McAfee VirusScan USB Reviews 2020

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McAfee VirusScan USB Reviews 2020
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Summary

Best For

  • If you’re planning on protecting your home and/or business (it can be a tiny enterprise or a huge firm), the McAfee Antivirus is a great pick.
  • Because of the smart licensing policy, you’re free to protect as many devices as you want with one single license, which, again, is perfect if you’re running a business.
  • McAfee offers a line-up of totally free tools that allow you to implement parental control and block the spam that keeps knocking on the door of your email.

McAfee Antivirus: Is McAfee any Good?

Without a doubt, McAfee is one of the most respected and trusted brands in the world of antiviruses. It’s capable of protecting your computers and gadgets from the modern-day threats. The 30-day money-back guarantee, 24/7 support and advanced encryption options on the more advanced products turn it into a competitive player on the market. Add a special deal to this list and you will have a perfect proposition.

The unfairly high “pressure” they put on your device and the average real-time protection are the biggest downsides of the McAfee products. But again, the prices are competitive. And anti-spam, parental control, and the True Key app only add to the overall appeal.

Pros and Cons

Like any other Antivirus out there, this one comes with its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at both and find out whether it’s the right choice for us or not.

We like:

  • Easy to install, use, and configure
  • Above average level of protection and virus detection rate
  • The viruses are removed from your device 100% without traces

We don’t like:

  • The above average price compared to the rivals is a big turn-off
  • Needs more of your system’s resources to work

Today, with international hackers stealing Bitcoins with untraceable apps and planting viruses on our devices to gain access to sensitive data, it is very important to use contemporary solutions in order to protect ourselves.

Windows 10 and the latest Mac OS have improved security measures, but they’re just not enough, especially if you’re connected to the Internet 24/7. McAfee certainly is one of the most recognized antiviruses today, and for a good reason. This antivirus is easy to use, support is excellent, and the prices are affordable.

The company was founded more than three decades ago (in 1987, to be exact), and has always had a perfect reputation. As a branch of Intel (since 2010 when Intel bought the company), the famous American tech giant, it has all the resources needed to provide the best possible protection.

As of 2014, it is one of the five major antivirus manufacturers and holds 5.7% of the worldwide market. Numerous moguls around the world trust McAfee to keep their precious data safe.

On the downside, real-time protection could be stronger, even though it does perform better than average in multiple tests ran by third-party companies. So, what does that mean for the average consumers? Is it wise to trust this company with protecting your sensitive data or not?

Or maybe it’s time to switch your focus to other providers of antivirus packages like Kaspersky or Bitdefender? Read our detailed McAfee review and find out! Our team of experts will help you decide whether this antivirus engine is on par with the leaders or lagging behind the top-5.

Highlights

  • McAfee offers full-featured protection
  • This is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use antiviruses
  • Reliability is well above average, but not superb
  • Value: above average
  • Money-Back Guarantee is 30-day-long

Features

Reliability & Security

Obviously, the #1 concern when it comes to antiviruses is security. As a general rule, there are two areas where they need to prove their worth. Those include the regular routine of scanning for viruses and the much more advanced and complicated process of real-time protection while data is being copied to your operating system.

So, does McAfee impress or disappoint? According to several well-respected third-party companies that specialize in testing various antivirus packages, McAfee security is in the top league for traditional virus detection (that’s true for every single package).

Lab Test Results

Let us take a look at the lab test results. These were done by independent third-party companies and are as objective as they come. With AV-Comparatives, the most trusted virus testing company, every single McAfee antivirus solution (package) performed flawlessly in the traditional virus detection tests.

In real-time scanning, however, this product fell a bit behind the leaders and only managed to achieve average results. Still, the performance is solid and better than what most rivals on the market can offer.

Important note: the biggest concern with McAfee has always been its inconsistency. Last August, it was ranked #5, with 100% detection; however, a month later, it dropped to #14. That’s why AV-Comparatives often publishes summary reports that include results of 5 independent tests. And in that report, McAfee has a 99.6% protection rate and is ranked #6.

For example, Avira and Kaspersky, industry leaders, have a 99.7% protection rate. In the AV-Test test, McAfee performed even better and successfully blocked 100% of the potential threats.

McAfee Performance

Detection rates are critical, no doubt there, but the overall performance also plays a key role. And with McAfee running on your device, you won’t feel a significant drop in performance. The Task Manager shows that even though there can be as much as 20 background process working when McAfee is active, they require very little resources to operate.

Overall, they use up to 200 Mb of RAM, which is quite alright. As far as CPU and hard drive usage go, McAfee is one of the least demanding engines on the market. Again: there is almost no impact on performance with this one.

Malware Protection

In 2016, McAfee earned only 15 points out of 18 in the AV-Test tryouts and became top antivirus software 2016. However, this year, it earned a perfect score (18) – that means it’s excellent at protecting against malware, detecting malicious websites, and putting little strain on performance.

Kaspersky and Avira are the only two other antiviruses that earned 18 points. Bitdefender came in second with 17.5. That proves that while in the past, McAfee wasn’t the most reliable solution, today, it’s on par with the leaders of the race.

Ransomware Detection

According to the experts, you’ll never have a complete picture unless you run a ransomware simulator on your device and see how the antivirus behaves. Ransomware is an app/small program that infests your computer/gadget and encrypts any images, documents, and MP3 files it can get to. And a good antivirus should be able to find it and kill it.

For example, during our test, Kaspersky was able to detect it early on. First of all, it neutralized the threat. Secondly, it “healed” the encrypted files. Sadly, McAfee failed at even recognizing our ransomware as a potential threat and let it encrypt a massive number of files.

But don’t let this test disappoint you. As mentioned, in real-world tests, this engine successfully detects and neutralizes most threats based on behavior alone, and that’s what counts at the end of the day.

Phishing Protection

For malware to steal data, get in control of a device remotely, or cause any other harm, the coder needs to know the OS by heart and find ways to “fool” it. A phishing coder, on the other hand, has only one job: to make the user enter his/her login and password into a replica of a well-protected web site.

That way, they steal the credentials and can instantly access users’ credit cards, bank accounts, and more. The list of potentially dangerous websites is being constantly updated, but we decided to check whether McAfee would be able to recognize replicas that were reported but not yet analyzed.

We launched several phishing URLs in four browsers and were impressed by the results. According to statistics, 50% of the antivirus engines fail at protecting the device. Kaspersky used to be the leader with an ideal 100% protection rate. Well, now we have another victorious antivirus: McAfee with the same 100% protection score. Furthermore, it even proved to be better when tested on Mac OS. Kaspersky only blocked 84% of the dangerous URLs, while McAfee managed to perform flawlessly (100%).

Ease Of Use

We can say with certainty that McAfee is among the friendliest antiviruses available right now. The main window is very informative and shows all the necessary information, keeping the users up to date on the current state of things. By the way, you won’t have to reboot the antivirus or the device after installation – it will start to work as soon as it’s successfully installed.

The user interface allows you to get access to parental control, tune the anti-spam settings, configure the firewall, and schedule future virus scans that will automatically launch when the time comes. Navigation is fast and intuitive.

McAfee Interface

In 2017, they changed the user interface of the Windows client, and now it’s faster, more intuitive, and looks great. In 2018, the Mac OS client received the same changes, and the two are almost identical. There’s a menu at the top that gives you access to every single feature the antivirus has. The menus include Account, Privacy, Identify, Security, and Home. Everything is right there in front of you and easily accessible. The buttons might seem too big, and the windows might look like they’re empty, but you’ll get used to it in no time.

To install any McAfee product, you need to go online and activate the license key you received after paying for a package. If you click “Yes” on Automatic Renewal, you’ll get the company’s Virus Protection Pledge service. With it, when any malware gets past the antivirus undetected, a team of highly qualified experts will solve the issue remotely.

On its own, this service will cost you $89.95. And if they fail at neutralizing the malware, you’ll get your money back. To install McAfee, download the .exe file, launch it, and follow the guide.

It might take a while (up to 25 minutes on some older devices), but we had absolutely no problems with the installation during our test. As mentioned earlier, the engine doesn’t put a strain on your CPU or your RAM, which means you can keep on using your computer/mobile gadget with it working in the background.

Scanning Options

Unfortunately, the most important button – the one that runs a scan – isn’t accessible through one click. You’ll have to find the “Scan for viruses” feature and then choose between a Full and a Quick Scan. Custom scans aren’t available.

And, the very first scan can take a while (up to 30 minutes). New scans will take significantly less time to complete. The McAfee scanning is average in terms of speed. Plus, it has an excellent detection rate and doesn’t raise any false alarms during the scan.

Available Packages and Pricing

Unlike its competitors, McAfee doesn’t offer a variety of packages anymore. Currently, you can choose between McAfee Total Protection and McAfeeLiveSafe. There are also free mobile versions of the antivirus for Android and iOS. Here is what you get with McAfee Total Protection:

  • Antimalware, antispam and ransomware protection;
  • Secure Encrypted Storage
  • Secure Payments
  • PC Optimization tools (file shredder, quick clean)
  • PC Boost
  • Identity Theft Protection (comes with 5 and 10-devices licenses)
  • Parental control (only available with 10-devices license)

The antivirus is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices. There are packages for 1, 5 and 10 devices.

McAfee LiveSafe offers an almost identical set of features as McAfee Total Protection, but it covers an unlimited number of devices.

As one of the leading antivirus solutions on the market, McAfee offers competitive pricing. McAfee currently offers discounts for Total Protection package:

  • 1 Device –$34.99 ($45 off)
  • 5 Devices – $39.99 ($60 off)
  • 10 Devices – $44.99 ($75 off)

McAfee LiveSafe will cost you $104.99 (with $5 off).

McAfee Support and Customer Service

On the official website, you’ll find a FAQ section along with an extensive knowledge base. It will help you solve most problems on your own without reaching out to customer support. The online chat system is excellent; you can also go old-school and call support or send an email.

Tech support is available 24/7 (the phone number is toll-free, of course). McAfee customer service is highly professional, friendly, and the staff is always ready to lend that helping hand. Furthermore, users can buy all kinds of support packages.

PC Tune-up is a service for the computers that are too slow and freeze all the time. The experts at McAfee can help you improve your device’s performance by removing unnecessary apps/programs, stop non-essential apps from taking up precious CPU and RAM resources, and remove “junk” to free hard drive space.

Furthermore, they will optimize your browser for a better experience, set up scheduled auto-organizational routines on your device, along with auto-checks, and enable automatic updates of the OS.

A one-time service will cost you $69.95; 1 year of constant support costs $179.95. This is the company’s McAfee®Concierge Gold package. With it, you’ll also get McAfee TechMate, home network setup, virus/malware removal, software installation/configuration, and, of course, PC and Internet tune-up for 1 PC/Mac (protection for two computers costs $209.95). On its own, the Virus Removal Service costs $89.95.

Under the framework of the McAfee promo campaign, you can obtain this top-notch antivirus product with an alluring discount. Its Total Protection suite for 1 device purchased with McAfee coupons costs just $34.99, which means you save $45 or 60% of the original price.

The best deal is the Total Protection pack for 10 devices. Its cost with a promo code is $39.99, which is $80 lower than the initial price for this plan. The intermediate option is the Total Protection for 5 devices at the price of$34.99 instead of $99.99.

McAfee Antivirus FAQ

Is McAfee a good antivirus program?

McAfee is a very old and respected antivirus solution. It is one of the players that are aimed at Mac devices protection. At the same time, it reliably protects all other devices, both computers and mobile devices. The antivirus provides real-time protection against most online threats.

Is McAfee worth it in 2020?

Yes, especially when we talk about Mac devices. Before, it was accepted to think that Mac OS is absolutely safe and is not vulnerable to any viruses. However, today we see more and more threats targeted at this operating system. It is reasonable to protect your computer with a good antivirus.

Is McAfee free?

No, there is no free version of McAfee. However, you are able to test the product for 30 days. Just start the trial period which is available for every premium product. It includes reliable antivirus, safe web browsing, system optimization, and identity protection.

How much does McAfee cost?

It depends on the number of connected devices under 1 license. Anyways, it is reasonable and competitive. The company often offers generous discounts. You can choose between the following packages:

  • 1 Device — $34.99/$79.99;
  • 5 Devices – $39.99/$99.99;
  • 10 Devices – $44.99/$119.99.

Also, there are free applications for iOS and Android.

What is McAfee LiveSafe?

McAfee LiveSafe provides an almost identical set of available options as McAfee Total Protection. The only difference is the ability to protect an unlimited number of devices. You are able to use the product on any device including desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

McAfee is one of the most popular antivirus suites that can be used on both desktop and mobile devices. McAfee antivirus offers advanced security options and, according to independent tests, repels the vast majority of cyber threats. Let’s dig deeper in our McAfee review to reveal why this product is being used by millions of clients around the world.

Why McAfee?

McAfee has been around since 1987, and as the result of a partnership with numerous well-established IT companies, it started providing reliable and efficient open-source software that leverages high-end technologies. From 2014 to 2017, McAfee was owned by Intel Corporation, and was renamed as ‘Intel security.’ However, some of its products still bear the name of McAfee.

