Anti Virus Roundup

Another anti virus product with a proven pedigree, and one that seems to be favoured in a number of small business environments thanks to being pre-bundled with a number of popular computer brands and models, we again had high hopes for McAfee's Active VirusScan SMB Edition. I'm pleased to say we were not disappointed, but at the same time not overly impressed.

Virus detection was flawless; though we did get a few false positives during the very slow system scan. It seemed the McAfee app took a very cautious view of certain safe ZIP and other archive files. It was the only app we tested that flagged a possible problem during the initial system scan.

Perhaps the strongest part of the McAfee offering is the ProtectionPilot management interface. It provides a very straightforward and well thought-out interface for managing installation, configuration, monitoring compliance and levels of protection. A selection of wizards can be called into play to handhold you through installation and configuration processes if needed. The wizards are not just lifted from one of McAfee's consumer products, as can often happen in these scenarios, and instead offer a useful fallback for installing and setting up Active VirusScan in a business environment.

McAfee makes a big play of its download scanning, which in our tests worked very well, spotting and intercepting the virus infected emails we attempted to introduce into the test system. We did find one strange anomaly. With VirusScan installed, we found that if your copy of Outlook has more than one IMAP email account defined, then Outlook crashed on exit. Removing all bar one IMAP account, or removing the McAfee product solved the problem.

Auto updating was straightforward, but did result in a noticeable amount of system slowdown. Also, we found the on-screen popups to be very distracting and annoying.

In all McAfee's product was a solid effort, but nothing really stood out. While easy to set up, the configuration options were very basic indeed, though the policy management element is a nice enterprise feature that scales down well. While protection was good, we found the actual application to be very slow, and it dragged the rest of our machine down with it when it was actually doing anything of substance. As our score reflects, certainly not a bad product, but compared to the other applications we have looked at here, it's a middle of the road effort this time round.


Good at the actual task of intercepting and dealing with viruses and malicious code, but beyond this the product was a bit too basic. Whether McAfee was trying to make a consumer product scale up to the smaller business, or an enterprise product scale down, the problem here is that it hasn't quite created a fully rounded product.