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McAfee Antivirus Review — Is It Good Enough in 2021?

Ben Martens
Ben Martens
Published on: September 20, 2021

McAfee Review: Quick Expert Summary

McAfee provides excellent real-time malware detection along with some of the best web protections on the market for an excellent price. McAfee also has a ton of useful extra features, includes an intuitive dashboard across all operating systems, and provides coverage for up to 10 devices (which is more than what most competitors offer).

McAfee’s antivirus scanner scored an impressive 100% malware detection rating in all of my tests across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. It was able to identify and block both simple and sophisticated threats, including viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, and cryptojackers.

McAfee also offers more additional features than most other antiviruses, including:

  • Firewall and Wi-Fi network protection.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Virtual private network (VPN).
  • Performance optimization.
  • Password manager.
  • Parental controls.
  • Identity theft protection(for US customers only).
  • Secure file storage.
  • And a lot more…

Most of McAfee’s features work exactly as promised — I’m a huge fan of McAfee’s anti-phishing and anti-exploit browser extension, which blocked more dangerous sites than Chrome or Firefox in my tests. I also think McAfee’s firewall and Wi-Fi protections are better than similar protections offered by premium competitors like TotalAV and Avira.

On the other hand, I don’t like McAfee’s VPN — it keeps user logs, it doesn’t allow torrenting, and it’s unable to access some popular streaming sites (McAfee’s VPN unblocks Netflix and Amazon Prime, but not Disney+, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer).

That said, I still think McAfee is one of the best-value antiviruses out there. It has a high-quality malware scanner, a wide range of security features, and an easy to use dashboard — and all of this for a very low price. McAfee offers 1-year plans for 1, 5, or 10 devices, as well as heavily discounted 2-year plans for its Multi-Device and Family plans, making McAfee one of the most affordable premium antivirus suites in 2021. McAfee has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans, so there’s no risk in trying it out.

Overall Rank #5 out of 62 antiviruses
Firewall Yes
VPN Yes (with unlimited data)
Free Plan No
Pricing Starting at /year
Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
Operating Systems Windows, Android, Mac, iOS

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McAfee Full Review

McAfee Full Review

McAfee is a premium anti-malware suite with a huge range of security features.

I spent a few weeks stress-testing McAfee’s security protections across my PC, MacBook Pro, Samsung Galaxy, and iPhone, and I was really impressed with how well it performed in all areas (especially considering that it has more extra features than almost any competitor).

McAfee is definitely one of the most impressive internet security suites in 2021 — it’s very reliable, very easy to use, and its 2-year subscription plans are among the cheapest around.

McAfee Security Features

Antivirus Scanner

McAfee Security Features

McAfee’s antivirus scanner uses traditional malware detection methods, which check files against McAfee’s huge virus database, as well as heuristics, which identifies potentially dangerous files based on their behavior.

Before testing McAfee’s antivirus scanner, I downloaded various types of malware on my PC —  including viruses, trojans, and spyware. Then, I installed McAfee and ran a full system scan. The scan detected 100% of my test malware. But I can’t say I was surprised with the result.

This wasn’t the first time I tested McAfee’s scanner — when I ran my standard series of malware tests a couple of months ago, McAfee also scored a perfect malware detection rate.

McAfee is one of the rare antiviruses with consistently excellent results against all kinds of malware — the only other brands that can compete with McAfee include Norton, Bitdefender, TotalAV, and Avira, which all successfully identified and removed all malware samples during all of our tests.

McAfee’s full system scan took around 1 hour to complete — this is on par with competitors like Bitdefender, but both Norton and Avira’s scans are faster, taking only 40 minutes to finish. I also ran McAfee’s quick scan, which took under 2 minutes to finish, and the duration of McAfee’s custom scan depended on the types of files I chose to scan (from a couple of minutes to 1 hour).

The only thing I don’t like about McAfee’s scanner is that it does cause some system slowdown. When McAfee was scanning my PC, it ran slower than normal — I could still browse the internet and use word processing programs to get some work done, but watching a video or playing a game was out of the question. But McAfee lets you schedule scans whenever you want, so you can schedule a full system scan to run when you know you won’t be using your PC. That said, some competitors like Avira and TotalAV don’t impact a system’s performance during system scans.

Overall, McAfee’s antivirus scanner is among the very best on the market. If you’re looking for reliable protection against both known and zero-day threats, McAfee is a really good choice, with perfect malware detection rates, fast scans, and simple scan scheduling. My only complaint is that the antivirus scanner slowed down my PC during a full system scan, but you can easily schedule full scans during the night or when you’re not using your PC.

