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Inside McAfee VirusScan Plus 2008

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CNET Reviews staff
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Many of improvements within McAfee VirusScan Plus 2008 are in the code, which is where you want them to be. McAfee has gone ahead with a silly marketing campaign emphasizing that it alone will protect your desktop, protect your Web browsing with Site Advisor, and will also protect your mobile phone for one price. Which makes us suspicious--why tack on the extras? Two of three "triple play" protections were actually offered last year, and, at the time of this writing, the mobile component still wasn't available for testing. Instead of repackaging itself, McAfee should have pared down the system resources it uses, enhanced its firewall more, tweaked last year's interface, and switched to a more streamlined download and installation process. As it stands Mcafee VirusScan 2008 looks and feels like warmed-over last year's product, with too few "must haves."
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McAfee claims that by installing the download manager, then installing the product, you'll get the latest version of the program code and signature updates. That may be, but it strikes us as clunky. That said, McAfee has improved the download speed over last year.
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We're not sure why McAfee is so transparent about its module construction; most vendors simple say "installing" and show, at most, a progress bar.
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Last year, McAfee did a complete overhaul of its interface, integrating all its products behind one universal look and feel. We liked that. However, for 2008, they changed little and, well, there's always room for improvement. For example, we don't like the fact the Attention notices are a not-so subtle way of upselling to the McAfee Internet Security Suite.
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Despite improving the code and use of system resources, McAfee remained in the middle of the pack when compared with other antivirus products we tested at CNET. It's good that McAfee is keeping up with the times, but it's bad that a venerable product like this can't show more significant gains against the competition.
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Although it is part of selling point for this year's McAfee VirusScan Plus 2008, SiteAdvisor, McAfee's antiphishing tool, is optional. Should you choose to install it, URLs screened and filtered by SiteAdvisor will be added to the McAfee database.
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Having already been informed that McAfee will add URLs you visit to its database upon installation, McAfee again informs you when you first go to use it. While we appreciate the disclaimer, the second notice makes us wonder just what is being collected from our PC.
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Once again we're disappointed with McAfee's technical support offerings. There's no manual, no user forum. Telephone support is definitely not free (unless you got McAfee through a hardware vendor). And you can only access chat and e-mail if you go through something called the Virtual Technician. Here again, this is an option not included within the product that you must first download then run against the product. If your computer's having trouble, and you suspect McAfee is at fault, the last thing you need is to download something just to get a live person to help you out. Next time, we'd like a real technician.
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McAfee, like other antivirus products, keeps a record of all the changes it makes.
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McAfee VirusScan 2008 is the only antivirus product we reviewed this year that includes built-in backup of critical files. It also includes a file shredder so you can be sure that file is removed from your desktop.
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Another option is to install the IM link checker. We like this and don't understand why you have the option; it should be standard given the number of IM-related malware infections these days.

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