Despite one or two niggling annoyances, McAfee’s VirusScan Professional looks as though it’s the comprehensive tool for keeping your PC secure.

Installation initially appeared to be quick and smooth, until discovering it needed to download 20 minutes worth of upgrade patches (this is a typical

installation using a broadband connection).

Designed to work on Windows 98 and up with 32 MB of RAM on a 100 MHz processor, I tested VirusScan Professional on Windows 2000 with more than twice the minimum horsepower. While running in the background there was no visible slowing of system performance; however, opening the software’s control panel was slow.

File scanning is quick, though, thanks in part to a feature called File Scan Caching: the software makes sure processing power is not wasted looking at previously scanned and unchanged files.

VirusScan Professional 7.0 has a browser-like interface, with back, forward, and home buttons – pretty much unchanged from version 6.0. A notable change from its predecessor is a tool allowing you to schedule scans of individual folders, particularly ones that change frequently, such as My Documents. But it is much more than just an anti-virus tool. It also includes a personal firewall – essential for those users with an always-on Internet connection, as well the ability to protect a PC during PDA synchronization and to permanently remove private files. It also boasts instant updating of virus definitions – which most users have probably come to expect from any anti-virus software – but has the annoying habit of issuing a daily alert that an update is available and sending you to a Web page with no instructions on what to do next, despite the fact that the automatic update feature was enabled.

Aside from minor quibbles, McAfee VirusScan Professional 7.0 is a complete solution for protecting PCs against viruses and other nasty bugs – the only drawback might be that it’s too much for the average user; power users will have no problem. Estimated street price is $72.

Meanwhile, the McAfee Internet Security suite (version 5.0) puts the user first by leaving most of the work up to you.

IS 5.0 (about $98) comes packed with several quality features including anti-virus protection, a personal firewall, intrusion detection, Web and chat filtering, secure data erasure, multiple user configuration and privacy tools.

One weak link in this line of defence is ease of use. For instance, the user is responsible for configuring the firewall settings. One bright light is the Virus Scan 7.0. When combined with the firewall, it provides excellent virus protection against Trojans, worms and other online viruses. The Security Check module prevents annoying pop-up windows and online ads from interfering with your cyber-experience. Windows XP users beware: this security suite will cause your computer to crash (likely more than once). Reinstalling it seemed to be the remedy, but it did nothing to correct the

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