Mcafee Total Protection 2021 Review: Does It Catch ‘Em All?

McAfee Total Protection is a superior antivirus (AV) solution that will protect the user and their family against all dangers lurking out there in the digital wild. As any cyberattack victim who has fallen prey to anything from malware to a phishing scam can attest, installing AV software is an essential precautionary measure in today’s computerised world.

As our McAfee Total Protection review will testify in the following paragraphs: McAfee offers a complete toolkit to protect yourself online—both to prevent attacks and clean existing digital infestations. Plus, it includes a password manager, VPN and a PC optimisation service.

Does the McAfee antivirus have what you need? Keep reading to find out.

PROS:

  • Comprehensive security
  • User-friendly interface
  • PC Optimization toolkit
  • True Key password manager
  • Available on all popular platforms
  • Great value for money

CONS:

  • Certain McAfee utilities only work on Windows 10
  • Some McAfee pop-ups can be irritating
  • Users might experience slowdowns during virus scans
Rating9.5
Security10
Efficiency9.5
Ease of use9.0
Platforms9.5
Free versionn/a
Value for money9.5

McAfee Brand Snapshot

McAfee is a U.S.-founded and based cyber-security company that has been offering antivirus software since 1987. While their first product was developed to deal with self-replicating computer viruses, their latest McAfee security suite is a comprehensive anti-malware software that deals with all kinds of computer threats—from phishing scams to ransomware.

Since regaining its name after the 2011 Intel acquisition, the company started promoting the McAfee Total Protection suite, which thoroughly protects your whole digital life, from online browsing to locally stored files and information. Regardless of whether you choose a 1-year or a 2-year plan, you will receive the efficient McAfee web protection solutions and an award-winning anti-malware and antivirus software—plus tons of other benefits, such as:

  • Performance optimisation—a toolkit to improve your device performance;
  • McAfee Shredder—totally eradicates sensitive files;
  • Password manager—store your passwords in a single secure location;
  • Home network security—a superior firewall solution;
  • McAfee Safe Family—robust parental controls and location tracker;
  • Secure McAfee VPN service—access content without revealing your location;
  • Technical support—on-demand technical assistance from security experts.

McAfee has been on the market since the inception of internet security, and its recent brand redesign, which includes a plethora of new features, has established it as a direct competitor to other industry giants such as Kaspersky and Norton.

How Does McAfee Total Protection Work?

Like any other antivirus software, the McAfee security center utilises several algorithms and security layers to detect threats, including:

  • Signature-based scanning—employs a database of virus signatures;
  • Heuristic analysis—looks for similarity to other viruses;
  • Real-time protection—scans for suspicious activity (both online and offline);
  • Sandbox analysis—activates and checks suspicious files in a safe environment;
  • Rootkit detection—searches for rootkits that attempt to take control of the system.

Additionally, the McAfee antivirus software uses certain proprietary technologies, such as the McAfee Endpoint Security and the McAfee Threat Intelligence Exchange, to conclusively identify and eliminate malware threats. You can rest assured that your McAfee software will always utilise a combination of the most efficient identification and protection methods in any given situation.

Security Features

Antivirus programs such as McAfee Total Protection are designed to offer more than just simple antivirus and anti-malware solutions. Naturally, depending on the type of subscription you choose, you will have access to a slightly different set of features; however, any paying user will enjoy a more or less similar experience.

While the award-winning McAfee anti-virus is included in all the plans, any or all of the following utilities will also be present. This McAfee review examines each of them closely, so let’s get to it!

Virus Scan

The company’s latest offering lets users look for malware with a quick or a full McAfee security scan. While the quick scan skims through your files in a couple of minutes, the full scan might take up to an hour (depending on your drive size); although, it thoroughly inspects all of your files. In addition, you can also set up a custom scan, whose duration depends on the type and number of files you include in the search.

