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McAfee Personal Firewall

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Product: McAfee Personal Firewall
Price: $34.95
Company Info: McAfee
Editor Rating: 1 star

Free Trial: No

+ Blocks incoming attacks
+ Attractive user interface

- Doesn't appear to monitor outgoing internet activity
- Aggressive selling tactics
- Barebones functionality

McAfee Personal Firewall Review

We want to like McAfee. We really do. But they make it so hard. With an impressive brand name, attractive user interfaces, and a slick integrated security suite, you would expect a quality firewall. Unfortunately, it just flat out appears that this product doesn't work at all.

Note: Firewall products protect against different threats than anti-spyware and anti-virus programs, and you should always run a firewall in addition to those other types of security products. Click here for more information about firewalls.

Installation and Configuration

The problems start right from the order page. McAfee's marketing team has gotten out of control. When we ordered the product, we noticed that McAfee had stuck a product that we didn't ask for in our shopping cart. This product, the "Discover and Recover Emergency Reinstall CD", is probably not something you need or want (Windows XP and earlier versions will make a free recover CD for you), yet it winds up in the cart anyway ... with an additional $12.95 fee. We have to wonder how many uninformed customers buy this product, not knowing that it's entirely unnecessary?

Adding insult to injury, McAfee automatically signs you up on several "opt-out" email lists. That is, unless you read the fine print and uncheck these boxes before placing your order.

After we purchased the product, installation was quick and relatively painless. However, one thing to keep in mind is that McAfee only stores your download for 30 days. If you purchase another computer, you are probably on your own unless you purchase their "extended download service" (for another $7.99).


We were really impressed by this programs beautiful graphics. And using it was a breeze. No alerts, no pop-ups, no questions ... wait a second. This seemed suspicious to us, because every other firewall program asked us for at least some information about our computer. We decided to investigate further...

What we found was disturbing. McAfee had not blocked or monitored a single program running on our computer. Outlook, MSN Messenger, and several other programs were allowed to run, no questions asked. Even some suspicious programs that we had written specifically to test firewalls were allowed to run with impunity.

So although the program may block incoming hacking attempts, the bottom line is that it appears to do little more than the free Windows Firewall. Proof of this is seen in the screenshot below.

This "advanced" window shows that McAfee is only monitoring itself. Note Microsoft Outlook and MSN Messenger running in the taskbar below - both unrecognized by the program.

Other Features

McAfee Personal Firewall lacks any other relevant features such blocking internet ads, pop-ups, hostile websites, or dangerous attachments. The program does have a few neat options like "hacker activity maps" and a "test my PC" option, but upon further investigation, both of these features were just links to


While an attractive product, it appears that McAfee Personal Firewall provides no more protection than the free firewall included with Windows. What's worse, you'll have to put up with aggressive sales and marketing tactics. Stay away.

Price: $34.95
Free Trial: NO

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Last Updated on April 15, 2005 12:10 PM ?|?TrackBack

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