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Internet Security Suite 2007 - A Compelling Security Package for Your PC

written by: Tony Bradley•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/4/2011
5

McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 has been revamped to keep up with the Jones's (Microsoft and Symantec). New features include PC maintenance and data backup. Overall, Internet Security Suite provides a comprehensive collection of tools that is certainly worth looking into for protecting your PCs.

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    Introduction

    McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 is a quality offering. McAfee, along with Symantec and Trend Micro, have more or less dominated the consumer PC security market. Their security suites have a solid track record of performance and a history of satisfied customers. Recently though, Microsoft entered the security suite market and threw in a unqiue twist that shook things up a bit. Microsoft's product, Windows Live OneCare, goes beyond security to also help maintain PC performance and protect the user's data.

    Symantec and McAfee both stepped up to that challenge and re-engineered their security suite offerings to be holistic PC-maintenance and protection products as well. The McAfee Internet Security Suite includes an extensive set of features and functionality. I was very impressed with the product and consider it an excellent choice for your security needs.

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    Installation & Setup

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    Installation of McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 was fairly simple. After accepting the licensing legal agreement, you have to choose whether to do a Complete or a Custom installation. Most users will want to stick with the Complete installation. If you do choose the Custom installation, you then have to pick and choose the features and components you wish to install.

    There is one additional box which allows you to elect whether or not to install McAfee’s Site Advisor program. After that, the installation zips along and completes relatively quickly. While there are options to allow advanced users to customize the installation, following the default installation will have the software up and running without confusing or frustrating you.

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    User Interface

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    McAfee has done an admirable job of combining separate security products under a single interface with a consistent look and feel. The main screen of the McAfee Security Center provides you with an at-a-glance overview of the security of your system. The large green circle with the checkmark means everything is updated, running properly, and your system is secure.

    The left side of the user interface provides a link menu that lets you view more details and drill down to the more advanced configuration settings. Clicking on the links such as Manage Network or Backup and Restore Files reveals different configuration screens you can use to customize the behavior of the security suite or to manually initiate various scans or tasks.

    At the upper left of the console are two large buttons. One will contact McAfee to check for all of the latest updates and make sure you have the most current protection. The other will initiate a system-wide scan of your PC to make sure it is clean, healthy, and secure.

    What's Not:

    Although the interface is improved and streamlined over previous versions, it is still lacking compared with the competition, specifically Norton 360. In their defense, Norton built their product as a suite from the ground up, whereas McAfee combined existing products to create their suite. Regardless, the intuitiveness and seamless integration of the Norton 360 interface are compelling and make even the best efforts to stitch separate components together appear a little sloppy by comparison.

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    Product Features

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    The list of features in McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 is too long to address one-by-one. It is a very comprehensive suite of tools and utilities which includes the standard-issue antivirus, antispyware, and personal firewall. Internet Security Suite also includes PC maintenance and backup and recovery utilities following the new holistic-approach to security suites introduced by Microsoft. In addition, McAfee provides a number of unique approaches and tools not found in other security suites.

    If you click on the Manage Network link on the left pane of the Security Center console, McAfee provides a graphical map of your network showing what devices you are connected to, and lets you control which networks you want to trust and which you want to protect yourself from.

    The Maintain Computer screen, also accessed from the links in the left pane, allows you to run various PC maintenance utilities, including disk defragmentation and cleaning up your hard drive. If you initiate a QuickClean, you are presented with a list of checkboxes to determine what types of data you want the utility to scan for and remove. The disk defragmenter and task scheduler are really just front-ends for running the applications built-in to Windows, but having them here is smart because users can protect and maintain their PC’s from one place.

    The three most unique aspects of McAfee’s Security Suite are SystemGuards, SiteAdvisor, and X-Ray for Windows. The SystemGuards tool monitors system behavior and alerts you to suspicious activities like an application trying to make changes to the Windows Registry. SiteAdvisor is an antiphishing tool which can plug into either Internet Explorer or Firefox to identify and alert you to potentially unsafe web sites. Finally, McAfee X-Ray for Windows is an antirootkit utility which will detect and remove malicious rootkits from your system.