Note that while the McAfee antivirus scanning options are decently fast, some users might like to obtain even faster software. Also, be aware that McAfee Total Protection might cause system slowdowns. To avoid such an inconvenience, you could always schedule the scan when you’re not using your device, or look into AV software with minimal or no impact on PC performance.

Secure Firewall

Your McAfee account also includes access to a top-notch firewall built into the software application. The company’s firewall safeguards your devices, data, and identity by filtering the two-way traffic between your home network and the internet. 

The main goal of this first-line defence is to monitor for malicious programs that attempt to connect to your home network. If and when the McAfee firewall detects an intruder attempting to access your information, it will block it promptly before it does any damages. Unlike the inflexible hardware firewall built into your devices, software firewall solutions protect you on the move and let you adjust their filtering intensity and allow certain connections to your system.

The only downside with the McAfee free firewall is the ambiguity of the logs; they show you a list of the blocked IPs but don’t list the reason for it, which is not the case with some other AV software, such as Kaspersky. Despite that, if you are only looking for quality protection without any additional effort on your side, the McAfee Firewall does the deed pretty well.

McAfee Safe Connect

The company’s trademark VPN, called Safe Connect, is included in every McAfee Total Protection plan. Just like a standard VPN service, Safe Connect maintains the privacy of your online activity, thus securing your identity and data from cybercriminals who can misuse them for malicious purposes.

In addition to hiding your IP address and sensitive credentials, Safe Connect offers unlimited data without affecting your connection speed. After activating it, you can easily bypass every location block. For example, you can use streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime from anywhere in the world.

Vulnerability Scanner

One of the best utilities included in the McAfee security package is the “Vulnerability Scanner” since it conveniently keeps all your programs updated if allowed to do so. The Vulnerability Scanner can check if your computer software is outdated on a scheduled basis; it also monitors your OS for any missing security patches and automates the updating process.

You can access the Vulnerability Scanner through the “Update my apps” tile in your McAfee app. Once there, you can either scan your system for app vulnerabilities immediately or set up a custom or a scheduled scan. Note that Avast offers a similar feature in its free version, so if you’re tight money-wise, the Avast Software Updater does a pretty good job too.

QuickClean and Shredder

In addition to getting rid of those pesky computer viruses and malware, the McAfee antivirus suite also includes a QuickClean utility that removes unnecessary files, such as browser cookies, temporary files, and other junk. You can either choose a manual cleaning or schedule an automatic session. Moreover, you can select the types of files QuickClean looks for. Once the process completes, McAfee will account for all the files that can be deleted and categorise them by type. That way, you can review the files tagged for deletion and make an informed decision on which ones to keep.

On the other hand, the Shredder allows you to permanently delete any files you do not use any longer without leaving traces behind. This utility is best suited for shredding private files that you don’t want falling into the wrong hands. The Shredder feature is 100% efficient, and the data that it deletes is unrecoverable. Therefore, if and when you sell your computer, you can rest assured that the new owner will be unable to restore the shredded files.

PC Boost

The PC Boost feature, included as a McAfee free utility with the company’s antivirus suites, allows consumers to focus on their most important tasks, knowing they will gain increased performance in the background. This optional feature includes two automated tools that speed up your computer and browsing by applying the following effects:

  • App Boost:
    • Boosts CPU performance for any app in use by up to 36%;
    • Launches apps up to 6% faster;
    • Accelerates apps up to 11% through prioritisation.
  • Web Boost:
    • Stops videos from playing automatically;
    • Saves up to 80% bandwidth on websites with autoplay videos;
    • Reduces your computer battery drain.

Note: While App Boost is found within the McAfee app, Web Boost is available through the Chrome Web Store.

Password Manager

Included in the total McAfee price is premium access to True Key—the company’s password manager. True Key allows you to truly unlock your digital world by storing all your sensitive passwords in a secure vault. After installing it, you can go ahead and throw away any old notebooks where you kept your passwords since True Key will conveniently log you into your favourite apps, sites, and devices as soon as you access them.

