John McAfee founded McAfee, a US-based global computer security software company headquartered in Santa Clara (California), in 1987. With a history spanning more than thirty years, McAfee is a definite ‘dinosaur’ in the field of antivirus protection and internet security. McAfee was purchased by Intel in February 2011 and became part of the Intel Security division.
The company claims to be the world’s largest dedicated security technology company – but more providers make similar claims. Leaving the size discussion aside, McAfee has withstood the test of time and managed to update and redefine its product portfolio in a successful way. As far as McAfee goes, we can safely say it is among the most influential security software providers, and the fact that it is still around after more than thirty years, definitely confirms that statement.
McAfee has won many awards for its products over the years. Some of the more recent awards include:
- Silver Award from Info Security Products Guide – 2017
- Certified Windows Security Award from AV-Test – 2018
- Certified Android Security Award from AV-Test – 2018
- Consumer Security Services Award from PC Mag – 2017
McAfee has a range of antivirus products available, from the basic antivirus product for a single PC to the full Total Protection suite that protects an unlimited number of devices. We’ll look at the core features, which are (or should be) present in all of the products.
During our research on antivirus software, we’ve identified five key criteria for you to consider when choosing an antivirus software: 1. Threat Protection 2. Resource consumption 3. 24/7 protection/real-time scanning 4. Extra protection features 5. Platforms/Devices accessibility. Our reviews will examine each antivirus software in accordance with how well it delivers on these five criteria.
How McAfee meets the 5 criteria?
1. Threat Protection
McAfee’s malware protection capabilities have recently been criticized for not being on par with malware protection offered by other providers. McAfee took this criticism to heart and the completely new malware scanning engine that was launched in the second half of 2017 has silenced the critics. McAfee products generally perform well at blocking malware and preventing infections, starting with a file scanner looking for files with known malware signatures. Simultaneously, the heuristic analysis examines the code, monitors file behavior and runs unknown programs in a safe ‘sandbox’ environment to check their functioning. Anything labeled potentially dangerous is uploaded for analysis to McAfee’s lab. The system is updated with the latest malware signatures daily, possibly several times per day to keep users’ systems fully up-to-date.
Part of its malware protection system is a feature called Ransomware Guard, included in all antivirus products except for the basic Antivirus package, which copies files that are attacked as soon as it detects encrypting ransomware activity. After the attack has been neutralized, Ransom Guard replaces the potentially corrupted files with the original files.
McAfee will accommodate decrypting corrupted files with its free Ransomware Recover tool, in case an attack already happened. Additionally, the ‘No More Ransom’ website offers keys for the removal of over 70 known ransomware strains, including Amnesia and Cry128.
Real-Time Scanning & Virus Protection
The real-time scanning feature checks files for viruses every time you access them, and to keep your PC safe it is highly recommended to keep real-time scanning activated. When the real-time virus protection is on, your protection status will show your PC is secure.
The Anti-Spam Protection tools offered in all of McAfee’s products cover three different areas:
- Phishing Protection: McAfee scans your email to prevent emails luring to malware expose you or trick you into compromising your personal data entering your mailbox.
- Anti-spyware: McAfee blocks spyware from infecting your devices and sharing your data with third parties.
- Anti-spam filtering: prevent unsolicited emails from reaching your inbox
Additionally, the McAfee WebAdvisor feature keeps you from navigating to websites containing malware, spyware, phishing scams, and other threats. Using an intuitive color system, you will be notified upfront if a site is unsafe to visit.
2. Resource Consumption
With the remarkable upgrade of its malware protection features, we’re very curious to find out if our PC’s performance is affected in a significant way. In the default situation, which includes real-time scanning, McAfee is not taking a noticeable portion of our PC’s CPU resources. But what if we activate a full system scan? While our PC didn’t suffer a huge loss of processing speed, we did notice that some functionalities were slightly affected. Streaming (YouTube) took noticeably longer to load and paused occasionally for buffering purposes, Excel took more time than usual to generate a standard pivot table from a 12K rows datasheet. But all in all, performance remained on a stable, satisfying level.
To further boost the overall performance of your PC, McAfee employed a few interesting new features:
- McAfee App Boost – apps that use a relatively large amount of resources can complete tasks faster because McAfee automatically allocates more resources to active applications.