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Firewall

McAfee Security Features

McAfee’s firewall is powerful, easy to use, and highly customizable — but if you’re not tech-savvy, it also runs perfectly well out of the box. In my testing, McAfee detected a variety of my test threats, including network intrusions, exploit attacks, and malware programs attempting to communicate with remote servers. McAfee’s firewall protection was more accurate and effective than the built-in firewalls provided by both Windows and macOS.

McAfee’s firewall has a ton of security capabilities — for example, McAfee allows users to:

  • Decide which programs can access the web.
  • Open and close specific network ports.
  • Choose 4 different levels of intensity for network protection.
  • Adjust trust settings for saved networks.
  • Activate software intrusion detection.
  • Whitelist specific programs.

I really like the variety of options that McAfee’s firewall provides — but less tech-savvy users can also simply set the firewall to automatically block suspicious activity with almost zero user input.

McAfee Security Features

The only thing I don’t like about McAfee’s firewall is that its logs aren’t very detailed — McAfee will tell you what network activity has been blocked, but it doesn’t tell you why certain types of traffic have been blocked or what you should do about it (other than leaving McAfee installed).

McAfee Security Features

McAfee Security Features

McAfee’s firewall provides state-of-the-art protection for user networks — I really like its program blocking tool, network intrusion protection, and advanced settings for tech-savvy users. While I would like to see McAfee’s diagnostics offer a little more information on the threats it detects, it’s still one of the best firewalls I’ve used in 2021.

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VPN (Virtual Private Network)

McAfee Security Features

A VPN routes all of your web traffic through a secure server, which encrypts all of your data — hiding your online traffic from your internet service provider (ISP), government, and hackers. A VPN also masks your IP address to make it appear as if you’re connecting from a different location. For example, if you’re located in the US and connect to a server in the UK, you’ll be given an IP address from the UK, allowing you to browse the internet and stream content as if you’re in the UK.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN is easy to use, has pretty fast internet connection speeds, and is good for basic online activities like browsing and streaming content (it works with Netflix and Amazon Prime, but not with Disney+, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer).

McAfee Safe Connect VPN’s network includes 1,900+ servers located in 41 countries — this is a pretty good server network, but it’s not as big as what standalone competitors like ExpressVPN offer (ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries). McAfee’s Safe Connect VPN protects user data with 256-bit AES encryption, which is one of the strongest encryptions out there, and there’s a kill switch (Safe Connect), which disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops.

In my tests, I was able to access Netflix international content libraries in the UK, France, Japan, Brazil, and other countries, but I couldn’t access Disney+, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer. I also watched TV shows and movies on lesser-known streaming services like Pluto TV and CBC (Canada), but I was blocked by others like Crunchyroll. If you’re looking for a VPN that consistently unblocks streaming services, I recommend ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN also blocked my torrent client from uploading or downloading files in my testing — if you’re looking for a good VPN for torrenting, my top choices are ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN.

While there are things I like about McAfee Safe Connect VPN, there are a handful of drawbacks. For example, it has a terrible privacy policy — McAfee Safe Connect VPN keeps logs of the websites you visit, your IP addresses, and even products you purchase online. Also, McAfee Safe Connect VPN is missing extra features like split-tunneling (allows you to choose which traffic travels through the VPN server and which traffic travels through your local network) and obfuscated servers (to bypass government firewalls in restrictive countries like China).

However, McAfee Safe Connect VPN performed really well in my speed tests — I had very fast speeds when I was connected to a local server (I’m in the US), and McAfee Safe Connect VPN maintained decent speeds for smooth browsing on distant servers in Europe and South America (although websites took 4-5 seconds to load in Australia).

McAfee Security Features

While McAfee Safe Connect VPN has an intuitive interface, fast speeds on local servers, and unblocks Netflix, it stores logs of online traffic and IP addresses, it doesn’t support P2P traffic, and it’s missing a lot of extra features that are normally included in many standalone VPN providers. That said, McAfee Safe Connect VPN is secure and it’s an ok choice for general web browsing and streaming.

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WebAdvisor (Windows Only)

McAfee WebAdvisor blocks phishing sites, exploit attacks, and browser-based cryptojackers, and it also provides security ratings for some websites. It’s a free Windows-based tool that can be downloaded separately as an add-on to your browser, and it’s also offered as part of Total Protection. WebAdvisor is available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Explorer.

