McAfee and Me
September 5, 2014 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Did my security software just hold hostage, then kill my internet connection in support of its recurring requests that I restart my computer?

Two month-old Acer Aspire laptop, Windows 8.0 on the good ol' 56k Microsoft Network, a dirt-cheap transitional machine for a transitional guy who only emails and looks at several newspapers, blogs and the weather. System has performed nominally, but in the last couple days a lot of popups from McAfee "We just installed this", "We were unable to install this" and most frequently, "You need to restart your computer". I will restart my computer in my own good time; I'm either using it for something else right now, or I got up to do something and left it turned on, so I closed the popups.

This morning I was composing a long personal anecdote on Mefi's current pet euthanasia thread when something, I suspect McAfee, upped the ante. "Error #692, you have a hardware/modem failure" and the MSN login box popped up. I couldn't believe that my hardware/modem had failed in just 60 days, I was unable to post what I had written so far, and when I clicked to log back into MSN, I got the same error message, so I finally restarted the computer and now I'm jim-dandy and golden again, like nothing had ever happened, but I did get two McAfee popups as I started writing this question "We successfully installed something" and, portentiously, "Your trial subscription ends tomorrow".

Did McAfee cause that error #692, or am I just barking at the moon here, post hoc ergo propter hoc, rooster/sunrise?
posted by bruce to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Best answer: I doubt that McAfee caused the error you're seeing; just because the software is annoying doesn't mean that it's the cause of all woes your computer is seeing.

Computer software (including Windows) can have strange bugs that get cleared up by restarting, so the fact that it started working again after you restarted doesn't strike me as odd. If you see a pattern of similar errors frequently when connecting to MSN Dial-up, then I'd worry about the modem or its driver software.

Incidentally, I'd uninstall McAfee entirely; Windows 8.0 and better come with free anti-virus protection that won't nag you about subscription anything.
posted by Aleyn at 5:10 PM on September 5, 2014

Best answer: Even if you're using Win 7 or Vista, you should delete McAfee and switch to Microsoft Security Essentials.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:34 PM on September 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Windows 8 has windows defender built in, which(on windows 8) is the replacement for MSE. If you uninstall mcafee properly, and open up defender to make sure it's working, you will now have automatic virus protection in the background.

That said, i don't think it's related, even though mcafee is crap. All modern computers use softmodems, also known as winmodems, which basically do all the modem stuff in software. They're generally pretty crappy and glitchy, and no company at all seems to really care about them anymore. They've basically been the same thing since the late 90s with drivers getting idly and lazily updated and not much else happening.

So what i'm saying is you probably had to reboot because the driver sucked and the modem locked up, not because mcafee sucked. but mcafee sucks too.
posted by emptythought at 5:44 PM on September 5, 2014

Best answer: Very unlikely that McAfee caused the error, but I'd uninstall it anyway, because there are better products out there. I use ESET both at work and at home. I've found it works well, and it doesn't annoy me with constant pop-ups.
posted by alex1965 at 6:17 PM on September 5, 2014

Best answer: There is a reason that the first way to try and fix a computer issue is to restart your computer.

Most likely the McAfee popups are just a coincidence.
posted by Ashlyth at 11:04 PM on September 5, 2014

Response by poster: ok gang, i uninstalled it. this is probably one of those unknowable phenomena.

mr. mcafee's lurid colonial adventures didn't inspire confidence either.

best answers for everybody!
posted by bruce at 11:14 AM on September 6, 2014

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