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Is McAfee Safe? | Can You Trust This Antivirus Protection Efficiency?

McAfee has lent its name to some of the most popular computer security software suites over the years.  Combining all the usual ransomware protection essentials with outstanding McAfee support team and a competitive subscription price, McAfee is the virus protection package of choice for millions.

But to what extent does McAfee's Total Protection genuinely provide total protection? Do today’s McAfee antivirus solutions continue to outperform comparable antivirus software from the market’s other leading developers? Our McAfee review answers all those questions for you. And if you still want to explore more, read our side-by-side McAfee LiveSafe vs Total Protection comparison.

At the risk of jumping straight to the conclusion, the short answer is yes – McAfee s antivirus programs are safe.  However, no virus protection suite for PCs Macs or phone devices is 100% flawless.  Anti-virus protection in general offers a certain amount of localized and remote Internet security, but is by no means impervious. However, you should always look for the best possible options when it comes to the best antivirus software for business, or antivirus software for gaming.

McAfee Total Protection is no exception to the rule.

Where McAfee Total Protect Excels and Falls Short

Credit where due, McAfee is packed to bursting with a ton of cool features and important functionalities.  It’s one of the best suites on the market for blocking most zero-day attacks and widespread malware, there’s a plan available that covers 10 devices at a seriously low subscription price and it works great across Windows user, MacOS Android and iOS. Then there’s the superb web amplify feature, identity-theft protection, true key password manager, safe connect feature, secure VPN, parental controls, phishing protection and so much more.

Not to mention, a reassuring money back guarantee (within 30 days in the first year) for total peace of mind. McAfee offers a lot for your money.

The only slight downside being that the user interface isn’t quite as user friendly as it could be. This is true across all  platforms and mobile devices, making McAfee interface a little tricky to get used to at first.  Nevertheless, though it’s far from the simplest antivirus package to get to grips with, it’s still one of the best in its class by a considerable margin. In addition, you can check out how it fares against Avast here, how it compares to Trend Micro, or read here how it stacks against ESET antivirus.

McAfee Security Features

Taking a look at some of McAfee’s most important security features in a little more detail, pretty much everything you need is covered by this top-shelf package. Offering real time protection and the reassurance of an exceptionally capable vulnerability scanner, McAfee Security provides total protection against viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware and phishing attacks. You’re also actively protected from suspicious and potentially harmful websites in real time, boosting your security when browsing the web.

The McAfee Security software performs particularly well against malware, having consistently scored 99% and even 100% when put to the test in independent labs.  This puts McAfee Security neck and neck with the market's other leading antivirus suites, such as those from Avast's antivirus and Bitdefender.

However, it’s worth noting that McAfee Security brings a long list of additional security features to the table you don’t get with its closest rivals. Just a few examples of which include:

PC performance optimization

Encrypted storage (128-bit encryption)

Home Network Security (firewall)

Password managers

Identity-theft protection

Multi-device compatibility

The company’s reassuring virus protection pledge

Safe connect VPN

While it’s true to say that many users won’t find at least some of the above particularly useful, they’re still welcome additions to the security package. Particularly when considering the subscription price of McAfee Total Protection, which is considerably lower than that of some of its rivals.

Virus Scanning

Along with real time security and antivirus protection, the function you’ll use most often with McAfee is its virus scanner. As with most security software suites, there are two different types of scans available on demand:

  • Quick Scan
  • Full Scan

    Exactly how ‘quick’ the Quick Scanning is depends on the type of computer you’re running and how cluttered your hard drive is. On a standard Windows 10 machine with the usual accumulation of files and folders, you’ll be looking at around 5 minutes or so for the scan to complete. 

mcafee web

On a much older Windows laptop with base-level specifications, it can take up to 15 minutes for a Quick Scanning to do its thing.

It’s a similar story with the Full Scanning option, which varies in duration significantly between machines. Again, there are no big differences between Windows MacOS platforms – a reasonable spec computer, and you’ll be looking at around 1 hour for the scan to complete. However, step back in time with older Windows devices, and a full scanning could see you waiting 10-15 hours. You can click here to check out the best antivirus software for Windows 10, or antivirus software for Mac.

Full scanning can be quite heavy on system resources, so it’s advisable to run one when you’re not planning on doing much with your machine.

All information on potential security and system issues is presented clearly and is easy to deal with.  Again, independent tests performed on McAfee Total Protection rank it among the most capable and consistent antivirus security suites on the market right now.

Vulnerability Scanner

This is one of the most useful and important features the McAfee software offers, which keeps a close eye on the third party programs and apps on your machine. The scan is initiated automatically periodically (or when you schedule it to), during which it notes outdated software and potential security online threats on your machine.

Impressively, the scan itself takes no more than around 10 minutes to complete, after which you’re provided with a summary of any issues found. Though it’s worth noting that even though McAfee refers to this feature as ‘vulnerability scanner’, it’s actually labelled “Update my Apps” in the dashboard, which could be a little misleading.

QuickClean —Unnecessary File Deletion

This is one of my personal favorite features and something every computer could benefit from on occasion. Again, it’s a simple yet effective security and performance tool that goes through your entire computer to find forgotten files and general clutter that doesn’t need to be there.

mcafee is great

I personally think I do a pretty good job keeping my Windows PC and laptop in order, performing manual clear-outs on a regular basis. Nevertheless, my first QuickClean with McAfee Total Protection found an alarming 3.7 GB of files that were doing nothing but take up space and slow down my machine.

