Every Autumn you can depend on a number of certainties in life. Leaves will fall. Christmas stuff will start to appear in shops and on the TV. Electronic Arts will bring out the year’s crop of sports games. And Symantec and McAfee will release the year’s crop of protection suites.
So it’s out with 2006 and in with McAfee’s latest Internet Security Suite. The main difference with the 2007 version is that the box is now black instead of bright red. Alright, so we’re exaggerating, there are some differences in the program as well, but as is often the case with these annual upgrades, the core components remain the same.
For anyone unfamiliar with the suite, those core elements are the virus protection, personal firewall, anti-spam (and anti-phishing e-mail scams) and privacy modules (which protect your identity online and also offer parental controls for surfing). The virus definitions are updated automatically every couple of days; we’ve used the McAfee definitions for over a year now and have found them thorough and reliable.
We’ve found the firewall to be similarly reliable as well. A typical month will see it block hundreds of unsolicited connections by possible trojans and other assorted nastiness. All these basic protective modules haven’t changed, excepting the fact that the spyware detection routines have been beefed up for 2007.
The major new addition for this incarnation of Internet Security Suite is the data backup system, which facilitates the archiving and backing up of files. You can set the archiving process to happen automatically at specified intervals, and back up to a network or USB drive, or burn to a CD. These backups are compressed and encrypted, and you can select the folders and/or types of files you want covered.
Systemguard protection has also been added to 2007. This monitors your system and will detect any changes made, looking out specifically for things like Active X installations or modifications made to your startup registry keys which might be spyware-related. It’s a useful little extra.
A bonus addition – so the back of the box tells us anyway – is the McAfee site advisor, a plug-in which provides safety ratings for Web sites and search engine results to back up the standard Internet Security Suite parental controls.
Finally, the interface has been given a minor overhaul and is slightly more streamlined than the 2006 version. For some reason, however, McAfee has removed the links from the taskbar icon which allow you to turn off the virus and firewall protection quickly. That’s a minor annoyance when you need to temporarily switch them off to install a program.
Another unwelcome and slightly more serious change we came across was the fact that Internet Explorer took a second longer to open after we’d installed the program. Presumably this is caused by some monitoring feature, but Internet Security Suite 2006 didn’t suffer from this problem. Okay, it’s not a huge delay, but it’s slightly annoying.
For current McAfee subscribers, the question is: are the added features worth the upgrade fee? And the answer is probably “No.” There’s nothing too pressing to upgrade for here, unless you would benefit from the new automatic archiving and backup module. The beefed up Systemguard and spyware protection certainly won’t hurt, either, and families will benefit from the site advisor when it comes to making surfing safer.
Internet Security Suite 2007 comes thoroughly recommended for first-time buyers, though; it’s an excellent suite with a full range of protection, privacy and PC maintenance features.
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