McAfee Antivirus Review: Is McAfee any good?


author: Jeremy Roderick

Fact-checked by Ruben Olav

UPDATED: July 29, 2023

McAfee Antivirus — a stalwart in the world of cyber security, designed to protect your digital life. Lauded for its comprehensive approach, McAfee Antivirus functions as an integral part of any device’s immune system, guarding your hardware and software against digital infections. Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of its intricacies, let’s acquaint ourselves with the landscape of today’s digital threats. What does the layperson need to know about the rapidly evolving domain of cyber threats? How can a potent, well-rounded antivirus software like McAfee help navigate these tricky waters?

To truly appreciate the impressive suite of tools and services that McAfee brings to the table, a cursory understanding of the world of digital threats is essential. The threats of yesteryear—viruses, trojans, and worms—still exist, but they have evolved. Today’s cyberthreats also include sophisticated ransomware, malicious scripts, and zero-day attacks that even the tech-savvy among us can find daunting. In this rapidly changing scenario, having an antivirus like McAfee can serve as your digital bodyguard, a sentinel standing guard to ensure your online safety.

Did you know? According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

Key Features and Benefits of McAfee Antivirus

Comprehensive Protection

McAfee Antivirus offers a full array of defenses against all types of threats, making it a comprehensive shield against the myriad digital threats lurking in the cyber-scape. It offers real-time scanning, firewall protection, and internet security, ensuring that your device is secure from the moment you power it on.


McAfee’s interface is designed with the user in mind. Simple and intuitive, even the least tech-savvy among us can easily navigate through its various features, making cyber protection accessible to all.

Performance Optimizer

McAfee doesn’t just protect your system from threats; it also works to enhance your system’s performance. By cleaning up unnecessary files and fine-tuning your system’s settings, McAfee ensures that your device remains sprightly and responsive.

Multi-Device Compatibility

McAfee Antivirus supports a multitude of platforms. Whether you’re an Apple aficionado, a die-hard Windows user, or an Android enthusiast, McAfee has got you covered.

Personal Firewall

McAfee’s personal firewall monitors network traffic, offering another layer of protection by blocking suspicious activity. This ensures that your device remains impenetrable, a veritable digital fortress.

Web Advisor

The Web Advisor tool is another feather in McAfee’s cap. This tool guides your online exploration, flagging suspicious and dangerous sites to keep you out of harm’s way.

The list of McAfee’s features goes on, but these are some of the key attributes that make it a standout in the antivirus market. The benefits of these features are tangible, providing a secure and stress-free digital experience. However, one might wonder, “How do I install and set up McAfee Antivirus?” The answer to that lies in the following sections, which are designed to guide you through the installation and setup process, making the experience as straightforward as possible. With McAfee Antivirus, you’re not just investing in software, but in peace of mind. And that, truly, is priceless.

Installation and Setup

Choosing McAfee Antivirus as your cyber bodyguard is only half the battle. The real question is: how do you set it up on your device?

Supported Operating Systems

McAfee is the Swiss Army Knife of antivirus software, boasting compatibility with a range of operating systems. From Windows 10, 8.1, 8, and 7 (32 and 64-bit) to macOS 10.12 or later, Android 4.1 or higher, and iOS 10 or later, McAfee casts a wide net. This ensures that you’re protected, regardless of your choice of device.

Pro Tip: Always keep your operating system updated to the latest version. This not only ensures compatibility with antivirus software but also enhances your device’s security and performance.

System Requirements

McAfee’s system requirements are rather modest, which means even older devices can enjoy its protection. For Windows devices, a 1 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM, and 500 MB of hard disk space are sufficient. Mac users require a 1 GHz Intel Processor, 2 GB RAM, and 300 MB of disk space.

For Android devices, a minimum of 2 GB RAM is recommended, while iOS users will need 50 MB of free space. In terms of browsers, McAfee is compatible with Internet Explorer 10.0 or later, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari (Mac and iOS), and Android’s default browser.

Downloading McAfee Antivirus

To download McAfee, you can either visit their official website or popular software marketplaces such as Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS. For best results, always download from official sources.