WebAdvisor analyzes every website you visit for known exploit attacks, and it also identifies phishing sites from a massive phishing database that is continuously updated.

WebAdvisor blocked all of the phishing sites and exploit attacks in my testing, detecting numerous dangerous sites that Chrome’s and Firefox’s built-in protections failed to detect.

McAfee Security Features

WebAdvisor also includes an optional Secure Search mode that assigns color-coded safety ratings to your search results. I tested it with Google, and while it didn’t provide ratings for a lot of sites, it did provide “Dangerous” ratings for some pirate sites. Also, it didn’t mislabel any safe sites as unsafe.

McAfee Security Features

WebAdvisor can also rate links on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. In my testing, this link rating was surprisingly accurate, labeling most links as safe, and it correctly flagged phishing sites when a friend was hacked on Instagram.

McAfee Security Features

Overall, WebAdvisor is one of the best online protection tools on the market. Its anti-phishing and anti-exploit protections are better than Chrome’s and Firefox’s built-in protections, and its search engine and social media link ratings are really helpful, especially for less-advanced users that have a hard time identifying unsafe sites.

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Performance Optimization

Total Protection offers a few excellent performance optimization tools for desktops and browsers, but it doesn’t make them very easy to access. These are McAfee’s performance optimization tools:

  • QuickClean (Tracker remover).
  • App Boost.
  • Web Boost.

McAfee’s QuickClean removes cookies and other unwanted temporary files from your computer. Confusingly, it can only be accessed from the PC Security tab by clicking on the “Tracker Remover” button.

McAfee Security Features

QuickClean’s scan took less than 1 minute and freed up nearly 2 GB of space on my computer.

McAfee Security Features

I especially like how easy it is to view the details of the QuickClean scan — McAfee separates files into a variety of categories, offering drop down menus that list the specific file names that are being tagged for removal in each category. This makes it really easy for advanced users to decide which files to keep, while less tech-savvy users can just let McAfee remove all of the files.

McAfee App Boost is a tool that speeds up your PC by allocating processing resources to your active open apps. However, after installing McAfee once, then uninstalling and reinstalling it, I was still unable to access the App Boost feature. I hope that McAfee figures out how to make this feature easier to access in future updates.

McAfee Web Boost is a Chrome extension that prevents videos from auto-playing online — this can be useful for improving browser speeds, but I mostly found it annoying, as it prevented thumbnail previews on YouTube from loading.

McAfee’s performance optimization tools are pretty good — I especially like QuickClean’s junk file removal, which is informative and easy to use (but I don’t think the Web Boost extension is very useful, and I couldn’t access the App Boost feature).

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Password Manager

McAfee Security Features

McAfee’s True Key password manager provides good password protection and decent functionality, but it’s missing some of the additional features included in the best standalone password managers in 2021.

True Key stores and syncs user data in the cloud using 256-bit AES encryption and zero-knowledge architecture — this prevents anyone else (including McAfee) from being able to access your saved logins. McAfee’s password manager can be installed on Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android devices and supports Firefox, Chrome, Explorer, and Safari.

True Key offers essential features like unlimited password storage across devices, credit card and document storage, secure notes, a password generator, and zero-click autofilling. But I was disappointed to find out that True Key doesn’t offer a secure 2FA option (you can log in on mobile devices with biometric scanning, but True Key isn’t compatible with TOTP authenticators or USB tokens like Yubikey).

I also don’t like that True Key is missing features like secure password sharing, password vault auditing, or password breach monitoring like Dashlane and LastPass.

However, True Key is a good basic password manager. I found it very easy to generate, save, and auto-fill passwords — you can set True Key to auto-fill passwords with a single click, or even to automatically enter your login information when you navigate to a saved website (which is a good time-saver, but not a great feature to use from a security perspective).

True Key also offers simple master password recovery — if you forget your master password, McAfee will send you an email to change your password. While this is a nice feature for most users, it’s not a very secure practice, which is why top password managers like Dashlane don’t offer such simple account recovery tools.

Overall, I like how user-friendly True Key is — even if its features are limited when compared with the best standalone password managers, True Key is still a useful addition to Total Protection that can help generate and store unique passwords using advanced encryption.

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Parental Controls

McAfee’s Safe Family app offers excellent parental controls for Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Safe Family is offered as a separate download with purchases of the top-tier McAfee Total Protection plans.

