Detailed Expert Review
It’s not easy to find a good Mac antivirus. However, after testing virtually all of the macOS antiviruses out there, I am an confident in saying:
- Intego is the best Mac-only antivirus software on the market.
Now, it’s not perfect, but Intego has done a lot of good things with its two macOS malware protection engines — VirusBarrier and NetBarrier — both of which scored exceptionally well during my testing.
There are also lots of additional tools on Intego’s discounted Mac Premium Bundle X9, such as:
- Washing Machine — system cleaner and optimizer.
- Personal Backup — advanced data backup tool.
- ContentBarrier — parental controls (way better than Mac’s parental controls).
So, is Intego worth the money?
While it can be a bit challenging to set up and the customer support needs work, Intego is an overall great product — it scored top marks in macOS virus protection, ease of use, and overall value, it’s cheaper than most other Mac-based antiviruses, and it ranked as the #1 antivirus for Mac in 2021.
Intego Security Features
- Note: If you want to read about Intego Antivirus for Windows, click here.
VirusBarrier — Malware Scanning
VirusBarrier is Intego’s antivirus scanner. The dashboard is simple and easy to use, but still contains essential virus protection tools, such as an antivirus scan, real-time protection, scheduled scans, and malware removal.
I really like the layout , and it’s super easy to navigate. I also love the customization option, and I can choose to schedule scans of specific files and folders, not just entire system scans — which is perfect as I use specific files more frequently than others.
I can also select my level of protection — “Minimum”, “Standard”, and “Maximum”. I would recommend that most people choose “Maximum” as it offers protection from all cybersecurity threats.
I like VirusBarrier’s “Safe Browsing On” feature, which checked to see if my browser’s anti-phishing settings are on — protecting me from malicious websites and emails. If I click on a phishing link, my browser and VirusBarrier will alert me so that I can take immediate action.
Using VirusBarrier, I was able to run a Full Scan or Quick Scan of my entire Mac and any connected external drives or iOS devices — which is a really cool feature because I like to ensure my iPhone is virus-free. I first opted to run a Full Scan.
Although I was content that Intego had scanned all 800,000+ files on my Mac, 2 hours and 10 minutes is a pretty long time for an antivirus scan, in my opinion. Rival Mac-based antivirus scanners, such as Airo AV, are nearly twice as fast. That said, subsequent Full Scans were much faster (just over 10 minutes) thanks to the built-in file caching technology. And all Quick Scans were just over 2 minutes.
The Full Scan picked up multiple threats on my device, including a trojan, some adware, and other potentially harmful files. Intego prompted me to handle these files immediately, giving me 3 options:
I thought I’d resolved the issue when I clicked Repair. However, when I checked the “Logs” to get a full breakdown of the scan, I noticed it said “Repair failed” next to 6 of the potentially harmful files. It would have been nice if the software alerted me to the fact that the repair process had failed so I could have done something.
Retrying the antivirus scan, I opted to “Quarantine” the files that were detected previously. I navigated to the Quarantine tab and chose to Delete All of the infected files. Again, I was disappointed to find that only half of them could be deleted. 5 files still remain in the Quarantine, with a message at the bottom right of the interface saying: “VirusBarrier is unable to delete one or more of the selected file(s).”
I do like VirusBarrier’s schedule scan customization options and the fact that subsequent scans are much faster. However, I would have prefered it if Intego notified me regarding the failure to repair infected documents so I can take action before something serious happens — many novice users may not understand the virus scan logs, and they could be at high risk if Intego doesn’t properly repair malicious files.
NetBarrier — Mac Firewall
NetBarrier is a firewall with some extra options. But is it better than Mac’s default firewall? Yes!
You can select whether you’re using NetBarrier to protect your Mac while connected to your home network, your work network, or while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
I have the option to either Allow or Block both incoming and outgoing internet connections as well as incoming and outgoing local connections. All 3 of the NetBarrier presets block “Incoming Internet Connections”, but the “Public Hotspot” preset also blocks incoming local connections — meaning cyber-criminals who are using the same public Wi-Fi connection as me can’t attack my device (phew!).
NetBarrier also has an Applications tab, which lists all of the programs trying to connect to the internet from my device. This feature is great, as it gives me full control over apps that want to share or receive information via the internet. Some of these applications may be malicious malware, stealing your private information and sharing it via the internet — as NetBarrier blocks these connections, the malware won’t be able to function, so your Mac and personal information will remain protected.