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Installing McAfee is a breeze, thanks to its user-friendly setup wizard. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. After purchasing McAfee Antivirus, you will receive an email with a download link. Click the link to download the installer.
  2. Once downloaded, locate the installer file (it should be in your “Downloads” folder unless specified otherwise).
  3. Double click the installer file to start the setup process.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions. You’ll be asked to agree to McAfee’s terms and conditions.
  5. After installation, restart your device to complete the process.

Activation and Registration Process

Activating McAfee is just as simple as its installation:

  1. After restarting your device, open McAfee Antivirus.
  2. You’ll be prompted to enter your activation code (you can find this in the email received after purchase).
  3. After entering the activation code, create a new McAfee account or log in if you already have one.
  4. Fill in the required details and complete the registration process.
  5. Congratulations! Your device is now protected by McAfee Antivirus.

User Interface and Navigation

McAfee Antivirus’ interface is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, providing a seamless user experience that requires little to no technical expertise.

Exploring the Dashboard

McAfee’s dashboard is your control room. It provides a bird’s eye view of your device’s security status and allows you to control every aspect of McAfee Antivirus. You’ll see green checkmarks indicating areas that are secure and red crosses where attention is needed, making it easy to spot issues at a glance.

Customizing Settings

McAfee allows a high degree of customization. You can tailor scan schedules, adjust security levels, manage firewalls, and even control app permissions. To access settings, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the dashboard.

Scanning Options

McAfee provides several scanning options. Quick Scan checks the most vulnerable areas of your device, while Full Scan conducts an in-depth examination. You can also schedule scans for convenient times or set up automatic scans for continuous protection.

Scan and Update Scheduling

Scheduling scans and updates is a key feature of McAfee. You can set it to run scans during hours when you’re less likely to use your device, ensuring uninterrupted productivity. Similarly, automatic updates can be scheduled to keep your software current with the latest virus definitions.

Accessing Additional Tools

Additional tools like WebAdvisor, Firewall, and True Key password manager can be accessed via the dashboard. Simply click on the respective icons and you’ll be directed to the selected tool.

The combination of a simple installation process and an intuitive user interface makes McAfee Antivirus a joy to use. Its extensive feature set ensures that your device gets the protection it deserves, allowing you to enjoy the digital world with confidence. Stay tuned for more in-depth insights into McAfee’s core protection features and much more in our upcoming sections.

Core Protection Features

McAfee Antivirus is equipped with an arsenal of core protection features that provide a multi-layered defense against a vast array of cyber threats. Let’s delve into what each feature brings to the table.

Real-Time Threat Detection

McAfee’s Real-Time Scanning works as your ever-vigilant digital sentinel. It continuously monitors your system, checking files, applications, and emails for potential threats. It’s the antivirus equivalent of having a digital guard dog that never sleeps, ensuring your peace of mind.

Malware and Virus Removal

In the unfortunate event that malware or a virus manages to infiltrate your system, McAfee’s removal tool steps in to save the day. It not only detects and quarantines the threat but also removes it from your device. Additionally, it patches the security loophole that the malware exploited, preventing future attacks.

Firewall Protection

McAfee’s built-in firewall adds an extra layer of protection, monitoring the data that travels in and out of your device. It blocks suspicious traffic, ensuring that unauthorized entities cannot gain access to your device. Customizable settings allow you to control the firewall’s strictness based on your preferences.

Web Protection and Safe Browsing

With McAfee’s WebAdvisor tool, your online safety is assured. It warns you of risky websites, links, and files before you click on them. It also prevents downloads from suspicious sites, further reducing the chance of malware infection. And with phishing protection in place, you’re safeguarded from attempts to steal your personal information.

Email and Spam Protection

McAfee’s email protection feature scans your emails for potential threats, keeping your inbox safe. It also filters spam, ensuring that your inbox remains uncluttered and you’re not tricked into clicking on malicious links.

Performance and Resource Usage

An antivirus solution should protect your device without significantly hindering its performance. Let’s examine how McAfee fares in this aspect.