    What's Not:

    One tool in the McAfee arsenal that didn’t make this features list for some reason is wireless network security. McAfee does offer a standalone product, McAfee Wireless Home Network Security, which does a fair job. However, protecting wireless networks should definitely be a part of this suite and most users will not buy McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 and then also make the additional purchase of McAfee Wireless Home Network Security.

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    Price to Value

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    McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 offers a compelling value for users. The three license version retails for the same price as Norton 360, and McAfee also offers a lower-cost, single license version. It has arguably the most comprehensive list of security and PC maintenance tools, and its performance is very good. The only thing that makes this product a runner-up to Norton 360, in my opinion, is the user interface. It isn’t bad, but it's not as flawless as the Norton 360 interface.

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    Security & Privacy

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    McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 provides some of the best security available, but don’t take my word for it. The antivirus functionality of the McAfee suite has been assessed and approved by three different independent testing labs (West Coast Labs, ICSA, and Virus Bulletin), and the antispyware feature has passed independent testing by ICSA as well. McAfee is a household name in computer security and your PCs are in good hands with this suite.

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    Performance

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    For the most part, the performance of McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 was above average. With a couple of exceptions, there was no noticeable impact to the speed or performance of my system. Each of the various security components and PC maintenance tools performed as they should.

    What's Not:

    Performance was very good, but I did say there were a couple of exceptions. First, opening my Internet Explorer web browser was noticeably slower. I assume it has to do with loading up functionality such as the SiteAdvisor monitoring tool. This suite also added a perceptible amount of time to the initial boot of Windows while it cranked away in the background loading the various services and processes it needs to do its job. Neither issue was a deal-breaker though and I would still say that I am pleased with the product’s performance.

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    Images

    Accept the EULAChoose the Complete or Custom installationIf you choose Custom installation, you must select from these optionsInstallation includes option to install McAfee Site AdvisorVoila! Installation is doneMcAfee alerts you that an available network has been detectedConfigure the types of email communications you wish to receive from McAfeeMcAfee Easy Network helps you map your network and share resourcesElect whether or not to trust networks identified by Easy NetworkMain view of the McAfee Security CenterVisual map of network under Manage NetworkMaintain your computer with McAfee QuickCleanConfigure the data backup options in McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007Shut off all incoming and outgoing traffic by locking down the firewallRemove all rules and return the firewall to its original default settingsView the version details for the various products that make up the suite
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    Suggested Features

    I have two issues with this product. First, the lack of wireless network security. This is a particularly glaring omission from a company that actually offers a product designed specifically to protect home wireless networks. In the future, McAfee should definitely include McAfee Wireless Home Network Security functionality in this suite.

    The second is the user interface. They tried very hard, and it is an improvement over previous versions, but it is still a little cumbersome. McAfee does provide a simple overview on the main console, and a variety of options and links to allow advanced users to customize the configuration of virtually every aspect of the software. Those are both good things, but the feel and flow of the user interface still feels like separate products that were mashed together. Taking a tip from Norton 360 and finding a balance between simplicity and functionality would take this product to the next level.

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    Conclusion

    McAfee is a household name in antivirus and PC security. Consumers have come to trust and rely on their products, and McAfee Internet Security Suite 2007 doesn't offer any reason to change that opinion. This product has the tools users need to protect and maintain their systems, including holistic computer upkeep and data backup functionality. It protects and maintains quite well, but lacks the streamlined simplicity and intuitiveness found in Norton 360. McAfee Internet Security Suite is still highly recommended though, particularly for users who already rely on McAfee and have a familiarity with the look, feel, and terminology of the McAfee security products.

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    Related Products

    Norton 360, Windows Live OneCare