Why I don’t recommend McAfee security software

After the latest colossal error, maybe it’s time to switch.

This is a world-class screw-up, but it’s not the first. See A pox on McAfee (2004), and the comments on this post (2007), and this post about McAfee’s sloppy response to the Conficker worm (2009).

If you’re a McAfee customer, are you considering a switch? Hit the comments below and tell me why—or why not.

25 thoughts on “Why I don’t recommend McAfee security software

  1. I dropped McAfee and Norton years ago. Their databases and engines don’t identify many viruses and malware etc. A family member had a system quite infected. McAfee and Norton did a little clean up but system was still having problems AntiVir found 56 more virus and malware on system including a root kit.

  2. My organization still uses both McAfee and IE6 and is fighting change to the death. It’s a goddamned pleasure working there, lemme tell ya. Freaking economy.

  3. Been very satisfied with Microsoft Security Essentials. No reason to use anything else that I can think of. I use Windows Firewall, MSE, and I browse with Firefox. I’m pretty well covered with this setup, and it’s free too boot!

  4. This particular incident aside, McAfee, CA and TrendMicro are 3 security vendors that have lately been too behind the curve. Products from three vendors are resource hogs, and are not stellar in AV tests either. They should be taking a leaf out of Symantec’s book on how it managed to do a complete 180 turn in their latest offerings.
    But, when it comes to enterprise security, neither Symantec nor McAfee have good solutions. The only worthy corporate vendors IMHO are Sophos and Kaspersky.
    For the home user, it’s a easy choice, just go for great free solutions from avast!, Avira and Microsoft.
    McAfee in its present shape is not worth installing even if you get a promotional license.

  5. Sadly Ed, most of (all?) the major AV vendors have this issue. I support CA eTrust & McAfee EPO customers, and I’ve seen false positives from both vendors.

    Fortunately this morning’s snafu from McAfee didn’t impact us. I’m putting it down to to the fact that we’re in a different timezone (12 hours difference).

    What I don’t understand is why the heck that McAfee didn’t know that a Microsoft system file (svchost.exe) wasn’t a virus. It’s almost as if they don’t test their AV files before release.

  6. I stopped using McAfee products in the late nineties. After that I’ve used Norton and many others but for the last 4 years I use Blink Personal (eEye.com) on all my machines, which I recommend to everybody.

  7. Ben, if you’re using Firefox, then you’re not running in Protected Mode. You should be using IE or Chrome.

    That having been said, Windows Firewall + MSE is a pretty decent combination for anyone who is in the least security-aware. Low on resource consumption, low on annoyance factor, etc. You can do some really nifty things with Windows Advanced Firewall, including IPSec.

  8. I currently have McAfee on a new laptop, from Dell. I consider it crapware, but as long as it’s free, I probably will not remove it. Once the trial period is over, it’s gone. I have had excellent enterprise experience with Symantec Endpoint Protection – reasonably uninvasive, unless you have a problem, and I don’t generally have to worry about the resources, the software requires.

    However, I have always found McAfee to be overly invasive and generally troublesome. I agree that Microsoft Security Essentials provides me with an understandable, simple UI and I feel that I have ample and simple warning orf any issue.

    The only reason I am delaying removing McAfee at this point is that I know it will be a hassle and I’ll have to search the internet for effective ways to completely remove it from my system. Sort of like a virus…hmmmm.

  9. We have McAfee VirusScan Enterprise where I work, and my desktop was one of 600 affected. A few hours ago 350 desktops were still dead.

    The product is site licensed so I was able to use it home as well, however, I’ve dumped it for Microsoft Security Essentials; since then, my home computer boots up much more quickly and is generally more responsive. I just hope that we dump it at work as well.

  10. Also, why is McAfee deleting a file with a valid Microsoft digital signature? Surely it should check the integrity of the file and leave it alone if it passes.

  11. I don’t understand why Dell, HP, Sony, ASUS, etc etc don’t put Microsoft Security Essentials on computers yet. I know, there is probably some kick-back that these OEMs get for putting a paid AV on. But in the interest of the users, they should wake up.

  12. McAfee was used in my workplace some years ago and after consultation it was decided to dump it. For (1) its bloated software which slows PC performance and (2) its A\V engine is not up to scratch. It seems incredulous that McAfee could have released this update before thorough testing knowing the consequences. For what its worth Microsoft Security Essentials is highly recommended for home users using Windows XP\Vista\7.

  13. “If you’re a McAfee customer, are you considering a switch? Hit the comments below and tell me why—or why not.”

    To answer this, on a 1,000+ desktop fleet, this sort of decision wouldn’t be made at a technical level. Rather at a vendor paid for “let’s do lunch away from the howls of angrish coming from the tech folk” lunch.

  14. I been using MSFT antivirus products (now MSE)for a few years. I se it not because it’s free, but because it’s free and it works.

  15. Scott, the primary requirement for enterprises is central monitoring and administration of updates. You can’t just install MS Security Essentials on 5000 PCs and then count on the users to keep them up to date and not disable them or change settings. For that, Microsoft has an excellent product called ForeFront. Uses the same engine as MSE but offers central mgmt and monitoring. McAfee has very good central admin tools as well, which is why enterprises use their products. The QA issues are the real problem here.

  16. The only real way to protect a machine is to image it, and if disaster strikes, lay down the good image and then fire the company responsible for their catastrophic failure to serve.

  17. I agree with Ed (wow!!!) I think those same monitoring tools are available in Intune.

  18. Bill’s right! The whole point of Windows Intune is to give small businesses the kind of central monitoring and administration tools that big enterprises get with McAfee’s ePolicyOrchestrator server or the ForeFront management console.

    I wrote about Windows Intune here:


  19. I read about the latest McAfee stinker with a mixture of sadness and surprise — sadness at the state of a company with which I used to trust my computers’ security, and surprise that anyone still used their software.

    Back in the mid-’90s, I used McAfee for years, because it was fast and reliable. That changed for me, IIRC, toward the end of the decade, when it seemed to become bloated and intrusive.

    In any case, I agree with others here to laud Microsoft for its Microsoft Security Essentials. As a home user, it is an application that I trust, and I’m grateful that MS provides it.

    My employer uses Symantec, and I don’t know whether the IT dept. is happy with it, but I assume that a continuing use of it over the years means they’re not unhappy. Could be wrong about that, though 🙂

  20. Our school district uses McAfee Enterprise and was hit to a degree, 800 computers out of 40 some schools and support sites. I don’t make those decisions, but myself and the IT staff dealt with the issue and resolved it quite quickly.

  21. I used McAfee and later Norton Anti-Virus for several years… Up until about 5 years ago. Sluggish performance and failure to address a virus that a free solution (AVG) caught, caused my switch. Since then, AVG has become bloated and sluggish, so now I use Avira or even better, Microsoft Security Essentials. With Windows 7, MSCE, and Firefox 3.6, I use my PC and surf the web with confidence, and I notice no performance hit machines 2 to 5 years old.

  22. We switched from McAfee to Forefront a few months ago because an intrusion if failed to detect for several days.

    Client PC speed has improved dramatically.

    1. Well, I haven’t looked at it closely in at least two years, so I can’t give a recommendation. I will say though that the free MS Security Essentials is more than adequate for any home or home-based business user. Being free, it’s the obvious choice.

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