Several features have been discontinued from previous versions. SystemGuards has been fully replaced by Artemis, and local backup has been replaced by Mozy. The Personal Information Protection, in which a user could enter personal data such as social security numbers or credit card info and expect to have its unintended dissemination over the internet prevented was discontinued for not being effective. The PasswordVault for securing passwords on the web has been replaced by browser-provided password protection, and the EasyNetwork system for local file-sharing has been replaced by Windows 7's file-sharing system. This anticipates data just released, that in the few months that Windows 7 has been available to the public it has taken more than 10 per cent of the operating system market share.
As with most program overhauls, McAfee promises faster install times, faster scan times, more effective scans and a small memory footprint. In empirical testing, the first fast scan finished in under 10 minutes. Because of file marking, subsequent fast scans finished in under a minute. The first full scan took nearly 85 minutes.
McAfee claims that the first full scan will be 55 minutes faster on the 2010 version as compared with the 2009 version. Subsequent full scans should be an astounding 120 minutes faster, from 135 minutes to 15 minutes. McAfee also claims that users should see their computers with the 2010 version start up 300 per cent faster than with the 2009 version, and that computer shut-downs with the new version should be 30 per cent faster.
The most likely reason for the massive improvement in start-up time is that, like a few other security vendors, McAfee doesn't fully load all of its processes by the time that you can start using programs on your desktop. Brian Trombley, McAfee's director of consumer product management, stated that this doesn't affect the security of the computer, only that the McAfee interface isn't fully accessible until about 90 seconds after the system tray icons appear.
In benchmark tests performed by CNET Labs, McAfee's 2010 programs generally scored near or slightly above average, but not in every case. Some highlights from the charts here include noting that the high-end McAfee Total Protection 2010 slowed start-up times by three seconds, while the base-level McAfee AntiVirus Plus added only 2.1 seconds. By comparison, many competitors added anywhere from 10 seconds to 19 seconds to start-up times. Across the board, two of the McAfee programs added only one second to shut-down times, and one added 1.1 seconds. Both those numbers are very good.
However, in full-scan times, McAfee Total Protection is so far the slowest of the 2010 security suites we've tested, taking 40 minutes to complete a scan on our test machine. Many competitors took less than half that time. McAfee also did well in our iTunes decoding test, with McAfee Total Protection taking 193 seconds, tied for the fastest program with Avast. Meanwhile, McAfee Internet Security was one of the fastest programs in the Cinebench test, tied for fourth fastest.
What this means is that as a group, McAfee's 2010 suites have a smaller-than-average impact on your computer's resources, although they tend to be slower than average at their primary scanning task.
Malware detection and blocking tests performed by independent evaluator AV-Test.org found McAfee Internet Security 2010 in the middle of its test pack. In mid-December 2009, it detected 87.2 per cent of threats launched at it, with few false positives. It successfully blocked 86.7 per cent of those threats. AV-Comparatives.org found the 2009 product to score Advanced+ on three tests, Advanced on three tests, and Standard on two tests. This placed McAfee in the middle of the AV-Comparatives testing group, as well.
McAfee's support exists, but it's almost entirely online as forums and live chat. Seeing as how some competitors still offer live phone service and include robust help files, it's hard not to wonder why McAfee is deficient here.
Overall, McAfee's 2010 products felt light and didn't interfere with heavy computer use over a half day of real-world testing. The initial indexing scan is the key to enjoying faster scan times with the McAfee's 2010 products, and users looking for a change of pace might appreciate the new interface. While the performance benchmarks are fairly strong, and the program's usability has improved, what we've seen from third-party testers is that the benchmarks need to improve before the program can earn a rating.