If you decide to say goodbye to your password hassles, you can access the True Key registration page right through the McAfee Total Protection dashboard. This password manager is available for all popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Even if you don’t want to install a separate app, you can still get it as a browser extension in Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox.

In addition to keeping your usernames and passwords safe, True Key will let you save your other credentials as well, such as payment cards and identification documents. If all of these pros haven’t convinced you, wait till you hear that True Key also comes with a password generator, device sync, multi-factor authentication, and AES-256 encryption.

While the company’s password manager includes all essential functions, it lacks the advanced features that standalone password managers offer. However, it is a great value for money since it lets you save unlimited entries as part of your Total Protection subscription.

WebAdvisor

During the McAfee anti-virus suite installation, you will also be prompted to install McAfee WebAdvisor—a trusty browser companion that keeps you safe during online browsing. To achieve its goal of total online protection, WebAdvisor constantly monitors every webpage you visit for phishing and malware threats without any impact on performance.

In addition to its McAfee website check tool, WebAdvisor comes with the following handy features as well:

  • Missclick Protection—blocks dangerous sites even if you accidentally click on them
  • Typo Protection—informs and corrects you when you mistype a website
  • Downloads Scanning—inspects your downloaded files to ensure they are risk-free
  • Security Check—alerts you if you go online with your McAfee security turned off

WebAdvisor informs you that a website is safe to visit by labelling it with a “green lock” next to its name; otherwise, it will mark it with a “red cross” if and when it identifies the URL location in its massive phishing database. 

Note: You can install McAfee WebAdvisor separately, even if you do not subscribe to McAfee Total Protection; however, McAfee for Mac does not include this web check utility.

Gamer Security

Since gaming became a favourite pastime worldwide, McAfee looked to create a product that provides enhanced security and performance for gamers without any compromises. Thus, they developed Gamer Security, which fuses their MicroAV Engine, which utilises cloud-based threat detection, with additional game boosting and monitoring utilities.

You can access the Game Mode feature through the app’s familiar gamer-centric UI, which also provides real-time system monitoring, as well as toggles to improve the game’s performance. With the click of a button, you can optimise your CPU, GPU and RAM for your game instead of unimportant background processes.

Note: Gamer Security is offered as a standalone application. However, the company occasionally includes free subscription for it with its McAfee Total Protection plans.

Safe Family

Included in the Family plan of the McAfee anti-virus suite, Safe Family is the firm’s parental control solution that lets you easily manage your children’s digital life. After downloading and installing it as a separate McAfee app, this utility will allow you to:

  • Review your kids’ daily activity from the apps and websites they use to the places they have visited.
  • Set boundaries and rules for the apps and websites your children use, or choose a preset based on their age.
  • Track your kids’ location in real-time and receive notifications if they visit or leave a familiar place.
  • Grant your children access to blocked apps and websites or extend their internet time.

Note: Some of the app’s features may be unavailable depending on whether you use Windows, Android, or iOS.

Security Scan Plus

McAfee also offers a free security assessment tool, which was designed to reveal weaknesses in your digital security in areas such as AV and firewall solutions, as well as online privacy. You can download and install this security inspector for free, even if you are not a McAfee customer. Then, you can have Security Scan Plus thoroughly examine your device and suggest solutions depending on the vulnerabilities it finds. While this tool does not remove viruses (if it finds any), it will still direct you to try out the McAfee trial, which will resolve any potential security weaknesses that might pop up.

McAfee Antivirus Performance

After creating a new McAfee account or logging into an existing one, users will be pleasantly welcomed by the recently redesigned application interface, which seeks to improve performance and the overall customer experience. The new easy-to-use UI streamlines the user’s interaction with the software, as explained below.

