McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (2023)

TechRadar Verdict

McAfee Total Protection has an impressive feature list, and the unlimited VPN in particular makes it a great value. However, it's not always easy to use and doesn't have the power or performance to compete with the top competition.


  • +

    decent value

  • +

    Unlimited VPN

  • +

    lots of features

  • +

    Interface for regular users, not for technicians.


  • -

    The antivirus is average at best.

  • -

    Some interface issues

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    Basic VPN has no kill switch, poor unblocking

  • -

    Many functions are too weak

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  • McAfee Total Protection
  • McAfee Total Protection Multidispositivo / Individual
  • McAfee Total Protection-Familia

Most security vendors offer a wide range of products: a basicvirus protection, a basic security suite, a more comprehensive security suite, and an "ultimate premium" security suite with added features included and other pieces included to grab your attention.

Mcafee Antivirus Review: Keep in Mind

This is our all-in-one roundup reviewing all of McAfee's consumer security solutions for 2021. Check out this page for our brief introduction.

(a) a full entry level assessmentMcAfee Total Protection, along with our reviews of the additional features built into the rest of the range:

(B)McAfee Total Protection Multidispositivo / Individual, Y

(c) the high-end packageMcAfee Total Protection-Familia

You can jump to the reviews of these individual products by clicking the links in the bar at the top of this page, but keep in mind that this article is designed to be read in its entirety as it discusses the features that McAfee Total Protection has, of course, too. present in top level security suites.

McAfee's consumer range is much simpler and is mainly based on one product:McAfee Total Protection(opens in a new tab)It is available in three flavors.

McAfee Total Protection Single Appliance(opens in a new tab)gives you Windows antivirus, a firewall, malicious URL filtering, a password manager, encryption for your most sensitive files, secure deletion of files when you no longer need them, and evenvpnUnlimited data coverage for one device (if your license is set to auto-renew). Pricing is $20 for a two-year device license and $80 per year at renewal.

McAfee Total Protection Multidispositivo / Individual(opens in a new tab)it throws identity theft protection into the mix (again, if auto-renewal is enabled), with dark web monitoring to keep an eye on your personal information. It covers any combination of up to five PCs, Macs, Android or iOS devices, but costs just over $50 for a two-year subscription and $100 per year at renewal.

McAfee Total Protection-Familia(opens in a new tab)adds parental controls to the feature set, covering up to 10 devices for $60 for first two years, then $120 at renewal. Alternatively, a two-year license costs $60 initially and $240 per year after renewal.

Bitdefender Total Security doesn't come with unlimited VPN by default, but it costs $40 for five devices for the first year, $90 on renewal ($50, then $100 for ten devices).

Avira's Prime suite includes a full VPN and similarly costs $100 per year for five devices and $130 for 25 devices.

(Video) McAfee antivirus software review: Is it a total protection?

McAfee Total Protection

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (1)

McAfee Total Protection(opens in a new tab)installed without issue and after our first reboot the dash opened.

Running the main benchmark, PCMark Professional, before and after installation, we found that our score dropped by just 1.3%. One or two fared better (Kaspersky managed 0.6%, Bitdefender 1%), but Avast, Trend Micro, G Data, and Norton all reduced our speeds by more than 3%.

Total Protection aims to protect against malware that tries to shut you down, and this worked quite well during testing. We were able to stop some non-critical tasks, but the core engine remained intact and we were always protected.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (2)

Total Protection's opening interface is designed for regular consumers rather than technical types. A large status area reported "Everything looks fine," while three boxes alert you to the different types of McAfee protection (PC/Antivirus, Web, and Identity/Privacy), and a "Scan my PC for threats" button. " takes you directly to the antivirus. scan page.

Clicking on any panel reveals more options for its associated tools. For example, the Identity window offers options to configure the password manager, securely delete sensitive files, or store important documents securely in encrypted vaults.

For example, even if you open the firewall, Total Protection divides its functions into small, easy-to-understand sections: "Firewall history", "Internet connections for programs", "My network connections", etc.

When you know what you're doing, it can be frustrating. Instead of looking at a regular firewall status screen with all the usual jargon, you're forced to scan each area to find out what it's doing.