Safe Family allows you to:

  • Filter web content.
  • Limit device usage and internet access.
  • Block specific apps.
  • Track device location (within 10 meters).

When I tested Safe Family, I found its interface very intuitive and uncluttered. I like that McAfee offers presets for every child’s app usage and web usage rules based on their age. You can then manually adjust permissions for individual apps and content categories, add websites to be blocked, and schedule screen time for each child’s individual needs.

McAfee Security Features

McAfee Safe Family worked well during my tests, blocking all unwanted web content and apps. I tested Safe Family against a variety of content, including pornographic websites, violent games, social media sites, and sites hosting hate speech — Safe Family blocked all of these unsafe sites, and it also logged my searches (this is really helpful for parents that want to stay informed about what kinds of content their kids are searching for).

One of Safe Family’s best features is its location tracking. You can track your child’s devices to within 10 meters, and your child can also send a quick update to you via the Safe Family mobile app when they’ve safely arrived at their destination. I tested the location tracking with my daughter’s iPad and was surprised at how accurately Safe Family could track her device — it was much more responsive and precise than Apple or Google’s “Find My” tools.

McAfee Security Features

Overall, McAfee Safe Family is an excellent parental control app (which is why it’s on our list of the best antivirus programs with parental controls).

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Identity Theft Protection

McAfee Security Features

McAfee Identity Theft Protection service provides real-time monitoring for a huge variety of personally identifying information (PII) by using live dark web monitoring along with Experian’s credit network. Unfortunately, these protections are only available to US users.

After you create your account and fill in your personal information, McAfee starts monitoring the dark web for any leaks of your sensitive data. McAfee also monitors Experian’s credit network for any changes related to your PII, which could show up in your credit report (change of address, loan application, etc.).

McAfee’s identity protection allows you to monitor:

  • 1 SSN (Social Security Number).
  • 1 driver’s license.
  • 1 passport.
  • 1 international bank account.
  • Up to 10 medical IDs.
  • Up to 10 email addresses.
  • Up to 10 phone numbers.
  • Up to 10 credit and debit cards.
  • Up to 10 other cards (store cards etc.).
  • Up to 10 bank accounts.

Plus, McAfee includes Social Media Monitoring, which alerts you of privacy risks with the content you share on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

You can also set up Change of Address Monitoring to watch out for any attempts to redirect your mail. You also get Identity Restoration, which is assistance if you lose your wallet, credit card or a document, as McAfee’s recovery team can help you organize necessary cancellations, re-orders, and re-issues.

McAfee offers 2 tiers of its identity theft protection (Basic and Essentials). Basic is included for non-auto renewal Total Protection plans, and it comes with dark web monitoring for up to 10 email accounts and access to dedicated support representatives. Essentials is included in auto-renewal Total Protection plans, and it monitors the dark web for 55 pieces of PII, has $100,000 Identity Recovery Insurance, and $10,000 stolen funds reimbursement coverage (Norton only includes stolen funds reimbursement coverage for its LifeLock Select plan, which costs more than McAfee’s plans).

Overall, McAfee Identity Protection is a strong identity theft prevention feature that uses a variety of tools to monitor a good range of PII — it’s an excellent and affordable option for US users who want to safeguard their identity.

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Gamer Security

McAfee Security Features

McAfee’s Gamer Security is an optional download available with all 3 Total Protection plans. Here’s what it includes:

  • Game booster.
  • Performance monitoring.
  • Cloud-based scanner.

McAfee’s game booster works a lot like BullGuard’s popular game booster — it allocates running processes onto a separate core for multi-core processors, allowing your games to maximize their performance on a proprietary processing core. McAfee’s game booster improved my frame rate while I was playing AAA games like Destiny 2: Beyond Light.

Gamer Security’s performance monitoring tool is like a supercharged version of the Windows Task Manager — it displays live specs about frame rate, CPU and GPU usage, RAM, and internet strength. All of these statistics are logged, allowing users to analyze what factors are impacting their CPU performance, which is very useful for both gamers and non-gamers.

The cloud-based scanner performed just as well as McAfee’s offline malware scanner, detecting 100% of the malware on my test PC. However, I noticed that my device ran more smoothly during the cloud-based virus scan, allowing me to continue playing games without being negatively impacted by McAfee’s scan.

Overall, McAfee’s Gamer Security feature is an excellent tool for gamers (or any users that want to keep an eye on their device performance with advanced metrics), plus its cloud-based scanner is a great way to keep your system running as quickly as possible.

