McAfee VirusScan 2006
McAfee's VirusScan 2006 offers some welcome improvements over. Most notably, VirusScan 2006 continuously scans for spyware, even alerting you before the spyware is installed. Like Norton AntiVirus 2006, McAfee VirusScan has a new subscription model, so you'll receive software upgrades for the life of your subscription. However, the cluttered McAfee user interface and relatively slow full system scans will likely turn off new users. But for VirusScan aficionados, McAfee VirusScan is a most welcome upgrade.
McAfee VirusScan 2006 installs easily, either as a boxed product or via the Web. The software places an icon in the system tray that lets you easily access the software's functions, either by right-clicking to bring up a menu or double-clicking. To run a scan, you load the McAfee VirusScan icon; to configure your virus scan, however, you'll need to bring up the McAfee Security Center. Unfortunately, the Security Center devotes lots of screen real estate to McAfee's other products, such as McAfee SpamKiller and McAfee Personal Firewall, whether you have these installed or not. Using the Security Center sometimes feels like you're being bombarded by a never-ending sales pitch.
To combat a full spectrum of malware, McAfee VirusScan 2006 scans incoming and outgoing e-mail. We found this feature to be a bit too sensitive, alerting us whenever we sent out too many e-mail messages with similar subject or content, though this feature can be disabled.
Over the past few years, spyware and adware infections have become more widespread and perhaps as much of a threat as viruses. As a result, products that protect you against spyware have become more popular. While protected against spyware only during on-demand system scans, McAfee VirusScan 2006 offers on-access protection, continuously checking and blocking so-called PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) from running, and even stopping spyware during the installation process. We were impressed with how effective this was in our tests, alerting us before spyware even had the chance to install and run. We wish, though, that McAfee offered more detailed information about the PUP encountered so that one could better decide if the download in question is truly an unwanted program and not just take McAfee's word for it. Norton AntiVirus 2006 provides much more detail regarding potential spyware dangers.