McAfee Review 2024

Our Verdict

McAfee offers excellent malware detection rates and comprehensive cybersecurity features

McAfee gets outstanding scores for performance, usability, and security under independent testing. It also has a robust firewall and extensive identity protection features – and it includes a VPN, a password manager, web protection, and data breach monitoring on its cheapest plan.

It’s also one of the most user-friendly antiviruses we’ve tested. Although it lacks a free-forever plan, there’s a 30-day trial and you can fall back on the 30-day money-back guarantee. One drawback to McAfee we did note, though, is that its full system scan will slightly slow down your device.

Pros

  • User-friendly apps
  • VPN and password manager from first plan
  • Customizable, reliable firewall
  • Excellent, 24/7 customer support
  • Flexible plans

Cons

  • Renewal costs are more expensive
  • Cheapest plan is only for one device
  • Full system scans slow your device down

In this McAfee review, we’ll break down the product’s features and plans and provide everything you need to know about it.

McAfee is one of the only antiviruses to cover an unlimited number of devices with a subscription, making it an excellent pick for families and businesses, as well as individuals.

After thoroughly testing its features, we’ve prepared an in-depth performance review, and we’ll cover how it compares to the best antiviruses, as well as the unique benefits McAfee offers.

What is McAfee Antivirus?

McAfee is an award-winning antivirus provider based in the United States. Founded in 1987, McAfee quickly became one of the largest and best-known cybersecurity companies in the world.

Today, there are McAfee antivirus solutions for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, and the company has started to use AI to improve its success rate against emerging cyber threats.

McAfee blocks 42.4 million threats each day and has a database of 630,000+ phishing sites.

Among its competitors, McAfee stands out for its flexible plans, which range from low-cost options for one to five devices to some of the most expensive premium plans in the industry, with a wide range of identity protection features and coverage for unlimited devices.

Is McAfee Safe?

McAfee Antivirus dashboard
McAfee Antivirus dashboard

McAfee is an antivirus provider you can trust with your privacy and security. Cybersecurity experts and independent research labs agree that it is an exceptional antivirus and anti-malware tool that can keep your devices safe.

The software protects over 600 million devices today and is regarded as one of the best Windows antiviruses. Its tools allow you to identify security vulnerabilities and fix gaps in your protection.

It’s also one of the few antiviruses to let you collect logs for its customer support teams, improving the user experience and the overall safety of your devices.

McAfee Plans & Pricing

McAfee offers a range of paid plans at different price points. So, is McAfee worth it? From VPN and antivirus protection with its affordable Basic plan to the Ultimate plan, McAfee likely has the tools you need at a reasonable price point. Here are McAfee’s core plans:

Plans Starting Price Features
Basic $29.99/yr Antivirus Protection, VPN, Identity Monitoring, Password Manager
Essential $39.99/yr Covers 5 devices
Premium $49.99/yr Antivirus for Unlimited Devices + Social Privacy Manager, Personal Data Cleanup, Online Account Cleanup
Advanced $89.99/yr + Bank and Credit Monitoring, $1m Identity Theft Coverage, Security Freeze
Ultimate $199.99/yr + 401k Monitoring, Bank Account Monitoring, Ransomware Coverage, Credit Lock
McAfee BasicMcAfee EssentialMcAfee PremiumMcAfee AdvancedMcAfee Ultimate

McAfee Basic — $29.99/yr (renews at $89.99)

Basic offers protection for a single device. While it doesn’t offer identity theft protection like McAfee’s more expensive plans, the Basic plan provides traditional antivirus features, a firewall, a file shredder, and a virtual private network (VPN).

The plan also offers real-time antivirus protection to safeguard your device from malware, spyware, viruses, and phishing attacks, while the VPN keeps your connection private and secure.

The Basic plan also offers Identity Monitoring, a feature that scans the internet for data breaches. McAfee will then alert you if it detects your passwords or usernames being shared on the dark web, meaning you can secure your online accounts.

McAfee is also one of the only providers to offer a password manager with its cheapest plan. This feature can help you generate strong passwords and auto-fill forms online, saving you time and improving your security.

