McAfee Internet Security 2013 Review: Proficient antimalware, super-quick installation

McAfee didn't earn top marks in our security suite tests, but it's still a mostly proficient antimalware program

McAfee Internet Security 2013 ($40 for one year of protection on up to 3 computers, as of 12/19/12) didn't manage top marks in our security suite tests, but it's still a fairly proficient antimalware program that will keep you relativelywell-protected. This security suite, which boasts a simple user interface and a super quick installation process, scans your system quickly and efficiently.

However, McAfee's uninspired design and average performance makes it a less attractive choice compared to its competition.

In our real-world attack test, McAfee was able to completely block 94.4 percent of attacks. Unfortunately, this means that it did let through 5.6 percent of attacks, allowing our test system to get infected. This test indicates how well a product will be able to block brand new malware attacks as it encounters them in the wild--and of the nine security suites we tested, only two let such a largepercentage through.

That said, McAfee was competent at cleaning up malware infections once they were already on the system. In our system cleanup test, the program detected and disabled 100 percent of infections, and fully cleaned up 70 percent ofinfections. Five of the nine security suites we tested performed better than McAfee in this test, completely cleaning up at least 80 percent of infections.

McAfee had an excellent false positive percentage: It didn't flag a single safe file (out of over 250,000 files) as malicious. It also did a very good job at detecting known baddies: in our malware "zoo" detection test, it managed to detect 99.9percent of known malware samples.

McAfee adds just a little extra weight to your system, performance-wise. In our PC speed tests, the program added a little less than one second to startup time, and about four seconds to shutdown time. McAfee's scan times are slightlyhigher than average: It takes one minute and 35 seconds to complete an on-demand (manual) scan, and five minutes for an on-access scan (the automatic scan that happens when you open or save a file to a disk). In both cases, that'sabout average for the suites we tested.

Installing McAfee Internet Security 2013 is a breeze. There are just three screens to click through, the program doesn't try to install any extras (such as toolbars) or change any of your settings (such as your default browser search), and it doesn'trequire a restart is required.

McAfee's user interface, though uninspired, is simple and easy to understand. It's not very attractive (the main window is gray with green and blue accents), but it does have a large banner at the top that shows your protection status, along withfour small modules so you can quickly access important security areas. These areas include virus and spyware protection, Web and email protection, updates, and your subscription information. There are also three smaller modules that letyou quickly access McAfee's other services, including data protection tools, PC home and network tools, and parental controls.

On the right side of the main window are links to navigation and help. The navigation section is where you'll find the main settings, as well as information about each of the suite's features. You can also click the modules on the mainwindow to access settings for individual features. The settings menus are a little difficult to navigate, but McAfee does offer up simple explanations for each area, as well as a "Learn more" link that takes you to the a relevant online helpdocument.

McAfee offers decent protection and a user-friendly interface, but overall it's just average--nothing about it is too impressive, but it's also not terrible. Its protection, performance, and documentation are mediocre, while its userinterface is bland and uninspiring (though easy to navigate and understand). It's not a bad program, but there are better security suites out there.

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