McAfee VirusScan Plus Special Edition from AOL


I was wondering if this AV should be included. Has anyone had any experiences with it?


by Anonymous on 21. November 2008 - 18:23  (10817)

Artemis is out !

Announcement and white papers:

Quote: "McAfee Artemis Technology is included in McAfee endpoint products – McAfee VirusScan® Enterprise, McAfee Total Protection Service and McAfee VirusScan Plus – at no additional charge."

Comparative review:

by Anonymous on 22. November 2008 - 6:18  (10828)

Alot of technical jargon that basically means nothing. Why don't they just call it proactive protection?

by Anonymous on 22. November 2008 - 6:21  (10829)

and what does the av-comparatives tell us?...besides the fact that Mcafee only detects about 84% of malware, and ranks as one of the worse antivirus programs available.

by Anonymous on 22. November 2008 - 14:30  (10843)

The link I posted was removed due to some obscure reason; you´re looking to the wrong comparative, you have to look at "McAfee Technology Preview ("Artemis") - February 2008", and than to the "On-demand comparative - February 2008". Mcafee w/Artemis detected 99,2 %, slightly behind Antivir, but ahead of Kaspersky, Bitdefender, AVG, Avast and so on. But this was a beta test.

AV's rise and fall my friend !

by Anonymous on 20. November 2008 - 8:27  (10754)

After trying unsuccessfully multiple times to create a username and password that was "secure" enough for Mcaffee, I had to resort to using a password generator to create a 30 character password that pleased them before I could download the software.

Anyway we've been using the free Mcafee Suite from AOL for over half a year and all it took was one ignorant user to click on a spyware popup saying "your computer is OUR antivirus program to remove it" and aidios! The computer was infected with trojans, spyware and a fake antivirus program called Virus Trigger, that was installed by the user. All of this happened while the antivirus was being regularly updated, was set for maximum security, and it's anti-spyware was supposedly running.

This is an abomination that a user could install THAT MUCH trojans/spyware without Mcaffee stopping it! This software's performance is horrible and does not protect the user from spyware even though it claims it does.

Will never use another Mcaffee product again. If someone gave me a copy for free I would burn it.

by Anonymous on 26. December 2008 - 14:20  (12503)

I have been using the mcafee aol suit for over a year,without the firewall.I surf in mozilla and have mcafee site advisor.I avoid sites that are marked dangerous by the site advisor and during this one year I had no problems.I run ccleaner to get rid of the junk files.Well done mcafee.

by Anonymous on 18. September 2008 - 19:21  (7985)

It may be a moot point. For the past few days I've tried to download McAfee's suite via but end up with a page that keeps telling me that my user / pwd are not a match. That's incorrect. Has anyone else reading this thread experienced this issue?

by Anonymous on 19. September 2008 - 12:11  (8016)

Screen name and password are rather difficult to get, but you have to subscribe to a free AOL plan first. I installed Mcafee in 3 different machines over the last 4 weeks, no problems with download or activation.

by jeffrey (not verified) on 4. August 2008 - 1:38  (5488)

I'd like to put the McAfee thing to bed for now. Please feel free to carry on the debate, but at this point it will not be included as a "best freeware" in my anti-virus category. As of March 2008 here is how McAfee ranked out of the top 30 products tested in Gmbh.

McAfee detection, scan speed, and response times to new unknowns:

Adaware/Spyware detection ranking 9th @ 98.59%

Virus/malware detection ranking 20th @ 95.5%

McAfee had moderate to low scanning speed and moderate to low response times to new widespread malware. While scanning speed is not a critical factor for rejecting this as a "best freeware" its poor response time to new outbreaks (product support), and only 80% heuristic behavioral detection rate, coupled with lower than average scan detection rates overall do not qualify it at this time for a "best freeware" choice.

Detection test rankings are not removal test rankings. Some products will fare better than others at completely disposing of nasties, and while McAfee scored well here, this is not enough to bring it into the light for consideration. McAfee can be recommended as a secondary disinfecting tool should your primary AV product not adequately dispose of an infection(s).

Until these scores improve it is logical to conclude that other solutions both freeware and commercial used in suites or stand alone and or in combination are better choices for protection at this time.