McAfee Essential — $39.99/yr (renews at $119.99)

The Essential plan allows you to protect five devices rather than just one. It’s great value for money, and many competitors only protect three devices for the same price.

Opting for the Essential plan also allows you to sync your password manager across devices, making it much more useful. This makes it competitive with some of the best password managers around.

McAfee Premium — $49.99/yr (renews at $149.99)

Premium expands on the features found in the previous tiers and offers protection for unlimited devices, making it an excellent pick for families and businesses.

The Social Privacy Manager can provide recommendations to adjust over 100 privacy settings across your social media accounts so you can secure them and limit how social media sites use your data.

The Personal Data Cleanup and Online Data Cleanup tools, meanwhile, scan old accounts and data brokering sites to identify companies collecting your data. Once identified, McAfee will help you stop these firms from collecting your data in the future.

McAfee Advanced — $89.99/yr (renews at $199.99)

The Advanced plan adds identity theft protection to McAfee’s feature list. These include:

  • Identity Theft Coverage — McAfee’s team will help you deal with identity theft and provide up to $1m in identity restoration expenses.
  • Transaction Monitoring — You’ll get alerts of any suspicious transactions on your bank accounts and credit cards.
  • Credit Monitoring — McAfee will monitor a major credit bureau, send fraud alerts, and provide a monthly credit update.
  • Security Freeze — Lets you temporarily freeze your credit, bank, and utility accounts to prevent unauthorized access.

McAfee Ultimate — $199.99/yr (renews at $279.99)

Ultimate is McAfee’s top-tier plan. It adds several identity theft protection tools as well as upgrading features.

For example, the Personal Data Cleanup and Online Data Cleanup tools are upgraded to be fully serviced, automatically reporting if third parties that are holding your data and helping you send requests to remove it.

In addition, it increases identity theft coverage to $2m and provides credit score reports daily instead of monthly. It also includes a live session with a McAfee expert to help you set up your account and activate its features.

Here are the additional identity theft protection features Ultimate provides:

  • Bank Account Takeover Monitoring — Alerts you of unauthorized changes to your bank account information.
  • Payday Loan Monitoring — McAfee will notify you if someone takes out a loan in your name.
  • Ransomware Coverage — Covers up to $25,000 for financial losses from ransomware.
  • Transaction Monitoring — Alerts you to questionable transactions on your investment accounts and loans, including your 401(k) and mortgage.
  • Credit Lock — Lets you quickly lock and unlock your credit to prevent fraudsters from opening accounts in your name.

Can I Get McAfee for Free?

Is McAfee free? McAfee doesn’t offer a free-forever plan, but you can test its services with a 30-day trial. The free trial uses the Essential plan, which covers the core security features but doesn’t extend to its identity protection or online security tools.

McAfee also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee with all its plans, meaning you can get a refund if you aren’t satisfied.

McAfee Security Features

McAfee focuses on keeping you safe online and detecting and removing malware. Although it may not offer as many extra tools as TotalAV or Avast, it has one of the best identity theft protection kits.

In this section of our McAfee Antivirus review, we’ll cover what each feature can do for you.

Virus Scans

Run a Quick Scan, schedule scans, or pick between its other scan types.
McAfee Antivirus offers a range of scan types

Besides real-time malware scanning on the files you open and access, McAfee lets you schedule and run scans on demand.

Here’s how each scan type McAfee offers works:

  • Quick Scan — Checks frequently infected drive locations for common threats. This scan can take from 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Full Scan — Checks every file and folder on your device for malware, including the most persistent and well-hidden threats. This can take 30 minutes or more and will slow down your device while it runs.
  • Scheduled Scan — Lets you pick between three pre-made scan templates, which can run weekly or bi-weekly. You can also create your own schedule by selecting the time and day of the week to scan and can start a scan On Demand.
  • Individual Files — You can right-click any file or folder and pick “Scan” to check them for malware.

Real-Time Antivirus Protection

McAfee's Real-Time Protection feature
McAfee’s Real-Time Protection feature

McAfee offers real-time antivirus protection, scanning every file you interact with for malware, spyware, and viruses. It will automatically check the files you open and download, as well as programs running in the background – something that’s critical given the increasing prevalence of ransomware attacks.

