In the past, we've found McAfee's malware detection to be slightly below par, but this month the Californian contender impressed us. Its 90% hit rate in our file-based test beat most of its big-name rivals, including Kaspersky. It also scored an above-average 49% in our web test.
McAfee has other merits too. Its RAM footprint is small, and the browser plug-in gives you plenty of information: where many packages divide web pages clearly into good and bad, McAfee warned us about potentially unwanted programs and let us make the call for ourselves.
McAfee was the only package this month to spot a new computer connected to our test LAN automatically, asking us to classify it as a friend or intruder. Once we'd identified it as a friend, a pop-up notified us that the new machine wasn't running McAfee and advised us that we had two licences available should we wish to rectify this.
Those were thoughtful intrusions, but we were less happy with the advert that popped up during our tests offering us a discount on McAfee products. Nor did we appreciate that the off switch for the splash screen is buried in the over complicated tree of tabs and panels that constitutes the main interface. McAfee's performance under network attack also left us unimpressed: five high-risk vulnerabilities were left exposed as well as three TCP ports. That's not a disaster, but other packages on test kept us safer.
Beside the basic functions, McAfee Total Protection includes a local backup module, parental controls, a network monitoring tool and tune-up tools. But despite the package's breadth and its undoubted strengths we've seen better overall results from other, cheaper suites.