Impact on System Performance

McAfee has made significant strides in reducing the impact of its antivirus software on system performance. Independent tests, like those conducted by AV-Comparatives, show that McAfee has minimal impact on system performance, ranking it among the top performers in the industry. Whether you’re working on a spreadsheet or playing a demanding video game, McAfee operates quietly in the background without slowing your device.

Resource Optimization Tips

McAfee goes a step further with its QuickClean tool, which helps optimize your system’s resources. QuickClean identifies and deletes unnecessary files, freeing up storage space and improving overall system performance. Additionally, the Vulnerability Scanner feature ensures that your software and applications are up to date, reducing the potential points of exploitation for malware.

It’s evident that McAfee not only provides top-notch protection but also does so while maintaining optimal system performance. Its array of tools and features ensure that your device is secure, efficient, and ready to tackle any digital threats that come its way. Stay with us as we delve into McAfee’s advanced security features, additional tools, pricing packages, and more in our following sections. With every section, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of why McAfee Antivirus is one of the top contenders in the antivirus market.

Advanced Security Features

With a solid foundation of core protection features, McAfee also excels in providing an array of advanced security features that enhance its capabilities and stand up to sophisticated threats.

One such noteworthy feature is McAfee’s Two-Way Firewall, which goes above and beyond traditional firewall protection by monitoring network traffic to and from your device and eliminating potential security breaches.

McAfee’s Shredder tool is another crucial feature for maintaining your privacy. It deletes sensitive files and makes them unrecoverable, ensuring your digital footprints cannot be traced or exploited.

With the rise in webcam spying, McAfee’s Webcam Protection serves as a necessary guard. It prevents unauthorized applications from accessing your webcam, ensuring your privacy isn’t compromised.

Finally, McAfee’s Identity Theft Protection offers extensive protection against identity fraud by monitoring your online accounts for suspicious activity. If it detects any potential breaches, it will alert you instantly, ensuring your digital identity remains secure.

Additional Tools and Utilities

In addition to its robust antivirus capabilities, McAfee comes bundled with several tools and utilities designed to provide an enhanced layer of protection and optimize your device’s performance.

File Shredder and Data Encryption

McAfee’s File Shredder tool takes file deletion to another level by permanently destroying sensitive files and making them unrecoverable. This ensures that no traces of sensitive data are left behind that could be exploited by cybercriminals.

In addition, McAfee’s Data Encryption tool protects sensitive files by encrypting them with a password. This adds an additional layer of security, preventing unauthorized access to your data.

Vulnerability Scanner

The Vulnerability Scanner feature checks for outdated software and applications that could be exploited by malware. It prompts you to update any software that poses a security risk, thereby preventing potential attacks.

SafeCam and Dark Web Monitoring

SafeCam alerts you when an application attempts to access your webcam and gives you the power to block unauthorized access, keeping you safe from webcam spying.

On the other hand, Dark Web Monitoring monitors the dark web for your personal information. If your information is found, you will be alerted immediately, allowing you to take the necessary steps to secure your information.

System Tune-up and Cleanup

McAfee’s System Tune-up feature optimizes your device’s performance by deleting unnecessary files, defragmenting the hard drive, and managing applications that run on startup.

These utilities work in unison with McAfee’s core antivirus features to create a comprehensive protection plan that guards against threats and optimizes performance. When you consider the extent of these features and their effectiveness, it’s clear that McAfee Antivirus provides excellent value for its cost.

McAfee Antivirus Packages and Pricing

One of the key aspects when selecting an antivirus is its pricing structure. Fortunately, McAfee offers a range of packages tailored to fit various needs and budgets. Each package has unique features that are designed to provide the maximum level of security to the user.

Comparison of Subscription Plans

There are primarily three subscription plans on offer: McAfee Total Protection Single Device, McAfee Total Protection Individuals/Couples, and McAfee Total Protection Family. Each plan offers comprehensive antivirus protection, identity, and privacy protection.

