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McAfee Internet Security packs an amazing number of useful features into its standalone antivirus product. This year’s edition adds ransomware protection and a PC speed booster.You might think there’s not much left to add to distinguish its security suite.

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Indeed, while the added features in McAfee Internet Security are welcome additions, they don’t add value for everyone. Password management is a universal need, but McAfee’s offering isn’t one of our top choices. Not every user requires parental control, or spam filtering. And these components haven’t significantly grown or evolved since last year.

Features and Benefits : www.mcafee.com/mis/retailcard

  • Protection for every Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS device in your household.
  • Excellent phishing protection.
  • Improved independent lab scores.
  • Password manager rich in multi-factor authentication options.
  • Many bonus features.
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  1. Aggregate Lab Rating (Higher Is Better): 9.2
  2. Behavior-Based Detection: Yes
  3. Malicious URL Blocking: Yes
  4. Number of Labs Testing: 3
  5. On-Access Malware Scan: Yes
  6. On-Demand Malware Scan: Yes
  7. PCMag Malicious URL Blocking (Higher Is Better): 93%
  8. PCMag Malware Blocking (Higher Is Better): 9.3
  9. Phishing Protection: Yes
  10. Protection Type: Security Suite
  11. Ransomware Protection: Yes
  12. Vulnerability Scan: Yes
  13. Website Rating: Yes
  14. Type: Personal, Personal
  15. Free Version: false, false
  16. OS Compatibility: Mac OS, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, iOS, Android
  17. Tech Support: Free, 24/7, technical support via phone or chat for the lifetime of the subscription.
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Anti-Spam Available

Like parental control, the anti-spam component’s installation takes place the first time you try to use it. That makes total sense. If you use a web-based email system, the service provider filters out spam, and they’re quite effective. Your work email probably has spam filtered out at the server level. Those who need a local spam filter are an endangered species. But if you are a member of this group, McAfee has a lot to offer.

McAfee’s spam filter integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. In these email clients, it adds a handy toolbar and automatically tosses spam messages in their own folder. You can still use it if you’re a fan of Eudora or The Bat!, but you’ll have to define a message rule to sift out the spam. McAfee filters spam from POP3 and Exchange email accounts, though it doesn’t handle IMAP accounts in your email client the way Kaspersky does.

In an unusual twist, McAfee can reach into your web mail accounts to filter out spam. When this feature first came out, it was impressively and unusual. But now that most web mail services do a fine job of filtering spam internally, it’s less necessary. If you choose to use it, you can view messages filtered out of your web mail stream right in the application and, if necessary, rescue any valid mail back to your online inbox.

There are quite a few options for configuring the spam filter. To start, there are five levels of protection, from Minimal, which allows more spam but doesn’t throw away valid mail, to Restricted, which blocks all messages unless the sender is on your Friends list. I’d advise leaving it set to the default Balanced level.

Moribund Parental Control

McAfee’s parental control component hasn’t changed significantly in years. In fact, it’s nearing the end of its life. My McAfee contact indicates that by the first quarter of 2019 it will be withdrawn, and McAfee Internet Security will not include a parental control component. No parental control is probably better than a lame parental control system.

Note that McAfee’s mega-suite, McAfee Total Protection, does offer parental control, but not internally. Rather, your subscription gives you access to McAfee Safe Family, a modern, cross-platform parental control system.

Parental control isn’t part of the default installation, which makes sense, given that non parents don’t need it, and some parents don’t want it. The first time you try to use it, you go through a simple install process and set a configuration password, so the kids can’t turn it off. When you go to configure protection, you’ll find that it’s quite limited. For each child’s Windows account, you can choose content categories for blocking and set a schedule for Internet use. You can also view a report of activity for each child or all children.

As with previous versions, setting up parental control for a child’s account that has Administrator privileges triggers a big warning. And yet, many parents do give older children Administrator accounts, to avoid constantly having to jump in and supply an admin password any time the child wants to install a new game. Most other parental control systems manage to handle Administrator accounts.

To configure the content filter, you first choose one of five age ranges. Doing so reconfigured which of the 20 content categories to block. Rather than the usual list with check boxes, McAfee displays a list of blocked categories and another list of allowed categories, with arrow buttons to move items back and forth between the lists. Most are what you’d expect, but I’d sure like to see a site that gets blocked for “Historical Revisionism”.

True Key Password Manager

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In my briefing on this year’s product line, I was told about big changes in password management. True Key would be rebranded as McAfee Password Manager, and no longer available as a separate product. But when I clicked the button for Password Manager, it installed True Key. My McAfee contact explained that the changeover should happen by March, mentioning the company needed “to honor commitments to certain partners.” For now, please check my review of the standalone True Key product for current details.

While you can install McAfee Internet Security on every device in your household, you only get a license for one True Key profile. If you want a separate profile for each family member, you’ll have to upgrade to McAfee Total Protection, which comes with five licenses.

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You can install True Key on all your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. It syncs nicely across them all, and supports a dazzling array of multifactor authentication options, including email verification, trusted device management, master password, face recognition, and fingerprint recognition. You can even reset a lost master password using multiple other authentication factors. With almost all other password managers, losing your master password means you’ve lost all your data.

If your security suite puts such a drag on system performance that you turn it off, that’s not very good protection. Fortunately, the days of resource-hog suites are long in the past. I still test performance impact using a few simple tests. I time certain common activities before and after installing the suite, averaging multiple runs, to come up with a percentage reflecting impact on performance. McAfee put more of a drag on some activities than others, but not so much that you’d really notice.

For one test, I run a script that launches at startup and checks CPU usage once per second. When 10 seconds pass with CPU usage at five percent or lower, I consider the PC ready for use. Subtracting the start of the boot process (as reported by Windows) yields the length of time required to boot the system. The average boot time went up by 68 percent after I installed McAfee, which is more than the last time I tested it. It’s true, though, that many users just let their PCs sleep, rebooting only when forced.