• Malware protection: 10/10
  • System impact: 8.5/10
  • Pricing: 9.5/10
  • Ease of use: 9/10
  • Reliability and support: 10/10

minimum price:

£29.99/yearly

Visit Website

McAfee Total Protection 2021 Review: Buy or Bye?

McAfee Total Protection 2021 Review: Buy or Bye?

minimum price:

£29.99/yearly

Visit Website
  • Malware protection: 10/10
  • System impact: 8.5/10
  • Pricing: 9.5/10
  • Ease of use: 9/10
  • Reliability and support: 10/10

works on:

Android Android
Linux Linux
Windows Windows
Mac OS Mac OS
Apple Apple

Home malware protection

STRENGTHS

  • Great malware detection rate
  • Protection against phishing and scams
  • Integrated, unlimited-data McAfee VPN
  • Password manager
  • Sensitive files shredder
  • 24/7 customer service

WEAKNESSES

  • Your PC might slow during a McAfee virus scan
  • The number of features and options can be overwhelming
  • Only the Windows version includes the full set of features

With over 30 years of experience under its belt, McAfee is one of the veterans in the antivirus industry. Their software boasts exceptional malware detection, as well as many extra features that give it a competitive edge: integrated VPN, prompt customer service, and av-multiple device support.

It all sounds really good. But, is it too good to be true?

Dive into our comprehensive McAfee Total protection review to find out the good, the bad, and everything in between!

Let’s get this show on the road!

Security and Privacy Features

As one of the greatest antivirus programs out there, McAfee offers a variety of premium suites, with Total Protection being its top offering. This ultimate AV software has it all—from unlimited VPN to malware protection on the go! Plus, a few more neat tricks to make your offline and online experience that much better. 

So, what’s in store for McAfee’s customers?

Malware Protection

Digital malicious attacks are increasing by the day, so any good anti-malware program should detect them and adapt to the emerging number of new varieties. McAfee does an excellent job in this department!

The company takes pride in its top-tier malware protection, and for a good reason: Even a quick McAfee scan detects every file or software that might harm your device. Besides, the McAfee virus protection also tests for fileless malware to ensure ultimate safety. All in all, its protection covers, but is not limited to:

  • Viruses;
  • Trojans;
  • Worms;
  • Cryptojackers;
  • Spyware;
  • Adware;
  • Scareware;
  • Ransomware.

McAfee achieves its goal of detecting and eliminating malicious programs by utilising a combination of effective algorithms and proprietary technology, from classic signature-based scanning to sandbox analysis. Thus, no matter the malware you’re dealing with, you won’t be requesting your McAfee refund anytime soon since it will protect you splendidly!

Ransomware Protection

As one of the emerging malware attacks, ransomware attacks have been scarily increasing in recent years. This type of malware takes hostage of your files and data and extorts payment to release its hold.

Combining traditional scanning with machine learning, McAfee offers a dedicated ransomware protection utility called Ransom Guard—it constantly monitors your machine for ransomware and eliminates it before your device is taken hostage. That way, all of your critical credentials and sensitive information remain protected.

While McAfee’s anti-ransomware features offer great protection, you might want an AV software with a multi-layer ransomware defence that thoroughly protects your files.

Phishing Protection

McAfee also helps you steer away from phishing sites! These legitimate-looking pages often pose as official finance institutions, trustworthy sites, and banks trying to convince you of their false legitimacy. For instance, they might send you an email asking you to re-enter your login info and verify your account. Without proper protection, you may allow the attacker to steal your sensitive information or funds in such cases.

That’s where proper anti-malware software comes in handy. Your McAfee Total Protection subscription and its integrated WebAdvisor utility ensure that you (and your credentials) remain safe, no matter how authentic the phishing platform looks!

Parental Control

McAfee also includes a family protection utility in its ultimate package. This McAfee parental control feature is offered in a separate app (available for different platforms) called Safe Family. The good news is, the application is relatively lightweight and easy to install and set up, so you’ll be done in minutes! With it, you can safeguard your children’s digital life by:

  • Hand-picking the sites they can visit;
  • Limiting the applications they can install and run;
  • Setting a screen time limit;
  • Locating them on a live map;
  • Viewing their online activity;
  • Approving their app usage requests.

