*** Antivirus/Malware Feature ***
As with most Security Suites, you've got on-access protection and scheduled scans. On-access protection simply scans files for threats as and when you try and access them. For example if you access a folder and it contains a virus, as soon as you open the folder McAfee will scan it and if it locates a threat will remove it pretty much instantly making it really difficult to open a virus even for people who are not very confident with their PC.
Scan speeds seem reasonable:
Quick scan: About 8 minutes.
Full scan: A few hours.
I also found that when I switched from Norton to McAfee, McAfee picked up a number of items Norton had simply missed.
The only gripe I have with the description of this feature is the fact that it doesn't seem to pick up a massive amount of malware. If anything it seems to pick up malware after its been installed, but it would be so much easier if it could pick it up before it was on your PC.
For my day job I work providing Tech Support and I must speak to 20+ a day who have malware on their machine and they can be pretty argumentative because they assume McAfee will protect them against malware. Although this will pick up some malware, it misses a lot of programs which cause popups, redirects and inline adverts.
I personally find the best option is to have a program like this installed to protect you against the serious stuff, then have a free malware removal tool such as Malwarebytes or Adwcleaner on hand for if you do inadvertently installed malware.
I would however add that although McAfee's ability to pick-up malware seems slightly limited, I would say it seems more effective at picking up malware than its main rival Norton.
*** Firewall ***
As far as I can tell the Firewall seems fairly reasonable.
For those that are sat behind a home router, the chances are you won't see many messages from McAfee relating to your firewall (at least for incoming stuff) as most routers now a days have a built in firewall. This means that most unusual connections from the outside world are blocked well before they get anywhere near McAfee.
The main feature of the firewall when you are sat behind a hardware firewall is actually to monitor outgoing connections. If a program appears to be trying to connect to the internet and McAfee believes it may be malicious or suspect, it will prompt you and ask you if you trust the program.
This will generally block malicious programs from capturing your personal details and sharing them online, but can also be used if you can see a program is connecting to the internet and don't want it to.
Sometimes you may find that it thinks a perfectly innocent program could be malicious and blocks it. In that instance its nice and easy to go into the settings and tell it to allow that program full access to the internet.
*** Web Browsing Protection (SiteAdvisor) ***
SiteAdvisor is a useful feature which alerts you when you are navigating to untrustworthy sites. If a website has been reported to be well known for sharing viruses, malware, etc you will often be presented with a page advising you the content of the page you are about to visit could be unsafe. You get a big warning sign which is impossible for anyone to miss. There is also the option to continue to the website if you are 100% confident it is trustworthy.
*** Parental Controls ***
I haven't really used the Parental Controls feature much as I don't have kids. I did have a play around with it though to see if it was any good for the purpose of this review. It was easy to set-up and manage and seemed nice and secure. Protected by an administrator passwords made it really difficult to make any changes without an adults permission.
*** Anti-Spam ***
Again I haven't really used the Anti-Spam features a massive amount – simply because I mainly use webmail which is pretty effective at filtering out spam emails anyway. However I was pretty impressed with the features it does offer. Even for those using webmail you can use it to filter out your junk mail by connecting to your mail server and filtering out the junk emails before they appear in your webmail.
*** Potential Problems ***
I've not personally experienced any problems personally with my copy of McAfee. I do however work providing Tech Support as my day job and there are really only a handful of issues I ever seem to come across with Mcafee and to be fair these are issues which can effect all security suites.
The 2 problems are:
1) Loss of internet access – this is a really common issue which can happen regardless of which Security Suite you use. You generally find that you show as being connected to the internet, but you don't have access to the internet through any of your browsers.
This seems to happen when McAfee has become a little bit corrupted and decides it wants to block all connections to the internet. Sometimes when trying to uninstall it from programs and features, your PC then struggles to remove it because of how corrupted it is or because its still running in the background.
The best way to fix this problem is normally to restart your PC into safemode (this can be done fairly easily with a bit of research, even for those not overly confident with PC's) and download the McAfee Removal Tool. This allows you to remove McAfee completely in safemode ensuring no corrupted components are left behind.
2) Sometimes you just can't get McAfee to open – You'll generally find the icon shows in the bottom right hand corner of your desktop, in the system tray, but try and open it and it either doesn't open at all, or it opens but you can't navigate around the options.
As above. The best way to fix this problem is normally to restart your PC into safemode and download the McAfee Removal Tool. This allows you to remove McAfee completely in safemode ensuring no corrupted components are left behind.
3) It does seem to slow the machine down from time to time, especially when performing a scheduled scan. To be fair however I find this happens regardless of which Antivirus I am using and simply put this down the fact it is having to process a lot of information.
4) Limited malware protection – As mentioned previously although McAfee seems more capiable of picking up malware than alternative Security Suites, its ability to remove malware is nothing like what you would find in free programs such as Malwarebytes and Adwcleaner.
*** Conclusion ***
I have used pretty much every Security Package going at one point or another and McAfee remains my favourite.
It seems a much more reliable package than other Security Suites and its available for significantly cheaper than most of the other packages available.
For those reasons I would personally recommend McAfee.