.95 to $59.95 for each incident after the first month. The platform also provides an add-in called the McAfee Virtual Technician that attempts to fix certain problems programmatically, without any intervention by a McAfee representative.

»Quick Support Links:

     • McAfee Support Home
     • McAfee Technical Support
     • McAfee Virtual Technician


McAfee Internet Security 2011 is a mixed bag: a nicely packaged platform with a decent interface and a great set of features that is hobbled by poor virus scanning performance and a low detection accuracy rating. While it's hard to recommend the application given such poor numbers, it's also hard to beat the price: as of this writing, the platform sells for a mere $39.95 - a good $30 less than most other competitors. Users of McAfee Antivirus who have grown to know and trust the company would be well served by upgrading to this feature-rich product instead of the more basic antivirus program.

Overall Rating: Fair    (Total Score: 31 / 50 = 3 Stars)

*Installation Time:  71 seconds (excluding time taken for updates)

Misc Info:

    • Version Tested:
10.5.227 (2011)
    • Release Date:
    • Review Date:
    • Last Updated:
July 5, 2011
    • Previous Version:
McAfee Internet Security 2010
    • Other McAfee Software:
McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2011

Useful Articles:

    • What is a Computer Virus?

    • Internet Security software vs. Basic Antivirus - Which is right for me?

    • Differences between Viruses, Trojans, Worms & Spyware

    • More Articles...

Top 5 Internet Security Programs:

 - Rating:   Very Good
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 - Rating:   Good

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McAfee Internet Security 2011 Screenshots

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McAfee Internet Security 2011 System Requirements:

Supported Operating Systems:

    • Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or higher
    • Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
    • Windows 7 (all 32-bit and 64-bit editions)

Minimum Requirements:

    • 1 GHz processor or higher
    • 512 MB RAM or higher for Windows XP, and 2 GB RAM for Vista/Windows 7
    • 400 MB of available free drive space
    • Internet connection
    • 800 600 or higher screen resolution

Supported Browsers for Anti-Phishing:

    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
    • Mozilla Firefox 3.5 or later
    • Google Chrome 6 or later

Supported Email Programs:

    • POP3 Windows Mail, Microsoft Outlook Express, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, Netscape, IncrediMail and Thunderbird
    • MAPI Outlook
    • Web MSN/Hotmail, or email account with POP3 access

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