Overall, Intego has done a good job with this feature. It’s easy to navigate, has a simple layout, and has features that help keep my device protected depending on the type of network connection.
ContentBarrier — Parental Controls
ContentBarrier is Intego’s parental control software. You’ll have the ability to monitor how your kids are using the internet — what websites they visit, their keystrokes, as well as chat room and messenger app activity.
You’ll also have the ability to block specific websites that may be inappropriate for children, including social media networks and websites with adult content.
What I love about ContentBarrier is the “Anti-Predator” monitoring function that scans all of your child’s activity on their user account and alerts you if your child is being preyed upon by bad actors online. This feature gives parents huge peace of mind when their child is using the internet.
The big problem, however, is that ContentBarrier is not easy to set up — there wasn’t a clear set of instructions to follow, so I didn’t really know how to use the software at first. I figured it out, but it shouldn’t have been this difficult to do. However, I do love the range of features offered — much better than the default Mac parental controls.
Washing Machine — Mac System Optimizer
Washing Machine combines a range of Mac cleaning and performance-enhancing tools.
There are 3 options to choose from when you load the software:
“Reclaim” scanned my entire device for old or unused files that were clogging up my precious hard disk space. The initial scan took just over 5 minutes and found around 18 GB of junk files, including logs, caches, downloads, and trash files. I was able to select the files that I wanted to delete from my system and click Clean, which removed the files from my Mac instantly — *make some noise for all that free disk space*.
“Duplicates” scanned my Mac for duplicate files. It found 900+ duplicate files stored on my Mac — I had 6 versions of the same file in some instances. I was then able to select and delete the duplicate files to free up some hard drive space. What I like about “Duplicates” is that I was able to view the duplicate files on a preview screen, located at the bottom right of the interface, before proceeding to delete them — MacKeeper’s duplicate file cleaner doesn’t offer this feature.
“Organize” is a really neat tool that helps to tidy all of the files and apps on my Mac. I was able to sort my desktop files into folders, rearrange apps in my Dock, and add new “Smart Folders” — the folders placed on the left of Mac’s Finder app, including Applications, AirDrop, Downloads, etc.
“Organize” is my favorite feature on Washing Machine. My desktop was so messy (mainly with random screenshot files), and I was able to tidy them all into the “Desktop Folder” instantly by clicking the drop-down menu and selecting Move Items to Desktop Folder. I didn’t feel the need to rearrange my Dock, as it’s already pretty well organized. But it may be useful if you have a huge range of unused apps. Using the Smart Folders tab, I added the “All Spreadsheets” to my list of Smart Folders as I wanted easy access to all of my work-related spreadsheet documents.
Overall, Washing Machine has a great set of features. While I like “Reclaim” and “Duplicates”, “Organize” is my favorite — this is something I haven’t seen on rival Mac-based software, such as MacKeeper.
Personal Backup — Customizable Backups
Personal Backup is designed to back up all important files — much like Apple’s Time Machine — but in a more personalized way.
Using Personal Backup, I was able to back up specific files or folders to an external hard drive or a separate integrated hard drive.
The cool thing about Personal Backup is that I can schedule multiple backups for different purposes. For example, I chose to back up my music files weekly and scheduled all of my work-related documents to back up hourly.
Personal Backup has a few other options, including:
- Bootable Backup
“Bootable Backup” enables you to backup your entire system with the current Mac OS X version that is installed on your device — meaning that if your Mac’s operating system becomes faulty, you can load the entire contents of your Mac from your external drive to another device without having to reinstall any OS X software. I think this is awesome, as it saves waiting for hours for your Mac’s OS X to update or reinstall if there’s an issue.
“Synchronize” enables you to sync files between multiple devices. Once you make a change to a file on your Mac, the same file located on your external drive will also change. This could be useful if you use multiple devices — such as an iMac at your office and a MacBook for when you’re traveling. Personally, I wouldn’t find this beneficial, but it is useful if you’re continually changing the devices you’re working on.
And “Restore” does what it says — restores the backups made on your external drive.
Overall, I like the features that Intego offers. I was slightly frustrated about my experience with deleting malicious files from my device. However, the range of options with each package and the ease of use (except for ContentBarrier) definitely makes it worth the money.
