McAfee Antivirus Review

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Joseph Steinberg

Table of contents


    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.


    • 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


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

    See It at McAfee

    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.

    Licence Agreement

    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.

    PC Protected

    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.

    Removal Complete

    Read More: How to stop MacAfee pop-ups


    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.


    Money-back GuaranteeYes, up to 30 days from the date of purchase
    Free VersionYes
    PlatfomWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS
    Parental Control Yes
    Email ProtectionYes
    VPN ServicesNo
    Smart Phone OptimizerNo
    USB Virus ScansYes
    Automated Virus ScansYes
    Game ModeYes
    Safe BrowserYes
    Passive ModeNo

    Threat Protection

    Adware PreventionNo


    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.


    PlanPriceNumber of DevicesTop Features
    McAfee Total Protection – Family$44.99 per year10Protection against virus, ransomware, malware, Identity Theft Protection, Safe Family
    McAfee Total Protection – Multi-Device$39.99 per year5Encrypted storage, safe browsing, multi-device compatibility
    McAfee Total Protection – Individual$34.99 per year1Antivirus, Performance Optimization, Expert Online Support


    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


    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.


    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).

    Virus Attack

    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.

    Full Scan

    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.

    Total Protection

    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.

    Cyber Bodyguard

    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.