McAfee Security Scanner with Java is Not Bloatware, and Here’s Why

Posted by softwareguru on January 25, 2013

In a recent post for ZDNet, tech writer Ed Bott published a scathing criticism of Oracle’s automatic installation of supporting software with Java updates. Specifically, when you use Java’s automatic updater to install crucial security updates for Windows, third-party software is always included. One of these software packages is the Ask Toolbar, which I’ll talk about in a moment, and the other is McAfee Security Scanner.

To clarify for our readers, McAfee Security Scanner is not bloatware, a designation that distances our product from the IAC Ask Toolbar.

Bloatware refers to software that is not only pre-installed and/or unwanted, but also software that is hard to remove and negatively impacts system performance.

1. McAfee Security Scanner is a free service with a specific, valuable purpose. It is an antivirus scanner that actively checks your computer for antivirus software, firewall protection, web security, and new threats in your open applications.

2. McAfee Security Scanner does not run in real time, so it has no impact on how fast or slow your computer runs.

3. McAfee Security Scanner is easy to remove for users who accidentally install the software during a Java update. Because Security Scanner is a standard Windows application, it can be uninstalled quickly and easily via your Windows Control Panel.

Bott has it right when he says that if you aren’t paying attention during a software update, you’ll likely end up with unwanted software on your PC. We completely agree, and I would urge consumers to pay attention to fine print whenever installing new software or updating existing products. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post around this topic earlier this week.

To give an example, I just installed Java, and below is the first installation wizard in the install process. You can see the Ask Toolbar checkbox in the lower left, which is pre-selected.

Java Setup Ask Toolbar

This process is repeated every time a user updates Java, so chances are high that if you update Java as often as you’re supposed to, even conscientious users will end up installing the Ask Toolbar.

You can read all about why the Ask Toolbar does fit the definition for bloatware here, but the main issues are that the toolbar is intrusive, it impacts your computer’s performance by continuously running in the background, and it provides a deceptive service that often leads users to advertisements instead of honest search results.

This is a world apart from the service provided by McAfee Security Scanner, which is transparent in function, useful in purpose, and easy to remove if unwanted.

Nevertheless, we always advise our customers to stay alert when installing new software, not only to prevent bloatware, but also to make sure the download is legitimate and safe for your computer. Learn more about how to safely install, uninstall, or disable Java from your browser here, and let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below and on Twitter with @McAfeeConsumer.

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