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Additional Features

McAfee Total Protection offers many more security tools, such as:

  • File Lock. Encrypts and stores files behind a password and security question.
  • Anti-spam. Checks your email messages and filters out spam and phishing emails.
  • Home network analyzer. Alerts you if an untrusted device tries to connect to your network.
  • Vulnerability Scanner. Ensures that all of your programs are up-to-date.
  • Secure file shredder. Writes over your sensitive deleted files so they cannot be restored.

McAfee’s File Lock is a neat feature, but it doesn’t do anything that isn’t already included with Windows and macOS. The anti-spam feature may have been useful a decade ago, but Gmail and other prominent email services all offer excellent anti-spam protections.

However, I really like McAfee’s home network analyzer, which offers an easy-to-understand map of any network, allowing users to identify and troubleshoot the devices on their router.

The vulnerability scanner is another really useful tool — it analyzes all of the apps on your device, and gives a notification if you need to update any of your programs (this is especially important because of the growing threat of zero-day attacks and software exploits in 2021).

I also like McAfee’s secure file shredder, which can completely remove files from your desk in just a few seconds.

McAfee’s additional features are hit-or-miss, but I appreciate that the company works hard to provide such an impressive array of useful protections with its premium antivirus offering.

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McAfee Plans and Pricing

McAfee currently offers 3 different pricing tiers for its Total Protection plans, and its Multi-Device and Family plans are both available for a massive bargain for users that buy the 2-year subscription plans.

For all of its plans, McAfee allows you to request a refund:

  • Within 30 days of purchasing your subscription,
  • Within 60 days of automatic renewal.
  • During the lifetime of your subscription if McAfee fails to remove malware.

Also, all McAfee plans include some extra features which are available only to the customers who subscribe for auto-renewal (the VPN, ID theft protection, and Gamer Security).

Single Device Plan — Good Protection for 1 Device

McAfee Plans and Pricing

McAfee’s bottom-tier program offers a ton of good features, but only for a single device. Those features include:

  • Antivirus scanner.
  • Unlimited secure VPN (must be enrolled in auto-renewal).
  • Firewall.
  • Identity protection.
  • Web browsing and anti-phishing protection.
  • Password manager.
  • File encryption.
  • File shredder.
  • 24/7 online support.

If you’re only looking for protection on a single PC (or Mac), then McAfee’s Single Device plan provides all of the security features you could want for an excellent value (it’s cheaper than Norton’s similar 360 Standard plan).

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Multi-Device Plan — Complete Protection for a Great Price

McAfee Plans and Pricing

McAfee’s Multi-Device plan includes all the features of the previous plan, plus:

  • Gamer Security (auto renewal only).
  • 5 VPN licenses (auto renewal only).
  • 5 devices covered (Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android).

This plan costs just a fraction more than McAfee’s Single Device plan, and it offers excellent protection across all devices. By comparison, Bitdefender’s Internet Security plan only offers protection for PCs (it’s a great plan for PC users on a budget, but McAfee is a slightly better value). Users looking for excellent protection at a bargain price should check out this plan (although the lack of parental controls means it’s not as good for families).

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Family Plan — Overall Best Value

McAfee Plans and Pricing

McAfee’s Family plan provides all of the features of the Single Device and Multi-Device plans across 10 devices, along with parental controls.

McAfee’s Family is available for a 2-year subscription for just a few dollars more than McAfee’s Multi-Device plan, which is a really good bargain. While the price after 2 years is similar to Norton 360’s, saving a few hundred bucks in your first 2 years is pretty enticing. I found McAfee’s parental controls worked really well on all of my devices, so this plan is a great option for families.

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McAfee Ease of Use and Setup

McAfee’s download and installation only took a few minutes. Immediately after installation, McAfee offered to run an antivirus scan, which only took about 45 minutes on my PC.

McAfee’s dashboard is extremely easy to use. All of McAfee’s features are organized into 3 main buttons on the home screen:

  • PC.
  • Web.
  • Identity.

Clicking on each button brings you to a new window that lists the main features for each category. For example, clicking on “PC” brings up the options for the antivirus scanner, firewall, and software update checker.

McAfee Ease of Use and Setup

You can access a range of different options by clicking on each button. For example, clicking on the “Antivirus” button brings up a variety of scanning options.