However, the user interface keeps the complexity of Total Protection out of the reach of a consumer audience, and if simplicity is what you seek above all else, it might be worth checking out.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (3)

virus protection

McAfee Total Protection keeps your antivirus scanning options to a minimum: just a quick scan, a full system scan, and the ability to scan custom items directly from Explorer's context menu.

What you don't get is a specific removable drive scan, a custom scan that you can define through the user interface, or the ability to configure a new scan type or define how it works. For example, Avast's Windows products can be used to set up a scan that will check specific file types in the folders you need, using the technologies and scan rules you define, and then run that scan whenever you want. Here there is none of that.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (4)

Scan times were slower than average but acceptable. Total Protection verified our 50GB of test executable files in 40 minutes on the first run, 8:43 on the second. Bitdefender's first scan took an almost identical 39 minutes, but dropped to less than 30 seconds in the second. Kaspersky, Trend Micro, and ESET took 16-20 minutes to run the first scan, but some vendors don't try to optimize their second scans (ESET, for example, took around 18 minutes each time).

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (5)

As with the user interface, the analytics reports are aimed more at security newbies than experts who might be interested in the details.

Our first custom scan reported "8 issues fixed" and "We removed viruses to protect you." This was misleading as the list did not include viruses, only general detections and "potentially unwanted programs".

We went through the report anyway and it mostly gave us cryptic names like "GenericRXFO-NB!EGGCD29A7C0" for the "threats".

These were underlined in blue, so we clicked on them for more information. A browser window opened with search parameters on the McAfee site, which should probably display a page with more details. However, this was immediately redirected to the McAfee Threat Center home page with no further information.

This isn't a passing blip, either: web searching was just as unhelpful in our last review.

If you're happy to run a scan, let McAfee Total Protection decide what to do and just close the scan window when you're done, whatever the verdict, none of it will matter much.

However, if you prefer to monitor an antivirus program, make sure its actions seem reasonable and don't delete legitimate files. McAfee's lack of granularity and control could be a problem.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (6)


The AV-Comparatives Real World Protection Test is an intensive benchmark that tests 17 of the world's largest antivirus engines against the latest threats.

McAfee was ranked 16th in the February-May 2020 report with a protection rate of 98.9%, and was ranked 16th again in the July-October report with a protection rate that dropped to 98.5 %.

To put that in perspective, even Microsoft Defender blocked 99.7% and 99.5% in the same tests.

The October 2020 AV-Test Home Windows report found that McAfee blocked 100% of test threats. However, this is more common for this benchmark, so we also look at consistency over time. McAfee protected against 100% of threats in only two of six tests last year. Bitdefender scored perfectly on all six, Kaspersky on five, even Microsoft Defender on three.

McAfee performed better in SE LabsHome Anti-Malware Protection Report Q3 21020(opens in a new tab), where the company ranks fifth out of 14 in SE Labs' total accuracy table.

(Video) McAfee Antivirus Review 2022: Is McAfee Total Protection Worth it? (ūüĒ•Get 60% Off)

We cannot compete with the time and resources that major laboratories dedicate to their work, but what we can do is verify and supplement their results with more of our own tests.

These started with test executable files that behaved in a very suspicious manner and exploited various legitimate Windows tools to download malicious files or change important security settings.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (7)

Unfortunately, Total Protection ignored almost all of our tricks, though it did detect and quarantine malicious files when we tried to run them (it left them alone on first download).

Since our apps were not actual malware, it could be argued that this was the right action to take. But Trend Micro detected and blocked almost everything at the behavioral level, realizing that the applications were dubious and forcibly closing them, and Bitdefender and Kaspersky were not far behind. This more sensitive approach may increase the chances of falsely flagging legitimate apps, but we think it's also more likely to protect you.

Total Protection performed much better at URL filtering. We collected some new malicious links from MRG Effitas and found that they were blocked at 74%, roughly double what we've seen on Windows SmartScreen alone. (Don't worry, this was "only" 74% - some of these links were only a few hours old, no wonder many were unlocked. That doesn't mean we were vulnerable though, as Total Protection could be a warfare malware when downloading, executing or detecting its behavior).