Secondary to all this is the requirement of an AOL account to get the McAfee freeware product. This is an inconvenient issue for many who want the free toaster but do not want to open another bank account to get it. However, if you're long on time and like jumping through hoops for free toasters and very average security products, then this may be just your cup of tea. Enough said.

by Anonymous on 29. July 2008 - 2:22  (5155)

Who needs Mcafee? Even for free? There are plenty of rebates out there if you want to clog up your machine with this stuff.

by Anonymous on 31. July 2008 - 22:42  (5281)

Yep I agree. Not a very impressive security tool. Surprised anyone who knows anything about McAfee would even ask the question.

by Anonymous on 31. July 2008 - 22:54  (5283)

What do you think we should know about McAfee ?

by Anonymous on 1. August 2008 - 3:35  (5289)

That there are better choices.

by Anonymous on 4. August 2008 - 3:07  (5492)

How about some examples for the readers?

by jeffrey (not verified) on 4. August 2008 - 3:49  (5493)

A much nicer, toned down question, and not the usual retort. Sir John I pass the ball up to you on this. You seem to defend McAfee well as a long time user but still seem to need assurance that your product is in fact the best. I understand. I hope you will take the time to at least monitor it's improvements relative to other products and post those as they happen. I can tell you that I was looking quite hard at McAfee as a suggested tool until I did my homework. It's just not quite there yet even as a commercial product but it's close. The products change so quickly because they have to and the next time I consider McAfee I'm certain it will look different among the rest. BTW, I'm sure you don't know this but I also took a hard look at Drive Sentry as a HIPS (yes these comments are out of place here as it is a HIPS) but it too is not quite there and although it has a very fast scan it still does not play well with others (including Anti-Vir in my testing) where instability causes slow downs and lock ups in some cases. I've used Drive Sentry off and on for many years and it just keeps getting better, but it's just not there yet.

As you know products evolve quarterly and real time lab testing each 6 months only gives us a little look at the whole quality/quantity picture of latest AV. No one can or should "know it all" about evolving security tools since this is not reality John. In fact, the AV's are so sophisticated and secretive about new builds you could not possibly "know it all". I have insides far beyond comparatives, but it's not the security companies I deal with it's the code writers themselves developing malware and while I have written malware as well as tested it, I know factually there are no up to the minute software OR hardware security experts here John just smart, hard, cautious working people giving back. Now that you know that you can kick back and have a cold one on me.

Thanks for reworking your question.

Jeffrey Brown
IT Security Specialist

by Anonymous on 4. August 2008 - 5:14  (5496)

Thank you. Of course I consider the post in question to have been "aggressively challenging" at worst, and don't think it qualifies as a personal attack, particularly in the debate chamber; but enough said on that matter. And while I concede that I do not "know it all" about McAfee, what I will say is that all the reservations you have expressed at this point do not convince me that a clearly capable product from the one and only "triple crown" ICSA-certified vendor does not make the cut. At least allow me to share with you just how much I do know as an entry-level professional. No collection of locally executed PoC samples were used here, only your real-world demonstrative "acid test."

When TechSupportAlert tips users on dowloading an entire compilation of software to get the latest freeware version of Diskeeper, and also once included Active Virus Shield in its Best Antivirus Freeware category when AOL reserved the right to spam you, I fail to see how registration for a free e-mail account necessarily precludes recommendation here. But this is only my personal opinion.

That said, neither AVG nor Avast! show any superiority to McAfee in terms of heuristic detection, let alone removal. And as far as on-demand comparatives go, a lot of the samples used are not ItW. One thing I think we might be able to agree on is that AntiVir has better heuristics than anyone, and conveniently can also be deactivated as a resident monitor while automatic updates and scanning via context menu remain available. A match made in heaven IMO would be AntiVir as an on-demand scanner, with McAfee for real-time protection. BitDefender may be a viable on-demand alternative to AntiVir, but I see little reason for it when AntiVir is clearly the better retrospective performer, and is also available on a renewable license when BitDefender is not.

Avast! has a Web shield HIPS, and the paid versions of AVG have LinkScanner; both can miss a drive-by download. But in nearly two years of personal use, I have never seen McAfee’s ScriptScan miss so much as once. This is going by 21 months of use on my test desktop unit, which also serves as a print server and autosurf client. It is on 24/7, with autosurfs in 12 browser windows going almost continually (this is not illegal). Of course connections are occasionally lost, and frames are broken, and rotations are paused by popup prompts, and the browser is crashed. But outside these instances, the autosurfs are essentially going nonstop.

Correct me if you think I'm wrong, but I strongly suspect that any product currently in the Best Antivirus Freeware category would have long since yielded to infection under such circumstances. In addition, VirusScan Plus is a complete, 3-in-1 suite, which also includes dedicated protection against various DoS attacks, buffer overflows, and drive-by downloads (ScriptScan). And until there is a category dedicated to Best Freeware Security Suite, the most appropriate category IMO would be Best Freeware Antivirus. If my memory serves me, SpywareBlaster was once in the Spyware/Scumware Remover category before the Browser Protection Utility category was created.

Don’t quote me on precisely how ScriptScan works, but my understanding is that it essentially places itself directly between Internet-facing applications and Windows Script Host. While Google ads, YouTube videos, and Flash games are displayed unrestrictedly, the attempt by any script of any format to create, copy, or modify a file; or open the Windows registry, is silently blocked.

