View Full Version : What would you charge to fix the McAfee/VNC problem?

01-08-2009, 10:26 PM
Hi All,

As you all might know, a few months ago McAfee created a problem for users by releasing faulty definition files for their security products.

I had a few customers running McAfee Total Protection on their business systems when the problem occured and it slowed down their systems and caused problems with VNC. After a few weeks, the problem was fixed.

McAfee did not have a fix right a way, so i...
1. removed McAfee.
2. reinstalled VNC.
3. installed Avast temporarily until McAfee got there act together.

After a few weeks, McAfee got their definition files corrected, I went back to the client's two stores and I...
4. removed Avast.
5. re-installed McAfee Total Protection.
6. re-configured McAfee Total Protection for all systems via remote administration.
7. tested systems to insure everything was ok.

Procedures 1 - 7 was repeated on 5 computers.

I charged the client $210 per computer to fix the problem for a total of $1050. The client is now upset at the cost of repair and feels that McAfee should compensate them for some of the cost of repair.

For those of you that have performed this service for your clients, do you think that either my repair procedure and/or price of repair per computer was inappropriate?

What would you have charged per computer?

What procedure would you have performed to solve the problem?

01-08-2009, 11:02 PM
Thanks for your reply,

Have you performed this McAfee/VNC repair before and are you familiar with McAfee Total Protection?

As I remember, it took about an hour or more with testing to insure that communication between stores and systems regarding their retail management POS system. Also, the round trip to the other store took 1 hour round trip and its outside my normal service area.

Are there any others that have performed this fix?

01-09-2009, 12:29 AM
No VPN. All retail communication is via IP:PORT. VNC is used by the client to access retail servers at each store and by our service for remote repairs and administration.

McAfee Total Protection takes a little more effort because even now, when it's installed, it immediately blocks VNC and all non standard ports until the McAfee remote administration's user defined settings are pushed to each computer. On its own, it takes a minimum of 4 hours, so i have to go to each computer and force an immediate settings update. Then i have to test each server to insure that retail remote and local communications is ok.

Actually, McAfee Total Protection can be a pain even when configured properly because of the 4 hour minimum restriction before remote setting updates are applied to each computer. You have to either use VNC or ask the user to stop what they are doing to force a settings update.

Can you imagine... a client that calls you up with a problem related to McAfee's Total Protection firewall blocking some company process only to be forced to tell them that although you can immediately enter the fix into McAfee's remote administration tool - it will take about 4 + hours for the fix to propagate to all affected systems! You would either have to manually VNC into or drive to every location for each affected computer to force an update.

That 4 hour minimum for updates is probably the most stupid remote administration function designed into what is otherwise a pretty good security suite.

01-09-2009, 01:16 AM
I'm not a fan of McAfee or Norton anymore. They are now more bloatware.

I like Avast although i have not tried their Business suites with include remote central administration as well. It would be a blow to find out that there business suite has an update delay as well.

Any other techs that have fixed the last McAfee/VNC problem?

In any case, i have decided to alter the way i billed my business client. I'm going back to an hourly rate for this service which will save the client some money yet be more in line with the amount of time i spent on the job. I tried using a flat rate for my business clients for particular services and it's just not working very well. Too many unforeseen issues that crop up in a business environment.

In fact i'll start another post on the subject of hourly vs flat rates in business environments.

01-09-2009, 02:33 AM
Playing devils advocate here, how long did it take you to troubleshoot the problem? Did you know that the reinstall for McAfee suite was a 4 hour ordeal?

Let say you trouble shoot for an hour, call McAfee tech support and takes about 2 hours to troubleshoot. If you know the McAfee is going to take a while to reinstall, you talk the customer into getting a new suite, say a 5 pack of NOD32, which is about $260, and then an hour of config, that puts you at about 4 hours + $260. Which at our rate of $105 an hour is a total of $680 + travel. Which is about a $300 savings. However, that's easy to say now that I know the details.

So that being said, the $1050 isn't unreasonable. That's 10 hours at my rate, is that about the time you put in? The $210 per computer rate doesn't seem fair if it takes 2 hours to do the same thing. That's my 2 cents.

01-09-2009, 02:49 AM
You misunderstand, the fix only took about 1.5 +- hours per computer and i can force an immediate McAfee settings update. I was thinking of adjusting the invoice for 1.5 hrs x 5 computers = 7.5 hrs, 7.5 x $95/hr = $712.50. It will save the client $337.50. But the $712.50 does not include the 2 hours of driving between the two stores and the time it took to research the problem on McAfee's forum. Also, since it took McAfee about a week or two to solve the problem, the job ended up being two parter. I got things running on the first day then waited about two weeks before i removed avast and re-installed McAfee Total Protection on all 5 computers.

The 4 hour update cycle for central administration updates is just the minimum selectable update cycle in the web based administration program. Its an annoyance because any tech wants to affect changes immediately so it forces you to access each computer one at a time to force the update.

01-09-2009, 03:09 AM
It's not your problem McAfee screwed up, tell him he is more than welcome to contact Mcafee and ask for compensation but you need to get paid now.

Could you have put the VNC files mcafee was flagging in a whitelist or something? Also why VNC over terminal services (just curious).

01-09-2009, 03:38 AM
I have already been paid - they offered. In fact, about $400 of that payment is for some cleanup work that still has to be done. They are not allowing me to finish - i think in order to possibly get some money back if they decide they paid too much for the services overall.

During the McAfee debacle, many users tried the fixes and suggestions provided by McAfee support - the fixes didn't work for everybody including adding VNC to the white list.

I use VNC over terminal services (Remote Desktop) because...
1. it does not log the current user account off while i'm connected.
2. It allows me to offer training and visual inspection of what the user is doing when they are trying to show me something.
3. it does not require registry changes.

I don't use remote assistant either because it requires the user to have some knowledge of where to find it and how to get connected.

I only use VNC for recurring or contract business clients where i need to be able to access their computers at any time for service. Once i install the VNC server on each machine and configure their router, i'm good to go.

For all other one time customers where online support is purchased, i use UltraVNC SC. Just like the big boys, can offer online support without installing anything on the customers computer. They just access my support page on my website then download and execute a small customized UltraVNC server. A copy of the UltraVNC viewer hardwired to listen for the remote server port number connects me to their computer.