As part of our behavioral testing, we created a simple ransomware simulator that navigates through a folder structure and reads and encrypts images, audio files, Office documents, and more. By running this on a system scan, let's see if an antivirus can detect undetected ransomware based on behavior alone and find out how many, if any, files might be lost before an attack can be stopped.

The results were disappointing, as McAfee Total Protection let our simulator run to full extent and encrypt thousands of documents. Some tools are much better, like Kaspersky, Trend Micro, and Bitdefender, which not only detect and exit the simulator, but also recover the few files our program had encrypted.

While that's not good news, remember that McAfee detects the vast majority of threats, even new and undetected, so we know your behavioral monitoring is working. Not this time, but only with a single sample, and that doesn't tell us much about the suite as a whole.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (8)


Total Protection includes a firewall that automatically makes intelligent decisions about which programs on your system can access the Internet. This is hidden several clicks deep in the user interface and most users will never need to know of its existence.

Experts get access to a variety of firewall settings, including the ability to open or close specific ports or define custom rules for individual applications. However, these options are harder to find than we'd like and it took us a while to figure out what was possible.

Even then, we were often faced with a puzzle. For example, the firewall has an intrusion detection system, but it is disabled by default, has only two settings (Basic or High) and even the web knowledge base has no real information on what it does and the consequences of turning it on. (or off).

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (9)


McAfee Total Protection includes Safe Connect, an unlimited TunnelBear-based VPN for as many devices as your license covers. It's a valuable extra (even cheap VPNs can charge you $40 or more per year) and a huge improvement over suites like Bitdefender Total Security, where the included VPN is the free plan, which is capped at 200MB per day.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (10)

The VPN app is built right into the Total Protection interface, and while it's ugly and basic, it covers a few basics. There's an on/off switch that connects you to the nearest server by default; You can choose from a list of 22 other countries (without cities); Settings allow you to connect manually, or you can connect automatically when connected via Wi-Fi or wired networks.

There are no other technical details or options, but looking under the hood, we found that our connection uses OpenVPN with industry-strong AES-256-GCM encryption.

We did not notice any other features. Notably, there's no kill switch to protect you if the VPN goes down. When we forcefully closed our VPN, our internet connection remained active and unprotected and there was no attempt to reconnect. At the very least, Total Protection displayed an Unable to connect warning, which would alert us to the problem in a real-world situation.

The rest of the service is not outstanding either; Speeds are average at best and unlock performance is poor. Safe Connect works in a very simple way, and that's enough to make it a worthwhile addition to the suite, but buying it directly from a VPN provider is not appropriate. (See our fullSecure Connection Review(opens in a new tab)for more details.)

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (11)

more features

Total Protection's spam filter installed by default on our test system, added an extension to our Outlook settings, and began filtering emails.

Performance was excellent as the filter caught most of the spam and did not falsely flag legitimate emails. But if that doesn't work for you, a variety of settings let you tailor the protection to suit your needs.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (12)

File Lock is a tool that allows files to be stored safely in an encrypted vault. Open the vault with your chosen passwords or security questions ('What was your childhood nickname?' etc.), it will appear in Explorer as a new drive and you can save and open documents in it as usual. Close the vault when you're done, your drive will be gone and most users will never know it was there. (Even if they find the file in the vault, it's encrypted and inaccessible.)

This is somewhat configurable. You can set the size of your vault to what works for your system, optionally choose a virtual drive letter, there's even the option to set up a password recovery email address.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (13)

However, we had a big problem with the review. The Vault Creation Wizard requires you to enter a password recovery email address and then wait for a message from McAfee with a confirmation code. We tested this with an email address; nothing came; Two more, from different providers, still nothing has arrived. They did show up eventually, but so late that the codes expired and we couldn't create a vault.

(Video) Norton 360 vs McAfee Comparison: which antivirus is better?