McAfee Ease of Use and Setup

I really like how easy it is to schedule a scan with McAfee, and doing things like customizing firewall protection, accessing the VPN, and running system tune-up tools is really easy within McAfee’s desktop app.

McAfee’s parental controls and identity theft protections are all accessed through McAfee’s online dashboard, which is also pretty easy to use and access. Ideally, I’d like to see McAfee also integrate all of those features into its desktop app (like Norton and Bitdefender do).

For the most part, all of McAfee’s features are equally as easy to use. I had some frustration finding the system tune-up features, and I wish that the Gamer Security and Safe Family apps were included in the McAfee dashboard, but overall McAfee has designed an antivirus program that bundles over a dozen separate features in an intuitive and easy-to-use package.

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McAfee Mobile App

McAfee Mobile App

McAfee’s mobile app, Mobile Security, is available for both iOS and Android. You can activate your mobile subscription by emailing or texting yourself a link from McAfee’s online dashboard, or you can just download the app from your device’s app store and enter your login information.

The mobile app’s interface is uncluttered and easy to navigate. You can activate some tools using the buttons on the screen, and the rest can be accessed from the menu at the top right corner.

McAfee detected all of the Android-specific malware on my device after a 10 minute scan. I was pretty impressed with the speed and accuracy of this scan — many competitors fail to catch files like rootkits, adware, and data-gathering spyware apps. McAfee doesn’t offer an antivirus scanner for iOS, because iOS apps can’t be infected with traditional malware files.

I was particularly impressed with McAfee’s anti-theft protections, which include:

  • Remote alarm. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can remotely activate an extremely loud alarm (it sounds like a Halloween toy screaming [seriously]).
  • Continuous tracking. You can choose to receive periodic notifications about the location of your device.
  • Last location. Notifies you about the last tracked location of your device before your battery goes out of charge.
  • Thief Cam. Automatically photographs anybody that mis-enters your PIN 3 times.

McAfee Mobile App

Some other useful features of McAfee’s mobile app are:

  • Secure media vault. PIN/ face ID locked folder for photos and videos.
  • Back-up contacts. Stores contacts in the cloud.
  • Safe Web. Blocks malicious and phishing links when you browse.

McAfee’s Android version has some extra features compared to the iOS one. Here are some of my favorites:

  • App Lock. Lets you protect individual apps with a PIN so they can’t be easily accessed by other people using your phone.
  • Guest Mode. Completely hides your private apps from your phone.
  • Track Data Usage. Allows you to see which apps use too much data. 

McAfee’s mobile app is one of the most feature-rich and affordable on the market for both iOS and Android — especially if you get it with McAfee’s Family plan.

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McAfee Customer Support

McAfee’s customer support options include:

  • 24/7 live chat support.
  • 24/7 phone support.
  • Support forum.
  • Online knowledge base.

I really like being able to contact McAfee via telephone for pressing concerns. When I had an issue with my plan, the phone support team was able to upgrade my plan, refund my purchase, and give me a discount on McAfee Total Protection — Family in just a few minutes.

I also had a good experience with McAfee’s live chat support team. Before I could access the chat, I had to fill in a form with my details and submit my question in writing. Then I had to wait for an available support person.

I contacted McAfee’s live chat a few times, and, on all occasions, I only had to wait a few seconds for someone to become available — which is really good, especially compared to slower competitors like BullGuard! Every McAfee support person I chatted with was knowledgeable, polite, and to the point.

McAfee Customer Support

McAfee’s chat agents always offered to take control of my PC through a downloadable applet and fix the issue for me while I watch them do it. Beginner users might find this option appealing, but I prefer to just ask for instructions and do everything myself — and McAfee’s support staff were fine with that, too.

My questions were always answered in detail, and I was given a case number for every inquiry in case I needed to follow up on it.

McAfee’s support forum is also quite active and responsive. Both McAfee support staff and the community of McAfee users are available to answer your questions there. I got my question answered in less than 5 hours — which is pretty quick!

In contrast to McAfee’s live chat and support forum, I found the online knowledge base pretty frustrating. A lot of the FAQ answers only pertain to older versions of the software, which makes it basically impossible to get the answers you need without connecting with a live support person. But since McAfee’s live chat and phone support teams are so responsive, this shouldn’t be a problem for most users.

Overall, I found McAfee’s support excellent — easily one of the best out of all antivirus brands that I have tested. And I was very impressed that its 24/7 live chat support is available for all users, so you can access it even if you just have a free trial.