- McAfee Web Boost – prevents unwanted or unrequested downloads and unnecessary system load caused by videos auto-playing, avoiding situations of reduced bandwidth and excessive resource consumption.
3. 24/7 Real-time Scanning
Make sure to keep McAfee’s real-time virus protection feature running at all times to secure your system. In some situations, for troubleshooting purposes for example, you may want to turn of the real-time scanning feature. This will make your PC vulnerable, being exposed to threats for the duration of the scanning time-out. To make sure you don’t forget turning the real-time protection back on, McAfee asks you when you want to turn real-time scanning back on, right at the moment you choose to turn it off. You can choose to automatically turn it back on after a short time (to be determined by you), on restart, or never. As an extra safeguard, the McAfee home screen will clearly show your real-time protection status, which will make it hard to ignore until you turn it back on.
4. Extra Protection Features
Home Network Protection
Your home network is your safe haven and it deserves the best possible protection. McAfee’s Home Network Protection gives you the tools to secure your Wi-Fi and manage your network and device protection.
Wi-Fi Protection Tools
McAfee secures your Wi-Fi connection, preventing unauthorized access, and with it also all of your connected devices and Wi-Fi network.
McAfee’s personal firewall feature offers the option to customize the level of protection to fit users’ personal needs:
- monitor the information flow between network devices
- use advanced filters to block suspicious incoming internet traffic
- block malicious applications from sending your personal data over the internet
With McAfee WebAdvisor, you make your internet experience safe. It provides the option to surf in protected mode, protecting a potentially unlimited number of devices, provides site ratings so you’ll instantly know if a site is safe to visit, safeguards your social media usage – all from one simple to manage console that is part of your software package.
McAfee’s Network Manager is a cross-device security management console that allows users to protect multiple devices from a single location. It’s a single solution that is accessible from any of the connected devices (desktop, mobile devices, even wearable technology), all of which are included in the subscription.
Anti SPAM Security
With McAfee Anti Spam Security, users can easily block all unwanted and dangerous email, keeping their inbox free of misleading ads and phishing scams. This option is limited to the Internet Security, Total Protection, and Live Safe security suites.
Nowadays, an antivirus software suite is not complete without a proper way for parents to keep track of and guide their kids’ online behavior. The parental control features offered by McAfee are pretty much in line with those of other providers. Options include:
- block/ allow websites based on age
- set up schedules to restrict time spent online
- exclude inappropriate content search engine results with safety filters
- monitor who tries to go around the parental control measures
This option is limited to the Internet Security, Total Protection, and Live Safe security suites.
True Key Identity Manager
The need to memorize or, worse, store your passwords somewhere fades with McAfee’s True Key tool, which will automatically save all your passwords and enter the appropriate one in the login field when you want to access. You secure your True Key domain with your fingerprint, facial recognition, or master password. The True Key feature goes beyond simple password management; it also lets you store credit cards, driver licenses, passports, memberships, and more. Never again forget a password! This option is limited to the Internet Security, Total Protection, and Live Safe security suites.
McAfee File Lock
Store your important files in a secure digital vault. These safe vaults are located on your local PC, but far out of the reach of hackers, thieves, and other unwanted visitors. This option is limited to the Total Protection and Live Safe security suites.
McAfee Safe Family
The superlative of parental controls, McAfee Safe Family, comes equipped with activity reports, app and web blocking capabilities, screen time controls, location tracking, one-click digital time-outs, and more, and provides parents all the necessary tools to safeguard their children when they are online, on their PCs, smartphones, or tablets. This option is limited to the Total Protection 10 and Live Safe security suites.
McAfee Identity Theft Protection
Identity protection is not necessarily a reactive measure. McAfee Identity Theft Protection offers users the tools to be proactive in their approach to protect their online identity: cyber monitoring, social security number trace, credit monitoring, 24/7 agency support, ID recovery, and stolen funds reimbursement. This option is limited to the Total Protection 10 and Live Safe security suites.
If you want to get rid of files you no longer need, you have the option to use the Shredder tool to permanently delete these files. Once shredded by the Shredder, files cannot be recovered. You can shred files, folders, or even whole disks or disk partitions. Also good for cleaning the recycle bin and your temporary internet files.
McAfee’s Vulnerability Scanner is a tool that finds and installs the latest Windows updates and those of other programs installed on your PC in order to keep your PC safe and up-to-date.
