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McAfee Antivirus Review 2020 - Is the Free Version Enough?

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity expert and tech journalist
Our Verdict:

McAfee was a major player in the 90s, but after years of poor reviews and service, we had to know if it’s back on track. To my surprise, McAfee has become an excellent antivirus and security tool that protects all your devices and computers with a single license. The company includes malware protection, network security, and even an online web advisor that keeps you safe when you’re browsing the internet. You can even improve your PC’s performance thanks to the company’s great optimization tools.

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Detailed Expert Review

As one of the oldest and most well-known names in cyber security, McAfee has had its share of ups and downs. Today, the company gives you a powerful antivirus that protects you online and keeps malware off your computer and other devices. Additionally, McAfee has outstanding features that keep you safe when you go online, including web security, social media protection, anti-spam, and even parental controls. I was happy to find that McAfee had great scores on tests by major testing laboratories. Thanks to its great tools and its excellent protection, McAfee is great if you’re looking for affordable online security.


I was impressed with McAfee’s security features and performance, which ranks among the top companies in my tests. The company’s antivirus consistently adds new information about malware and other attacks thanks to its massive network of millions of users. When you run a scan, McAfee antivirus checks all your files and folders like most competitors, but it also checks for any suspicious behaviors like files moving by themselves, programs running automatically, and so on. If it does find something fishy, it compares it to its “reputation indicators” to ensure its safe. If McAfee detects potential malware, it sends it to the web to be analyzed by experts in the company’s Threat Center.

Keep Your Home Network Secure

If you are constantly browsing the web, you’ll also appreciate McAfee’s browser extensions, which you can download for Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. I thought this was a really well-made tool, as it helped me avoid suspicious links, risky websites, and even kept malware from downloading. I was also impressed with McAfee’s Home Network Security, which gives you additional Wi-Fi security, a more powerful firewall, a network manager to administer all your tools, and even around the clock support for any emergency. If you’re constantly switching between devices at home, you can also download McAfee for both iOS and Android.

Keep Your Children Safe

One feature that stood out in my tests is the company’s Social Media Guard, which monitors your social media activity and keeps you safe from shady accounts, identity thieves, and other malicious posts that may be hiding scams or malware. It’s an even more useful tool if you have kids since it lets you rest easy knowing your children are safe and they can still browse their favorite social media.

Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly

I’m usually skeptical of antiviruses that claim they don’t affect your computer’s performance, but McAfee proved me wrong with a program that barely impacted my computer’s speed. More importantly, McAfee’s antivirus tools scored nearly perfect marks when tested. These are important measures of how well antivirus programs can defend computers.


Keep Your Home Network Safe
Today, protecting your home network is as important as keeping your computer safe, but many antivirus programs don’t provide this utility. McAfee does, and I was impressed with how thorough they are. You can control all your home network tools directly from the Security Management Console, which lets you see all the devices you have protected, remotely locate them, and even wipe them in emergencies. You can set who has permission to access your network with the Wi-Fi tool, which is useful to help avoid suspicious people gaining access to your devices. McAfee also includes a powerful firewall that keeps any suspicious traffic from the web out of your computer and devices. Finally, the Network Manager lets you customize your network and decide who can access your network, which devices need permission to connect, and more.

Keep your PC Running Smoothly
Even though McAfee doesn’t have as many features as other competitors in terms of optimizing your PC, it still gives you two outstanding tools. The first is McAfee’s proprietary QuickClean, which checks every corner of your computer, all the way down to your hard drive, to find anything that may be slowing it down. If it finds any corrupted data, temporary files, or other problems, it automatically deletes or solves them to improve your speed and give your PC more space. The second great feature is the company’s vulnerability scanner. Instead of looking for malware, this scan checks for any potential weaknesses in your computer’s defenses. It makes sure your software is up to date, makes sure your operating system is working smoothly, and even fixes programs that are malfunctioning. When I used these two scans, my computer was significantly faster afterward.

Keep All Your Devices Covered with Smart Protection
I usually take points off when antivirus tools don’t protect more than one device. While some people still only use a single one, most of us have several devices that need protection. When you sign up for McAfee’s Internet Security plan, you can connect an unlimited number of devices on a single license. This is an incredible value if you are looking to defend your home network and your family’s many devices. Even better, the company’s mobile tools are much more thorough than many of their competitors. McAfee’s mobile tools include theft prevention (the iOS app especially focuses on this), and the Android version also includes tools that can improve your phone’s performance. These include file protection, battery optimization, and antivirus sweeps.

