New look, faster scans for McAfee 2010

McAfee has gone and done something drastic for the 2010 version of their basic security program, and we're not talking about the new name.

McAfee has gone and done something drastic for the 2010 version of its basic security program, and we're not talking about the new name. McAfee AntiVirus Plus, which last year was known as McAfee VirusScan Plus, has a new interface that redefines how to streamline the complex and varied tools currently available in A-list security programs.

The the new and unusual top-down design is surprisingly easy to use, with clear delineations between features. Potentially confusing names have been jettisoned. For example, firewall settings control how you access the Web, so they're listed under Web and E-mail Protection. Also, McAfee stands out for not only color-coding what your status is, but also adding in what that means. The "Your computer is secure" message is bolstered by "No action required," a helpful tip. Click on any of the four categories just below the status bar and the pane just to the right reveals links to drill deeper into your security status. Mouse over the big subcategories at the bottom and a general status message appears next to the name. Click on one to for more configuration settings.

The biggest feature update comes to McAfee's real-time defense engine, called Artemis. In the 2010 version, it works in conjunction with McAfee's SiteAdvisor to scan downloads as they occur. The scans include using real-time URL, IP address, and domain name data in conjunction with a blend of blacklists, whitelists, and cloud analysis to evaluate downloads for threats before they land on your hard drive. According to McAfee, its 2010 suite has huge leaps in performance, due in part to selective process loading when you boot, and in part to flagging already-examined files as safe. Overall, we found McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2010 to be a much-needed and long-overdue improvement to McAfee's consumer protection line.

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