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Is McAfee the Best Antivirus in 2021?

McAfee’s Total Protection is a well-rounded security suite, and its antivirus scanner is one of the best I’ve ever tested — McAfee scored a 100% detection rating in my testing, successfully identifying and removing all types of malware.

I really like McAfee’s firewall (which is a major improvement over built-in firewalls from Windows and macOS), and its web protections are exceptionally good. McAfee’s parental controls and mobile apps also have excellent features and intuitive interfaces across a variety of devices.

I think McAfee’s VPN and password manager are decent, but they aren’t nearly as good as the top standalone VPNs and password managers in 2021.

However, with the huge amount of useful features it provides, along with super-affordable plans for individuals and families, McAfee is one of the best value premium internet security suites on the market. Whether you pick up the Single Device plan for a PC or Mac or the Multi-Device and Family plans for 5-10 devices, you’re getting excellent malware protection for a great price.

Overall, McAfee is a comprehensive antivirus that comes with high-quality protection for PCs, Macs, Androids, and iOS devices, excellent customer support, and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Is McAfee a good antivirus?

Yes. McAfee ranks among the top anti-malware scanners on the market, with a consistent 100% detection rating for a variety of malware, including trojans, rootkits, spyware, adware, and more.

In my tests, McAfee’s full system scan took about 1 hour to complete, which is comparable to top competitors like Bitdefender, but it’s slower than Norton and Avira. McAfee allows you to conveniently schedule scans and there’s also an option to customize your scan (you can select specific files to scan).

McAfee offers affordable antivirus plans for individuals and families across a range of devices — you can check out the Plans and Pricing section of this review to find out more.

Will McAfee remove malware from my computer?

Yes. McAfee is a reliable antivirus that you can use to scan your PC for viruses and protect it in real-time. McAfee performed consistently well in my tests, detecting all kinds of malware, such as ransomware, spyware, cryptojackers, adware, etc.

Also, this antivirus is backed by McAfee Virus Pledge. This means that the company promises to give users their money back at any time during their subscription if McAfee is unable to remove malware from their devices (Norton has a similar deal with their products, as well).

Will McAfee detect spyware?

Yes. McAfee’s malware scanner is designed to detect and remove every type of known malware (including spyware and adware). McAfee also includes a real-time protection engine in all of its plans, which can block malware files — like spyware — from being downloaded or opened on your device.

If you’re curious about the difference between standalone anti-spyware software and more comprehensive anti-malware programs, SafetyDetectives did a full breakdown on the best anti-spyware solutions in 2021.

Will McAfee slow down my computer?

Maybe. Mcafee slowed down my PC during a full system scan, but users can also schedule scans during the night and avoid any slowdown whatsoever. When you’re not performing a scan, McAfee is unlikely to slow down your system. That said, if you’re looking for a very lightweight antivirus, take a look at Avira and Bitdefender, both of which are extremely easy on system resources.

McAfee Total Protection also includes some decent system tune-up tools, which can help optimize your system startup, clean up junk files, and get a slow computer running faster.

Does McAfee have a free version?

McAfee doesn’t have a free version, but it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all of its plans (extended to 60 days for auto-renewal customers).

Is McAfee available for iOS and Android?

Yes. McAfee Mobile Security is available for both iOS and Android.

McAfee’s mobile app offers advanced anti-malware and anti-phishing protection, Wi-Fi security check, a VPN, a secure media vault, and much more. Mobile Security also features advanced anti-theft protection.

McAfee’s Mobile Security is one the best mobile apps on the market today — and it’s extremely affordable when purchased as part of any Total Protection multi-device plan.

Which McAfee should I buy?

It depends!

Individual users on a PC or Mac will want to get the McAfee Total Protection Single Device plan (unless you’re a gamer, then you should check out McAfee Gamer Security).

People with 5 or less devices that want coverage on multiple computers or mobile devices should check out the Multi-Device plan, while parents who want parental controls and coverage for up to 10 devices will want to buy the Family plan.

Check out my full review for a detailed breakdown of all of McAfee’s plans and pricing.

