McAfee Internet Security 2010 review

Price when reviewed

The box says Internet Security 2010, but in the software itself there’s no date to be seen – clearly, McAfee isn’t wedded to a strict twelve-month release cycle. But this version does represent a visible departure from previous McAfee tools. The familiar “panels ‘n’ ticks” interface is gone, replaced by a new slab-like design that puts almost all of the suite’s various functions within a single front-end.

It works up to a point: we appreciated being able to find all of McAfee’s features and settings without having to negotiate a proliferation of windows. But it doesn’t offer a lot of space, so configuring things like firewall or scan settings involves a fair amount of scrolling.

Cosmetics aside, very little in this version is really new. A new “Active Protection” feature merely catches up with the cloud-based analysis already in use by other vendors.

Likewise, the notebook-friendly option to perform scans only when the computer is connected to the mains is welcome, but was already available from Norton, Eset and others. Probably the biggest new feature is online backup – your licence gives you 1GB, but you can upgrade to unlimited storage for £34 exc VAT per year.

McAfee Internet Security 2010

On the upside, McAfee Internet Security 2010 retains the SiteAdvisor technology that we appreciated so much in our last security Labs: rather than mindlessly blacklisting websites, SiteAdvisor gives you information such as whether a site is actively hosting malware or has merely been known to in the past, enabling you to make an informed decision as to whether to proceed.

Sadly, in that same Labs we found that McAfee’s malware detection engines weren’t quite in the top rank, and on the evidence of this month that remains the case. McAfee Internet Security 2010 detected 89% of this month’s malware, some way behind the 95% achieved by Avira and our A-List choice Norton Internet Security 2010.

Nor was performance a strong point. It’s not that McAfee’s RAM footprint is particularly offensive: pushing our test system’s footprint up from 590MB to 688MB, it had a similar impact to this month’s other contenders. Unlike those contenders, though, McAfee made our test machine slower to boot to the desktop, up from 16 seconds to 21 seconds, and added a further 27 seconds of additional CPU activity thereafter.

McAfee’s latest Internet Security suite ticks a fair few boxes, including parental web controls and various privacy protection tools. SiteAdvisor and online backup are particular highlights. First and foremost, though, it’s a security suite, and uninspiring performance there necessarily relegates the whole package to the second rank.


Software subcategory Internet security


Processor requirement 1GHz or higher

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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