McAfee Internet Security 2014 review
This is the first opportunity we've had in a couple of years to review McAfee's Internet Security software. Although the package was included in our live testing process ahead of last year's security software group test, it was updated before we had the opportunity to publish the results. This usually isn't a problem between iterative releases as the scan engine itself remains unchanged, but McAfee gave its scanning engine a major overhaul between 2012 and 2013, and we wanted to give the newer release a fair review.
The first thing we noticed with this release is that McAfee has continued to develop and improve its software's user interface which, like much of the competition, now uses a tiled layout that loosely follows the style of Windows 8. It's an evolution of the previous version's interface, but it's an improvement that displays more information in a clear format. The Home screen now shows at a glance whether your PC's protection is up to date, and also the status of the key components. Clicking a tile shows you basic settings for the relevant feature.
The latest version of Internet Security comes with one of the widest range of additional tools we've seen, including parental controls, a file shredder for permanently disposing of sensitive files, and even an online backup service provided by Mozy - although the standard license provides only 1GB of online storage. There's also a vulnerability scanner for wider system problems, which ran automatically, detected the missing important Windows updates on our system, and could even install them automatically from within the McAfee software.
The user experience seems improved, then, and we were hopeful that the new scan engine would also show improved performance when faced with live threats. Unfortunately, the results from Internet Security 2013 were depressingly familiar, with the software coming at the bottom of all nine of our home security suites by some margin. It scored only 583 out of a possible 748 points in our legitimate software rating, challenging nine harmless test programs and completely blocking a further three.
More seriously, however, the revised scan engine still put in a miserable showing when it came to detecting live threats, successfully defending against only 75 of 100 threats and neutralising only a further six before they could do damage. While this is significantly better than the abject performance of the 2012 version - which was compromised by half of the threats we tested - it still meant that it was compromised by 19 threats out of 100, which is simply too many. In our weighted protection score, which punishes failures heavily, it managed only 136 points of a possible 300, placing it narrowly ahead of Microsoft's Security Essentials.
McAfee told us that there had been some improvements to Internet Security's scanning engine that should improve its future performance. Sadly, despite some good features and a better user experience, it doesn't appear that McAfee has yet been able to get Internet Security's protection to an acceptable level. Despite some improvements, we can't see the point in a full-priced system security product that's comfortably out-performed by free software such as Avast! Free Antivirus 2014. As such, McAfee Internet Security 2014 remains one to avoid.
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