McAfee specializes in digital security software for PC, servers and mobile devices. McAfee software is praised for simplicity of navigation and flexibility, and antivirus solutions are not an exception. Read our McAfee Antivirus review to learn what the software has to offer, and which features turn it into one of the industry leaders.

Best For

  • Average users without much technical knowledge;
  • Browsing and playing games on PC;
  • Basic protection of mobile devices.

Pros & Cons

While testing McAfee antivirus software,  we revealed the following advantages and drawbacks:

Pros

  • Decent scores in independent tests of malicious URL blocking
  • Multiple bonus features
  • Excellent customer support available around the clock, live chat
  • Suits for smartphones and tablets are available
  • 99% of false positives – the software doesn’t block safe programs and files

Cons

  • Almost all of the 12 services provided can be disabled by the malware
  • The bonus firewall is rather weak
  • Phishing detection rates are low
  • Requires almost 80% of computing power, very resource-hungry
  • Does not feature protection of vulnerable software. No CD or USB rescue files

McAfee Pricing

McAfee’s pricing mostly depends on the number of devices connected. The cost of McAfee Total Protection is:

  • One device: $29.99 – first year, $79.99 – further on ($50 off).
  • Multi-device: $34.99 – first year, $99.99 – further on ($65 off).
  • Family package:$39.99 – first year, $119.99 – further on ($80 off)

Users can also order a 30-day free trial: suites for PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones are available, and up to 10 devices can be connected.

There is also a 100% money-back guarantee in case the software doesn’t detect viruses (naturally, many additional terms apply, and the service is available for users from a few certain countries only).

Reliability and Security

During recent years, McAfee’s scores in independent antivirus tests have been controversial: the software repels some malware quite well while ignoring new threats.

The researchers at AV-Test Institute evaluated the quality of protection according to three criteria: how it protects against malware, how good the performance is, and how much it interferes with usability. For each aspect, the software could earn six points and get a maximum of 18 points.

McAfee’s score ranged from 14.5 to 17 during the last three years. Therefore, McAfee is far from perfect: although it prevents most widespread attacks and blocks well-known threats, the program fails to mitigate banking trojan viruses.

Good news: all the packages have an inbuilt firewall that hides ports and withstands web-attacks efficiently. Instead of sending requests for connection, this firewall performs the program control on its own. It’s pretty efficient except for the cases when targeted attacks are made.

McAfee has a gaming mode that suspends some functions while you play computer games, so you aren’t interrupted by lag or pop-up reminders. However, you must enable this feature yourself since it doesn’t kick in automatically.

Since 2017, the team has introduced Real Protect function: it can identify the threats by analyzing suspicious objects. The software starts registering its activity and requires cloud-based analysis – its results can rank the file as malware.

Malware Protection

The antivirus works well against phishing (it blocks the vast majority of suspicious websites during browsing), spyware, rootkits and trojans, filters spam. Unfortunately, there’s no adware and Chat/IM protection.

According to tests, McAfee blocks about 85% of harmful links – most of them are blocked by ceasing the access to the URL address. When it comes to phishing, McAfee internet security has become much better: kile Kaspersky, it blocks almost 100% of malware. What you should be aware of is keyloggers – the software ignores them.

One of the main software’s drawbacks is that McAfee doesn’t notify the user about malware it blocks – it silently quarantines viruses without you being aware of it.

Scanning Options

Detailed and 24/7 scanning is McAfee’s strong side because it performs all possible types of scans:

  • USB virus scan;
  • real-time and scheduled monitoring;
  • registry start-up scan;
  • manual and auto virus scanning.

To top it off, McAfee has a firewall that protects the user during browsing and scans social media pages for threats.

Ease of use

McAfee is very easy to install and use. The download process is fast, but you need to create an account, even if you use a free version. It has clearly labeled buttons and tools, and the most important features are displayed on the main interface. A user doesn’t have to do much manually – the software cares about:

  • real-time scanning;
  • automatic updates from the latest database;
  • automatic enabling after the start of the device;
  • protection during browsing;
  • scheduling of detailed scans.

If you’re new to McAfee antivirus, there’s a tour explaining how the program works, and which way the functions and tools are utilized (it’s activated when you open the application for the first time).

The only thing that poses challenges is the detection of quarantined malware – McAfee doesn’t notify the user about blocked threats. The blocked viruses can be found in the Settings section.

Download and Installation

The installation of McAfee can take a few minutes. It requires the following steps:

  1. Visit the official McAfee website.
  2. Download the setup file.
  3. Run the file to install the antivirus suite.
  4. If necessary, click the Improve Protection Function.

When the installation is done, don’t forget to create a strong password to ensure solid security.

The process isn’t hard for an average user – no settings are specified during the installation, and McAfee website will suggest a suitable antivirus version for your OS.

User interface 

Recently, McAfee redesigned the interface for Windows antivirus suits. It has a short menu that breaks down into five sections: Home, PC Security, Identity, Privacy, and Account. On the left, there’s a security indicator that shows the level of protection and the list of protected devices. Recently, McAfee renewed macOS version design, so two desktop versions look alike.

Mobile apps also boast intuitive navigation – all basic features can be controlled in a couple of clicks.

Performance

McAfee has one serious downside – it affects performance and causes logs even when working on the background. The impact is significant during deep scanning, for example, whenever a user wants to attach files to an email, navigate software or programs, there might be a significant slowdown.

It can run to the absurd: the cursor doesn’t catch up, and the user clicks the wrong buttons. This is a serious drawback for those who work or play. Therefore, McAfee scanning should be performed when you don’t have to use a computer.

Package Features

There are several packages available:

  • McAfee Total Protection for 1, 5, and 10 devices (comes with Encrypted storage and PC boost tool in addition to all the features listed above, with top tiers (5-10 licenses) Identity Safe Protection and advanced Parental Control system are also included);
  • McAfee LiveSafe (almost identical to McAfee Total Protection, but with the top tier you get an unlimited number of licenses, and Identity Safe Protection is included in all the plans).

All packages of the software support:

  • Defense of all personal devices on Windows. Advanced packages include protection of iOS, Android and Mac devices;
  • Two-way firewall to protect you from spyware, rootkits, and bots;
  • Ransomware protection;
  • File shredder to permanently delete files from your device;
  • Gaming mode.

Aside from basic protection options, McAfee offers the following extra features:

  • Password Manager allows you not to worry about your passwords’ secure storage;
  • Encrypted storage lets you keep your files safe on your PC thanks to 1286-bit encryption;
  • Identity Theft Protection stands for identity and credit monitoring along with some other handy features like Lost Wallet Support;
  • Safe Family is an advanced recently improved system of parental control that will allow you to monitor your kids’ digital activity, trace their physical location, block specified websites and apps and more.

McAfee Antivirus Support And Customer Service

Another merit of the software that should be mentioned is 24/7 customer support. The assistants help at every stage of product use. You can find an extensive knowledge base on the official website, as well as an FAQ page and community forums. McAfee support service can be contacted via live chat, phone, or email – you can select any convenient way. This is a significant advantage – many well-established companies are far from such level of support.

Final Thoughts

Although this is not the safest antivirus, users praise it for simplicity of use and excellent protection in particular cases. Such features as McAfee Livesafe, firewall, and multi-factor authentication make it stand out. McAfee antivirus can be highly recommended for family use because the number of devices connected isn’t limited.

McAfee is a familiar name in the antivirus community, but it’s mostly known for being a mid-range, average antivirus. Over the last couple of years, however, the company separated from Intel, redesigned its interface, and has become one of the most powerful antiviruses available, on par with other industry giants like Norton and Kaspersky.

I’ve spent many hours testing the latest version of McAfee Total Protection. Initially, I was drawn to the sleek interface in addition to the additional features like Web Boost and the safe browsing extension, WebAdvisor. After trying out all of Total Protection’s security and performance features, my overall conclusion is that:

  • McAfee is good, but it’s not perfect.

It’s packed with many security features and extra add-ons. It’s effective at blocking most zero-day attacks and widespread malware. Plus, purchasing the 10 device Household plan (called Family plan in the US) is a great value for the price.

You get all the necessary features of an antivirus — like real-time protection and a secure firewall — and a few extras — like performance optimization and a password manager. But the user-friendliness definitely needs a tune-up, and I think that the WebAdvisor tool and the performance boost features were pretty underwhelming and disappointing.

McAfee Security Features

McAfee Total Protection protects against viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware attacks, and it also keeps you safe from suspicious or vulnerable websites.

Against zero-day malware attacks, Total Protection was 99% successful at detecting and preventing attacks. This is on par with other top-notch brands like Avast and Bitdefender. When I tested Total Protection against a sample set of other kinds of malware, it scored a perfect 100%.

And while McAfee’s scores are much better now than in previous years, Norton 360 still scores better overall.

Still, Total Protection gives users a wide range of features, from safe browsing to permanent file deletion and more, including:

  • PC performance optimization.
  • Encrypted storage (128-bit encryption).
  • Home Network Security (firewall).
  • Password manager.
  • Multi-device compatibility.

Many of these features, like the password manager, safe browsing extension, and PC performance optimization, aren’t that special.

But if you’re looking for a well-rounded antivirus at an affordable price — cheaper than a lot of premium antiviruses like BullGuard and AVG — McAfee is a solid choice.

Virus Scan

McAfee Total Protection offers two types of virus scans:

  • Quick Scan
  • Full Scan

Running the Quick Scan on my old computer took 20 minutes and scanned through over 12,000 of my files. Honestly, 20 minutes is quite long for a “quick scan”. I tried it with my newer computer, and a little under 6,000 files were scanned in 5 mins. That’s a much better result, albeit with half of the files.

Like the Quick Scan, I ran the Full Scan on two separate computers. My old computer took almost 20 hours to scan through, which is a really long time. But my new computer’s Full Scan took only one hour. While that’s a much more reasonable amount of time, that’s still longer than some other antivirus scanners.

Something I quickly learned while using McAfee — it provides all the useful information in pop-ups. For instance, if you want to know which files are being scanned or see which files were flagged as suspicious, you’ll get all that information in a pop-up. This isn’t a huge problem, but I did find it a little annoying.

You can also see a little information in the small notifications window in the McAfee dashboard. I’d personally rather have this information displayed in the dashboard rather than in pop-ups or tiny boxes, but it’s not a major problem.

Once your scan is complete, you can see how many files were scanned, any issues found, and what infected files were removed. I wasn’t given the option to quarantine or check which files were infected — Total Protection simply removed them. If you have no intention to investigate suspicious files, this will be fine for you. But if you want more control, other programs like Malwarebytes let you quarantine, delete, or ignore files.

You can also see the full report of your scans via the Security Report feature.

Overall, Quick Scan and Full Scan both work as intended, though I feel like the scanning engine is pretty slow compared to other antiviruses like TotalAV and Norton. I’d also personally rather have the details of the scan built into the dashboard while the scan is happening, but again, most people probably won’t care. I’d also like the choice to quarantine or delete problematic files after the scan, instead of just automatically deleting them. But again, for most people, that’s probably not really a problem.

Vulnerability Scanner — Keep Programs Updated

Out-of-date software is a major security risk, so the Vulnerability Scanner is a really nice addition to the Total Protection package. It searched for all out-of-date programs and software on my computer. McAfee will automatically run the Vulnerability Scanner on a specific date or you can create a schedule and choose to run the scan every week, every other week, or monthly.

For me, the Vulnerability Scanner took less than 10 minutes to complete. It showed how many updates were found, followed by a rating of how important it is to keep that program updated. In my case, my Adobe Reader needed a “critical” update because, based on McAfee’s scoring system, the chances of vulnerabilities were rated “high”.

My one problem is that it’s not called “Vulnerability Scanner” in the Total Protection dashboard. It’s labeled “Update my apps”. It’s not a big deal, but it can lead to confusion. If you’re looking for “Vulnerability Scanner”, you won’t find it.

Overall, it’s a handy little feature. If you ever forget to update old apps, the Vulnerability Scanner will find them and keep them updated for you.

QuickClean — Delete Unnecessary Files

The QuickClean feature removed all the unwanted cookies and temporary files from my browser.

Before clicking Clean, I chose which system files to check or uncheck. This included cookies and files in the browsers I have installed as well as files in my email.

While scanning, I was able to “Hide” the scan and have it ask for permission before removing any files. I also had the option to tell it to delete any items immediately, but I didn’t want to do that.

There isn’t much to say about this tool. It works as intended. In less than a minute, it freed up 4.4 GB from my computer. I did get a nice amount of detail here — McAfee told me where files were removed from, how many were removed, and which files were chosen to not be removed.

Just like the Vulnerability Scanner, QuickClean can also be pre-scheduled. And again, annoyingly, it’s not labeled “QuickClean” in the Total Protection dashboard — it’s under “Remove cookies and trackers”.

App Boost and McAfee Web Boost — Keep Apps and Browsers Running Fast

In the PC Performance tab, McAfee offers two tools to improve computer’s performance:

  • App Boost
  • McAfee Web Boost

Once turned on, App Boost identifies apps that may require boosting and gives it some extra power. It’s supposed to help apps load quicker or work faster.