McAfee justifies its status as a premium provider of AV solutions and parental control software by including a geofencing feature in its Safe Family app. This McAfee service will locate your children via GPS and notify you if and when they reach a preassigned destination. Some antivirus developers, however, might even include additional features in a more comprehensive parental control package.

Note: You cannot install the Safe Family app on macOS, though iOS phones and tablets, alongside Windows and Android devices, are fully supported!

Password Management

Apart from keeping track of all of your passwords, the McAfee password manager, called True Key, doubles as a note-keeper and a virtual wallet that stores your payment cards info, ID number, and other personal data. To use it, you will need to download the app available for iOS, Android, macOS, or Windows, or install it as an addon available for all popular browsers.

Regardless of which platform you use, you can store up to 15 passwords for free. However, if you need more, you have to subscribe to a McAfee antivirus software or pay a yearly fee of £19.99. The fee is pretty reasonable, though, considering it’s offering AES-256-bit encrypted storage of 10,000 password entries.

Note: The Manager also offers a password generator and multi-factor authentication!

Firewall

Another feature you get when you download McAfee Total Protection is a customisable firewall that secures your PC in two ways:

  • From the inside out—ensures that locally-stored viruses don’t access the internet;
  • From the outside in—helps you remain protected from external malicious attacks.

Though the default settings work great, you can tweak the protection to your liking and whitelist sites and apps you deem safe! However, the firewall logs lack details as to why a certain site is blocked. Kaspersky, for instance, does a better job in the explanation department.

Though using a firewall should be your first-line defence, you can still exercise some precautions to improve your internet security:

  • Avoid opening links and attached files from unknown sources;
  • Update your devices regularly;
  • Choose secure passwords on new devices.

These practices, paired with the McAfee secure firewall, included in the Total Protection suite, will guarantee your safety whenever you go online.

WebAdvisor

McAfee also offers extensive web protection with its WebAdvisor browser extension. This lightweight companion does its job superbly—it identifies and marks all potentially harmful websites, so you know whether or not they are safe to visit. With the McAfee WebAdvisor for Chrome turned on, you can rest assured that all malware and phishing attempts will be properly stopped without an impact on your browsing experience.

In addition to the website filtering feature, this browser addon also scans your downloads for suspicious files, corrects your mistyped URLs, and blocks harmful phishing sites in real-time if you accidentally click on them.

Note: WebAdvisor is unavailable to macOS users.

PC Boost

As part of its varied range of useful utilities, the McAfee antivirus software suite also includes the PC Boost utility, which speeds up your system and your browsing experience with two separate tools: App Boost and Web Boost.

While App Boost was designed to prioritise running apps and increase their launching and running speed by reserving precious resources, Web Boost simply stops videos from playing automatically, thus saving your internet bandwidth and your battery drain.

Note: App Boost can be launched through the McAfee app. On the other hand, Web Boost must be downloaded and installed through the Chrome Web Store.

VPN

McAfee’s signature VPN—Safe Connect—helps you browse privately and keep all your data away from cybercriminals. With this feature, McAfee offers secure and encrypted browsing with no data limits. Regardless of whether you subscribe to the Total Protection suite or you purchase this VPN service as a standalone utility, you can use it on up to 5 devices and all the popular operating systems except macOS.

Note: By allowing you to use virtual IP addresses based in other countries, Safe Connect lets you access any location-bound content, including all popular media-streaming services.

QuickClean and Shredder

The QuickClean tool, which you also get when you download McAfee Total Protection, helps you boost your PC performance by eliminating unnecessary files, such as temporary files, browser cookies, and other similar junk. These digital bits and pieces can accumulate over time to take up valuable space on your device, thus hindering its performance to a minor degree. Also, you can set up QuickClean to run automatically and clean only specific types of files.

Conversely, if you store very sensitive and important data that you no longer need, you can use the Shredder utility to delete it permanently with no residual traces left. Keep in mind, though, once you use the Shredder, there’s no way to retrieve the documents you’ve gotten rid of—they are unrecoverable.

McAfee Vulnerability Scanner

All McAfee suites also include an automatic app updater called Vulnerability Scanner. This tool checks for software updates either with a manual prompt or on a scheduled basis. To ensure that both your operating system and your numerous programs are kept up-to-date, you can simply set the scanner to run automatically within a specific timeframe. After the scan concludes, the utility lets you choose the specific updates to install.