Maybe we were unlucky, there was a temporary error during verification. File Lock's basic specifications look good and it appears to be a powerful encryption tool. But the fact that such a core feature could fail, even temporarily, is cause for concern. When you urgently need to recover your password to access some files, and McAfee email delays mean it can't be done right away, this can become a big problem very quickly.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (14)

True Key Password Manager allows you to create and sync passwords across up to five devices. It's strong on multi-factor authentication methods (email, fingerprint, second device, Windows Hello, etc.), but not so good in other areas, lacking general form-filling and secure sharing features. passwords.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (15)

A vulnerability scanner checks for missing application updates and can install them. It was reported that we were missing an update related to Microsoft SQL. Windows Update found nothing, so we clicked Install and waited a few minutes for Vulnerability Scanner to tell us the updates couldn't run and we'd have to do it manually.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (16)

We clicked on the provided download link and Vulnerability Scanner opened Windows Update, which was still telling us that there were no updates available. Maybe we were unlucky, but that makes us wonder how reliable Vulnerability Scanner could be. And that's really important with automatic software updates. If they miss a patch or mess up an installation, they can cause far more problems than they solve.

Other obvious features of the program are completely separate tools that you need to download and install separately. For example, clicking Protect Me on the Web opens the McAfee WebAdvisor website, a browser extension that protects you against malware, malicious websites, and more. It's convenient, but it's also available for free and you don't need to buy Total Protection to use it.

The list of features continues in the PC Performance section, where you will find some speedup options.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (17)

App Boost optimizes CPU and I/O priorities for foreground applications to improve performance. This won't make much of a difference, sometimes it won't have any noticeable effect, but the company suggests you could see an 11-14% speed boost on target apps, which if true is worth it.

A Web Boost feature looks promising, but it's just a separate module that prevents videos from autoplaying on many popular websites of your choice (YouTube, Netflix,,,, and many more). . It's a sensible idea, and it may make web browsing a little less annoying (a worthwhile goal in its own right), but it probably won't increase speed much.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (18)

Elsewhere, a tracker removal option removes tracking cookies and temporary files and can be scheduled to run automatically. And a shredder securely erases sensitive files so they can't be recovered. Powerful users may already have more powerful free tools, but they're easy to use and conveniently accessible, adding a little extra value to the suite.

final verdict

McAfee Total Protection has many features, but none stand out and they are not always well implemented (VPN has almost no features, we shouldn't use File Lock at all). You're certainly getting a lot for your money, and the target audience of undemanding consumers may be satisfied, but you'll find faster, more accurate, and more reliable suites elsewhere.

McAfee Total Protection Multidispositivo / Individual

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (19)

McAfee Total Protection Multidispositivo / Individual(opens in a new tab)it goes beyond the stingy single-device protection you get with the basic Total Protection plan to protect up to 5 Windows, Android, iOS and Mac systems.

Turn on auto-renewal for your subscription and US users will also get access to McAfee's Identity Theft Protection Essentials service, which monitors the Internet for signs of trouble and helps you fix any problems found.

That's an unusual feature for a security suite, and it doesn't seem to have driven the price up. Despite the premium functionality, McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device/Individuals costs $50 for a two-year license for five devices, $100 per year after renewal. Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, another great identity theft protection suite, costs $96 for the first year and $150 after that.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (20)


The McAfee Android app is a powerful product with all the essential technologies you'd find in the Windows version, along with a range of more mobile-oriented tools.

The free version of the app includes on-demand scanning, anti-theft protection (GPS lock, remote wipe, etc.), a battery booster, and helpful reports that highlight which apps are using the most data. Of course, there is also advertising.

The paid version removes ads and offers browser protection, an app locker and accompanying guest mode (control which apps a guest can see on your device), and added protection against unsecured Wi-Fi networks. It's a quality set of tools and the current rating of 4.5 stars on the Google Play Store suggests that most users are satisfied.

McAfee's iOS offering also has a free version with basic features including wireless scanning, anti-theft protection, and a media vault to safely store private photos and videos. The paid version also blocks malicious links through McAfee's Safe Web and protects you from phishing sites and ARP spoofing (those are low-level network tricks).

McAfee's Mac edition doesn't have as many extras, but it still covers more than the basics, with antivirus, firewall, and browsing protection.

Identity Theft Protection

McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device / Individuals has a more interesting and unusual extra in a separate identity theft protection service for its US customers.