McAfee’s Web Boost will stop auto-playing videos from running in your browser, which can speed up your browsing and save your battery. Obviously, neither of these features improves security, and your mileage will vary depending on how impactful it is on your apps and battery life.

I didn’t notice much of a difference on my computer from the App Boost or Web Boost. For example, despite Firefox getting “99 boosts” over 48 hours, I didn’t notice any significant change in browsing.

Also, the App Boost feature only works on Windows 10, but as I said, older versions of Windows aren’t missing out on too much.

It doesn’t hurt to turn the PC Performance features on (they are off by default) but don’t expect a crazy change in performance.

Password Manager (True Key)

McAfee has partnered up with True Key to give us a password manager with each Total Protection subscription. True Key works on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

To activate your included True Key subscription, go to the My Privacy tab and click on “Manage passwords”.

Then, you’ll be taken to a True Key information page where you can set up your account and create your Master Password — the password that lets you access your True Key account.

You can sign in via Master Password and a multi-factor authentication option like authentication app or fingerprint scanning (on iOS and Android devices only). The True Key browser extension works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer.

It comes with several features, including:

  • Auto-fill
  • Password generator
  • Digital Wallet
  • Safe Notes

It has multi-device sync, stores your passwords locally, and uses the “strongest encryption available” — which is the standard AES 256-bit encryption. That’s definitely strong and is standard on most password managers including Dashlane, Keeper, and 1Password.

True Key is simple and easy to use. You can easily see which site logins you’ve added on the dashboard.

Unlike a lot of password managers, True Key lets you change your Master Password as many times as you want. If you don’t like your Master Password, you can change it to a new one when you’re logged in.

And you can add another email address and another device to keep your account safe.

One particularly irritating thing about McAfee’s True Key password manager is that it’s limited to 15 logins before you have to pay for an upgrade. Even though it’s “included” in the Total Protection plan, you can’t use more than 15 logins. That’s outrageous! Even Dashlane Free gives you 50 logins. And NordPass gives you unlimited logins on its free plan (on only one device). This is a pretty poor offering from McAfee and True Key.

Overall, It’s a simple password manager, and it doesn’t have any particular standout features, but since it’s included with McAfee’s Total Protection subscription, it’s worthwhile to use if you don’t already have a password manager set up.

But I wouldn’t download the Total Protection plan just for this. And I certainly don’t want to be bullied into paying for a premium True Key account after only 15 logins. If you want an antivirus with a good password manager included, Norton 360 gives you a way better deal. But it’s best to go with a standalone password manager anyway — like Dashlane or 1Password.

McAfee WebAdvisor

The McAfee WebAdvisor is supposed to help you avoid malicious websites and warn you before downloading suspicious attachments. But I had some problems with it. The first problem is that it only works with Windows.

When you’re in the Total Protection dashboard, you can click on the “Protect me on the web” button. It takes you to a landing page explaining what WebAdvisor is. I’m not sure why it has to take you out of the dashboard just to explain it… but alright.

My real problem is the landing page. It doesn’t direct you to download the WebAdvisor browser extension. The download is on yet another completely different page. It’s a frustratingly non-intuitive UX.

You also don’t need a Total Protection subscription to use this extension, so while it’s included, anyone can download it.

Once I installed and enabled the extension, I did a quick search (for “hair”) to see how well the tool worked. I noticed some websites had a green lock icon and the “McAfee SECURE” badge next to the article title.

Hovering over the badge showed me more information about the link, including what it’s about and how frequently McAfee tests it for suspicious activity.

But, after scrolling a bit more, I realized no other website had this badge.

I tried another search (for “cat”). The Wikipedia and Petco website had the McAfee badge, but again, nothing else did. McAfee seems to have a limited amount of websites it searches and approves. This doesn’t mean the other links are dangerous, but the fact that McAfee doesn’t have a vast quantity of articles in its vault makes this extension pointless.

I also don’t like how the McAfee WebAdvisor add-on doesn’t explain its criteria for which sites get a badge and which don’t (even when the sites are safe).

All in all, I was disappointed by WebAdvisor. It seems relatively useless, especially since on most search terms, the badge only appears next to around 2 out of the first 15 sites.

Identity Theft Protection (US Only)

US customers get the added benefit of Identity Theft Protection and dark web monitoring added onto their Multi-Device or Family plan.

McAfee’s dark web monitoring looks through the dark web to find if any of your sensitive information has been hacked or leaked. McAfee checks the dark web for:

  • Email addresses
  • Medical IDs
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Bank accounts
  • Phone numbers
  • Credit/debit cards
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Passports

I entered my email addresses into the Identity Theft Protection portal, and it said that one of my email addresses was listed in 4 separate places on the dark web!

Luckily none of that information would cause my accounts to be hacked (there was one temporary password which got leaked), but it’s great to know that McAfee can quickly search the dark web for any leaked information.

McAfee will now continually monitor the dark web for any of my information, and if anything comes up, I’ll get an email immediately.

McAfee Plans and Pricing

McAfee Total Protection is available on three different plans. They all share the same features, such as:

  • Real-time protection
  • Firewall
  • File encryption tool
  • WebAdvisor
  • App Boost

You can install Total Protection on PCs, Macs, iOS, and Android devices. The difference between the plans is the number of devices you can install Total Protection on:

  • Individual: 1 device
  • Multi-Device: 5 devices
  • Household/Family: 10 Devices

For a single device, the Individual price isn’t too bad. It’s comparable to Norton’s most basic 360 plan for the first year, and you get a nice range of features.

When it’s time to renew, Total Protection’s “Individual” price jumps up, but I wouldn’t say it’s worth it — the price nearly doubles after the first year. It’s still cheaper than Kaspersky or TotalAV’s renewal plan price, but you do get a lot less in terms of extra features from McAfee.

However, the Household/Family plan is a great value for the price — the extra cost is minimal, and it comes with all the same features as the Multi-Device plan.

There isn’t a free plan, but there is a 30-day trial. It puts you on the 10 device plan for the month. You don’t need to hand over your credit card information to sign-up either, which is nice.

This is really the best way to go because you can see if you like the software before you commit. And if you do like it, you get a month for free!

As for refunds, you can also request a full refund within 30 days of purchasing your subscription, or within 60 days of automatic renewal when you’ve subscribed for a year or more.

McAfee Ease of Use and Setup

Installing Total Protection was quick. It took me less than 10 minutes.

Once I had the dashboard up, it was pretty simple to use. You can easily poke around and check out the many offerings, but finding specific tools is sometimes a bit difficult.

McAfee organizes its information a bit strangely. It doesn’t title everything — the Vulnerability Scanner is called “Update my apps” under the “PC Security” tab. But I did like that once you click on it, the feature is more thoroughly explained.

It’s a little annoying that the bulk of the information is hidden within the gear icon on the top right of the dashboard.

Here are all the settings for the Firewall, Scheduled scans, Anti-Spam, and more. I’d recommend going through each of these settings to adjust them.

For instance, I found out that the scheduled scans were set to start at 4am or 5am — this wouldn’t work for me because my computer is turned off at those times. If I didn’t check, I’d assume these scans were going off when they weren’t. I was also never asked to approve or change the time of your scheduled scans either, so if I didn’t look for this, I never would have known.

My main complaint is the pop-ups. The majority of McAfee’s details are given in pop-ups. For instance, when I use the scan features, I have to click “run” in a pop-up. It’s the same with the Password Manager, the File Shredder, and File Lock to lock important files.

This is just a personal preference, and I know that some people prefer these pop-ups, but it just doesn’t work for me.

McAfee Mobile App

The mobile app works on iOS and Android devices. You can download the app from the App or Play Store, or connect to it directly through the dashboard on your computer by clicking on Protect more devices.

The best thing about the mobile app is that it offers real-time protection. And it works pretty well, too. It instantly caught all the malware that I tried to download.

You can also scan your phone by pressing the big shield at the top of the screen that says “Scan”. This checks to ensure your files, app, and Wi-Fi are secure. You can also clean out your device’s storage, boost memory, and see reports about your scans and data.

The scanning was quick and easy — it took about a minute to complete, and I could see what files were scanning at the top. I didn’t notice any performance problems while scanning.

Clicking the three lines on the top right corner (the settings) will give you access to more features, like the Battery Booster under “Performance”, “Guest Mode”, and the ability to track your data usage.

Similar to Kaspersky’s mobile app, the Anti-Theft feature allows you to remotely lock and wipe your data if your device is ever stolen. And like Kaspersky’s app, there’s also a Thief Cam” feature, which allows you to take a picture of the person who stole your phone using the front camera. This is much better than some mobile antivirus apps — like TotalAV — which doesn’t have these features.

Overall, the app works smoothly without affecting the usability of my phone. The interface does feel a bit cluttered, but it has a host of features packed in there, so I can’t complain.

McAfee Customer Support

McAfee has all support bases covered: 

  • Phone
  • Live chat
  • FAQs
  • Community forum

The phone and live chat are available 24/7 for English speakers. Depending on your language, live chat may not be an option, and the hours of operation for the phone support will vary.

You can usually get a representative in just a few minutes, but it may be longer depending on the time a day. If this is the case, a banner is shown at the top of the McAfee support page warning users to expect longer wait times.

There’s also a detailed knowledge base which answers many typical technical support issues. Unfortunately, the organization of these articles is lacking. There are hundreds to choose from, but you have to mostly rely on the search bar and scrolling through until you find your answer. And although the support articles are detailed, they lack images or videos.

The community forum is pretty active. People ask questions and other members of the forum can answer. One great thing is that the forum is available in multiple languages including Arabic, Italian, and Spanish.

You can also use the Virtual Technician to diagnose and fix technical issues — it’s not perfect, but it’s helpful for simple questions. Or if you’re away from your computer, you can use the Techmaster — and advanced paid service — to help troubleshoot issues.

All in all, McAfee Total Protection’s support options are great — you can get everything from phone chat to a virtual assistant. I do wish the knowledge base had more pictures and videos though — it’s much easier to solve a problem with visual guides.

Is McAfee Any Good? Is “Total Protection” Worth the Price?

McAfee Total Protection has improved its old software a lot. It scores high for malware detection and prevention, and it’s definitely going to keep your devices secure. The package also offers a wide range of extra security and performance options, some of which are great (QuickClean) and some of which are not great (like WebAdvisor). And if you’re like me, the new interface may annoy you with tons of pop-ups. But if you prefer that style, then McAfee will work really well for you.

The mobile app is a great addition to McAfee’s package. It’s quick, effective, light on resources, and comes with a lot of great extra features to help keep mobile devices safe. I also love that McAfee gives so many support options — phone, live chat, knowledgebase, forums, and AI technicians at your disposal.

If you’re new to using an antivirus and need to protect a lot of devices, especially Windows devices, the Household/Family plan is both a good price and offers all the features you’ll need to stay protected. The Multi-device plan still offers lots of value, but the Individual plan (only 1 device) is not really worth it. If you only need to protect one device, it’s better to go with something else like Norton 360 or Avira Prime.

What I Like:

  • Quick installation and easy set up.
  • Inexpensive multi-user plans.
  • Extensive range of features.
  • Great support options.
  • Attractive dashboard and user interface.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Notifications in pop-ups.
  • Limited password manager.
  • Ineffective browser extension.

Pros

  • Protection for every Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device in your household.
  • Good scores in hands-on tests.
  • Excellent score in antiphishing test.
  • Includes Ransom Guard ransomware protection, PC Boost, and many bonus features.

Cons

  • Ransom Guard missed several real-world ransomware samples.
  • PC Boost web speedup still works only in Chrome.
  • Very slow full scan on Windows.
  • Mac edition less feature-rich than Windows or Android.
  • Still fewer features for iOS.

If you've been paying attention to PCMag, you know that you must install antivirus protection on all your PCs. But that's not all. You also need security (antivirus at least) on your Macs, and on your mobile devices. Fortunately, one license for McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you install McAfee security software on every Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device in your household. Windows users get such a wealth of features that the Windows edition could reasonably qualify as a security suite, as do Android users. Features are sparser on macOS and iOS, but iOS users get more than many companies offer. It's an excellent value, and it did very well in some of our hands-on tests, too.

The fly in the ointment is poor handling of real-world ransomware on Windows. Several samples got past all layers of McAfee protection, including the dedicated Ransom Guard. We considered dropping the product's score and removing its Editors' Choice designation. However, McAfee earned that title, not by its amazing test scores, but rather by its comprehensive protection. You'd be hard-pressed to find another antivirus with unlimited cross-platform licenses, and its Windows edition beats out many security suites with its wealth of features. McAfee remains in the winners' circle, at least for now.

 

You pay $59.99 per year for unlimited McAfee licenses. That's rare. Most competing companies offer one-, three-, five-, or 10-license subscriptions. For example, nearly the same subscription price gets you 10 Sophos licenses, three Kaspersky Anti-Virus licenses, and just one Norton license. Roughly $40 per month gets you a one-device license for many antivirus products, among them Bitdefender, Webroot, and Trend Micro. Price-wise, McAfee has the competition beat.

