McAfee Antivirus Review


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.

  • McAfee AntiVirus Plus

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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.

    • 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
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.

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