Ease-of-Use

The latest McAfee Total Protection edition features a simple, clean, and easily accessible user interface. Anyone using the latest company offering can quickly find the core McAfee anti-virus utility and all accompanying features, separated into five distinct tabs:

  • Home—full Scan, quick scan, and security reports
  • PC Security—virus scan, app updater, McAfee update, cookies and trackers remover, and web protection
  • PC Performance—speed up your apps and your browsing
  • My Privacy—shred files, manage passwords, VPN, children protection, and locking private files
  • My Info—main account page, protect your home network, site security history, about page, and support page

In addition to neatly organising the above options in a sleek and compact window, the design of the McAfee app always offers direct access to the program’s settings and important notifications, regardless of the activated tab.

Setup Procedure

Installing and setting up your McAfee internet security suite is a quick and straightforward procedure. You can get the software up and running within 10 minutes or less by following these steps:

  1. Register a new McAfee account through the official webpage.
  2. Download the software after you log in to your account.
  3. Install the software on your machine and activate it if necessary.
  4. Go to settings to update your preferences, and check out the app dashboard.

Note: The software is subject to regular updates to ensure your device’s continued security and privacy, as well as the overall customer experience. Therefore, a future McAfee update might affect the app UI and the setup procedure outlined above.

Platforms and Apps

You can get the McAfee anti-virus package on all popular platforms: on Windows and macOS, as well as Android and iOS. Naturally, the utilities offered on desktop vary from those on mobile and vice versa. Furthermore, some features that are offered for Windows users are currently unavailable for macOS. 

For instance, while the Windows version includes the full set of features outlined above, McAfee for Mac does not yet offer utilities such as WebAdvisor, Safe Family, and the PC Boost tools. However, even if the macOS version does not include the company’s full offering, customers can rest assured they will be well-protected since that platform is innately more secure than Windows.

McAfee for Mobile

As for the McAfee Mobile Security application, the security features the company offers for phones vary greatly from their desktop counterparts. Furthermore, the McAfee app may differ slightly between Android and iOS. While both platforms include all the essential mobile security utilities, some are specific to their native operating system. Let’s take a closer look at them:

  • McAfee Device Protection Technology—Protects against malware while conserving battery.
  • Privacy—Inspects your apps for privacy leaks; also safeguards your apps with a PIN.
  • Wi-Fi Protections—Ensures you don’t connect to non-secured Wi-Fi networks and disconnects your device whenever it detects a hacking attempt.
  • Web Protection—Prevents you from opening potentially harmful websites and other messages.
  • Thief Cam—Takes a picture whenever it detects multiple incorrect unlocking attempts.
  • Remote Locate, Lock, Wipe and Alarm—Protects your device if it gets stolen by remotely locking it and wiping its data.
  • Secure Camera and Vault—Keeps your media in a PIN-locked vault.
  • Jailbreak Detection—Notifies you immediately if your device gets jailbroken.
  • Data Backup and Restore—Backs up and restores your contacts.
  • Phone Performance Optimization—Boosts your battery, memory, and storage performance.

McAfee Mobile Security comes in three plans: free, standard, and plus. While the free subscription scheme is enough to keep you safe when using your phone, the paying plans include additional useful features, such as app and data lockers, a real-time link scanner, and a VPN service.

Plans & Pricing

The company currently offers three paid plans; however, you can always try out the McAfee trial version before committing to any of the plans. You don’t even have to cancel your McAfee subscription if you dislike the trial product since it will automatically deactivate at the month’s end. In the table below, this McAfee Total Protection review concisely outlines the company’s subscription plans and the benefits that come with each:


Single Device$69.95/Year1 Device

Couples$79.95/Year5 Devices

Family$89.95/Year10 Devices
Award-Winning AntivirusAward-Winning AntivirusAward-Winning Antivirus
Secure VPN (1 licence)Secure VPN (5 licences)Secure VPN (5 licences)
Home Network SecurityHome Network SecurityHome Network Security
Online SupportOnline SupportOnline Support
McAfee ShredderMcAfee ShredderMcAfee Shredder
Safe Web BrowsingSafe Web BrowsingSafe Web Browsing
Password ManagerPassword ManagerPassword Manager
Performance OptimisationPerformance OptimisationPerformance Optimisation
Multi-device CompatibilityMulti-device Compatibility
Safe Family