You may see descriptions on the McAfee website or on product boxes that mention 10 licenses. Don't worry; you really do get unlimited licenses. My McAfee contacts tell me that when lining up against other products in a store, "unlimited" confuses potential customers, so they display the number 10 instead.

For those odd ducks who really, truly want to protect just one PC, McAfee makes a one-license, Windows-only version available at that typical price of $39.99 per year. Given that another $20 gets you unlimited licenses, it doesn't seem an attractive offer, but my McAfee contacts say they get enough sales to keep offering this limited edition.

I should point out that with a free antivirus you effectively have an unlimited license. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free is an especially interesting example because, like McAfee, it offers cross-platform support. You can install it on all your Windows, Android, or iOS devices (but not Macs). On Windows, it includes a subset of the bonus features found in the full-blown Kaspersky Security Cloud.

Getting Started

To install McAfee on a Windows computer, you first go online and activate your license key. If you set up automatic renewal during the process, you get a Virus Protection Pledge from McAfee. That means if any malware gets past the antivirus, McAfee experts promise to remotely remediate the problem, a service that normally costs $89.95. In the unlikely event that they can't clear out the malware, the company refunds your purchase price. Symantec Norton AntiVirus Plus($19.99 Per Year, Per Device at NortonLifeLock) offers a similar promise.

With that housekeeping out of the way, it's time to download and install the product. The installer took a while but didn't require handholding from me. Once installation is complete, the product shows off what it can do. It offers to run a scan, check for outdated applications, remove tracking cookies, and more.

McAfee's main window features a security status indicator at left, with a list of your protected devices below. A menu across the top breaks down product features into five main pages: Home, PC Security, PC Performance, My Privacy, and My Info. Buttons at the bottom of the Home screen let you quickly launch a scan, remove cookies, boost application speed, and check for missing app patches. Note that the macOS edition looks extremely similar. The main differences are due to the reduced feature set on the Mac.

Lab Results Up and Down

Over the past few years, McAfee's scores from the independent testing labs have had some ups and downs. The current batch of results is good, but they were better at the time of my previous review.

The researchers at AV-Test Institute rate antivirus products on how well they protect against malware, how light a touch they have on performance, and how little they interfere with usability by wrongly flagging valid programs and websites as malicious. An antivirus can earn six points each for Protection, Performance, and Usability, for a maximum of 18 points. McAfee did just that last year. In the very latest results, it still has six points for Performance and Usability, but its Protection score dropped to five. F-Secure Anti-Virus, Kaspersky, Windows Defender, and Norton all managed a perfect 18.

Expert testers at SE Labs use a capture and replay system to hit multiple antivirus tools with identical web-based attacks. Products can receive certification at five levels, AAA, AA, A, B, and C. In the latest round of testing, ten products received AAA certification, McAfee among them. Other products that reached the AAA level include Kaspersky, Microsoft, Norton, and Sophos.

AV-Comparatives reports on a variety of tests; I follow four of them. Products that pass a test earn Standard certification. Those that achieve exceptional success can earn an Advanced or Advanced+ rating. McAfee participates in three of the tests, and earned one Standard, one Advanced, and one Advanced+. Bitdefender holds an Advanced+ rating in the latest reports from all four tests, while Avira and Kaspersky managed three Advanced+ and one Advanced.

MRG-Effitas takes a different approach to scoring tests. Products either achieve near-perfect results or they fail. One of this lab's regular tests challenges products with a full range of malware, while the other focuses on banking Trojans. These tests are tough. In all of 2016, McAfee had just one success, and the same happened in 2017. Scores in 2018 were much better, with Level 1 or Level 2 certification in each full-range test. Alas, in the latest runs of both tests, McAfee failed. Just under half of the products tested failed the banking test, while three-quarters passed the full-range test. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky, and Norton were among those that succeeded at both.

I've devised an algorithm that maps all the lab scores to a 10-point scale and yields an aggregate score. Last year, McAfee scored 9.2 points with results from three labs. Tested by all four this year, it's down to 8.7. My contacts at the company say they're working hard to raise those scores and keep them up, and indeed, the product has received quite a few awards.

Kaspersky and Bitdefender routinely achieve perfect or near-perfect scores. Both currently have an aggregate score of 9.9. Avira is next, with 9.7, while Norton and Vipre have 9.6 points.

Decent Malware Protection

In addition to checking results from the independent testing labs around the world, I put every antivirus product through my own hands-on malware protection testing. I start by opening a folder containing a collection of malware samples that I have manually analyzed, so I know just what they do. For many antivirus products, the minimal access that occurs when Windows Explorer checks the file's name, size, and so on is enough to trigger an on-access scan. McAfee doesn't scan until the sample launches, so I tried launching them in batches of three or four.

I ran McAfee, along with our other Editors' Choice antivirus tools, through testing immediately after putting my newest malware collection into use several months ago. It caught 85 percent of the samples immediately on launch. In most cases I saw a Windows error message flash past, followed by a notification that McAfee quarantined a threat. In a couple cases, it removed the virus from an infected file while leaving the now-clean file intact. That left 15 percent of the samples that got past their initial launch. McAfee detected and fully eliminated some of those during the install process, but completely missed others. Most unfortunately, several of those it missed were real-world ransomware attacks. Overall, it detected 91 percent of the samples and scored 9.1 of 10 possible points.

Surprisingly, the top-scoring product against this malware collection is Windows Defender, with 98 percent detection and 9.8 points. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus detected 100 percent of the samples, but scored 9.7 points due to letting through a few malware traces.

Norton has the top score among products tested with my previous malware collection. Like Webroot, it scored 9.7 of 10 possible points.

As I mentioned, McAfee's testing happened a few months ago. Just to see what would happen, I re-tested McAfee against the files that didn't get eliminated on launch. The good news is that it detected some of the ransomware that it missed before. That only makes sense, given that it "saw" the samples several months ago. The bad news is that one of them still got past all its layers of protection, encrypting documents and wreaking havoc on my virtual machine test system. Whether the file is new or old shouldn't matter to a behavior-based ransomware detection system, of course.

It takes me a long time to analyze a new set of samples, so I don't change to a new set often. For a view on how antivirus products handle the very newest malware, I use a feed of the latest discoveries from MRG-Effitas, a list of malware-hosting URLs discovered in the last few days. I use a small program that launches each and lets me easily note whether the antivirus blocked access to the URL, eliminated the malware download, or did nothing.

McAfee's WebAdvisor component blocked 43 percent of the URLs, displaying for most a big red warning calling the page very risky. In a few cases, a yellow notification called the page slightly risky. For another 57 percent of the sample URLs, McAfee quarantined the download, announcing "Woah, that download is dangerous." (Yes, it says "woah," like Tintin's dog Snowy.) That comes to 100 percent; McAfee wins this test. Trend Micro is close behind, with 99 percent in its latest test, while Sophos and Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center come next, each with 97 percent.

When you have effective real-time protection, scanning the whole computer becomes less important, but you really should do it once, immediately after install. I found that a full scan of my standard clean test system took a very lengthy three hours and 35 minutes. In my latest review of Norton, it took even longer, 4.5 hours. Some while after that test, my Symantec contacts suggested a problem with my virtual machines, which have a single virtual core. Why that configuration? I've maintained these VMs for years, updating Windows as needed, adding RAM and disk space as needed, but I didn't think about upgrading the virtual CPU to have a dual core.

I rolled the virtual machine back to a snapshot before the timing test, reconfigured it to have a dual-core virtual CPU, and ran a full scan. McAfee didn't finish any faster, but I will test using a virtual dual-core CPU going forward.

Normally I'd run a repeat scan, to check for speedup due to optimization, but I had already invested over six hours on timing tests. In the past my McAfee contacts have indicated they expect optimization to speed up later scans by 25 to 55 percent. I've seen repeat scans gain vastly more speed than that. Kaspersky went from 70 minutes to five minutes, for example, and ESET NOD32 Antivirus went from 66 minutes to seven minutes.

Fabulous Phishing Protection

A malware coder must grok the arcane details of operating systems to slip past protection and steal data, remotely control the computer, install ransomware, and the like. A phishing fraudster, on the other hand, only has to dupe foolish netizens into logging in on a replica of some secure site. If you fall for these frauds, you've handed your credentials to the fraudster. Phishing sites quickly wind up blacklisted, but the perps just shut them down and create new ones.

Because they're ephemeral, I test using the very newest reported phishing sites, scraped from websites that track them. I make sure to include those that have been reported but haven't yet gone through analysis. This puts pressure on the antivirus to heuristically examine web pages and detect frauds without relying on an always-outdated blacklist.

I launch each URL simultaneously in four browsers, starting with one protected by the product in testing. The other three use protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. I try for 100 verified phishing URLs, discarding any that don't connect for one or more of the browsers, and any that aren't verifiable credential-stealing frauds.

McAfee managed an impressive 99 percent protection, matching scores by Bitdefender and Trend Micro. Only Kaspersky, with 100 percent, has done better recently. McAfee AntiVirus Plus (for Mac), tested with the same samples as the Windows edition, earned an impressive 98 percent. Interestingly, its results don't all align with those of its Windows cousin. Both missed a few that got discarded from scoring because they didn't load in another test browser. In each case where McAfee whiffed on one platform, it blocked the fraud on the other. Clearly this feature isn't entirely the same across platforms, but either way it's very effective.

Scores in this test are all over the map, with almost half the products failing to outperform one, two, or even three of the browsers. At the other end of the scale, McAfee and a half-dozen others scored 97 percent or better.

Ransom Guard

Ransom Guard, McAfee's ransomware protection component, doesn't have any visible existence. It's just another layer of real-time protection. If regular protection doesn't recognize a brand-new ransomware attack, Ransom Guard watches its behavior. At the first faint sign of an attempt to encrypt files (what McAfee calls "file content transformation"), Ransom Guard makes protected copies of those files and ups its vigilance. When it reaches a firm decision that the program is truly ransomware, it quarantines it and restores the files from backup. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security($29.95/Year at Trend Micro Small Business) does something similar.

When possible, I simulate the zero-day possibility by turning off real-time protection, leaving only the ransomware component active. But as with Trend Micro, turning off real-time protection also disables Ransom Guard.

As noted, I didn't need to disable real-time protection to challenge Ransom Guard. Three of my ransomware samples completely eluded real-time protection. Unfortunately, they also got past Ransom Guard. That's very bad. Tested again three months later, McAfee caught two of the three, but still let one run to completion, encrypting tons of important files. My McAfee contact explained, "This is an evolving technology, still being tuned to balance false positives and false negatives." Tell that to the user who just lost all the chapters of her novel, or her payroll spreadsheets.

I turned to KnowBe4's RanSim, a ransomware simulator. This tool runs 10 scenarios that emulate common ransomware behaviors, along with two benign encryption techniques. McAfee initially quarantined RanSim's launch components. I restored them, added them to the exclusions list, and tried again. McAfee did block all 10 of the scenarios, but its popup notifications just called them suspicious, with no message from Ransom Guard. It's hard to see Ransom Guard as a success.

Ransom Guard is, of course, just one of a huge number of features offered by this suite-like antivirus. For now, I'd suggest supplementing it with a free, purpose-built ransomware protection utility.

Unobtrusive Firewall

Most security companies reserve firewall protection for the full-blown security suite, but McAfee puts it right in the standalone antivirus. In testing, the firewall correctly stealthed all ports and resisted the web-based attacks I threw at it. Since the built-in Window Firewall can do the same, this test is only significant if a third-party firewall fails it.

Those of us who've been around long enough remember the early personal firewalls, with their incessant, incomprehensible queries. Microsfot.exe wants to connect to URL 100.2.3.4 on port 8080; allow or block? Few consumers are qualified to answer those questions. Some always allow access. Others always block access, until they break something, and switch to allow. It's not an effective system.

Like Norton, Bitdefender, and others, McAfee doesn't rely on the untrained user to make these decisions. In its default Smart Access mode, the firewall makes those decisions internally. If you get nostalgic for popups, you can dig into the settings and change Smart Access to Monitored Access, but really…don't. Yes, there are tons of ways to configure and fine-tune the firewall, but the average user should just leave them alone.

Not being an average user, I did play with some of the settings. I turned on Monitored Access and noted that the firewall correctly asked what to do when my hand-coded browser tried to get online. I was mildly surprised to find that it also asked about Opera. Note that the similar feature in the macOS edition, Application Control, dropped out as of the previous edition due to "a business decision, based on usage relative to the cost of maintenance."

I enabled Intrusion Detection and hit the test system with 30-odd exploits generated by the CORE Impact penetration tool. As in past tests, none of the exploits succeeded in infecting the fully patched test system, but the firewall took no active part in exploit defense.

Firewall protection isn't much use if a malware coder can craft an attack that disables it. As part of my firewall testing, I attempt to disable protection using techniques that a coder could implement. I didn't find any way to turn off protection by tweaking the hundreds of keys and thousands of values McAfee adds to the Registry, so that's good.

I tried to kill off the software's 17 processes, but it protected them all. Six of its essential Windows services were also protected, but I managed to stop and disable the other three, including the WebAdvisor service. When a service is disabled, it doesn't restart on reboot. And, indeed, after reboot WebAdvisor didn't function. Clearly the developers know how to protect processes and services. Why not extend protection to all of them?