McAfee Products & Pricing

Bottom Line

McAfee is one of the best antiviruses in 2021. Its powerful anti-malware scanner has perfect detection rates for all kinds of cyber threats, it includes excellent real-time web protections, and it comes with reliable extra features like a password manager, parental controls, identity theft protection, game booster, and much more. McAfee has easy-to-use apps with intuitive dashboards, and its customer support platforms are excellent. However, I’d like to see McAfee improve its VPN — the VPN keeps user logs and is unable to unblock some streaming sites. That being said, McAfee is still a great value, offering budget-friendly payment plans for both individuals and families (the 2-year deals are some of the most affordable plans on the market). All of McAfee’s plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

About the Author

Ben Martens
Ben Martens
Senior Editor

About the Author

Ben Martens is a cybersecurity journalist with a background in internet ethics, malware testing, and public policy. He resides in Oregon, and when he's not advocating for the rights of internet users, he's walking with his dog and inventing stories with his daughter.

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McAfee User Reviews

110 144
Based on 254 reviews in 27 languages 6.9
Language
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
Jun. 21, 2021
Stefanie Lange
Stefanie Lange
United States
1.0
Thieves
Mac User
This company took $129.59 from my account without my authorization. I get nothing but the run around. I want my dam money back. Nothing but thieves
BigEyedBeans
BigEyedBeans
Taiwan, Province of China
9.0
Very Good
Windows User
I've used McAfee for 25yrs plus and I have had NO problems whatesoever. I use Total Protection for the family and I can honestly say it has gotton much better recently (no Intel). Small issue is it does try to switch search engines in Chrome...hijacking the browser is WAY too a strong a work for it cos every other search engine out there also tries to add itself. Just go into settings and reset it to Google...or whatever. No biggy. Recommended!
Eddie Crow Sr.
Eddie Crow Sr.
United States
1.0
CAUTION
Windows User
Be very very cautious of this company the security software is fairly food but the company practice's leave a lot to be desired. Mcafee uses the autopay option for you to get half of what you pay for and a month before your subscription runs out and before you can remove autopay they renew your subscription. BUYER BEWARE
user avatar
Bob Cunningham Eddie Crow Sr.
This is so true. McAfee is a corrupt company who charged my credit card $82.47 for renewal. I was unable to get this money back and cancelled my credit card and McAfee account. I will continue to monitor my credit cards to make...Show More
Steve Weiss
Steve Weiss
United States
1.0
Consistent Issues Running IOS
Mac User
I have many issues running McAfee on Apple IOS platform. It crashes, doesn't load on a machine restart and indicates that my subscription has expired when it hasn't. Spoke with customer many times and uninstalled / restated many time under their direction without any success. The method they use for installing the software is poor and resulted in my frustration.
Maria Davis
Maria Davis
India
10.0
It's good product for protection
Windows User
I have purchased McAfee antivirus now, try to download and install then I trouble a bit but do it successfully. I am very happy about this product, it is the best protection for laptops, mobile and other. I am satisfied with this product.
United States
10.0
Pretty good
Windows User
I'm still trying to figure out how to use this software, but it has served me well. It's worth the money by a longshot and I'm really happy with my purchase. I have had no troubles or viruses yet. I hope this helps!
farid
farid
Canada
8.0
not bad
Windows User
I don't know what other people are using but I use McAfee total protection and had no problem with it. I have no pop-ups, my laptop is not slowed and it can catch viruses. just have a complaint about its VPN which asks for my credit card details for using it. I don't give my card details and not using their VPN.
Peter Stokes
Peter Stokes
United Kingdom
1.0
Don't bother
Windows User
You might as well buy

Does what any other anti-virus protection, including free/in-built ones do. Nothing more (except the price). But what they do offer in excess of this, is that if you do not renew your subscription (for example because you are broke, don't have your own home at the moment and are trying to regroup, is a load of horrible, passive-aggressive pop-ups about 'risk' and all the threats to your computer. They also virtually cripple your system. Like the modern version of the protection racket.
user avatar
Andrew Waller Peter Stokes
Sep. 1, 2021
They also make it exceedingly difficult to uninstall their program. Cannot get rid of them!
Rick
Rick
United States
1.0
BIG SCAM
Windows User
I have a virus the scan cant find it . Its called googleleadservices. hijacked my browser. Support doesnt know
what it is. They were not qualified to remove it. They said its not a virus, look it up it is! their virus protection is
NOT a protection. BIG SCAM!!!!!
JP Gaunt
JP Gaunt
United Kingdom
1.0
Absolute garbage
Android User
downloaded onto my PC went to do a virus check 23 hours later it had only done 21% of the computer...Removed and binned !!!!!
user avatar
kevin JP Gaunt
It's absolute crap; and nothing and I mean nothing is worth putting up with 3,000 pop ups per second.

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