(Prices may vary due to the frequent promotions that McAfee offers. Make sure to check for the latest discounts on the website)

McAfee has packed even its most affordable package with a slew of useful features. However, some companies that offer similar products, such as Kaspersky and Avast, currently promote lower prices for their most basic AV suites. For example, while Avast’s cheapest paid solution is available at $54.99, they also offer a free version that includes only their AV utility. On the other hand, you can get Kaspersky antivirus-only protection for one device at the low price of $19.95.

Having said that, McAfee offers some additional perks to customers who choose the auto-renewal subscription option. Namely, if you let McAfee manage your renewal payments, you will get access to its secure VPN service, as well as the Virus Protection Pledge program. VPP members will get a full refund on their current subscription term if and when McAfee Total Protection fails to remove a threat from their devices.

Customer Support

Customers with a McAfee account have access to varied and effective consumer support options. Irrespective of the type and seriousness of any issues you may encounter, you can rest assured that you can always find a solution by utilising anything from McAfee’s knowledge centre to its modern Virtual Assistant. The list below describes all the ways the McAfee team will help you resolve potential problems with the software or your account:

  • Topic Search—McAfee’s Consumer Support page offers a wealth of information about their products and related services. You can input your query in the search box, and the system will search through the article database to find one that solves your problem.
  • Contact Support—All McAfee antivirus suites come with customer support that will help you resolve any issues that may come up as fast as possible. The live chat may not be constantly available in any language, but the English speaking agents are at your disposal 24/7. You can also contact support on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
  • Community Forum—To access the Community Forum, you only need to log onto the webpage with your account credentials. Once you’re in, you can post questions and talk to McAfee employees, reliable members, and moderators. You can also search for your answers through existing topics.
  • McAfee Virtual Assistant—The virtual assistant is not an actual person but a bot. It can offer you countless articles on various topics to help you with minor or major technical issues regarding the app or your account. It’s not the perfect service, but it can be quite handy for some common problems.
  • Paid TechMaster Service—The McAfee Paid TechMaster Service provides hands-on assistance for various technical issues with the McAfee app on multiple devices. You can contact the tech specialists via phone, chat, or give them remote PC access. After the problem is solved, you have seven days to contact them for further assistance before your ticket is closed.

As you can see, McAfee offers a plethora of support options that guarantee the resolution of any-and-all issues that might crop up with McAfee’s products and payment plans. However, some AV providers, such as Avast, might even include premium consumer support plans (Avast Care) that offer everything from 24/7 phone support to remote malware removal.

McAfee Total Protection Alternatives

Suppose you were not convinced to purchase the superb McAfee internet security package outlined above. In that case, you can read about some of its alternatives in the following paragraphs to see if they fit your needs better.

ESET Smart Security Premium

Akin to the McAfee anti-virus packed with everything needed to protect your modern digital life, ESET has created a product that meets the same high level of quality set by the McAfee team. Customers who purchase the ESET Smart Security Premium yearly plan at $79.95 for a single device will get the company’s ultimate protection, which includes everything from the core AV software to a top-tier password manager. This ESET product was built for users who want total protection and ultimate privacy solutions on all popular platforms, including Android and macOS.

Avast Premium Security

Another industry competitor to the McAfee security suite is Avast Ultimate, which comes at a yearly subscription price of $79.99 for one device. Avast’s best offering includes everything the company has produced for purposes of cleaning and safeguarding your machine and protecting every aspect of your digital life. Customers who subscribe to this ultimate-tier plan will get Avast’s best antivirus software, the SecureLine VPN, and the Cleanup Premium utility that removes junk and improves the system performance. With the ultimate offering, you will even be warned if and when anyone tries to track your online activity before Avast stops them.