New Cryptojacking Blocker

A ransomware attack is like, well, being held for ransom. It's scary, and kind of violent. Cryptojacking is a much more subtle attack. You visit a website, and it coopts your system resources as part of a distributed system that mines for bitcoins or other cryptocurrency. Bear in mind that there's nothing illegal about mining for bitcoins. Mining is where bitcoins come from! The problem comes when a website or program hijacks your computer's resources to do the job.

Piggybacking on WebAdvisor, the new Cryptojacking Blocker keeps these sites from leeching away your resources. It suppresses cryptojacking code when found, and slides in a banner explaining what it did. There is an option let the site use your resources regardless. Why? Because there are a few sites that openly use cryptomining for financial support, in exchange for no advertisements.

My Home Network

The My Home Network page lists all the devices it sees on your network, identifying those it can by name and listing the IP address of others. It shows online/offline status and displays those that have McAfee protection in color. You can set up a trust relationship between multiple Windows boxes, which allows you to monitor and even configure security remotely.

My Home Network has been around for many years. There's another, newer feature that takes the concept to the next level. If you click the button the Protect more devices button on the Home screen, you get three choices: PC or Mac; Smartphone or tablet; and Unprotected devices. This last choice lists the devices on your network that could benefit from McAfee protection but don't yet have it. If you don't see all the devices you expect, give it time. It turns out that McAfee waits as much as 24 hours before fully populating the list.

Vulnerability Scan

Some hackers devote their time to finding security holes in popular apps or even operating systems, holes that they use to create attacks that breach security. Opposing them, software companies try to patch these security holes as quickly as they can. But you, the user, must do your part by installing the security patches as they become available. McAfee's Vulnerability Scanner reports on products that need update.

Like Avast Premier and Avira Total Security Suite, it automates the update process when it can. Just click the Install Updates button and sit back. If it can't automate an installer or two, you're still better off for the ones it did fix automatically.

Secure Deletion

Deleting a file in Windows just sends it to the Recycle Bin, and even when you bypass or empty the bin, your deleted file data remains on your disk, subject to forensic recovery. The Shredder tool overwrites files before deletion, to foil forensic recovery. Five shred types range from Quick (which overwrites file data once) to Comprehensive (which runs a whopping 10 overwrite passes). You can shred the Recycle Bin, or Temporary Internet Files, or any file or folder you really want permanently deleted.

Secure deletion is especially important when used in conjunction with a file encryption tool like the File Lock component of McAfee Total Protection($34.99 - 1 Device at McAfee). If you don't thoroughly delete the plaintext originals, they could be recovered using forensic software or hardware. Kaspersky Total Security goes farther, automatically offering to shred the originals after an encryption job.

Cleanup and Speedup

Clicking the Remove cookies and trackers button on the main page opens McAfee's QuickClean feature. QuickClean scans your computer for cookies and temporary files. These both use up valuable disk space and potentially provide a snoop with information about your browsing and computer use habits. When it has found tracking cookies and other junk files, it reports how much space you could save by cleaning up. You can dig in for a bit of detail about the kinds of things the scan found, but most users should just continue to the cleanup phase.

The PC Performance page has two features, "Speed up apps" and "Speed up browsing". To speed up apps, PC Boost runs in the background looking for apps that need more resources as they load, and gives them what they need. McAfee reports lab results showing an average six percent faster load. It also diverts extra resources to the foreground app. Per McAfee's own tests, this enhanced app performance from 11 to 14 percent. A report page lets you know what this feature has done for you lately.

Related

The feature to speed up your browsing only works in Google Chrome, so I installed the McAfee Web Boost Chrome extension, whose purpose is to stop auto-play videos from launching. It works. The video even displays the overlay Paused by McAfee Web Boost. I don't know how many times I've been startled by a loud video playing unexpectedly on a page. And if you wish, you can exempt videos on any site from Web Boost's activity. I like the idea, I just don't like that it's limited to Chrome.

Mac Protection

I've written a full and separate review of McAfee AntiVirus Plus (for Mac) on the macOS platform; I'll refer you to that for details. It's not truly a different product; you still get protection for all your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. But you don't get as many protection features on the Mac.

A high point of the review is that it managed 98 percent protection against phishing attacks, just one percentage point below the Windows edition. The user interface matches the Windows version, except for the omission of Windows-only features. However, McAfee has no current lab scores for Mac-specific malware protection. For a full evaluation, please read my review.

Android Protection

The easiest way to install McAfee on an Android device is to use the online console to send yourself an install link. As with all Android security products, McAfee requires a passel of permissions, but it helpfully leads you through granting everything necessary.

The user interface focuses on a big Scan button, with buttons for four of the many other features below. Swipe up for a list of your McAfee-equipped devices, color-coded to show security status. You can click for a more detailed look at status, though you can't fix security problems remotely. Tap the menu at top left for access to all features.

Android Lab Results

The testers at AV-Test Institute offer Android security apps up to six points each for effective protection, small performance impact, and low false positives, with six points available in each category. Like about half the products in the latest test, McAfee took the full 18 points.

Reports from AV-Comparatives list the percentage of Android malware thwarted. Trend Micro topped the list with 100 percent. All the other major players, including McAfee, earned 99.9 percent.

Researchers at MRG-Effitas report separately on early detection and on detection at the time of installation. They also report separately on handling of lower-risk PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), and break down results for categories such as Trojans and Spyware. Bitdefender, ESET, Kaspersky, and Symantec earned 100 percent in both early detection and install-time detection. McAfee came close, with 98.8 percent for early detection and 96.3 percent for detection at install.

Scan Two Ways

When you tap the big Scan button, McAfee scans to make sure your Wi-Fi is secure and quickly checks your apps. You can also choose a deep scan that looks at preinstalled apps, files, and messages. Both scans ran in seconds on the Motorola Moto G5 Plus I use for testing.

Anti-Theft Features

To get full advantage of McAfee's Android anti-theft features, you need to give the program access to your camera and location. As with most such services, you must also give McAfee Device Administrator status, so it can remotely wipe a hopelessly lost device. Activate the SIM tracking feature and you're ready to go.

With these features configured, you can deal with a lost or stolen phone from the McAfee online console. Click on the device that's in trouble and enter the PIN you defined on that device. If you've just misplaced the device around the house, you can make it sound an alarm. If the situation is worse, click I Lost My Device, which locates the device on a map.

Only when you click the It's Still Lost option do you get the scary options to wipe the phone's data or reset it to factory settings. Here you can also choose to track its location for a month, and to back up your personal data to the McAfee cloud. Other features include: Thief Cam, which, like the Mugshot feature in Kaspersky, snaps a photo after multiple failed attempts to unlock the device; an automatic location message when the battery is very low; and automatic locking on removal of the SIM card.

Feature Confusion

When I connected to the Android device online, I got a warning from McAfee that certain features had to be removed due to changes in Google policy. Specifically, it can no longer: warn you if a thief swapped out the SIM card; backup, wipe, or restore call logs and text messages; or customize a lock screen message for a missing device.

The app itself showed no sign of these features not working. I successfully set a customized lock screen message. I enabled SIM card tracking. And I backed up my contacts with apparent success. My McAfee contacts explained that the feature changes, related to Android Q, haven't all taken effect yet, and that the customized lock screen message won't actually be affected.

App Lock and Guest Mode

Like Bitdefender, McAfee offers an App Lock feature that locks your most sensitive apps behind a six-digit PIN. A sneak thief picks up your unlocked phone still won't be able to read your email or place orders on Amazon, as long as you've locked them up. Bitdefender, Norton, ESET, and several others offer a similar feature.

Parents these days give unhappy kids their phones to placate them. Sure, a nice streaming cartoon will calm kids down, but you really don't want them getting into other apps. Guest Mode, previously called Kid Mode, is like the inverse of App Lock. Instead of locking certain apps, it locks everything and only allows access to the apps you specify. Apps outside the list aren't merely locked; they vanish from the home screen.

Bonus Features

McAfee's Android solution doesn't stop with security; most of these additional features appear when you tap the menu icon at top right. The Storage Cleaner looks for junk files, app data, and data files that you could delete to gain storage space. Memory Booster frees up memory allocated to apps that aren't in use. Safe Web keeps you safe from dangerous websites, like WebAdvisor does on Windows. Safe Wi-Fi warns when you connect to an unsecured hotspot. You can back up your personal data to the cloud. The Battery Booster takes control of screen brightness and sleep timeouts to save battery. Privacy Check reports on the permissions required by your apps and flags any that seem out of line.

McAfee can track your data usage and warn if it's approaching the limit. You set the monthly cap and tell McAfee what day today is in the billing cycle. That lets it track progress and warn when you use too much. As you can see, this a comprehensive Android security suite.

Protection for iOS Devices

As on Android, McAfee on Apple has a simplified, streamlined user interface. However, the feature set is sparse by comparison. It has the same big scan button, which scans the system and the Wi-Fi network for threats. It's not entirely clear what happens during the system scan, though it did recognize that my test iPad needed an iOS update. On Android, it clearly states that it's scanning for viruses, and shows a completion percentage. I did find its forced portrait orientation a little annoying, given the sparse use of screen space.

You get Safe Web for iOS devices too, but you must set it up separately. For iOS, McAfee implements Safe Web as a VPN connection. For a sanity check, I tried to visit a couple phishing sites from the macOS test that hadn't been taken down. Safe Web correctly blocked them.

My McAfee contact confirmed that if you install an actual VPN it will supersede the Safe Web proxy VPN. Also, some browsers deliberately evade Proxy VPNs, so McAfee works specifically with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

The Anti-Theft component is more complete than most iOS offerings. From the web console, you can locate your device on a map, and you can sound a loud alarm to find a nearby device. Be warned; the alarm sounds like a woman screaming. Another button puts a message on the device instructing the finder to contact you and return it. You can remotely back up your contacts to the cloud (if you remembered to enable this feature on the iPad first).

I was surprised to find a Wipe option; that's not something you usually find in an iOS antitheft app. It turns out that invoking this option simply wipes your contacts.

The final piece of the iOS puzzle is the media vault. When you enable this feature, it moves selected media to encrypted storage. It warns at setup that you must move files out of the vault before uninstalling McAfee, or risk losing them. You enter and confirm a six-digit PIN and give McAfee access to your photos. Now you can move photos into the vault, or snap new photos directly to the vault, bypassing the regular Photos app.

That's it for McAfee on iOS, but it's more than many companies offer.

Comprehensive Protection

McAfee AntiVirus Plus doesn't always get the best marks from the independent labs, but it seems to be improving. It's still not up to the near-perfect lab scores of Bitdefender and Kaspersky, but McAfee did score very well in our phishing protection test, and it aced our malicious URL blocking test with 100 percent success. You get the most comprehensive protection when you install it on Windows. The Android edition is also quite full featured, but you get less protection under macOS and still less on iOS devices.

As noted, we remain concerned about McAfee's failure against several real-world ransomware attacks. At present, the wealth of features for Windows and Android, along with the product's near-unique unlimited licensing, outweigh that flub, enough to let the product retain its Editors' Choice designation.

In an eclectic household with a mix of platforms, its unlimited licensing is a very good deal. However, if what you need is antivirus protection for a defined number of PCs, you'll do better with one of our other Editors' Choice products. As noted, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Kaspersky Anti-Virus are the darlings of the independent labs. And Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is the tiniest antivirus around. Your choice should depend on exactly what you want to protect.

The Bottom Line

A single subscription for McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you protect every Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS device in your household. Other products may score better in testing, but none of them offer a deal like this.

Overview

When it comes to choosing an antivirus for your computer, you could look for a cheap, lesser-known solution and hope that it will protect you effectively, but a better choice is to go for something more reputable, like McAfee. With more than thirty years of experience backing it up, McAfee delivers a powerful security system, which you can trust to prevent viruses and other threats from damaging your system, collecting your personal information or even stealing your financial data. From single users to large families or companies, the McAfee product line addresses the needs of all user categories.

McAfee is a well-known name in the antivirus industry. Founded way back in 1987, by John McAfee, who resigned in 1994, the company has a rich history of mergers and of purchasing and selling other companies. McAfee itself was bought by Intel, back in 2011, for roughly seven and a half billion US dollars, and was made part of their security division. Briefly known as Intel Security Group (2014-2017), it was re-branded back to McAfee, after Intel closed a joint venture deal with TPG Capital.

McAfee claims to be the largest dedicated security tech company in the world. Even if you think it sounds a bit far-fetched, there is no denying that it is a giant in the industry, especially if you look at its market share percentage, which places the Californian company on the fourth spot.

Packages and features

McAfee has several security packages on offer, aimed at various user categories. If you are a simple user and you only want some basic protection or if you are an expert and you need an advanced security system, you will certainly find something that will satisfy your needs. The best part is that all packages, even the basic one, can be used on an unlimited number of devices, with a single license.

Besides a powerful antivirus scanning engine, McAfee AntiVirus Plus provides you with many other useful features, so you can also avoid fraudulent websites, protect your private information or boosts your computer's performance, instead of being limited to virus scans. Single users can opt for this standard security solution to protect their computers, as well as other devices, like laptops, Macs or mobile devices, but it is also suitable for couples or students, since it can used on an unlimited number of devices.