Unless a user downloads software/media from dodgy Web sites or file sharing networks, any McAfee product (including VirusScan Plus Special edition from AOL) should keep their system 100% clean. Of course I can make no guarantees of this; all I’m doing is offering up my own experience as verified weekly with on-demand scans using various products, and daily with IceSword and HJT. In addition, I am sharing my own findings on the machines of various unnamed customers to whom I had previously sold boxed McAfee products, and bearing witness on behalf of six friends and family members who have also reported Utopian experiences since switching to McAfee.

All these facts collectively I believe to be sufficient and even compelling evidence as to McAfee’s worthiness for inclusion. But needless to say, this is your call, not mine. I fully respect your authority as moderator, and acknowledge that I can neither make you add McAfee to the Best Antivirus Freeware category, nor prevent you from deleting this post. However, I would like to appeal to your sense of propriety, and implore you to at least let this post be unless it is in direct violation of forum policies, which I do not believe it is. Thank you.

P.S.: If you could be so obliged, I respectfully solicit any inside knowledge you might be at liberty to share. If you cannot divulge here, I thank you for your response, and wish you all the best.

by jeffrey (not verified) on 4. August 2008 - 20:47  (5546)


Really an overload or so, but lets take just one for now. ICSA really has come to mean less and less over time regarding security products.. take a look here:$gdhkkjk-kkkk

I'm glad you like your security software and that it has been good to you and your associates all these years. I also think that when I look at McAfee again it will look different too. Who knows, by then many others will rise and fall as well. Only time will tell. Just remember that in the competitive always evolving rook and pawn game of AV tools what wins out today may not tomorrow.

Thanks for your kind well thought out response.

by Anonymous on 5. August 2008 - 3:45  (5566)

Thank you. And I agree, names rise and fall constantly. But I'm not the manager of the Yankees (George Costanza's boss) on Seinfeld; I don't simply find one thing I like and get stuck on it until someone brings something better to my attention. I do my own homework, too. To this day, I continue to find McAfee to be apparently a holy grail of protection against surreptitious infection. And that is the most immediate threat on the Web to anyone who uses Windows XP or earlier. If you use Vista, Mac OS, or Linux, you have the advantage of a locked kernel. Infection is unlikely without intervention from you. What follows is that McAfee's proactive technologies may very well become obsolete once Vista overtakes XP. But by that time, the threat landscape will be back to the way it used to be, as criminals will once again be mostly limited to the original social engineering tactics. And in the meantime, as long as XP dominates, drive-by infection is the here and now.

I know a lot of vendors have ICSA certification in the AV category, but what about Antispyware and PC firewall? These are tough marks to make:$b7edc94e-dd775595$1d7a-48391663$lhhlhlgfd
My knowledge may or may not be outdated in this case, but it is my understanding that outbreaks of actual viruses are usually targeted. Trojans and grayware are not; they're profit-driven, and every hit counts.

That said, you might say it's kind of hard to take any of the existing comparatives of security products at face value. The only real tests anyone (besides ICSA) performs on firewalls are outbound leaktests, and sometimes port probing tests. Yet while ZA Pro and Comodo both score quite nicely in the leaktests, neither of them ever blocked SQL Slammer and Stack Bot two years ago, nor did they alert to IRC Flood afterward. BlackICE, Kerio, and Safety.Net all blocked the worms silently, yet all three score poorly in leaktests (the consumer BlackICE is no longer on the market; only the industrial Proventia appliance remains).

AV-Comparatives use as many PoC samples as they do ItW. Just to give you an idea, the last on-demand comparative they conducted in 2006 used over half a million samples. According to security vendors, there were somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000 real ItW samples back then. Going by detection rates like that tells you absolutely nothing about how well a product fared against the ItW malware (Hypothetically speaking, what if NOD32 and AntiVir caught 80% of the ItW's and 100% of the PoC's?). And now, since the introduction of Storm, we're getting thousands of new samples everyday, and the ItW universe has grown far too large for any independent testing organization to even begin to cover. Retrospective comparatives give you a much better idea in terms of a product's ability to detect previously unknown threats, but still the most sure-fire way to gauge a product's effectiveness IMO is to actually use it.

If anyone is aware of other products which employ user-independent technologies outside of signatures and heuristics, I would like to know about them. I tried Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 after reading that it had policy sandboxing, but it wouldn't play friendly with my test system. I haven't gotten around to testing Norton 360 (I've read that this one has such protection while NIS and NAV do not) or PC-Cillin, but some of my friends from a Sign Language class I took a couple years ago are telling me that PC-Cillin is still letting garbage through. I've been trying to switch them over to McAfee, but the father is stuck on Trend and refuses to let go.