Stay safe on social media:
For better or worse, we can’t seem to stay off social media these days. For hackers, fraudsters, and scammers, this is a goldmine of opportunity. McAfee gives you the tools to stay safe even while you visit your favorite social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. I was happy to see the feature is included in both the Antivirus and Internet Security options. The feature works by scanning posts, links, and other online interactions looking for any suspicious activity. If it detects something, it will stop you from opening it and steer you away back to safety. If you have children that have their own PCs, it can be hard to keep them safe all the time. McAfee’s social media security lets you rest easy knowing they’re safe while browsing.

Keep your personal data hidden and secured
If you signed up for the Internet Security plan, you also get access to two features that give you an extra layer of defense online. When you’re online, the threats aren’t only clicking links and downloading malware, but also letting others access your computer. If they do, they can open and steal any of your personal and sensitive files, even if you’ve moved them to the recycling bin. McAfee’s digital shredder lets you get rid of old files permanently and be sure they’re gone for good. Additionally, McAfee gives you a password manager that keeps all your login information safe and in one secure place. It also lets you access your favorite websites and apps with a single click.

Ease of use

One thing that popped out when I opened McAfee for the first time is how well-designed the program is. You can manage the various aspects of your subscription by clicking on the tabs at the top of the screen or modify settings by clicking on the icon at the top right. Otherwise, the main screen is mostly reserved to give you information about your most recent scans and protection status. You can schedule different scans although I would have liked to see the opportunity to have more specific checkups of single files and folders. The iOS version of McAfee also features a simple interface that makes it easy to handle the security tasks it offers. Overall, the Android version also straightforward to use. If you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-use solution, McAfee is an excellent selection.


No matter which subscription you select with McAfee, you’re entitled to around-the-clock free support. Unlike some antivirus tools that make you pay for customer support, I was happy to see McAfee’s support is available for all its users. The company’s website has several great sections that give you articles, tutorials, and easy guides on how to fix some of the most common problems. If you need help finding something, you can chat with the company’s virtual assistant, an automated chat that finds specific answers on the company’s website for you. If you need more personal support, you can call the company. I found that the McAfee support team was able to answer all my questions and helped with everything from payment issues to installing specific tools. They even helped me remove a virus I couldn’t clean on my own.


It was very great to see that McAfee’s plans are both affordable and protect multiple devices, something many competitors don’t offer. If you sign up for the Antivirus subscription, you can install it on a single device and have access to the Windows version of the tool. This isn’t ideal if you have more than one device or if you have Mac computers, but it is an excellent way for Windows users to keep their PCs safe at an affordable price. If you’re looking for something more thorough, the Internet Security tool is also relatively affordable and gives you protection tools for multiple operating systems, and unlimited device installs. Overall, McAfee’s unlimited licenses make it affordable and ideal if you want to enhance your home network’s security across devices.

McAfee Total Protection - 1 Device McAfee Total Protection - 5 Devices McAfee Total Protection - 10 Devices

McAfee Products & Pricing

McAfee Total Protection - 1 Device McAfee Total Protection - 5 Devices McAfee Total Protection - 10 Devices
Operating System
Award-winning PC anti-virus
Award-winning anti-virus
McAfee LiveSafe Protection technology
Global threat intelligence
Home network protection
Security Management Console
Wi-Fi Protection Tools
McAfee Document Shredder tool
Free 24/7 support (365 days a year)
McAfee WebAdvisor
PC optimisation tools
McAfee QuickClean tool
Vulnerability Scanner
Apple iMac protection
Network Manager
McAfee WebAdvisor
iOS phone and tablet
Data backup
Data wipe
Data restore
Android phone tablet
File Protection
Anti Virus
Battery Optimiser
Memory cleanup
Safe mobile web-surfing
Wi-Fi security
Social media guard
Anti SPAM security
Parental controls
True Key identity manager
McAfee File Lock
Price $34.99 $39.99 $44.99
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Bottom Line

McAfee’s security tools are highly rated and easy to use, making them a smart choice if you own multiple devices and are looking to protect your family and home network. For an affordable per-device fee and subscription model that still offers some of the best defense against malware in the industry, McAfee is an outstanding choice.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity expert and tech journalist

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping every netizen understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.

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McAfee User Reviews

95 107
Based on 202 reviews in 27 languages 3.8
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
Oct. 21, 2018
McAfee is good for me
Windows User
I am not a tech guru or a computer enthusiast. This was easy enough for me to install without calling tech support. I have been a McAfee user for years and it has never failed me. I ordered the physical version with a card inside that has an install number (a.k.a. "Key") on it. I have an account with McAfee, so I logged in, put the install number in my account and downloaded the new software. For every other computer I needed to update, I logged into McAfee and downloaded the new software. Very easy.
Transparency and Trust – We pride ourselves on being the only site where users can freely contribute and share their reviews on any antivirus with other community members. When you visit an antivirus site we link to, we sometimes get affiliate commissions that support our work. Read more about how we operate.