  • Single Device: As the name suggests, this plan is ideal for an individual with a single device. It provides the essential protection features and costs $79.99 per year.
  • Individuals/Couples: This plan is suitable for individuals or couples with up to five devices. It costs $99.99 per year and includes added features like identity monitoring and recovery tools.
  • Family: The Family plan is the most comprehensive of all the packages. Priced at $119.99 per year, it offers protection for up to 10 devices and includes advanced parental controls, making it a perfect choice for families.
McAfee Free Antivirus

Free vs. Paid Versions

McAfee does offer a free version, but it is relatively basic, providing standard virus scanning and threat removal. However, to truly benefit from McAfee’s comprehensive protective features, a paid version is recommended. Paid packages come with 24/7 technical support, a 100% guarantee to remove viruses, and a host of other advanced features.

Renewal and Upgrade Options

McAfee’s renewal process is seamless, with automatic renewal being the default option when you purchase a subscription. You can manage your renewal settings in your McAfee account. Upgrading to a different plan is straightforward and can be done from your McAfee dashboard.

Money-Back Guarantee

To further assure customers of their product quality, McAfee offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with the product, you can get a full refund, no questions asked.

User Reviews and Ratings

An important part of assessing any product is considering what actual users have to say about it. McAfee enjoys mostly positive reviews from users worldwide.

Compilation of User Feedback

According to a compilation of user reviews from Trustpilot, McAfee has an average rating of 1.2 out of 5. and it has a lot of criticisms. Some users have expressed concerns about the automatic renewal process and its visibility. Other users mention terrible customer service.

Pros and Cons

With a clear understanding of what McAfee offers, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of using this antivirus software. This will provide a comprehensive overview of its strengths and areas for improvement.


  1. Comprehensive Protection: McAfee offers robust, all-round protection against a wide range of malware, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware. Its real-time protection feature ensures constant monitoring and immediate response to any threats.
  2. Multi-Device Compatibility: McAfee supports a range of devices, from Windows PCs to Macs, and Android to iOS devices. This makes it an excellent choice for households or businesses with different types of devices.
  3. User-Friendly Interface: McAfee’s user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. All the features are well-organized and easy to access.
  4. Performance Optimization: McAfee not only provides security but also helps optimize your device’s performance. The QuickClean tool deletes unnecessary files to free up memory and improve speed.
  5. Advanced Security Features: From a two-way firewall to a file shredder and a vulnerability scanner, McAfee offers an array of advanced features that enhance its protection capabilities.


  1. Cost: Some users might find McAfee to be a bit pricier than other antivirus software in the market. However, considering the extensive features it offers, many still find it worth the investment.
  2. Automatic Renewal: Although convenient, some users have expressed concerns about McAfee’s automatic renewal system. Some felt they were not adequately informed about the renewal.
  3. Occasional System Slowdown: A few users have reported that their system slows down at times when running McAfee, especially during full system scans.

Despite a few minor drawbacks, McAfee’s extensive features, user-friendly interface, and comprehensive protection make it a solid choice for those seeking robust digital security.

Testimonials from Experts

To provide an even more balanced review, it’s important to consider expert opinions. Here’s what some of the top cybersecurity experts have to say about McAfee:

  • According to Neil J. Rubenking, Lead Analyst for Security at PCMag, “McAfee AntiVirus Plus is an Editors’ Choice antivirus, with protection for unlimited devices.”
  • AV-Comparatives, a leading independent antivirus testing agency, has consistently given high ratings to McAfee, stating: “McAfee provides good protection against malicious attacks.”
  • On AV-Test, McAfee received top marks, with the tester highlighting its excellent performance and 100% detection rate in their latest evaluation.

These expert endorsements, combined with positive user reviews, paint a strong picture of McAfee as a reliable antivirus solution. In the next sections, we will compare McAfee with other popular antivirus solutions, helping you make an informed decision about the best antivirus software for your needs.


When it comes to choosing the right antivirus software, it’s essential to consider other available options. In this section, we’ll compare McAfee with five popular alternatives: Avast Free Antivirus, Surfshark Antivirus, Kaspersky Antivirus, Avira Free Antivirus, and Norton Antivirus Plus.