You see me ranting about a single product here because this is an antivirus forum, and I am pushing the best antivirus I know of. But I well know there are lots of security solutions today that work all sorts of different ways. Everyone has a different preference. Some people just can't do without the sense of control they experience behind ZA or Comodo's frilly dashboards, and being alerted to every little thing. Others feel better replacing their de facto standard OS and applications with obscure, open source alternatives, where they are less of a target. Still others want to lock their system down tightly and prevent any manner of changes, good or bad, whenever they're not installing anything. They might learn to work within the restrictions of a limited user account, install a policy firewall like GeSWall or DefenseWall, use the policy sandboxing built into Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 or Online Armor, or use simple per app policy editing tools like DropMyRights, StripMyRights, or SetSAFER, among others. Otherwise, they might just go and lock down the key attack surfaces themselves:

Finally, the rest just want to use what everybody else is using, but without having to be their own administrator. These are the average, novice-to-intermediate users who will use no security software at all, else software that does everything for them. This is where McAfee comes in. Cheers!

by JonathanT on 27. July 2008 - 11:47  (5079)


I have tried it already. I was asking for other opinions on it. Yes, you need AOL but you can sign up for a free account. No, I believe it's the same product.

The detection rate is generally around 92%, compared to 97-98% for Avast and AVG and 99% for Antivir in on-demand scanning according to AV-test and AV-comparatives. However, according to AV-comparatives pro-active test, McAfee scored 32% with no false positives, which is quite good.

It also has a HIPS, a Firewall and a feature called ScripScan which stops malicious scripts.

But yes, on my fairly old laptop it is slowed down considerably.

by Anonymous on 31. July 2008 - 14:12  (5245)

I think this might be a very interesting product for that kind of people who like to "set and forget". I use comodo with antivir on Vista but I don't recommend it to begginers. What is the cpu and disk speed's and amount of ram available in your laptop ? You have SP2 or SP3 running, right ? Does it eat many cpu cycles and ram ? In comparison with Antivir (guard set to scan on reading AND writing) do you notice that your programs have a much more slower startup ? What about boot times ? I've also read a user commentary saying that while using word, caracters where displayed with a noticiable delay, can you confirm it ?

by JonathanT on 1. August 2008 - 12:39  (5307)


"I think this might be a very interesting product for that kind of people who like to "set and forget"." Yes, I agree.

My laptop is 1.8GHz and 512 RAM.

Yes, I found McAfee made my computer slower than AntiVir so I got rid of it. Sorry, but I had uninstalled it already.


by Anonymous on 1. August 2008 - 16:53  (5316)

Well from my experience Vista memory management is much better than XP, I will try McAfee in a brand new C2D 2,2Ghz with 2GB of ram. This will replace Norton Internet Security 2008 on that laptop, the alternative I see is buying that or KIS 2009. Thank you for your feedback.

by JonathanT on 2. August 2008 - 1:03  (5334)


Glad to be of help. :)

by Anonymous on 27. July 2008 - 10:45  (5078)

If your curious why don't you try MVPSE from AOL and nlighten us all? Do you have to have AOL to get it? How does it compare with others? Is it better that the regular McAfee product in the stores? I hear that one's detection rate is poor and it slows up a PC. Nlighten us jimmyboy.

by Anonymous on 27. July 2008 - 14:46  (5090)

Is it true that "false positives" are a good thing if the heuristics are well designed? In other words, a if a brand new piece of malware sneeks by but the heuristics don't detect the malwares behavioral threat then what? Seems like detection rates of unknowns would be more important than how good the "false positive" test was. Pardon me, but I want my AV going off if it sees ANY suspect program behaving badly. If the AOL McAfee freebee is the same version as the commercial then it's crap. Nortons even surpasses it. Seems you knew this all along.

by Anonymous on 4. August 2008 - 5:36  (5497)

As a PC service technician, let me tell you that I have convinced multiple AT&T subscribers to remove NIS in favor of VirusScan Plus Special edition from AOL (I have yet to be sacked or even reprimanded for recommending a freebie to a customer who is already using one). To my knowledge, this has brought infection on their machines to a screeching halt, as I can attest from my own personal experience. This is because of McAfee's ScriptScan anti-drive-by-download technology, which had been reserved for their ICSA-certified enterprise products until November, 2006. The only Symantec product that has specialized anti-drive-by-download technology from what I understand is Norton 360. And until I see it in action, I have no reason to believe it can beat even VirusScan Plus. It is entirely possible that it can, but until I know for sure, all I can say is, "If it's not broke, don't fix it!"

by JonathanT on 31. July 2008 - 13:22  (5244)


False positives is not a good thing. If the heuristics are well designed, it should detect many new malware with a low amount of false positives.

I think detection rate and false postives are both important. False positives is important because it can delete legitimate programs and make people panic.

"then it's crap" and "Seems you knew this all along." Could you explain further? I'm not sure what you mean.


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