McAfee Update is Shutting Down Windows XP PCs

A bad update issued today for McAfee for Windows XP is causing computers worldwide to shutdown and sent itself in a loop of restarts. Engadget received the following statement from McAfee regarding the continuing incident:

McAfee is aware that a number of customers have incurred a false positive error due to incorrect malware alerts on Wednesday, April 21. The problem occurs with the 5958 virus definition file (DAT) that was released on April 21 at 2.00 PM GMT+1 (6am Pacific Time). Our initial investigation indicates that the error can result in moderate to significant performance issues on systems running Windows XP Service Pack 3. The faulty update has been removed from McAfee download servers for corporate users, preventing any further impact on those customers. We are not aware of significant impact on consumer customers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence. McAfee teams are working with the highest priority to support impacted customers and plan to provide an update virus definition file shortly. McAfee apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers

The story is that the DAT update 5958 deletes the svchost.exe file, which then triggers a false-positive in McAfee itself. Early estimates say that this has affected between 30,000 to 60,000 machines so far.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • ncarlson
    One of the reasons that I don't use antivirus software.
  • tommysch
    ZOMG, good thing we are lazy on with our update schedule!!!

    I can only begin to grasp what nightmarish scenario this would have produced...

    And the face of the higher managers...
  • rmmil978
    Awesome! Pay to have your computer ruined! That's why I use AVG or MS Security Essentials. Maybe they aren't perfect, but they're free, and both of them have successfully saved me a few times.
  • schwiing
    So the moral is...updates are bad..wait..that's not right.
  • rhino13
    McAfee should report itself as a virus that: Results in moderate to significant performance degredation on PCs that were running prior to its instalation.
  • Memoscorp
    You don't need any anti-virus software if you have common sense. Don't open unknown file attachments, don't download unknown/sketchy files, don't visit unknown websites (unless you use Firefox with NoScript, but still).
  • Zinosys
    Eset is still good for me.

    McAfee still seems to be more malware than antivirus...
  • irtehyar
    AV software - still the worst thing to ever happen to any PC I've owned.
  • Now which pc will be the lucky one
  • N.Broekhuijsen
    avast FTW