Intego Plans & Pricing
There’s a pretty big range of different Intego plans to choose from. All of the plans contain one or a combination of the Intego products mentioned above, and they’re all reasonably priced. Aside from the Mac Washing Machine X9 package (which is a one-off payment), all plans are priced for either 1 year or 2 years of protection. The plans include:
This package contains all of the antivirus and Mac optimization tools mentioned in this review. You can choose to protect 1, 3, or 5 Macs. This package contains:
- Mac Washing Machine
- Personal Backup
Mac Internet Security X9 lets you protect 1, 3, or 5 Macs. This package contains:
Mac Washing Machine Secure X9
Mac Washing Machine Secure X9 lets you protect 1 or 3 Macs. This package contains:
- Mac Washing Machine
ContentBarrier Secure X9
ContentBarrier Secure X9 lets you protect 1 or 3 Macs. This package contains:
Mac ContentBarrier X9
This package contains the ContentBarrier software only. You can choose to protect 1 or 3 Macs.
Mac Washing Machine X9
This package is a one-off payment and contains the Washing Machine software only. You can choose to use this package for 1 or 3 Macs.
I recommend the Mac Premium Bundle X9, as it’s amazing value for the money and contains all of the tools you need to safeguard and optimize your Mac. If you’re simply looking for antivirus protection, you can opt for the Mac Internet Security X9 package.
Intego does offer business plans, but these packages are tailored to a business’s needs, so pricing varies depending on the size of the company.
As most packages only cover up to 3 Macs, this isn’t great for families who may have more than 3 devices to protect. This is another reason why I’d recommend the Mac Premium Bundle X9, as you’re able to cover up to 5 Macs.
Overall, Intego’s products are really great value for the money. The full package is cheaper than competing Mac-based antivirus and Mac optimization programs such as MacKeeper. The Mac Internet Security X9 package also works out to be less expensive than Airo AV — a streamlined Mac-based antivirus that only focuses on virus scanning and internet security, like Intego’s Mac Internet Security X9 package.
Intego Ease of Use and Setup
Intego is pretty easy to set up. The entire installation process took no longer than 2-3 minutes — considering that I opted to install the large Mac Premium Bundle X9 package, the process was super quick.
Once installed, I was prompted to input my serial key given to me upon purchasing the software. Once I inputted my serial key, I was good to go!
Most of Intego’s products are well-laid-out and easy to navigate, including Washing Machine and VirusBarrier. However, tools such as ContentBarrier could be made easier to use, as I fear that first-time users may struggle to set it up with the lack of instructions provided.
Intego has done a great job of providing information overlays that explain how to use each tool (example below).
However, they didn’t provide one of these overlays for ContentBarrier, which would have been really helpful.
Although a minor point, I would also improve VirusBarrier by including a bigger, more obvious “Scan” button, like Washing Machine — to make it easier for novice users to initiate a scan of their Mac.
Preferably, I’d like Intego to have all of its products located in one easy-to-use dashboard, like MacKeeper and TotalAV. Having separate interfaces clogs up my desktop, especially if I want to use Washing Machine, run a virus scan, and make changes to NetBarrier.
Considering the robust protection that Intego offers, the software didn’t significantly impact my device’s performance. Using Activity Monitor, I found that it had a relatively low impact on my Mac’s memory and CPU — even though I chose the “Maximum” protection option, which is meant to be the most CPU-intensive option.
I was most concerned about VirusBarrier and how much CPU it takes up during a full scan — around 50%. Still, I found an option in the VirusBarrier Preferences tab called “Scan with low priority” — which prioritizes other programs running on the Mac during virus scans. When this setting is on, scans can take longer, but I think this is a really nice touch by Intego as I like to run virus scans every evening while watching Netflix.
Overall, most of Intego’s features are nicely designed and are super easy to use. I would prefer VirusBarrier if it had more obvious buttons for novice users. I’d also like to see Intego improve its ContentBarrier software layout — making it easier to set up. I also noticed that Intego could only be localized into 5 different languages — English, German, French, Spanish, and Japanese. It would be nice to see Intego offer more translation options, like MacKeeper — which offers its software in 20 different languages.
Intego Mobile App
Intego doesn’t have a mobile app currently. However, you can scan your iOS device for viruses and malware using VirusBarrier by connecting it to your Mac — just like how you’d scan an external hard drive. This feature is nice, as it’s something I haven’t seen on other Mac-based antivirus software like Airo AV.