This enables McAfee to safeguard your devices from zero-day threats and novel viruses by monitoring for unusual behavior. As this process may slow down your device, McAfee allows you to exclude programs you trust from checkups, improving your device’s performance.

Firewall

McAfee's Firewall settings
McAfee’s Firewall settings

McAfee offers a dedicated firewall, which serves as a first line of defense and can protect you from unsafe networks and malicious sites. The firewall includes a two-way filter for incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure malicious actors can’t intercept your data.

The McAfee Firewall will also prevent your apps from interacting with potentially dangerous programs and websites so your data can’t be exploited. The firewall is a great addition for any device, especially if you need to connect to potentially unsafe networks – and the VPN can also help here.

McAfee Protection Score

McAfee Protection Score
Your McAfee Protection Score

McAfee Protection Score is a helpful feature that gives you an at-a-glance overview of the quality of your online protection. For example, adding the Web Protection feature to your browser will increase your score, while leaving accounts compromised by data breaches unsecured will lower it.

The feature is extremely intuitive and highlights urgent threats, explaining their significance and the steps needed to fix them.

McAfee Scam Protection

McAfee uses AI to identify malicious websites. Once detected, McAfee adds these websites to its database so they can be blocked in future.

When you’re browsing the web or opening emails, McAfee will warn you if you try to open a malicious link or attachment. Although most antiviruses provide a similar feature, we were impressed with McAfee’s Scam Protection, as it will also protect you from fraudulent texts and social media messages.

Web Protection

McAfee Web Protection
McAfee Web Protection

This browser extension complements McAfee’s Scam Protection feature by blocking websites that host malware or may expose you to phishing attacks, and it will alert you of known risks if you download malware-infected files. It will also highlight unsafe links when you browse on social media.

We found the WebAdvisor extension easy to set up and configure, and it’s compatible with all popular browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Internet Explorer.

VPN

McAfee is one of the best antiviruses with a VPN, and it has one of the largest server networks for a provider that primarily focuses on antivirus features. With a reported 2,000+ servers across 48 countries, McAfee can help you use the internet securely and anonymously.

The VPN secures your traffic with AES-256 encryption, includes a kill switch to stop data leaks, and stops anyone tracking your internet use. McAfee states the VPN doesn’t keep logs, though WebAdvisor does, of course, track the sites you visit.

In testing, McAfee’s VPN proved effective against IP leaks, and we had no issues unblocking foreign content libraries on streaming platforms like Netflix.

Social Privacy Manager

To help you keep your privacy intact on social media sites, McAfee lets you link your accounts to its Social Privacy Manager extension.

McAfee offers four categories of personalized recommendations on how to make social media accounts more private and how to stop apps from collecting data.

Personal Data Cleanup and Online Account Cleanup

McAfee’s Personal Data Cleanup feature addresses the issue of websites engaging in data brokering and trading your data.

Cheaper plans let you scan data broker websites to see where your data is being collected and shared. Higher-tier plans automatically scan these websites and can assist you with requests to have your data removed.

Online Account Cleanup helps you find and delete online accounts you no longer need. Connecting it to your email addresses allows McAfee to locate accounts associated with them so you can deactivate them if wanted. The feature works with Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, MSN, and Yahoo! Mail.

Password Manager

McAfee Password Manager
McAfee Password Manager

McAfee’s Password Manager feature, True Key, helps to protect your online accounts from brute force attacks and hijacking. Your account master password is the only password you’ll need to remember, as True Key can store and auto-fill all the passwords you need online.

We found True Key easy to use. It doesn’t require you to log in every time you restart a trusted device, but you can change this and add multi-factor authentication to secure your account.

McAfee uses AES-256 encryption to secure your password vault. The company also has a strict zero-trust policy, meaning not even its employees can open your password vault to access your accounts.

Parental Controls

McAfee offers a solid set of parental controls with its family plans that are designed to help you manage and monitor your children’s online activities. McAfee’s Parental Controls make it a competitor to some of the best parental control apps.

