Cast very much in the same mould as Live One Care and Norton 360, McAfee Total Protection 2008 does what it says on the tin - it aims to have every possible PC disaster vector covered. McAfee Total Protection 2008 will protect you from viruses, spyware, hackers, identity theft, dubious web sites and data loss. It also simplifies network file sharing and increases wireless network security. Its price, £60, puts McAfee Total Protection 2008 on a par with Norton 360. Interestingly, McAfee offers continual upgrades as well as updates - so if during your year's subscription a new version is released, you'll be upgraded to the new version.

The original version, McAfee Total Protection 2007, had a similar features set, but its many excellent elements were let down by some comparatively weak components. Improvements abound with McAfee Total Protection 2008. It's faster, for start. Another problem with the previous version was an excess of alerts. These seem to have been tamed in McAfee Total Protection 2008 - you can determine what alerts and warnings you want to receive. McAfee Total Protection 2008 also has a ‘do not disturb' low-impact mode that kicks in whenever the PC switches to full-screen mode (for example, when playing a game or watching a movie). McAfee Total Protection 2008 will keep the interruptions and resource-intensive activities to a minimum, thus allowing your machine to make a better job of playing games or movies, but while continuing to apply basic (and essential) protection.

McAfee Total Protection 2008's parental controls are now much easier to use, while the online support has also been enhanced. If you have any errors, a Virtual Technician gives your PC a robotic going over, and if it can't fix the problems for you, it can put you in touch (via live chat) with a real human - who'll then be equipped with plenty of additional and specific information on your PC's setup, thus giving them a better chance of solving your problem.

Like the Norton 2008 range, McAfee Total Protection 2008 also has a home network manager, letting you check the status of McAfee Total Protection 2008 software on other PCs on the network - if any are flagged with an error you rectify it, unlike its Norton rivals. If networking has got the better of you, McAfee Total Protection 2008 allows you to share files with other ‘trusted' PCs. The backup feature remains unchanged - it will automatically backup items on your Desktop and My Documents folder to a CD/DVD, external drive or network drive.

Installation took a relatively long time - it was about 20 minutes before the McAfee Total Protection 2008 installation was complete. And, if you want to use the built-in backup service, you also have to install Microsoft's .NET Framework 1.1. McAfee Total Protection 2008's console, Security Center, holds everything together. Very much like its predecessor, it has clean simple design that makes it relatively easy to tame what is after all a fairly complex suite. As with rival products, the well-being of your PC is indicated by a large green tick. If you see a yellow exclamation mark or a red X, all you have to do is click on the Fix button to put things right.

As before, McAfee Total Protection 2008's protection is split in to four categories: Computer & Files, Internet & Network, E-mail & IM, and Parental Controls. Selecting any one reveals the current plus a link to a configuration page. Arguably, Computer & Files is the most important category as this takes care of anti-virus and spyware using McAfee's VirusScan technology. McAfee Total Protection 2008 still uses the heuristic-based SystemGuards - real-time monitors that look out for changes to the system.

McAfee Total Protection 2008's antiphishing protection has had a makeover, courtesy of SiteAdvisor+. The basic version of SiteAdvisor offers protection against visiting undesirable web by highlighting sites that are known to be suspicious or dubious. With SiteAdvisor+, password protection can be activated so that dubious sites can only be accessed if the user has the correct password. SiteAdvisor+ can also analyse web links in email and IM clients, so giving parents (for example) a considerable amount of control over what their children can and can't see.

McAfee Total Protection 2008: Specs

  • Windows Vista/XP/2000
  • 500MHz (800MHz Vista) Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • 256MB RAM (512MB Vista)
  • 275MB hard disk space
  • Windows Vista/XP/2000
  • 500MHz (800MHz Vista) Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • 256MB RAM (512MB Vista)
  • 275MB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

The range of tools and the high level of protection offered by McAfee Total Protection 2008 is impressive - it has powerful antivirus and very good spam protection. The parental controls and SiteAdvisor+ are excellent. It's also easy to use. However, at £60 it's a fairly expensive proposition, so you'll need to be sure you're going to use most of its features.

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