When you start to think about upgrading your online security, it is often simplest to stay with the suite your PC came with, which is why manufacturers often have to offer more than simple security by bundling other tools along side them.

For the main part, McAfee Total Protection covers all the main bases, offering protection from viruses, spyware, anti-phishing, malware, as well as from hackers courtesy of the enhanced firewall.

Alongside these tools runs backup and restore utilities. In a number of respects, Total Protection is a lot like Norton’s 360 suite, as it covers all the aspects of internet security as well as offering a host of maintenance and PC health-check utilities.

The interface isn’t as simplified as Norton 360, which has a tendency to hide everything away, but you’ll easily find your way around as tasks are broken down into easy sections and can be found on left-hand side of the screen. We found it easy to navigate and set-up.

When it comes to protection, you’ll find four main controls: Computer, Internet, Email and Parental controls. Clicking on any of these will drop you down into the relevant tasks. As with most other suites of this kind, as long as you have a large green tick, then your machine is covered. Only when it changes colour will you need to actually do anything.

The main thing we noticed about this latest version was how much faster it ran. McAfee has overhauled the main engine and made the separate components communicate a lot better.

What’s more, when you’re playing a game, or running anything in full-screen mode, such as a movie, McAfee automatically drops into stealth mode, so you won’t find any annoying pop-ups getting in the way of your enjoyment.

As we saw when we recently reviewed Norton Internet Security, online support is this year’s focus and McAfee has a much-improved Help section. What’s more, it’s also easier to get a Virtual Technician should things be beyond you. Backup tools haven’t changed but they’re still reliable and worth using.

The asking price covers three licenses, so you’ll be able to install it on all you home machines. The network manager tools all you to check the quality of that protection and even rectify programs from your main machine.

Finally, for the home user, Parental controls have been tightened up and much easier to use than in previous versions. This is largely due to the inclusion of SiteAdviser Plus, which monitors websites and their suitability. It also handles anti-phishing tasks. It allows you to password protect websites, so you can limit kids' access to sites.

Price when reviewed:

McAfee Total Protection 2008 is a great step forward for the package and as such has plenty to recommend. We can’t see people using tools such as Norton 360 being swayed away but if you’re in the market for full protection, this is well worth considering.