The three main features McAfee’s Parental Controls offer are:

  • Location-Based Alerts — Mark locations on your map and receive notifications when your children enter or leave them.
  • Manage Screen Time — You can determine how long your children can use their devices per session or per day and make changes remotely.
  • Limit Content —- Block access to inappropriate content for your children to ensure they can’t open websites or apps containing inappropriate content.

McAfee Performance

Our team has thoroughly tested McAfee’s antivirus tools and real-time and web-based protection features on a range of different devices, looking at performance, functionality, and usability.

Although we had no performance issues while running quick and custom scans, the full scan slightly slowed down our devices, so you should ideally schedule when you want to run a full scan in advance to minimize disruption.

We didn’t see any performance impact on our devices from the browser extensions, which are lightweight and compact and don’t overburden you with pop-ups or push notifications.

McAfee AV-Test results
McAfee AV-Test results

For in-depth lab testing, we also consulted results from AV-Test, a leading independent cyber security research firm. AV-Test ranks antiviruses based on their performance, usability, and protection.

McAfee achieved a perfect score of 18/18, with full points in every category. It caught 100% of zero-day and prevalent malware threats, rarely issued false malware warnings, and performed significantly better than industry averages in terms of its impact on performance.

In 14 sets of tests over the last two and a half years, McAfee got full marks in 12 assessments (18/18) and only dropped half a point in each of the remaining two (17.5/18), indicating consistently excellent performance.

McAfee Compatibility and Ease of Use

McAfee ran well on all of the operating systems we tested it on, and we found it easy to use. It neatly separates out features and provides short descriptions of their functionality, so even first-time antivirus users won’t have issues mastering it.

Here’s how McAfee’s apps look and perform on each operating system:

WindowsmacOSAndroidiOS

McAfee for Windows

The only negative point we observed from McAfee on Windows was that its installation took more than ten minutes. However, once the installation process finishes, you’re greeted with a user-friendly interface and aren’t bothered by prompts to upgrade or buy add-ons.

The Windows client launches with the firewall and real-time antivirus protection features enabled, and you can immediately start downloading the rest of its features, such as the VPN. The setup of extensions, such as Web Protection, is also a breeze.

McAfee also has business solutions that put it among the best server antiviruses.

McAfee for macOS

The McAfee macOS client differs from its Windows counterpart, but most functionality remains the same.

You won’t find as many parental control features for Macs, and the scanners may have slightly more performance impact, but its identity theft tools make it one of the best antiviruses for Macs.

McAfee for Android

We were impressed with McAfee’s Android app, as it offers easy-to-navigate settings and a very user-friendly interface.

Each feature has a hub you can tap to use or configure, and if you’re unsure whether something needs changing, you can tap “Check your Protection Score,” and the app will help you.

McAfee for iOS

The iOS app is very similar to the Android app, but you won’t find any system storage scanners as iOS prevents third-party apps from performing storage scans.

However, you can still use the McAfee for iOS app to scan the device for vulnerabilities and security settings suggestions.

How Does McAfee Compare Against Other Antiviruses?

McAfee has excellent malware detection rates and identity theft protection features, but it faces some very strong competition.

Here’s an overview to help you compare McAfee to its closest competitors:

Antivirus Starting Price Max Devices Real-time Protection Firewall Scans
McAfee $29.99/yr Unlimited Quick, Full, Scheduled, On-Demand, Real-Time, Individual Files
Norton $29.99/yr Unlimited Quick, Full, Smart, Custom
BitDefender $29.99/yr 25 Quick, Full, Custom, Vulnerability
Avast $49.99/yr 30 Smart, Full, Targeted, Boot-Time, Custom, Explorer

Norton vs McAfee

McAfee and Norton offer similar features focusing on identity theft protection, online safety, and malware removal.

Although we found Norton to be a better choice if you want a comprehensive suite of parental controls, it scores slightly less than McAfee with AV-Test, making McAfee a better pick for usability and performance.

Bitdefender vs McAfee

After testing both providers, we found Bitdefender much more performance-friendly – its scans won’t slow down your devices as much as McAfee.

However, McAfee protects unlimited devices with its third plan and beyond, which isn’t something Bitdefender offers, and it has a more user-friendly interface, which we found easier to use.

