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Level 7

Review: McAfee Total Protection 2009

DISCLAIMER: The following review is my opinion only and does not constitute the opinion of any user, moderator, administrator of this forum or any employee of McAfee, Inc.
I am not associated with McAfee Inc., or any of the stated company's competitors.
This review is not intended to "bash" any McAfee product or it's employers or volunteers.

Please also keep in mind that this review may be incomplete and may be adjusted at my discresion.

Now that that's out of the way, let's move on to (assumably) why you're here:

Review: McAfee Total Protection 2009

1. Installation

Installation was pretty much the same as the 2008 version. Click, accept agreement, get coffee, done. No need for reboots at all, same as 2008, which is what most security suites boast nowadays. I did notice though that the installation window was a bit more clearer as to what it was installing and was pending, but the old style from 2008 worked just as well for me. Also a nice network map which quickly identified all of the devices in my network, same as 2008. Not much else to say here.

2. First Impressions

Upon opening the main SecurityCenter window, I was greeted with the same old window I have come to know. Not really many new additions, though I haven't had as much time as I'd rather like exploring the user interface. However, I did notice when I switch into Advanced mode all of my version statistics are gone, and I find myself switching back and forth to do different tasks. Needs some serious consistency work. Again, not much different from the 2008 version, so I won't continue here.

3. Firewall

Here's where some of my main issues lie. First off, when I went to configure the firewall, I noticed that Outbound Access was set to allow all. Another instance of usability > security here, and I don't like that. I have a router, as most people, that provides more than adequate protection from incoming threats. I want the firewall to protect myself outbound, which the firewall is not configured by default to do. If I'm paying for it to protect me outbound it should be doing so! McAfee is a security company and they really should configure their security products like one. Port scans reveal all ports are stealthed, as I would expect. Opening ports and closing them are also relatively easy, and there is a SecurityCenter option to immediately lock down the firewall.

Some interesting notes though: I reconfigured the firewall to remove my local network from the trusted list and tried some exploit attacks on the firewall. It did block them; but it did not log them!? I'm not entirely sure why but it appears to block all of the other attacks from the outside world. Even though the attack is within the network it should still be logged, IMO.

4. Anti-Virus

To start off I used a copy of the EICAR test virus, packaged in various ways to test what McAfee will scan and what it will not. I put a copy of the virus into a RAR file and had McAfee scan it. No detections.

I put it into a ZIP file, and scan. No detections. Wait, what? Compressed archive scanning is ON.

I leave it, by it's little lonesome self, and have McAfee scan. No detections.

Off to tech support it is then.

Well, first off, I can't even get through to actually talk to someone. I have to run the McAfee Virtual Technician. Hey, this might solve my problems! It installs, scans, scans some more, scans some more, nothing wrong at all. Oh well, now I can talk to someone. What strikes me first is fee-based support. Wait, didn't I pay for this product? I have to pay because the product I paid for doesn't work ($10 per incident!). Someone explain this to me. Well, I can either go to the forums or use their support chat. I decide to go the support chat route.

I pretty much instantly get connected to a support technician, who introduces themselves. I introduce myself and explain what happened. I wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and you can see where this is going. Yes, a full 10 minutes before there's a response. And all I get is a confirmation telling me that I can't install VirusScan. Yup, what this "technician" is deriving from what I typed out is that I can't install VirusScan. I reword my issue and retype it all out. A 7 minute wait this time, surprisingly. I guess by "Estimated Wait Time: 9 Minutes" they mean 9 minutes per response, not 9 minutes until I get a support technician. And hey, they got it this time! I confirm that it was correct and got, well: REINSTALL TOTAL PROTECTION. No fixes to try, no registry hacks, no settings changes. Just pack it all up (with the help of the removal tool, of course, and try again). I thank them for their time and disconnect.

I follow all of their instructions to a T. I uninstall, run the removal tool, and reinstall. Issue, surprisingly, still remains. It will not detect a single virus. Back to tech support. I go back into the chat, painfully wait the few minutes till my response, give them the reference number, painfully wait some more, and then I get moved up to a Supervisor. Sounds good. The supervisor is fast responding and he says he's gonna e-mail some suggestions to me. I disconnect, once again, and wait for the e-mail, which arrives about 10 minutes later.

I open it up. My jaw hits the floor. "REINSTALL TOTAL PROTECTION."

That's right. The solution that didn't work for me once must work the second time around. Or third time's the charm?

No. No way. And I won't throw down more money to call for actual support, which I'm doubting at this point.

I move to Customer Service chat and demand a full refund, which I get without too much hassle. I uninstall the whole suite.

I didn't even bother reviewing the rest of the suite.

I will not go near another McAfee product again, or ever recommend it.
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3 Replies
Level 21

RE: Review: McAfee Total Protection 2009

Well thanks for posting anyway, but I think this is a little over-critical considering you haven't posted here for help since March 2008 - 1 year ago.

Contacting Technical Support can be frustrating but if at first you don't succeed, try again. It's also free to use the Chat support and the first 30 days after a retail purchase are free for phone support too.

Anyway, good luck in your endeavours.
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Level 7

RE: Review: McAfee Total Protection 2009

Sorry, I had to blow off some steam there, I've been using McAfee for a long time and every year the appearance of "usability > security" seems to become more apparent. Since I need my PC available and working at all times I really need a security suite that I can trust.

Would you not agree that security should be McAfee's #1 priority?

I do work in software engineering and I try to keep up with the security world as best as I can.

I finally get 2008 down to a point where it works decently and then BAM! 2009 Smiley Wink

IMO, phone support should be free as long as there's an active subscription, but I don't run McAfee so I don't make those decisions grin (could be a good thing). I don't see the point in paying to get help to fix a product I paid for...

I would keep trying the chat support but I don't have the time to waste waiting for copy and paste responses (considering the e-mail the supervisor sent me was instructions with copy and paste responses to send to the customer) and I know I'll get halfway into a chat then have to break it off.

I didn't mean to insult anyone or anything, just needed to vent a little bit and it ended up here.

Honestly, I have tried with McAfee, but I really don't have the time to fiddle with the settings, uninstall and reinstall again and again. What happened to the 2005 versions? They were an excellent product and really showed what McAfee was capable of.

Thanks for dealing with my rant.

EDIT: Also, the free 30-day phone support should be emphasized more as all I was seeing was the $9.95/session information, but maybe I wasn't looking hard enough?

Plus, why should Technical Support be frustrating? That really puzzled me, the last thing I want to deal with is getting frustrated while trying to get help...
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Level 21

RE: Review: McAfee Total Protection 2009

I hear you and tend to agree. Unfortunately we don't have much influence on corporate decisions.
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