Note: A similar feature is offered in Avast’s free version, so if your budget is tight, consider that one.

Scanning for Viruses

Scanning for viruses can be painfully slow sometimes, and the truth is, no one wants to wait for hours on end, regardless of how extensive the scan is. To check how long it takes McAfee to conduct a virus scan, we’ve tried it ourselves on a mid-range, i3, 8GB of RAM, Windows 10 laptop. Here’s what we found:

  • Real-time scanning: Almost every McAfee Total Protection review out there lists this feature as a pro! And we agree. The real-time scanning stops malware attacks before they even get a chance to harm your device. Though the constant background scanning might slow down your PC just a tad, the protection you get is well worth it;
  • Full Scan: McAfee took a bit longer to do a full scan the first time around, but all subsequent 300,000-file scans took about 4 minutes (which is faster than Bitdefender, for example);
  • Quick Scan: True to its name, it was quick! It took less than a minute and a half and checked about 7.500 files;
  • Custom Scan: It only scanned the files and folders we specified and did a great job at that! The overall duration depends on the number of items you choose, but ours was done in a matter of minutes;
  • Scheduled Scan: For our final McAfee virus scan test, we specified a scanning time frame (we set it to every Monday and Friday, though you can change the frequency to fit your needs) to see how it goes. The program did well and started the scheduled scans with no problems whatsoever.

Note: Keep in mind that the scan duration varies depending on your machine performance and the types and number of files you are scanning.

Independent Test Results

Several independent and trustworthy AV labs have put the McAfee antivirus software to the test, and the firm’s top offering aced their examinations with flying colours. The section below outlines the tests conducted by AV-TEST – The Independent IT-Security Institute and AV-Comparatives.

The Six-Month Endurance AV-TEST

The top McAfee virus protection suite was regularly placed at the top for six consecutive months on AV-TEST’s thorough inspection conducted between January–June 2021. This endurance test pitted McAfee’s AV solution against real-world threats in various challenging scenarios and compared it to 20 other anti-malware solutions.

The AV-TEST categories tested and the average points scored by McAfee Total Protection in each are as follows:

  • Protection—6/6
  • Performance—5.8/6
  • Usability—6/6

Note: McAfee scored a near-perfect overall score of 17.8/18, higher than Bitdefender’s 17.5, but lower than other top contenders, such as Kaspersky, Avast, and Norton.

Protection Results

The test measured how well the product performs in terms of:

  • Real-World Protection Testing—For 0-day malware attacks through web and email threats (99.8%);
  • Testing against the backdrop of an AV-TEST reference set—For widespread malware discovered in the last month (100%).

McAfee proved to be secure and dependable in the protection category, failing to effectively detect and protect from malicious 0-day malware in 0.2% of all instances.

Performance Results

The test also measured the impact the antivirus software had on the overall device speed of a standard PC in several categories:

  • Potential slow-downs upon sites launching—about 10% impact
  • Decrease in download speed for often used apps—about 0.6% impact
  • Speed reduction in standard software programs launch—about 8% impact
  • Slow-downs during programs installation—about 26% impact
  • Speed decline upon copying files both locally and in a network—about 1% impact

McAfee showed some minor problems with system slow-downs, but its scores were still above the industry average. The test found that McAfee (alongside competitors Bitdefender, and VIPRE) put a very slight load on the overall PC performance, scoring 5.8 out of 6!

Usability Results

Some antivirus programs make your computer-using experience a real hurdle. False alarms for malware can be equally as disturbing as real threats, which is why the institute conducts this third part of the testing, focusing on:

  • False alarms or unnecessary blockages upon visiting websites—0 issues
  • Flagging legit software as malware upon scanning—1 occurrence in total
  • False risk warnings upon installing and using harmless software—0 issues
  • False obstructions during the installation process and the subsequent usage of safe software—1 occurrence in total

Yet again, McAfee showed it offers an excellent, 6/6, disturbance-free experience when dealing with legitimate software and web pages.

The AV-Comparatives Test

The AV-Comparatives’ April 2021 performance test also measured the impact of various antivirus products on the overall system performance on a low-end device with an i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, an SSD, and the latest Windows 10 update. The test assigned labels for each procedure ranging from Slow, through Mediocre and Fast to Very Fast.