McAfee vs. Avast Free Antivirus

While Avast Free Antivirus does offer decent protection at no cost, McAfee’s paid subscriptions come with a broader feature set. McAfee’s protection plans include features like file encryption and shredding, performance optimization, identity theft protection, and webcam security. Moreover, McAfee’s protection has been more consistent in independent lab tests, while Avast has had mixed results.

McAfee vs. Surfshark Antivirus

Surfshark Antivirus is well-known for its VPN services, but it has recently ventured into the antivirus realm. While Surfshark Antivirus offers real-time protection and a user-friendly interface, it lacks several advanced features present in McAfee’s suite, such as a personal firewall, file shredder, and system optimization tools. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive protection plan, McAfee is the better choice.

McAfee vs. Kaspersky Antivirus

Kaspersky Antivirus is a worthy adversary with high scores in independent lab tests, robust phishing protection, and a gaming mode that minimizes interruptions. However, McAfee offers protection for unlimited devices, unlike Kaspersky’s single-device plan. Furthermore, McAfee includes additional tools like a file shredder, vulnerability scanner, and a two-way firewall, giving it an edge over Kaspersky.

McAfee vs. Avira Free Antivirus

Like Avast, Avira offers a free antivirus solution with basic protection features. While it scores well in malware protection tests, it falls short in terms of features compared to McAfee. Notably, McAfee’s identity theft protection, personal firewall, and file encryption tools are absent in Avira’s free version.

McAfee vs. Norton Antivirus Plus

Norton is another heavyweight in the antivirus industry, boasting excellent scores in malware protection and a host of features in its Antivirus Plus package. However, unlike McAfee’s plans, Norton Antivirus Plus only covers one device. Additionally, while both offer identity theft protection, McAfee’s version is more comprehensive, providing recovery tools and compensation in case of identity theft.

Summary and Conclusion

In the realm of cybersecurity, few brands have the same level of recognition and respect as McAfee. Over the years, this veteran player has adapted and evolved, maintaining a strong stand against an ever-changing landscape of digital threats.

Recap of Key Points

McAfee Antivirus offers robust protection features, an intuitive interface, and a suite of additional tools that make it a comprehensive security solution. It scores well in independent lab tests and is recognized for its capabilities by experts in the cybersecurity field.

Its packages, while priced higher than some competitors, offer value for money considering the number of features and level of protection provided. While there are occasional criticisms, the positive feedback from users and experts alike overwhelmingly supports the benefits of McAfee Antivirus.

AspectsScore (Out of 5)
User Interface4.5

Final Recommendation

Whether you’re an individual user or a family with multiple devices, McAfee offers flexible options to fit your needs. With its comprehensive protection capabilities and an array of useful tools, it remains a reliable and worthy contender in the antivirus market. Although each user’s needs may vary, for those seeking a robust, feature-rich antivirus solution, McAfee Antivirus is a solid choice.

As always, we recommend comparing different antivirus solutions and considering individual needs and budgets before making a final decision. Stay safe in the digital world!


Is McAfee Antivirus worth the cost?

Absolutely. Although McAfee is a bit more expensive than some of its competitors, the breadth and depth of its protection features, along with additional utilities like a file shredder, vulnerability scanner, and system optimization tools, make it worth the investment.

Does McAfee slow down my computer?

McAfee, like any antivirus software, may slow down your computer slightly when it is performing intensive tasks like full system scans. However, it’s designed to minimize its impact on system performance, and most users do not notice any significant slowdowns during regular use.

How does McAfee compare to other antivirus software?

McAfee is a highly competitive antivirus solution. It offers comprehensive protection, a suite of useful tools, and flexible pricing options. However, it’s always a good idea to consider your specific needs and compare different antivirus solutions before making a decision.

Does McAfee provide protection against ransomware?

Yes, McAfee provides robust protection against ransomware. It uses behavioral analysis to detect ransomware-like activities and quarantines potential threats before they can encrypt your files.

About the author

Jeremy is a cybersecurity author specializing in VPNs and privacy apps. With a passion for digital security, he educates individuals and organizations on safeguarding their online presence. Jeremy shares his expertise through conferences and workshops, making significant strides in raising awareness and fostering a safer digital environment.