McAfee Internet Security Suite 2005 review:

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2005

McAfee Internet Security 2005, like Norton Internet Security 2005 and Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Security Suite, is a suite of Internet tools designed to protect data on your PC and keep harmful data from entering your system. All three suites offer first-class antivirus solutions, firewalls, and antispam protection. The main differences lie in integration and extras: MIS 2005 is more cohesive bundle of standalone programs for antivirus, firewall, and antispam than Norton Internet Security. Nevertheless, the ZoneAlarm tools are much better integrated and therefore much easier to use.

On unique feature in McAfee is called McAfee Privacy Service (MPS), which allows you to block personal content from exiting your PC without your permission and to keep harmful content from entering your PC. MPS can also act as a parental control by blocking certain Web sites without prior approval. Additional functionality, however, is limited. For example, MPS was only moderately successful at blocking pop-ups and ads, missing a number of floating and flash ads on various sites. Similarly, cookie control was limited to maintaining an all-or-nothing pass-through list. Additionally, the ad-blocker component is unable to block Shockwave, Flash, and other compressed file formats, so some annoying ads continue to leak through. There are a few nice touches, however, such as the security question backup feature, which reminds you of the administrator password necessary to make changes within MIS. But these touches are only minor enhancements.

Forgot your administrator password? McAfee's security question backup is an ingenious alternative to frantically calling the company's offices.

McAfee's help system has improved since last year. Live phone support still costs $2.95/minute (first two minutes free) 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, or $39/incident 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, unless you're otherwise covered by a service plan provided by Dell Computers or AOL. But McAfee now offers free access to an extensive, moderated forum; e-mail support; Internet chat with a technician; and a help tree/answer center FAQ. You can also search for specific words or phrases within the support database, which is detailed and well organized and neither condescends nor uses techno-jargon to make its points. Some of that information also makes up the bulk of the printed 121-page user guide included with the boxed edition.

If you don't want to pay for expensive phone support, the moderated forums are a good option.

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