If your computer is more than just a source of entertainment, then you will probably need some extra security layers. McAfee Internet Security is an excellent choice for people who use their computers for work, but it also serves as a good solution if you have children. Just like McAfee AntiVirus Plus, it can be used on any number of devices, it delivers the same basic features, along with some extra tools.

Community managers or other people who spend most of their time online, working with important data, will probably be interested in McAfee Total Protection. It provides additional layers of security, on top of all the features you can find in McAfee AntiVirus Plus and McAfee Internet Security. Just like the previous packages, McAfee Total Protection can be used on an unlimited number of Windows PCs, Macs and Android or iOS mobile devices.

Found at the top end of the spectrum, McAfee LiveSafe is intended for professionals, who need to exchange files in a secure manner. The fact that it can be used on an unlimited number of devices doesn't make it stand out too much, since this is something you can expect from the other packages as well. McAfee LiveSafe doesn't come with the File Lock feature, because it provides something better.

  • McAfee AntiVirus Plus

    • Antivirus Scanning

      Like other similar products, McAfee AntiVirus Plus provides you with basic and advanced scanning functions. If you suspect that your computer is affected by a virus or other forms of malicious software that collects your private data, you can run a quick, full or custom scan to locate the threats and remove them right away.

    • Scheduled Scanning

      It is generally a good idea to periodically scan your system for virus infections. If you can't find the time to run a scan, you can set up custom scans and schedule them to run automatically every few days, at an hour that is convenient for you. This way, you can focus on your regular activities, instead of thinking about your data's security.

    • Vulnerability Scanning

      Certain software applications can present a security risk if they are out of date. Rather than checking each application separately, you can use McAfee's Vulnerability Scanner to quickly identify all out-of-date applications on your system. In some cases, you will even find a button for updating them automatically, so you don't have to run those applications and waste time looking for the Update option.

    • Real-time Scanning

      Realistically speaking, you can't start a scan each time you intend to run a program you are not sure about, because it would be inefficient. This is why McAfee will automatically scan every file, program or email you open. Whenever you double click a document or an executable, you can be sure that you won't be affected by a virus.

    • Personal Firewall

      Although every operating system comes with its own firewall, McAfee makes it easier to control what applications may connect to the Internet, so you can be certain that no hacker will be able to connect to your computer and access your personal data or hijack your computer.

    • Site Advisor

      You can never be sure if the website you are about to visit is legitimate or not, but with McAfee's Site Advisor active, you will be able to tell safe website from unsafe ones, before you visit them. Even if you fail to notice a URL's low rating, you will receive visual a warning, directly on your browser, so you will know if you are about to connect to a dodgy website.

    • File Shredder

      If you delete a file normally, the actual information will remain on the hard drive and people will be able to recover it with specialized utilities. McAfee's Shredder tool gives you the possibility of erasing files permanently, along with the physical information on your disk, and make it impossible for anyone to recover your private documents.

    • My Home Network

      Since it can be used on any number of devices, McAfee can give you an overview of everything that is connected to your network. What's more, if you have installed the program on all devices, you will be able to fix various security issues remotely, with only a few clicks. If you need to plug a security hole on your mobile phone, you can just click a button on the program's desktop interface and the problem will be fixed.

    • Quick Clean

      Temporary data and other junk files pile on on the hard drive in time, which can affect your system's performance. Quick Clean can find these files for you and it lets you remove them immediately, with a single click, after which you will be able to enjoy a faster and more stable system.

  • McAfee Internet Security

    • Anti-Spam

      No one likes sifting through large amounts of junk mail, to find the two or three important messages they need to look at. McAfee Internet Security's Anti-Spam functionality can help you block junk mail, so you can enjoy a clean inbox, with messages that matter, instead of all those enticing business offers which ultimately leave you poorer by a considerable amount of money.

    • Online Backup

      Losing a photo or a song is one thing, but if you lose an important document, as the result of a virus attack, you could end up having a lot of explaining to do or worse. With McAfee Internet Security's backup feature, you can store your important files online, so you will always have a spare copy, which you can download from any computer, anywhere in the world.

    • True key

      It's never a good idea to use simple passwords for your accounts, but, at the same time, you can't write them down where everybody can see them. True key gives you the possibility of storing your login information in a secure database, which you can lock with a multi-factor authentication system, which includes facial recognition. Unless you have a twin brother, no one will be able to open your database and read your passwords.
      Note: You can use this tool for a single user if you opt for McAfee Internet Security. In McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe, this tool can serve up to five different users.

    • Parental Controls

      Children and the Internet are not a safe mix, but you can use the Parental Control functions to prevent them from reaching websites they are not supposed to see. Additionally, you can set up restrictions if you don't want your children to spend too much time online.

  • McAfee Total Protection

    • Site Advisor Plus

      Just like the Site Advisor that comes in the previous packages, Site Advisor Plus warns you of dangerous websites, before you connect to them. Additionally, you will be able to identify harmful links in emails and instant messages, so if someone wants you to look at something on the web, you will be able to click that link with confidence, knowing that it has been checked for viruses or other threats.

    • File Lock

      Files that are meant for your eyes only can be locked away in a secure vault. You can store your sensitive documents, critical project files or other important files in a special folder, created by File Lock, in Windows Explorer, which you can encrypt and decrypt on the fly. You can let your children, spouse or friends use your computer, without worrying that they may stumble upon those files.

  • McAfee LiveSafe

    • Secure Cloud Storage

      If sharing important files over regular cloud services makes you feel uneasy, you can rely on McAfee LiveSafe's cloud functionality to keep your data safe and secure. You may store your secret documents in the cloud and access them from anywhere in the world, without any concerns about hackers or viruses, because your data will be treated with McAfee's powerful privacy and security capabilities.

Installation and setup

Before you can install any McAfee package on your computer, you will have to activate your license key online. You may want to take it slowly and think if you want to enable the automatic license renewal. Obviously, if you enable this option, you will be charged for a new license automatically, when the old one expires, but you will receive notifications in a timely manner. What's more, if you choose to renew your license automatically, you will benefit from McAfee's Virus Protection Pledge, through which the company is obliged to provide free technical support if you get infected by a virus and even a full refund, if the problem can't be fixed.

Installing the program is quite easy, even for novice users. You will have step-by-step instructions all the way, but you may be slowed down a bit, because you will have to provide your credit card information, for the automatic license renewal. Although McAfee has switched to a new and better installer, some users report having to deal with the old installer instead. Fortunately, this doesn't affect the installation speed or the software's functionality.

Most antivirus programs will start an initial scan automatically, once they are up and running, and McAfee is no exception. What's more, the program will also offer to perform a vulnerabilities scan, remove tracking cookies and shred the files in the Recycle Bin. Also, a quick guide will explain the most important options on the user interface, to help you get started.

User Experience

McAfee has redesigned the user interface of its entire security product line and it has to be said that it is a significant improvement. The HTML-based interface makes information much clearer and easier to retrieve. When launched for the first time, the program will take you through a short tour and provide quick explanations on what each button does, so you don't have to spend any time looking around the interface to get accustomed to the controls.

You can interact with all security modules, and see what they have to report, on separate tabs. Issues that require your immediate attention are brought up on the Home tab, from where you can solve them immediately, with a single click. Also, you can start a virus scan or perform other operations just as easily, without going through any complex menus. Alternatively, if you want to scan a specific file or folder immediately, you can just right click the items in Windows Explorer and select an option to start scanning.

If you install McAfee on multiple devices, you will find them listed on the left side of the interface, where you can also find an option for extending the program's protection to new devices. The process is easy and straightforward, so you don't need to be an expert to bring McAfee's security capabilities to your laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

There is no need to go through any configuration options when you start using the program, because all the important settings are made automatically, according to the best recommendations. You can just let McAfee run and update itself quietly in the background and continue your work or enjoy a movie or a game, without noticing a significant impact on your system's performance.

The program can switch to a gaming mode automatically, when you run a video game, so you can execute those perfect head-shots, without being interrupted by notifications or slowed down by the the program's background activities. However, the story changes a bit if you decide to run a virus scan. While a full system-wide scan doesn't grind your machine to a complete halt, you won't be able to perform resources-intensive tasks in parallel.

Scanning and detection

Like most modern security solutions, McAfee is capable of fending off a wide variety of threats, including malware, viruses, spyware and adware. Its all-new scanning engine is capable of identifying threats with greater accuracy, which means that you won't have to give up on certain applications because the antivirus has falsely flagged them as dangerous.

  • Quick, full and custom scans

    There are several ways to make sure your system is clean. You can run a quick scan, to check the usual locations viruses like to hide in, like the Library folders. As the name suggests, this scanning method is quick and you don't have to spend more than a minute to complete the operation. Alternatively, if you want to be absolutely sure there are no viruses on your computer, you can run a full, system-wide scan, which takes longer to complete and uses a large portion of your resources, but you can be certain that no viruses will escape, regardless of how well they hide.

    Another way you can protect your system is to schedule automatic scans. You can have the program check for viruses for you, every few days, at specific hours, and you won't have to worry that you have forgotten to run a regular scan.

  • Real-time scanning

    Whenever you download a file from the Internet, you may have a feeling of unease and you may want to make sure it's clean. Thanks to McAfee's Real-time protection capabilities, you don't have to scan each file before you run it, because the program will do this automatically. When you run an executable, open a document or an email, the software will scan it quickly. If you make the mistake of opening an infected file, you can be sure that the infection won't spread to your system and damage your valuable files.

    The program can also protect you from threats when you connect to another machine on your network or plug in a removable drive. Whether you retrieve new files from the Internet or from a USB flash drive, you can stay relaxed, regardless of how you import your files. The Real-time scanning feature doesn't have a significant impact on your system, but if you feel that you need more resources for a particular job, you can turn it off temporarily or permanently.

  • Vulnerability Scanner

    Some security gaps are not immediately obvious. In certain cases, out-of-date software can be a way into your system for viruses or hackers. Fortunately, McAfee can point out the applications that need to be updated, so you don't have to manually check for updates, for individual programs on your system. What's more, you can update some applications directly from McAfee's interface, instead of opening and updating them separately. You can fix security risks that even experienced users could miss, with nothing more than a few clicks.

System Performance

System requirements (Recommended):

CPU: 1 GHz
RAM: 2 GB
Disk space: 500 MB

The system requirements shouldn't be too much for a modern day computer. However, having more memory and a more powerful processor, than what is recommended, will definitely make a difference. You won't notice too much of an impact on your computer's performance, while McAfee is working passively in the background, especially when the gaming mode is on, but it will take a significant hit when you start a full scan.

Though your computer will be usable during a full scan, you should stick to less-demanding tasks until the operation is complete, because the program makes almost full use of a processor's power to scan for viruses. The good news is that McAfee's new scanning engine is a significant improvement over the old one. Besides the fact that it is faster, the new engine is also more accurate. Due to the program's high malware detection rate, you don't have to worry that one of your legitimate applications will flagged as a threat and rendered unusable.

The first full system scan takes well over an hour to complete, but you will see improvements in future scans, so you don't have to wait an entire hour each time you wish to check your system for viruses. The full scanning time will level off at about 42 minutes at the third scan, which is well within the average scan time of most antivirus programs out there.

McAfee is available for Windows 7 and all later editions, up to Windows 10, and it provides full support for both 32 and 64-bit versions. A high-speed Internet connection is recommended, if you don't want to wait for updates too long. Furthermore, if you want to benefit from McAfee's Anti-Spam functionality, you will want to use Windows Mail, MS Outlook, Netscape, IncrediMail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Becky or Shuriken.

Mac users will need to have OS X El Capitan (10.11) or any later version, if they want to use the program on their machines. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can protect it with McAfee, if your device is running iOS 9 or a later edition. Alternatively, if you want to protect an Android device, you will need to have Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or any higher version.

Support and Customer Service

McAfee can certainly take care of their paying customers. If you encounter an issue, whether it's technical or something related to billing, you can choose between several ways of getting in touch with a company representative. You can send an email and expect a response in a timely manner, but if it's something urgent, you can request assistance over a toll-free phone call.

The service is open 24/7, in 10 different countries and it is available in 5 different languages. Whats' more, if you decide to contact them over live web chat, you will be able to get support in one of over 20 different languages. Additionally, if you think you are able to solve a problem by yourself, you can have a look over a wide variety of tips, FAQs and video tutorials, available on the McAfee website.

The best customer service seems to revolve around automatic license renewal. Turning this feature on, when purchasing or installing McAfee, will automatically bill you for a new license when the current one expires, to ensure that your system and personal data are protected at all times.

A 30-day money back guarantee is available, but only for automatically renewed subscriptions. Although the license renewal may not seem like a good deal at first, you do get some interesting benefits in return. If you opt for automatic license renewal, you will get McAfee's Virus Protection Pledge. If the program fails to prevent any malware from infecting your system, you can get a McAfee expert to connect to your computer and solve the problem remotely, a service that normally comes at a high price. What's more, if the expert can't fix your problem, McAfee will refund your purchase.