McAfee Mobile Security
McAfee offers free apps for mobile security. If you have an active subscription, these apps are basically the mobile equivalent of the security suites for desktop use. The free versions are useful but offer a limited list of features. Some of the features included in the McAfee mobile security suite:
- Anti-theft protection with the ‘locate your device’ functionality: receive a CaptureCam photo and approximate location of your missing device by email.
- Central Management: secure your connected devices from one console.
- Find your device: find your lost device on Google maps, or use the alarm if in case of misplacement.
- Control from anywhere: go online to find your device on a map, activate its alarm, or backup/wipe your contacts.
- Lost device message: accommodate getting back your phone with a customized message displaying on the home screen of your lost device.
- Apple Watch compatibility: locate your misplaced iPhone and check its battery level.
- Backup contacts: back up contacts remotely and restore them to another device in case of theft or loss.
- Secure vault: keep photos and videos privately locked in a PIN-protected vault.
McAfee Virus Protection Pledge
In the event that a device of a customer who automatically renews their McAfee subscription is infected with a virus while running McAfee protection, customer support promises to remove it. If support is unable to live up to its promise, the customer will receive a full refund. The Virus Protection Pledge is valid for any customer who chooses to automatically renew the subscription. Additionally, customers receive unlimited access to superior customer support.
5. Platforms/Devices Accessibility
McAfee’s security suites offer unlimited device protection, which means it protects all the different devices you install the necessary software on – regardless of the platform or operating system running on it (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android). Only the most basic product (McAfee Antivirus) offers protection for one single device; all other products include unlimited device protection, which means you can protect all of your family’s devices and even those of friends or colleagues who come to visit occasionally.
With its one console type solution, McAfee makes it very easy for its users to manage the available security option offered. The most important features are managed directly from the main page of the console, without having to navigate to options that are in any of the deeper layers. McAfee has a very long experience in building this type of product and they know what users expect – they have assembled enough user data in the (recent) past to justify their decisions on how to compose their security solutions. Obviously, this does not mean they can rest on their laurels because to stay on to you have to be on top of all developments – no matter how small. Right now, it seems McAfee has managed to build a range of very solid security products that have plenty to offer for any type of user – from basic to advanced.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus
£24.50 / 1 year
- Protects unlimited devices.
- Includes: Home Network Protection, Wi-Fi Protection Tools, Firewall, McAfee WebAdvisor, Network Manager.
- Comes with the McAfee Virus Protection Pledge guarantee.
McAfee Internet Security
£34.99 / 1 year
- Protects unlimited devices.
- Includes: Home Network Protection, Wi-Fi Protection Tools, Firewall, McAfee WebAdvisor, Network Manager, Anti SPAM Security, Parental Controls, True Key Identity Manager (for 1 user).
- Comes with the McAfee Virus Protection Pledge guarantee.
McAfee Total Protection
£44.99 / 1 year
- Protects unlimited devices.
- Includes: Home Network Protection, Wi-Fi Protection Tools, Firewall, McAfee WebAdvisor, Network Manager, Anti SPAM Security, Parental Controls, True Key Identity Manager (for 5 users), McAfee File Lock.
- Comes with the McAfee Virus Protection Pledge guarantee
Support and Customer Service
The Help function in the McAfee console directs you to the dedicated McAfee consumer support center, where you can find all the necessary assistance, conveniently organized into the different operating systems (PC, Mac, or mobile/ tablet) support is offered for and the most important issues (account/ billing, Identity Theft Protection).
You can also start troubleshooting by searching the available, extensive database of FAQs, the McAfee Knowledge Center, which will likely answer most of your questions, but for anyone who doesn’t want to go through the FAQs, there are other options to get the much-needed support. The knowledge center does not only include FAQs but also relevant information coming from the McAfee support communities.
The McAfee Virtual Assistant takes users by the hand in a step by step procedure solving common issues with McAfee products. leads you step by step through solutions to common issues with McAfee products.
Of course, you can also contact Support directly. The ‘Contact Consumer Support’ link will lead you to the designated page. After submitting your location and preferred language, you can choose how to contact Support (chat or phone).
Last option, and possibly the fastest one, is getting in touch with McAfee Consumer Support on Social Media. McAfee promotes their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels on their service portal.