McAfee’s results during the various AV-Comparatives test procedures were as follows:

  • Copying files—Very Fast both on the First and Subsequent Run
  • Archiving files and unarchiving them—Very Fast
  • Installing apps—Fast
  • Launching apps: Initial Launch—Fast and Subsequent Launch—Very Fast
  • File downloading—Very Fast
  • Web browsing—Very Fast

McAfee stood its ground during this test, too, showing that when you use McAfee, performance problems are not something you’ll have to worry about. The software only lost a few points during app installation and initial launch. However, its overall score of 7.4 fell short of competing suits such as Kaspersky (3.4) and ESET (4.6). Based on these test results, McAfee has earned and carries the AV-Comparatives Advanced triple-star label.

Setup and Ease of Use

Installing and using McAfee’s AV suite is a breeze! After completing your McAfee Total Protection login, you are welcomed by a modern and streamlined UI that neatly organises the program’s utilities into separate tabs, as explained in the following paragraphs.

How to Set it Up

You’d be glad to hear that the installation process after you download the McAfee Total Protection suite takes less than 5 minutes to complete. To get the software up and running, you should: 

  1. Open McAfee’s website and register an account or log in to an existing one;
  2. Before downloading the McAfee antivirus, buy your chosen plan;
  3. Complete the McAfee setup procedure and activate the software;
  4. Check and adjust your McAfee Total Protection settings per preference.

After you do all of the above, you can get acquainted with the dashboard, as most of the options you’ll need are located there. Once installed, the software will offer to scan your computer. Keep in mind the initial scan might be lengthy, though all subsequent ones will run much faster.

Note: If you’d like a more lightweight AV software with faster install times, look into Webroot.

User Interface

For the most part, the desktop app interface is simplistic, intuitive, and easy to get around. McAfee offers many features and scan types that you can access through the dashboard in a matter of clicks. The program tools are separated into several tabs:

  • Home—which includes the full/quick scan options and the security reports;
  • PC Security—where you can find the firewall and scan scheduling options, the automatic app updater, trackers and cookies remover, and different web protection options;
  • PC Performance—which includes the Web and App Boost features;
  • My Privacy—where you can manage passwords, permanently delete files, access ProtectMyKids features and lock private files;
  • My Info—where you’ll find account settings, general info about the software, home network protection options, security history and support.

The McAfee antivirus software suite also includes parental control and identity theft protection (US only). However, these utilities cannot be accessed through the desktop app. In a perfect scenario, they’d be integrated (like in Bitdefender and Norton’s case). We hope to see that in due time.

Device and Platform Compatibility

Total Protection can be installed on up to 10 devices, depending on your chosen plan. The most affordable Single Device plan allows you to use the AV suite with only one device, as the name suggests. The other two plans, Couples and Family, allow you to install the McAfee app on five and 10 devices, respectively.

Since the original software is PC-bound, the Windows version of the McAfee antivirus software is the most complete. Therefore, if you are using McAfee on a Mac, you will be unable to use the Windows-specific tools, such as WebAdvisor, Safe Family, and the PC Boost utility.

Note that the company’s premium anti-malware suite can also be used on the go via the dedicated McAfee app for both Android and iOS. However, the tools included in the mobile apps vary greatly from their desktop counterparts due to the software and hardware differences between desktop and mobile systems.

Plans and Pricing

You can choose one of three pricing plans if and when you decide to buy McAfee in the UK:

Single Device, 1-year subscription Individual/Couples, 1-year subscription Family, 1-year subscription
Current Price* £29.99/year, for the first year £34.99/year, for the first year £39.99/year, for the first year
No. of devices 1 5 10
VPN 1 licence, eligible for users enrolled in auto-renewal  5 licences, eligible for users enrolled in auto-renewal  5 licences, eligible for users enrolled in auto-renewal 
Password Manager
Secure Firewall
File Shredder
PC Optimization
Safe Web Browsing
Safe Family

Moreover, McAfee offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all the plans we’ve mentioned! Customers who opt for their auto-renewal option can also take advantage of the company’s Virus Protection Pledge of no viruses or money back.

If you are yet undecided whether or not to purchase McAfee’s latest offering, you can always try it out before you commit to it. The software’s 30-day free trial is available without restrictions to any potential customer that considers getting this premium AV suite.

Note: Prices may vary as you can often find various discounts on the McAfee website! Also, the McAfee renewal cost increases past the first year.

