Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about internet service providers here.
Similar to AOL, MSN provides dial-up services, but it is not a priority for its parent company, Microsoft. MSN is focusing more on free services such as Bing and on the Premium services, which give you all the MSN benefits without a dial-up connection. However, this ISP does still provide dial-up with an accelerator. MSN internet services come with a few additional tools such as Webroot Spy Sweeper, a McAfee personal firewall, a connection center and a simple photo editor and organizer.
During our tests, MSN was able to provide a handful of dial-up access numbers in all eight of our test locations. MSN also provides dial-up services in all U.S. states, including Hawaii and Alaska as well as Puerto Rico. However, the company only provides a few access numbers in most of these locations; for example, we only found two numbers for Miami and two for San Diego, which is extremely low for such highly populated areas. Keep in mind that even though MSN offers dial-up with an accelerator that it cannot speed up the loading of all webpages such as encrypted and secure pages like those utilized in bank and shopping sites. Dial-up accelerators also cannot speed up streaming media such as video or music.
This internet service comes with McAfee Security that includes Virus Guard and Firewall to keep your computer safe. This software works with McAfee VirusScan and can block suspicious outbound and inbound traffic. This software also has a gaming mode for uninterrupted gaming; however, keep in mind that a dial-up connection is too slow for playing complex online games. MSN dial up also comes with Spy Sweeper for MSN. This security software scans for known spyware threats and blocks them from infecting your computer. For added security, it also has a service called the Microsoft Phishing Filter that will help block you from fraudulent websites and login pages. The company does offer a product called MSN Premium, but this is not an internet service – it is a subscription to this same collection of MSN tools and more. Unfortunately, MSN offers very few support options, and you cannot even access online support documentation without having an account and logging in, which we found frustrating.
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After researching MSN's dial-up services, we have concluded that the company has not updated its services in a long while. Customer support is limited even for paying members and the lack of access numbers in highly populated areas shows that MSN as a home internet service is not as reliable as it once was. If you need a dial-up service, we recommend a service that is more actively supported.