Intego Customer Support
Intego’s customer support is decent. It offers email support, live chat, phone support (for certain countries), and a really awesome FAQ page.
Phone support is available in North and South America (including Canada), Europe (including the U.K.), Africa, Japan, and Australia. Intego offers customer support in English, French, and Japanese. Phone and email support options are available between 8:30am and 5:30pm (in each location), Monday to Friday. Live chat is available between 8:30am and 5:30pm US central time (CT).
My experience with email support was mixed. I asked for more information about VirusBarrier and if it used file caching technology to make subsequent scans faster. I received a response from a representative around 3 hours later — pretty quick for email support. I was really happy with the detailed and informative answer.
However, I sent another email regarding my issues with deleting infected files. That response wasn’t helpful, but they did ask for more information regarding my issue. I sent a reply with more details, but I only heard back 3 days later. I felt this email was more urgent than my previous email, so it’s annoying that it took so long to receive a response.
The response (screenshot below) was quite long-winded, and I was advised to go through the process of deleting the files manually — which makes me question why I’m using the antivirus software. I was also told to download a third-party tool to help me with this process. So I wasn’t entirely satisfied with this response.
Intego’s live chat is much better in terms of response times. I asked a question via the Intego website’s live chat function, and I received a response from a representative almost instantly! I was pleased with the responses I received — they were able to answer any question within a matter of seconds. Good job on this Intego!
Another huge plus is Intego’s FAQ section — also known as the “Knowledge Base”. This is one of the best FAQ sections I’ve seen on any antivirus software website. The Knowledge Base page is laid out clearly, with specific sections relating to each Intego product and other general questions, such as billing and installation.
All of the FAQs are super easy to follow, with clear screenshots and all of the information you need to fix most issues. Again, Intego gets top marks for this.
Intego has a 30-day money-back guarantee. My experience with requesting a refund was pretty straightforward. I emailed asking for a refund, the representative I spoke to asked the reason for my request, and then they proceeded to initiate my refund. I was told it would be 10–14 days before their money appears back in my account. Overall, I was happy with the refund process.
Intego’s customer support is good. Live chat is great, and the FAQ (Knowledge Base) is awesome. However, I would prefer it if the email support were more responsive and helpful, especially when dealing with urgent issues. The range of languages offered by Intego’s support team is good, but I wish there more options for non-English speakers.
Is Intego really the best antivirus software for Mac in 2021?
In a word — yes! Although I have mixed feelings about some of Intego’s features, I think it’s great overall. I 100% trust the software to protect my Mac against viruses, malware, and cybercriminals. Also, it does an excellent job of helping me to optimize my Mac’s performance.
As I mentioned previously, ContentBarrier could be made a lot easier to set up, and VirusBarrier’s delete and repair process needs to be improved. I would also like it if all of the products were located in one easy to use dashboard, like MacKeeper or TotalAV.
That said, I would choose Intego over any other macOS-based antivirus, such as Airo AV or MacKeeper, as it’s highly customizable and has a great range of features. The scheduled scan options alone make it my favorite Mac antivirus. And Personal Backup’s options are levels above Apple’s Time Machine. Overall, Intego truly is an amazing value software for the money.
Intego Review — Frequently Asked Questions
Does Intego offer a free trial?
Yes, Intego does offer a 30-day free trial, and you won’t have to input any payment card details to access this free trial. However, some features such as Washing Machine will be limited — you’ll be able to scan your device for junk files, but you’ll have to purchase the full version to delete them.
Do Macs really need antivirus software?
Although Macs are said to be virus-proof, this is not true. Hackers are targeting more macOS devices every day — with Mac-specific malware becoming extremely advanced. Having a Mac without any form of antivirus software is extremely risky. You should at least consider installing an antivirus like Intego to avoid hackers from destroying your system and stealing all of your personal data.
And with a 30-day Intego trial, there’s no reason not to try it out.
Will Intego protect me against rootkits?
Yes. Intego’s VirusBarrier can detect and remove rootkits.
Will Intego slow down my device?
In most cases, Intego is pretty lightweight, even when you’ve selected the most CPU-intensive settings — known as “Maximum”. When completing system scans, each product can take up some CPU space. However, you can reduce the CPU usage by choosing the “Scan with low priority” setting in VirusBarrier Preferences.