A recent update from McAfee to all of its antivirus suites prevented many users from accessing the internet. The issue affected all McAfee suites on XP, Vista and Windows 7.
According to McAfee, “After a recent update, customers are unable to access the Internet”. Well, that’s one way of protecting against viruses I guess… The issue presents itself in a number of ways:
- No internet access – results in ‘page not found’ type of errors in the browser
- Unable to open/use McAfee SecurityCenter console – may result in a blank white screen or a variety of error messages.
- In the examples I have seen this week I also found that several McAfee services had been stopped or disabled.
McAfee have published a detailed document to workaround the issue here. Basically, the idea is to try to regain internet access to download the McAfee Virtual Technician (MVT) tool which may fix the issue:
1. If you still have internet access you can just download and run MVT.
2. If you do not have internet access, start up in Safe Mode With Networking and check if you have internet access there – you may do because many of McAfee’s services (hopefully including the faulty ones) do not run in Safe Mode. If you now have internet access, download and run MVT. If you do not, proceed to step 3
3. If you have no internet access, or MVT does not fix the issue, proceed to the nuclear option of step 4 – uninstalling McAfee completely.
4. Uninstall McAfee in the usual way from the Control Panel. If this does not work you will need to download and run the McAfee Consumer Product Removal (MCPR) tool which forcibly removes it.
However, if you still have no internet access then you won’t be able to download MCPR either… McAfee don’t suggest a solution for this but it is to download MCPR on another computer and transfer it to your faulty computer e.g. via a USB flash drive.
In my experience MCPR does a good job of totally removing all remnants of McAfee antivirus suites – it’s my favorite McAfee software ;-)
5. McAfee recommend that you now reinstall your McAfee antivirus product and it should work again.
However, I would suggest that this might be a good time to review different antivirus products to see whether McAfee offers optimal protection.
In my review of latest antivirus test results McAfee scored just 11 out of 18 – very near the bottom for Protection and Repair ability.
Those results were lower than many free products – and a lot lower than the best paid security suites.
All antivirus products can get things wrong occasionally due to having so many (daily) updates – and because they are so deeply embedded into Windows (to offer better protection and avoid removal by malware).
For example, some Norton updates caused very similar problems for their users earlier this year.
It’s certainly unfortunate that McAfee updates caused customers to lose internet access but of far more concern to me is its poor performance in independent tests.