Is McAfee Anti-Virus Software Really That Bad?
It's good to be John McAfee.
CREDIT: John McAfee/YouTube
Former tech mogul and fugitive from Central American justice John McAfee, tired of getting email from people complaining about McAfee anti-virus products, has put up a fun video instructing viewers how to "uninstall" his eponymous software.
The video, which you can view on McAfee's personal website, isn't quite safe for work. But it does make it seem that a lot of people hate McAfee anti-virus software. (Intel now owns the McAfee company.)
"Although I've had nothing to do with this company for over 15 years, I still get volumes of mail asking, 'How do I uninstall this software?'" McAfee says in the video.
"I have no idea," McAfee admits before lighting a cigarette with a $100 bill. After reading a couple of extremely vulgar complaints about the software, McAfee turns to UrbanDictionary for a definition of "McAfee."
"McAfee: A barely passable virus-scanning program that updates at the worst possible times. Tends to render your computer completely useless whenever it starts an update (which it doesn't ask to start and you can't cancel or pause)," the software millionaire, clad in a silk dressing gown, reads aloud. "McAfee updates at horrible times, almost like the creators want you to die."
But is McAfee anti-virus software that bad? Not really.
Any decent anti-virus product will take up system resources analyzing new files and scanning the machine for malware. Protecting a PC (or a Mac) from sophisticated malware takes a lot of effort, and such software has to always be running.
In product reviews, as in market share, McAfee is in the middle of the pack.
Our sister site TopTenReviews.com gave the latest version of McAfee AntiVirus Plus a score of 6.58 out of 10, No. 16 in a list of 20. A more robust solution, McAfee Internet Security 2013, got four out of five stars from PC World magazine.
In its most recent tests, the Austrian lab AV-Comparatives gave McAfee Internet Security 2013 a 98 percent effectiveness rating.
Market share is a bit more difficult to gauge, because providers of free anti-virus software such as AVG, Avast and Avira, not to mention Microsoft itself, tend to lead the pack. But according to software-management firm OPSWAT, McAfee comes in fourth among paid-only vendors in worldwide share, and third in North America.
In general, paid anti-virus software is better than free (though PC Magazine gave AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2013 good marks, and Avast Free Antivirus 8 did well in AV-Comparatives' tests).
Paid software is more likely to have anti-phishing filters for email clients, and anti-malware filters for Web browsers, both important features now that most malware tends to come through such software.
What you don't want to do is have two anti-virus programs running at once. They'll try to scan new files at the same time, and God forbid they try to do overlapping full-system scans. That will indeed render your computer completely useless.
Many users install or activate Microsoft's free anti-virus products (Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows XP through 7; Windows Defender in Windows 8) and then later install a third-party anti-virus product without deactivating the earlier option.
That said, a free anti-virus product is always better than nothing. Combine that with a couple of other essential security tips, such as activating the built-in firewall and operating as a limited user except when installing software, and you'll head off 95 percent of threats to your machine.