Kaspersky Premium Suite

Kaspersky’s top offering, which includes the company’s Total Protection package, as well as a host of security, privacy, and performance utilities, is perhaps the worthiest product to compete with McAfee Total Protection. This premium suite is available for Windows and macOS at a yearly price of $74.95 for five devices. Even though the price does not differ greatly from the products above, users will receive an outstanding anti-malware software that secures devices and data based on a triple layer of detection, protection, and elimination of harmful software. Accompanied with one of the best VPN services and Kids Safety utilities, Kaspersky more than justifies its competitive price tag.

Is McAfee Total Protection for You?

After reading through our McAfee review, you’re certainly asking yourself if McAfee’s top product is for you. Well, we definitely loved the efficiency and reliability of its core antivirus software, plus the tons of handy features that keep your devices and identity safe (both online and offline). Coupled with the array of useful features that improve the performance of your machine, protect your most valuable files, and keep your family safe, McAfee offers a top-notch product that warrants its price tag.

The pros of owning a McAfee antivirus suite aside, we did notice some downsides that may affect the product’s overall user experience, such as the large chunk of memory it takes up. Chiefly, we noticed some inconsistencies between the different platforms: while Windows users get the full experience and support for the vast array of McAfee features, macOS users cannot use a small number of utilities, such as WebAdvisor and the PC Boost tools. Also, some more affordable AV suites offer a similar end-user experience at a lower price. 

All that aside, you’ll certainly get more than enough for your money with McAfee. So, if you’re looking for quality antivirus software that keeps you safe without any significant interventions on your side, you won’t make a mistake buying the latest McAfee Total Protection suite.

FAQs

1. Is McAfee Total Protection any good?

The McAfee team makes one of the industry’s most comprehensive AV suites. In addition to the heap of features it offers to protect every aspect of your digital life, the core McAfee antivirus has been showing near-perfect malware detection results for a long time, as checked by independent labs.

2. Which is better, McAfee LiveSafe or Total Protection?

While McAfee LiveSafe and Total Protection are essentially the same product, they still differ in two significant aspects. First, LiveSafe includes a cloud storage utility called Personal Locker that offers 1GB of secure storage for important documents, in contrast to the 128-bit encryption and the password-protected vault of Total Protection. Second, LiveSafe allows you to protect an unlimited number of personal devices throughout the subscription period, unlike the limited number of devices covered by Total Protection (up to 10).

3. What does McAfee Total Protection include?

The McAfee Total Protection suite includes the company’s award-winning antivirus, which offers both live protection and an offline scanner, as well as a host of other useful features such as a vulnerability scanner, unlimited VPN (with auto-renewal), password manager, PC optimization tools, file shredder, and a cleaning wizard, among other things.

4. Does McAfee Total Protection remove malware?

Yes, the main purpose of every McAfee AV product is to effectively detect and remove all types of malware, including standard self-replicating viruses, adware, spyware, worms, scareware, ransomware, fileless malware, and other kinds of malicious software.

5. How much does McAfee cost per year?

McAfee Total Protection subscription plans start at $69.95/year for a single device coverage. The prices increase as more devices and utilities are added to the subscription plan up to $89.95/year for ten devices. Nevertheless, prices are subject to change, and the company may offer discounts now and then. Therefore, always check the latest costs updates before purchasing your McAfee product since the prices reviewed by this McAfee Total Protection review might have been updated in the meanwhile.

6. Can I get McAfee free?

Unfortunately, the company does not currently offer a free McAfee antivirus suite. However, potential customers can always try out the 30-day free trial, which includes the full set of features without restrictions. Once the trial ends, you will have to purchase the product to continue using it. Should you decide that McAfee does not fit your needs, you can always get a full refund within the first month after purchase.

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