Cyber ‚Äč‚Äčmonitoring is one of the highlights of the service that regularly scans the dark web for personal information, including your social security number, email addresses, phone numbers, bank and credit card details, license driving, passport and more. If some of your information is leaked online due to a data breach, you will receive an alert.

Other features include social media monitoring, which alerts you to risks with the content you share, and an optional social security number and address change monitoring service, which could alert you to scammers trying to steal and use your personal information. .

(Video) McAfee vs Norton 2023: Side-by-side Comparison | Which is Worth the Money?

This beats the more basic dark web monitoring tools you get with many suites, but it also can't compete with a complete identity theft protection package. For example, you can't see your credit report or get alerts when your score changes, and there's no tracking of credit or credit card applications, court or criminal records.

Unless you plan to purchase separate identity theft protection, it doesn't matter anyway. Whatever service McAfee offers you, it will be better than what you would have otherwise.

But if you have very specific ideas about what you need, or perhaps you're looking for the best possible protection, it's probably a good idea to buy it separately. Try the standalone version of McAfeeIdentity Theft Protection Plans(opens in a new tab)to get an idea of ‚Äč‚Äčwhat is available and what it might cost.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (21)

valor total

Thinking of buying the basic McAfee Total Protection product? Then it stops! Unless you're absolutely sure you only want to protect a single PC at a time, signing up for McAfee's Total Protection Multi-Device plan makes much more sense. It's only slightly more expensive than the single-device Total Protection plan ($40 for the first year, $100 on renewal vs. $35 and $80 respectively), but it covers up to five devices instead of one and is compatible with Android, iOS, and Android. Mac as well as with Windows. .

Whether Total Protection Multi-Device is good enough to make you choose McAfee, well, that's pretty debatable. Probably not, although McAfee's identity protection service might convince you.

McAfee Total Protection-Familia

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (22)

McAfee Total Protection-Familia(opens in a new tab)it doubles your device quota to a generous 10, but the price remains pretty much the same. An initial $60 gets you two years of coverage, then pays $120 a year thereafter.

The update gives you another big advantage in McAfee's Safe Family, a parental control suite for Windows, Android, and iOS (beware, it doesn't work on Mac). That's a big deal because this isn't your usual flimsy addition to a security suite; McAfee sells it as a standalone application for $50 per year.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (23)

The main functions of Safe Family are as expected. You can block websites by content type, restrict access to specific apps, or limit device access to certain times of the day.

The package is also easy to set up. Safe Family uses default settings based on your child's age, so you can get started quickly. You can then further customize it to suit your needs.

McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (24)

Plus, it's flexible. You can add multiple schedules to decide exactly when your kids can and can't use their devices. If the content filter does not meet your needs, you can allow or block the chosen websites. And uniquely, Safe Family recognizes that absolute rules don't always work. If your kids need more screen time or want to access a specific website, they can ask for it via a Requests messaging system and if you agree, they can benefit immediately.

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Safe Family does a good job of keeping you informed about what your children are up to. Once it's set up, you can see the apps and websites they access and any attempts to break the rules. You can even check the location of your kids' device on a map and receive notifications when they enter or leave certain areas.

It's far from perfect - we'd like to have more content filter categories, for example - and there's no built-in protection to prevent someone from uninstalling the edition of Windows - but Safe Family tramples the parental control tools in most Windows suites. security.

If you need a decent parental control system and need to protect a lot of devices, McAfee Total Protection Family might be a reasonable option. The two-year starting price of $60 is just $10 more than what you pay for the McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device/Individuals plan, so the risk is minimal. Check out the trial version and see how it works for you.

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McAfee Antivirus Total Protection Review (26)

mike williams

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lead security auditor

Mike is the lead security auditor at Future, where he performs stress tests.VPN,virus protectionand more to find out which services are sure to keep you safe and which ones are best to avoid. Mike began his career as a senior software developer in the engineering world, where his creations were used by prominent companies such as Rolls Royce, British Nuclear Fuels and British Aerospace. Early PC viruses caught Mike's attention, and he developed an interest in analyzing malware and learning the low-level technical details of how Windows works and network security under the hood.


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