McAfee vs Avast

Avast is one of the most expensive antiviruses on the market, making McAfee a better pick for users on a budget. In addition, we found McAfee easier to configure, particularly when it came to the firewall and web extensions.

On the other hand, Avast offers several features McAfee lacks, like tools to speed up your computer and perform automatic PC maintenance.

Microsoft Defender Antivirus aka Windows Defender vs McAfee

The Microsoft Defender Antivirus, Windows Defender Firewall, and Windows Security suite are excellent tools that are free and built into Windows and can generally block malware.

But is it enough? Many argue that it’s not, as it lacks a wide range of online security features to combat phishing, spyware, and ransomware, and it doesn’t incorporate tools like a password manager, VPN, or identity protection features.

It’s also only available on Windows, while McAfee extends its protection to all your other devices, including on Mac, iOS, and Android.

How to Set Up McAfee Antivirus

Setting up the McAfee anti-virus app takes a bit longer than its competitors, but it’s nevertheless a simple, straightforward process. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you install McAfee on your Windows PC.

  1. Subscribe to a Plan

    The first step to securing your devices with McAfee is to go to the site and subscribe to a plan.

    At the checkout, you’ll have to provide an email address, which will automatically create your McAfee account once the payment is processed. You can also opt for a 30-day trial to test the service.

    <strong>Subscribe to a Plan</strong>
  2. Install McAfee Antivirus

    Once you’ve set up and logged into your account, you can download the Windows client. Simply follow the on-screen installer instructions to finalize the process and install McAfee on your device.

    <strong>Install McAfee Antivirus</strong>
  3. Scan Your Device

    With the McAfee Windows client now ready to use, you can scan your computer. Go to the left menu to find scanners and settings, and launch your first full system scan to check your device for malware.

    <strong>Scan Your Device</strong>

McAfee Antivirus Customer Support And User Reviews

When dealing with your device security and online privacy, having a reliable customer support team you can contact is crucial. We were impressed to find McAfee offers 24/7 chat assistance, phone assistance, and a user forum.

McAfee's support options
McAfee’s support options

We tried chatting with McAfee’s support, and after a short conversation with a bot, it connected us to a human customer service operator. The team member was knowledgeable, pleasant, helpful, and clear – which isn’t always the case.

McAfee has a comprehensive knowledge center and monthly “Answers” sessions, where a senior McAfee team member answers frequently asked questions and provides tips on using McAfee Antivirus.

Many McAfee user reviews praise the service’s customer support team and the usability of its apps. Many reviews also describe the service as being easy to cancel and note that the free trial is an excellent way to test its features before you commit to a subscription.

McAfee reviews on TrustPilot
McAfee reviews on TrustPilot

We found many reviews praising McAfee’s online protection tools, including the dark web scanner and real-time scanning features. However, there are many negative reviews as well.

TrustPilot users review McAfee
TrustPilot users review McAfee

Most negative reviews complain about McAfee reporting false positives, which prevent users from accessing websites or launching apps. McAfee makes it easy to “whitelist” programs and websites, though, so this shouldn’t be a major issue.

Strangely, given McAfee’s excellent testing scores, it has a “Bad” overall score on Trustpilot, with numerous one-star reviews. However, McAfee Total Protection has a 4.3/5 rating on GetApp, and McAfee AntiVirus Plus has a score of 4.2/5 on G2, suggesting Trustpilot’s reviews are anomalous.

Our Other Antivirus Guides

Although McAfee is one of the most flexible antivirus providers we’ve tested, there are plenty of other solutions for different devices and use cases. Here are some of our other antivirus guides to help you find the right provider for your needs and requirements:

FAQs

Is McAfee good as an antivirus?

Norton vs McAfee – which is better?

What are the disadvantages of McAfee?

Is McAfee really worth it?

Can you get McAfee free?

Ilijia Miljkovac
Technology Writer

Ilija Miljkovac is a Techopedia writer with 7 years of experience covering all things tech. He writes about everything from cybersecurity to ISPs, ensuring businesses and customers are educated about the latest products and services. He's written for publications such as Business2Community, TheTechReport, Comparitech, and more. When he's not maniacally hacking away at his keyboard, Ilija spends his time either hiking in nature or holed up in his apartment gaming.