Customer Support

McAfee’s website offers several options to resolve any potential issues that might pop up either if your McAfee app is not working or you encounter an account-related issue. You can utilise any or all of the following methods to find an answer to your problem:

  • Contact customer support via phone, live chat, or McAfee’s social platforms;
  • Conduct a Topic search to find a solution in the site’s vast database;
  • Visit McAfee’s Community forum;
  • Let McAfee’s Virtual Assistant find the solution to your problem;
  • Pay for the hands-on TechMaster Service.

To get to the representatives, though, you’ll need to fill out an elaborate form with your info, as well as details on the issue you’re facing. Luckily, this will only take you a minute or two!

As for the rich knowledge base offered on their support page, you can find all kinds of guides there, including installation, product, migration, and interface manuals. Most of the issues can also be resolved by perusing the detailed FAQ section, so you won’t even have to contact a representative most of the time.

We Tested It Ourselves

We didn’t want to rely on any other McAfee Total Protection review for our customer service verdict. So, to check just how knowledgeable their team was, we contacted them ourselves via live chat.

We’re glad to report that we only had to wait for a minute before someone was available. The representative we contacted was polite, patient and offered detailed answers to all our queries! So, great customer support? Check!

Though McAfee’s support base is downright excellent, other companies (such as Avast) offer additional, premium customer service plans that include day-and-night phone support and remote malware removal.

Want to Consider Other Options?

Though McAfee offers excellent antivirus software, packed with many other useful utilities, you might want to consider a competitor’s product for various reasons. Some of them also include extra features that McAfee doesn’t; however, they come at a cost.

An excellent alternative, for example, is Avast’s Ultimate suite, which is jam-packed with features. However, Avast’s offering is more expensive, coming at £69.99/year for the same number of devices for the first year. Despite the significant price increase, however, Avast still delivers one of the best products on the market with excellent malware protection, efficient cleanup and tuneup tools, a superb VPN service, as well as an online anti-tracking service.

On the other hand, Kaspersky’s Total Security 10-device plan is available at the same £39.99/year price tag as the McAfee app. However, it still offers the same premium features as McAfee, as well as several other utilities. For example, Kaspersky will also stop hackers from taking over your PC webcam and/or mic; it will also block annoying ads that show up when browsing the internet. While you won’t see significant benefits if you opt for Kaspersky, rather than McAfee, you will still get a premium product developed by one of the leaders in the AV industry.

To Cut a Long Story Short

Fighting back all those pesky trojans, phishing sites, and good ol’ viruses is now easier than ever. All you have to do is download a reliable anti-malware software like McAfee Total Protection!

McAfee’s desktop and mobile apps partner user-friendly interface with excellent malware protection and many additional features (which some might find a bit overwhelming). The scans are relatively fast (except the initial one) and, most importantly, they don’t make your computer unusably slow!

Despite the minor issues affecting your PC performance, the McAfee app also differs between platforms. For instance, if you are a macOS user, you will be unable to utilise the full suite of utilities included in the Windows version of the software. Also, some competing AV solutions are available at a lower price range if you are buying protection for less than 10 devices. All in all, the value of McAfee’s best product increases with the number of devices you need protecting.

Let’s end this McAfee Total Protection review with a final verdict: By getting this suite, you’re not only buying top-tier protection—you’re buying peace of mind! Buy or Bye? Buy!

FAQ

What Is McAfee?

Founded in 1987, McAfee is a global security company that specialises in creating antivirus programs for PCs and phones!

Is McAfee Safe?

McAfee offers safe and reliable software that protects both from existing and from new and unknown, zero-day malware.

What Is McAfee Safe Connect?

The company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is called McAfee Safe Connect. It allows users to hide their IP address and location and browse privately.

How Much Is McAfee?

McAfee offers multiple suites at different price points. As we mentioned in our McAfee Total Protection Review, this suite’s prices are pretty affordable and start at £29.99/year for the Single Device Plan.

Is McAfee Good?

Independent lab results of AV testings have shown that McAfee offers top-tier malware detection and protection with minimal system impact. This makes it one of the best antivirus programs on the market.

How to Install McAfee?

You’d have to visit the official website, choose a plan, and download the McAfee Total Protection installer. The installation wizard is intuitive and straightforward and will guide you through the quick installation process.

ABOUT AUTHOR