Value for the Money

Although there are other solutions on the market, McAfee is certainly a good investment. It provides you with a wide range of effective tools, to protect your system against malware and to prevent hackers from stealing your private data. It is capable of weeding out threats, while leaving your legitimate applications alone. Also, the fact that even the basic package can be used on an unlimited number of devices makes McAfee a real bargain.

Besides the fact that it has a new appearance, which makes the program easier to use, McAfee's antivirus scanning engine has been completely overhauled. Though it had mixed results in the past, when it came to its scanning capabilities, the software has seen significant improvements since its engine upgrade. Its most recent test results are coming closer and closer to those of the top contenders on the market.

In AV-Test's evaluations, McAfee achieved near-perfect scores for detecting threats with known signatures, as well as unknown, zero-day malware. Also, the program registered almost no false positives, which is a difficult feat for many antivirus programs. You can definitely rely on McAfee to tell the difference between actual threats and software applications that you use regularly, which you know are safe.

Regardless of what you use your computer for or what device you wish to protect, you can certainly find something that suits your needs.

McAfee AntiVirus Plus

This basic package can serve as an excellent security solution for various user categories, due, in no small part, to the unlimited devices license. Single users, couples and even large households, with numerous devices and a tight budget, can choose McAfee AntiVirus Plus. It offers the bare necessities for protecting your computer, laptop and all your mobile devices, with a single license. It also comes with a good amount of bonus features, for securing your private files and making sure there are no openings for a hacker attack.

McAfee Internet Security

The slightly higher price of McAfee Internet Security is justified by its additional Anti-Spam functionality, password manager, online backup system and parental control functions. These features make it ideal for families with small children or people who take their work home, on their personal computers. You can ensure that your work-related documents don't get corrupted or stolen and prevent your children from reaching inappropriate websites.

McAfee Total Protection

If your profession revolves around online interactions, then McAfee Total Protection is the solution you may want to consider, if you don't mind the higher price. Community managers or public relations experts will appreciate the enhanced Site Advisor and file locking system. If you receive links to malicious content, by email or instant message, you will know well in advance to steer clear of them.

McAfee LiveSafe

Though it doesn't bring too much to the table, besides everything in the previous packages, the main advantage of McAfee LiveSafe is the possibility of sharing sensitive data in a safe and secure manner. If you run a small or medium company, you can make important data available to your employees, without having to worry that it may get corrupted by viruses or stolen by hackers.

Final Verdict

There are many issues to consider when choosing an antivirus that is right for you. For roughly the same price you would pay for another antivirus program, which can protect a limited number of platforms, McAfee can provide you with a reliable and accurate antivirus security system, for any number of devices.

When it comes to antivirus programs, the McAfee brand is very well-known indeed, partly because trials of its security software are bundled with new PC builds.

In this review I’ll attempt to discover whether all those people who take the easy route of paying when their free trial expires are making a sound decision.

Minimum system requirements – will it run on your device?

McAfee lists the following as the minimum system requirements for running the program:

  • Operating system: All 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows from XP through to 10
  • CPU: 1 GHz processor or higher
  • Memory (RAM): 256 MB RAM or higher for Windows XP (512 MB recommended) / 512 MB RAM for Vista/Windows 7 (2GB recommended)
  • Available free hard disk space: 200 MB

As you can see, the minimum requirements to get the program running are quite low indeed.

You will, however, have to stop and ask yourself whether running any security program on a computer that relies on an outdated an unsupported operating system such as Windows XP is a good idea.

Installation and setup

Installation of McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 is both quick and simple.

Once you’ve handed the cash over, you’ll sign up for a McAfee account (you only need to enter your email address and a secure password to do so) and then be given a download link and activation code.

It’s important to jot this code down or add it to the clipboard – I forgot to do so the first time around and there isn’t an easy way to rediscover it (if indeed it is possible at all) and wasted a fair bit of time generating a new one by having to sign in and then download the installer again.

One you’ve overcome that hurdle the program will begin to install.

Type the code in or click control + V to paste it (right click and paste doesn’t work) and then you’ll be off and running.

After a few short minutes – during which the program makes what looks like a quick and not-so-detailed check of your system for any existing malware – you’ll be good to go.

Interface

McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 features a simple and easy to use interface.

Sporting a predominantly grey palette, the program displays a bold message at the top of the screen to let you know whether your computer is currently secure or not.

In this instance, a huge splash of green and a large white tick are what you want to see.

Below that status notification are 6 boxes which give access to the core parts of the antivirus program:

  • Virus and Spyware Protection
  • Web and Email Protection
  • McAfee Updates
  • Your Subscription
  • Data Protection
  • PC and Home Network Tools

Additionally, the program offers a home link which, as suggested, will take you back to the front page of the interface, a navigation link which takes you to a page listing every feature in the program – a simple link granted, but if you’ve read my review of Kaspersky’s antivirus program you’ll also realise just how useful it is, and a help link which grants access to installed help files or a link to the company’s support website.

Lastly, the bottom of the interface clearly displays the date and time of your next scheduled scan as well as a link to McAfee’s Threat Map which gives a great, but potentially scary, visual overview of how the world is fairing vs. the threats of malware and spam.

Security features

McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016’s main purpose is to protect your PC from all types of malware, including viruses, Trojans, spyware and rootkits, whether they are already on your hard drive or presented via the web, email or removable USB or optical drives.

To that end, the program features on-demand scanning, scheduled scans and real-time scanning.

The program also features web-based protection in the form of ratings and reports which advise you which sites are safe – and which are not – before you ever click through to visit them.

What’s interesting here is the fact that this feature can actually selectively block content on a given web site rather than the entire domain. This is a nice touch indeed.

Beyond that, the software also offers something you don’t usually see in a standalone antivirus program – a firewall.

Other tools

In addition to the unexpected firewall, McAfee also includes a couple of other features normally reserved for more expensive internet security suites, namely file shredding and anti-phishing.

The file shredder – which the company refers to as a Digital Data Shredder – provides a secure means of deleting your files.

Normally, deleting an unwanted program, document or other file simply removes it from the index table on your hard drive. Until such time as that data is overwritten with something else, it is quite easy to retrieve with simple computer forensics tools.

With the file shredder you can permanently delete files straight away in a manner that prevents them from being retrieved – highly useful if you ever deal with anything of a sensitive nature, from business accounts through to your own personal documents.

To use the shredder you simply right click on any file and then choose Shred.

You can configure the shredding operation via its setting page in the antivirus program itself, choosing between one of four options – Basic, Safe, Comprehensive, or Complete shredding. Each step progressively overwrites the file more times before deletion.

In addition to shredding regular files, you can also do the same with temporary files and the contents of your Recycle Bin.

If wiping out your old files is not enough, you also have the option of taking a scythe to your internet browsing history and email usage – McAfee’s QuickClean program can obliterate your browsing history as well as all your sent emails.

You can preview what is about to be deleted before committing so the chances of accidentally removing something you wish to keep are slim.

When it comes to the security of your computer, malware is not the only threat – you are too.

Many people, for whatever reason, do not keep their operating system fully up to date with the latest service packs or the slew of regular patches thrown out by Microsoft.

While Windows 10 has addressed that problem by forcing updates out to everyone, anyone still on an older version may be putting their device at risk by not consistently fixing new vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

McAfee has this covered though – a vulnerability scanner will not only keep your Windows installation up to date, it will also take care of your outdated apps too.

Both the Vulnerability Scanner and QuickClean can be run on demand or set to run every once in a while.

For what is very much an entry level security antivirus program, McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 offers an impressive list of additional features.

Other included tools of note include a QuickClean tool that can automatically purge your system of junk files and erase your browsing history, website ratings and a warning system should you attempt to access a site that is questionable in terms of its own security.

If you have the program installed on multiple computers in your household (a big disadvantage of this antivirus product is its single user license) then you’ll open up the My Home Network feature which allows each instance of the antivirus program to communicate with its brethren, giving you the ability to monitor the security status of your other PCs andf fix them remotely.

I suspect this feature could be especially useful if your children have their own computers.

Lastly, the program also sports a Threat Map which doesn’t really serve a quantifiably useful purpose but does look incredibly cool.

It uses colour codes to show which areas of the world are highly susceptible to, or responsible for, malware and spam at any given time. It also lists the current top 5 global threats.

Once you get past the eye candy value of the map you’ll realise it won’t make your personal computer any safer but it is interesting nonetheless.

For something more functional you’ll be better served by your own Security History which details what’s been happening on your own system.

Effectiveness as a security solution

While extra bundled features are a nice touch, the question of whether or not an antivirus program is worth installing should always come down to how effective it is at blocking and removing malware.

And on that front the program falls down a little unfortunately.

Previously well regarded, the latest version of the program has struggled with independent testing this time around.

In AV-Comparatives’ dynamic test it failed to even achieve the lowest possible standard rating.

Over at AV-Test, another highly regarded independent testing lab, McAfee AntiVirus failed to receive certification for either Windows XP or, more alarmingly, with the far more recent Windows 7.

On other operating systems, such as Windows 8, the picture is immensely better though – AV-Test scored the program highly, almost on a par with the slightly preferred offerings from and Kaspersky.

A bit of a mixed bag then really and something to make you think if you are still on one of Microsoft’s older operating systems.

But what about the firewall?

Given that it is an unexpected inclusion in an entry-level AV program, it may just swing things back in McAfee’s favour if its any good.

Alas, that it is not the case though.

While it offers positive features, such as intelligently making decision in the background without bothering a user who may not be qualified to choose what should or should not be allowed through, my testing revealed it was not quite as good at blocking exploits as the Windows equivalent.

Given that its free that’s no great deal but it is certainly unfortunate that what looks like an excellent selling point is actually no better than a free alternative already sitting at your fingertips.

That said, the convenience of having your antivirus and firewall in one combined package may be appealing to some of you, though not entirely necessary.

System impact

Running the first full scan with McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 took just a shade under half an hour which is an agreeable rather than excellent amount of time.

That said, subsequent scans merely took a few minutes which suggests the program is concentrating on anything that has changed rather than taking the time to re-scan certain files unnecessarily.

During the scanning process, CPU usage was high, peaking at 100% and averaging around 95%.

That was not a problem though – I noticed no lag or slowdown when opening multiple web browsers or running any of the applications that are included with a clean Windows install.

If your experience differs – and I doubt it will unless you are running a much older machine – you can adjust the virus scanner’s settings to lower resource usage at the expense of a less thorough scan.

Likewise, you can also choose a more thorough scan, though that is likely to have a noticeable effect on the operation of your computer if you are multitasking.

The only slight issue I had was when I deliberately introduced some malware to the system.

Yes, the program discovered it, which is a good sign, but as part of the clean-up process it insisted on rebooting which was a bit of a pain given the fact that I was half way through writing this review at the time.

Other than that minor grumble, I was pretty impressed though – updates to the software, which are an essential part of keeping your system secure, were very much noticeable by their unnoticeability, thanks to being downloaded in the background when I wasn’t otherwise using my computer heavily.

Help and support

Sometimes we all need help with the programs we install on our computers, be that from the get-go with installation, or on the other end of the spectrum in terms of understanding a more technical component.

Most antivirus vendors do offer help, though the quality and availability of that assistance can vary quite considerably.

With McAfee, however, you will almost certainly receive top level service.

From within the antivirus program itself you will have access to an online help page which effectively serves as a trouble-shooting list of frequently asked questions.

If that isn’t sufficient to answer your query then you can also get access to video guides, send an email in or chat to a customer service advisor.

When speaking to someone I found the level of knowledge and competence to be excellent – you’d be surprised how many first line responders in tech companies are not very technical – though it is worth noting that such human interaction is only available Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

Both the email and internet chat are free services.

Overall impression

My overall impression of McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 is a mixed one.

On the one hand, it is one of the more effective antivirus solutions available right now but it is not as good as, say, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2016 or Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2016.

The inclusion of a firewall is an excellent bonus but there are better alternatives on the market and, dare I say it, Windows own in-built equivalent is just as good.

That said, other additional features, such as anti-phishing and file shredding, are extremely welcome, especially as they are extras normally reserved for full internet security suites that tend to cost noticeably more than standalone antivirus programs.

But, the license you get with McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2016 is for one PC only so, while it presents good value for owners of one machine, it does not generally offer the best bang for your buck if you have multiple PCs to protect.

Therefore I would conclude that this program is well worthy of consideration if you only own one machine.

If you are looking to protect several computers the recommended selling price is too high to make this a worthwhile purchase… but… McAfee has been known to offer up some pretty deep discounts on multi-license deals. If you ever see such an offer I say go for it!

Pros

  • "Overall it is good software, has the potential to be the best, works great for what it proposes, just a few tweaks should be made to make it perfect. Highly recommend to potential users."

  • "It's not always possible with this kind of software. The other thing I liked is the funny name, McAfee Endpoint "Security", because it's a joke."

  • "This is a good quality product, it makes me feel safe when surfing the web. It increases my confidence to know my information is well protected."

  • "I am getting wonderful and reliable services from this endpoint system. I recommend it to those organizations which are looking for an excellent endpoint security program."