McAfee Total Protection goes far beyond the basics when scanning for unwanted files, while at the same time providing a concise and informative summary of what’s being detected and why you can live without it.

App Boost and McAfee Web Boost

This again goes beyond the basics of home network and computer security to focus on pure performance. While conducting my review, I put both the App Boost and Web Boost tools to the test with McAfee.

App Boost automatically detects and access which applications need a burst of extra power from your device, with the aim of loading them faster and enabling them to perform better. Meanwhile, Web Boost is designed to accelerate the browsing experience, while at the same time reducing power consumption to extend battery life (where applicable).

It’s worth noting at this point that App Boost is exclusive to Windows u10 computers– it’s not compatible with previous versions of Windows.

In any case, App Boost and Web Boost aren’t going to radically alter the speed and performance of your system. You’re provided with a rundown of how many ‘boosts’ you’ve benefited from within a given period of time, but you don’t really notice them while going about your business. Still, any web or software performance boost is better than no boost at all!

Identity Theft Protection (US Only)

The final feature I felt it important to highlight was the impressive identity-theft protection afforded by McAfee. This is available exclusively to customers in the U.S. and isn’t offered elsewhere, which is included as standard in the Multi-Device or Family plan options.

On a continuous basis, McAfee searches the web and the dark web to see whether any of your private data or financial information has been leaked, hacked or used without your authorization.

Data searched for by McAfee the includes the following among others:

Email addresses

Medical IDs

Social Security Numbers

Bank accounts

Phone numbers

Credit/debit cards

Driver’s licenses


Interestingly, I found that my primary e-mail address had been used without my authorization more than a dozen times elsewhere. Mercifully, none of these uses were for anything particularly illicit and nor had my all-round security being compromised as a result.

This demonstrated just how vulnerable your private information can be and how capable McAfee Total Protection is at tracking its use. This is why it is vital to keep your anti-virus signatures updated when new viruses and other malicious software are found and signatures are produced.

McAfee Plans and Pricing

Value for money is guaranteed across all packages and subscription plans  or pricing MacAfee offers. Coming in at around $30.00 per year, you really couldn’t expect more for this kind of money.

Every package comes with all the basics needed to cover your devices – the difference with the subscription plans available is the number of devices you can install McAfee Total Protection on:

•Individual: one device

•Multi-Device: 5 devices

•Household/Family: 10 Devices (including iOS and Android)

mcafee pricing

There’s currently no free version available, but there is a 30-day free trial to see how it all works. It’s also possible to get your money back anytime within the first 30 days of your paid subscription in the first year, or within 60 days of auto renewal when heading into your second, third, fourth year etc.

In Summary…

Concluding my review, I’ve very little to say about McAfee Total Protection that isn’t predominantly positive. However, I was particularly impressed with how quick and easy the software is to set up, the low subscription and McAfee cost when covering multiple devices (iOS and Android devices included), and the massive range of features available.

If I was to change one thing, I’d say that the dashboard (i.e. the user interface) isn’t quite as user-friendly for beginners as some comparable software suites.

Nevertheless, stick with McAfee Total Protection for just a short time and the whole thing becomes second nature. If planning to cover multiple gadgets on one plan, you’ll find little right now that represents better overall value for money. It is definitely a good antivirus program and anti-spam to have.


1. How safe is McAfee Antivirus?

McAfee Antivirus is a very safe program. It has a very good detection rate and can protect your computer from a wide variety of threats. McAfee's bundled identity theft security includes dark web monitoring and warnings, a Social Security Number Trace to alert you to potential synthetic identity fraud, and free assistance available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Is McAfee better than Norton?

Norton is superior in terms of general security, performance, and additional features. So if you're willing to pay a bit more for the finest protection in 2021, choose Norton's antivirus. McAfee is slightly less expensive than Norton. If you're looking for a secure, feature-rich, and reasonably priced internet antivirus and security package, go no further than McAfee.

3. Does McAfee remove malware?

McAfee Virus Removal Service swiftly and easily detects and removes viruses, Trojans, spyware, and other infections from your computer. It includes a QuickClean tool that deletes any unnecessary cookies and temporary files from my browser. Additionally, it applies required security updates to your operating system and security applications.

4. Is McAfee better than Kaspersky?

McAfee wins because its security solutions provide more security-related features and utilities than Kaspersky's. In addition, independent lab testing confirms that both Kaspersky and McAfee products offer superior malware protection with minimal impact on system performance; however, McAfee's antivirus and security suite is less expensive than Kaspersky's.

5. Does McAfee detect spyware?

Yes, McAfee Antivirus software is designed to detect and remove spyware from your computer.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

2 thoughts on “Is McAfee Safe? | Can You Trust This Antivirus Protection Efficiency?”

  1. I’m wondering if I download the real McAfee or a scam. When I tried downloading on my computer, it warned me that it was “impersonating home.mcafee.com” to steal my personal information. How can I know if I’m done something wrong and how to correct it?

  2. What is “QuickClean —Unnecessary File Deletion”?? Is this why I keep losing my FireFox History? Really frustrating and annoying! How do I disable “QuickClean”? Thank you,


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