Are there any shortcomings? Given its $49.99 retail price, VirusScan 9.0 should include a firewall or at least a port-blocking technology to stop unsolicited inbound packets. We'd like to see real-time detection of spyware, a feature found in McAfee's higher-end, business-oriented antivirus programs.In CNET Labs tests, McAfee VirusScan produced the same amount of a drag on system performance as Symantec Norton AntiVirus and Trend Micro PC-cillin did. The lightest hit on system resources came from . VirusScan took longer to scan our 1.3GB hard drive than both PC-cillin and eTrust EZ Antivirus.
To measure VirusScan's impact on system performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark 2002, an industry-standard benchmark. The Internet-content-creation portion of SysMark measures a desktop's performance running off-the-shelf applications, such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. (We did not run the office-productivity portion of the benchmark because it incorporates McAfee VirusScan 5.13.)
Our test system was a Dell Dimension 8200 running Windows XP Professional, with an Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz processor and 256MB of RDRAM. With VirusScan running, our test system scored a 94--meaning there was a 6 percent reduction in overall system speed. By comparison, Norton AntiVirus 2005 also scored a 94, a 6 percent reduction. (An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software running.) In a test of scanning speed, McAfee took an average of 6.68 minutes to scan a 1.3GB directory--nowhere near as fast as speed-demon PC-cillin, which averaged 2.4 minutes.
In past VirusBulletin tests, McAfee's VirusScan has been tested only once, back in June of 2002, and it passed. By comparison, Norton AntiVirus has been tested 10 times and earned the coveted VB 100 Percent title each time. Norton AntiVirus is one of the few products tested to consistently win the VB 100 Percent award. Previous versions of VirusScan have also been certified by the independent antivirus-testing laboratories at West Coast Checkmark, ICSA Labs, and Checkvir.com.
For more details on how we test antivirus apps, see the CNET Labs site.We found McAfee's e-mail and online-chat support for VirusScan to be very good this year. Queries were answered promptly--for instance, we received a response to an e-mail question within 20 minutes--and the tech staff was polite and professional. Online chat is available 24/7, and McAfee promises a 24-hour response time for e-mail queries. McAfee's online VirusScan support site is very well organized and easy to navigate.
But phone support will cost you. McAfee charges $2.95 per minute after the first two free minutes or $39 per incident. Symantec has similar pay rates for its customers, but Trend Micro provides free 24/7 phone help to PC-cillin users.