Cons

  • "It was very frustrating that it cause to stuck the machines during the scanning period."

  • "It could have been quicker. The software takes too long to scan individual files and yet does not detect corrupt or infected files with 100% accuracy."

  • "Sometimes after detecting a threat (which wasn't really a threat), it automatically shuts down the machine."

  • "Another thing that I dislike is that sometimes the scan for errors and viruses take too long. Plus it takes a lot of your memory when you do a scan."

Overall: We have been using McAfee Endpoint Security for years. The software is so successful for protecting your endpoints. If you use this software with McAfee ePO which is centralized security management software, you can easily configure, use and manage

Pros: McAfee Endpoint Security is one of the most important security software in our company. The software is so good in malware and virus protection. McAfee Endpoint Security not only protects against viruses and/or malwares but also has fabuluous functionality to repair infected files. Also, software has an excellent reporting capabilities.

Cons: The software requires a lot of RAM, because of consumption of McAfee resources is so high. Computers slow down while scanning. Antiphishing capability is little bit poor.

Reasons for Choosing McAfee Endpoint Security: We did some POC on a few products and we chose the McAfee Enpoint Security because of the good overall functionality.

Reasons for Switching to McAfee Endpoint Security: Our license was over. We have researched new products and decided to use McAfee Endpoint Security.

Our Verdict

McAfee is easy to set up and provides the perfect form of protection against malware, rootkits, Trojans, viruses, phishing attempts, malicious URLs, and other threats.

A stand-out feature is that you are able to protect all your devices, including PCs, Macs, and mobile devices with just a single subscription. To be honest, it is a complete antivirus solution, and the pricing is highly competitive.

While it does miss out on a built-in VPN, add-on features like Anti-Spam, True Key, and Parental Control add to its overall appeal and value-added approach.

Pros

  • Real-time web monitoring
  • Automatic updates
  • Reliable protection from malware
  • Parental Control
  • Identity Theft Protection System
  • One license, multiple devices
  • Best-in-business core antivirus engine

Cons

  • Expensive pricing tiers
  • Causes system slowdown at times
  • Misses out on extra features
  • No built-in VPN

McAfee Antivirus Overview

McAfee was founded in 1987 by John McAfee and although Intel announced that it would be renamed Intel Security 2014, the name remains thanks to its global recognizability.

McAfee is an excellent antivirus solution, and highly effective at doing what it is meant to. Although it is a bit heavy on the system (the provider deserves a point here because you can see substantial improvement in the latest update), the malware protection is top-notch. The Total Security package is great at stopping malware, and lets you know about each threat it blocks.

Additionally, the newly added identity theft protection system just sweetens the deal.

McAfee Total Protection is a smartly compiled one-stop security suite. While it does miss out on a few features like built-in VPN and more when compared to competitors like Bitdefender, it remains a very all-inclusive antivirus suite when boiled down to overall effectiveness.

How to Setup and Uninstall McAfee

Almost every antivirus needs you to perform similar steps. To set up McAfee on your system, first, check for any existing antivirus and remove it. Then, handle the following:

1)      Visit McAfee’s official website.
2)      Select the McAfee Total Protection Plan (you can opt-in for a 30-day trial before purchasing).
3)      Download and run the McAfee Pre-Install tool and save it to a temporary location

4)      Double-click the downloaded file, and follow the prompts. You might receive a warning message, just click OK and proceed.
5)      Once the pre-install tool is installed, close the window and restart your computer.
6)      Open the tool, and select the device type and the software type you wish to install.

7)      Read and accept the agreement (make a note of the serial number). Click Download. You have now successfully installed the antivirus suite on your device.

Uninstalling the antivirus suite isn’t much of a hassle either. You can uninstall it from the Control Panel itself or use the McAfee Software Removal tool.

1)      Open Control Panel > Programs & Features > Select McAfee > Uninstall.
2)      Download the McAfee Software Removal tool > Enter the Security Validation captcha > Click Next and the tool will uninstall the software.

Features

McAfee is ideal for families and businesses that own multiple devices and while we won’t stretch ourselves by saying that the service is jam-packed with features, we do believe that this provider has everything you need to stay safe based on our tests on different antivirus solutions.

Premium antivirus, anti-spam, safe browsing, optimization, file shredding, password management – it has all the makings of a great product with exceptionally appropriate features.

General

Money-back Guarantee Yes, up to 30 days from the date of purchase
Free Version Yes
Platfom Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS
Parental Control  Yes
Email Protection Yes
Chat No
VPN Services No
Smart Phone Optimizer No
USB Virus Scans Yes
Automated Virus Scans Yes
Game Mode Yes
Safe Browser Yes
Passive Mode No

Threat Protection

Anti-Spyware Yes
Anti-Worm Yes
Anti-Trojan Yes
Anti-Rootkit Yes
Anti-Phishing Yes
Anti-Spam Yes
Adware Prevention No

Scanning

McAfee Total Security offers multiple scan options to keep your device safe. Its real-time scan feature is designed to stop every malicious URL, file, or email while you access the Internet. You can run deep scans to detect and remove corrupted files.

The Vulnerability Scanner is also part of the package; it searches for security flaws and vulnerabilities such as outdated software, that hackers can use. Moreover, the Registry Startup Scan and USB virus scan are good-to-have added features.

McAfee has an excellent detection rate and low false positives compared to Trend Micro. AV-Comparatives 2019 Real-World Protection Test results showed McAfee blocked 99.4% with 6 False Positives. Trend Micro had blocked 99.9% but experienced 19 False Positives.

Pricing

Plan Price Number of Devices Top Features
McAfee Total Protection – Family $44.99 per year 10 Protection against virus, ransomware, malware, Identity Theft Protection, Safe Family
McAfee Total Protection – Multi-Device $39.99 per year 5 Encrypted storage, safe browsing, multi-device compatibility
McAfee Total Protection – Individual $34.99 per year 1 Antivirus, Performance Optimization, Expert Online Support

Discounts

McAfee is offering massive discounts on all of its plans. While the Total Protection – Individual seems to be a bit pricey, the costs balance up as you add more devices.

The individual pack is normally $79.99. Discounted Price is $34.99/year for 1 Device

McAfee® Total Protection for 10 Devices normally $111.99 Discounted price is $44.99

McAfee® Total Protection for 5 Devices normally $99.99 Discounted price is $39.99

Privacy and Security

Privacy

McAfee Total Security provides some very effective features to maintain your privacy. One of the stand-out features that their premium plan offers is Identity Theft Protection. It is available when you enroll in auto-renewal, and blocks hackers and ID thieves via monitoring and a multi-layered privacy network.

It also comes with an advanced two-way firewall that helps control the sending and receipt of data packets by apps. Safe browsing and network manager tools are other sound features to help secure your device from online threats.

Parental Control and File Lock Encryption are two other noteworthy benefits that are unique to this plan.

Security

McAfee’s Safe Family features amplify the security of your devices and the entire family. It works seamlessly on Android, iOS, and Windows devices, and allows you to secure everything with a single license. AV-Test’s September 2019 Product Review and Certification Report awarded a protection score of 5.5/6, similar to one of the top contenders Norton Security.

The Password Manager, File Shredder, and Encryption Lock are other enviable features that bolster the overall security of this antivirus suite.  One of the notable differences is that McAfee doesn’t offer a built-in VPN with any of its plans.

Performance and Protection

McAfee has been scoring consistently in our recent testing and while it has encountered some hurdles over the past few years, it has always managed to rebound stronger than ever.

AV-Comparatives October 2019 Performance Test awarded McAfee with an ADVANCED+ rating because of its impact score of 1.9, while F-Secure had an impact score of 7.4. In the same test, Trend Micro scored the second-highest 13.7  behind Microsoft which demonstrated a very high (negative) impact score of 17.

Malware Protection

McAfee offers reliable protection against all types of malware, including Trojans, Rootkits, viruses, worms, botnets, ransomware, and keyloggers. The security process starts with scanning files and matching them with known signatures.

In the background, heuristic analysis monitors keep a continuous eye on all programs for anomalies.

AV-Comparatives Malware Protection Test (July 2019) gave the antivirus a STANDARD rating as it was only able to block 99.82% malware and returned 2 false positives. By comparison, close competitor Panda ($40.00 at Panda) was awarded the ADVANCED rating (99.99% blocked, 21 False Positives).

Ransomware Detection

McAfee Advanced Threat Defense auto-updates the known-signatures list continuously to point out and neutralize any ransomware threats on your device. A fantastic aspect is that it can detect most real-world ransomware quickly and efficiently. Yet, it still has a long way to go when it comes to competing with other antivirus solutions.

The Real-World Protection Test held by AV-Comparatives in July 2019 showed McAfee to have blocked 99.7% threats and returned 3 false positives, while competitor ESET blocked 98.3% threats and returned 1 false positive.

Phishing Detection

McAfee operates extremely well when detecting malicious websites replicated for phishing attacks. The heuristic real-time scanner compares every email and website signature to keep you safe online. Furthermore, a Safe Web Browsing feature blocks every risky site to help ensure that you don’t fall prey to keyloggers.

Though there is no VPN, yet the antivirus does a splendid job blocking and continuously updating its list of malicious URLs. In the recent Real-World Tests (Mar 2019), both McAfee and Avast fared extremely well and received ADVANCED+ ratings from AV-Test.
 
Spyware Protection

McAfee’s virus scan includes the on-demand scanner and the real-time scanner that gives your device 360-degree protection from all forms of spyware. The safe browser and two-way firewall makes sure that your online behavior isn’t tracked. You can even control the way apps interact over the internet, granting you enhanced security against trackers.

In the April 2019 False Alarm Test by AV-Comparatives, McAfee returned 9, while ESET had 1, Kaspersky experienced 3, and Avira counted 4 false positives.

Firewall Protection

With McAfee, you get complete control of the firewall feature. It allows you to control the privileges apps and servers need to communicate to and from your computer.

When the firewall detects a shady connection not defined by the rules, it alerts you to block the connection.

Choose from 4 security levels – smart access, monitored access, stealth, and lockdown.

Restore the original settings to default with just a click. Overall, this antivirus delivers a great firewall that functions superbly when securing your device – be it a private or public network.

Lab Results

McAfee hasn’t been consistent with its performance, though it improved for the better throughout 2019. For instance, when tested during the 2019 AV-TEST Product Review and Certification Report, the antivirus scored 99.2% in March and 100% in April during the Real-World Testing. This is a very solid score considering the industry average of 99.3%. In the same test held between July and August of 2019, the solution scored 100% in July and 98.9% in August.

The performance and usability scores have been a steady 6/6. However, in the most-recent Real-Word Testing conducted between September and October of 2019 (0-day malware, web & email threats), McAfee blocked just 98.4% of 335 samples and a protection score of 5.5/6. Competitors like Avast ($89.99 at Avast) and Avira blocked 100% of threats, notching perfect protection scores of 6 each.

The performance was previously a big concern over the last couple of years. However, per my testing, recent updates have had a resoundingly positive effect in terms of reducing the system-wide impact when McAfee is running.

The AV-Comparatives Performance Test conducted in October 2019 matched our experience, ranking this antivirus provider as “very fast” when performing certain tasks like archiving, file copying, installing/uninstalling, launching applications, downloading files, and browsing websites.

Undoubtedly this is a serious improvement, helping this solution record an Impact Score of 1.9 (ADVANCED+) which was just behind ESET which notched a victory on this test after logging a final impact score of 1.3.

Ease of Use and Interface

Unlike some of its more cluttered competitors, McAfee features a simple and clean user interface thanks to very thoughtful updates implemented in 2019. It is rather simplistic when compared to other antiviruses, but for the user’s benefit.

Everything a user needs is displayed right on the home screen. A green checkmark tells you everything is functioning properly and changes to Yellow and Red depending on the level of severity.

There are individual tabs for handling PC Security, PC Performance, My Privacy, and My Info. On the bottom, you have well-organized sections to Scan for viruses, a Password Manager, Identity Theft Protection, Update, and Cookie/Tracker removal.

McAfee is loaded with many options and you will, therefore, need some time and practice to get accustomed to the dashboard. Nonetheless, The navigation is intuitive and fast despite not being quite as good as Norton. Most of the important features are under the gear icon so make sure to check it.

Additionally, the Tray icon gives you quick access to selected features that come in handy at times. Other than these, you also have the True Key Chrome extension for quick use.

Overall, it is neatly segregated, but McAfee can definitely make better use of some of the empty space in its platform.

Customer Support

The newer versions of this antivirus option don’t offer email support however, it does provide access to the best-24/7 tech support via phone and live chat. McAfee has one of the biggest knowledge bases and resource centers among the top-rated antivirus companies. Video tutorials, step-by-step guides, community forums, a VA app, in-depth articles and more grant you have access to everything without the need to connect to tech support.

McAfee has a Virus Pledge wherein if you find any virus in your device after installing it and the tech support can’t quarantine it, they’ll refund you the total cost of the product.

When it comes to customer satisfaction rates apart from our own testing, Consumer Affairs gave McAfee a moderate score of 3-stars. However, in our experience, customer service was very responsive, helpful, and pleasant to interact with.