McAfee was one of the pioneers of AntiVirus software. Now it’s a major part of Intel’s Security division and its near top-of-the-range product is LiveSafe. This suite of security utilities includes one particularly inviting feature; it can protect as many devices as you own, as long as they run Windows, OS X, Android or iOS.
Where the program falls down is in its interface. We could forgive its rather dull, over-texty style and the fact it give more prominence – by tile size – to your subscription and update status than it does to Data Protection or Parental Control.
However, this extends to perversity in the way the suite is delivered. Although features like a password manager and cloud storage are detailed on the box and the web site, neither is installed as part of the the LiveSafe installation.
What do you get for your money?
The relevant applications are SafeKey and Personal Locker, but although SafeKey is listed as an option when you start to install, it looks like one of those trial extras – and there’s no mention of Personal Locker. There are no instructions or mention of either application in the main LiveSafe control panel.
In fact, you have to download and install Personal Locker separately; why not include it in the main installation? Before we discovered where to find it, we went to the Help system. There’s no local help, which is a shame, and calling the online help throws up a 404 error, claiming the file isn’t on the server. This needs sorting.
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The interface isn't as clean as you would expect with McAfee's pedigree[/caption]
Although there’s little to commend the control screen aesthetically, it works well enough to give easy access to the main modules of the suite. These include most of the essentials you would expect, including antivirus, anti-malware and spam filtering, a two-way firewall and parental control.
AV scans can be of the whole machine, selected folders or the registry and you can set a schedule to automate them. Parental controls provide the opportunity to eliminate sites by subject category, all of which seem straightforward, though ‘historical revisionism’ sounds a bit old-school soviet.
The PC and Home network tools aren’t really a PC tune up. They comprise three utilities: My Home Network, QuickClean and Vulnerability Scanner. My Home network shows all the devices on your network with basic information, such as IP and MAC addresses, which has questionable usefulness.
QuickClean looks at unwanted files and registry entries and can also clean out unwanted ActiveX controls. You can schedule this cleaning to happen automatically.
The Vulnerability Scanner checks for updates to Windows (which Windows Update already does) and installed applications (which most modern applications also do for themselves), so it’s not completely clear how this provides extra functionality, though it may be useful to have it centralised.
Data Protection, the other tile on the home screen, offers a secure file shredder. There are five levels offered: Quick, Basic, Safe, Comprehensive and Complete, though again there’s no guidance as to which you should use where.
A surprising omission from the features set is backup, either local or online. There’s no software included and no online storage allocation. Personal Locker is there, intended as a way of sharing passwords, security info and high-risk documents, but there’s only 1GB of storage provided to share among all your registered devices. It’s not for general file backup.
The various flavours of McAfee
The Mac product consists of LiveSafe and SafeKey, so most of what you get on the PC, but reflecting the extra security already embedded in OS X.
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McAfee LiveSafe 2015 runs well across whatever you run it on[/caption]
Under Android, you get McAfee Mobile Security, which can back up your device’s contents to a PC, monitor the websites you visit and can lock down you data while photographing anybody who steals it. You also get SafeKey and Personal Locker for protection of passwords and sensitive documents.
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The added mobile protection is a smart addition to the security suite[/caption]
Under test, McAfee LiveSafe took 52 minutes to scan our 30GB file basket and looked at 11,358 files. This gives a scan rate of 3.6 files/s, one of the lowest we’ve measured. Repeating the test took 5min 52s to examine 11,167 files, so the software does very little fingerprinting, but does take a lot less time to check the same files.
Copying two 1GB files took 1min 32s without a scan running in the background and, very unusually, exactly the same time when it was scanning. Either the McAfee scan is super-efficient or it automatically backs off when your PC is busy.
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McAfee LiveSafe 2015 scans without taking up too much CPU or memory, and it's pretty speedy[/caption]
Looking at AV-Test’s most recent results, there’s very little to dislike. The software scored a perfect 18/18, which means full marks of 6/6 in all three areas of measurement: Protection, Performance and Usability.
Looking at the Performance section, AV-Test agrees with our test results, noting no slow-down in its thorough set of browsing, downloading and file tasks. The group average in this area is a slowdown of 3s.
Under Protection, which measures the effectiveness of AV algorithms, the software scored 100 per cent detecting widespread and prevalent malware and only dropped one percent over two months with zero-day threats.
When it comes to Usability, the false warning or blocks the software throws up, McAfee had a completely clean record, with no false detections at all. This is a very good result and you should be safe against attack using this product.
If you have a lot of different devices you want to protect, McAfee LifveSafe 2015 is a very economical way of going. It provides worthwhile protection for the four main platforms: Windows, OS X, iOS and Android and you can add as many personally-owned devices to your account as you want.
McAfee should revamp the installation of all components in the suite, detailing exactly what’s available. It would be good to see proper backup and online storage included in the suite, too.