McAfee Review 2020December 2019 McAfee Review & Deals
Strong protection against zero-day attacks
Special quarantine feature for questionable pages and applications
Convenient VPN features available
Must pay extra for technical support
Must use Google Chrome to access some security features
User interface can be somewhat overwhelming for first-time antivirus users
Although there are video tutorials available to help you through the installation and setup process, in the majority of situations the setup wizard will perform the whole process seamlessly and without you needing to get involved. It’s not the fastest antivirus software to download, taking up to 20 minutes to install if you’re using a moderately slow internet connection and requires a whopping 1GB of memory, not to mention a fair amount of RAM to operate effectively.
While not exactly lightweight, McAfee is nonetheless effective and is compatible with a wide range of operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. Inevitably, some issues do tend to arise even when downloading the simplest of software and some Windows 10 users may find they need to first run the pre-install tool before attempting to install the antivirus software itself.
Certainly, attempting to download it onto my Acer laptop was tantamount to watching paint dry but without the satisfaction as, after an hour of trying its hardest, McAfee couldn’t install. A second time, after using the pre-install tool, however, proved much more gratifying and, once up and running, McAfee proved to be effective and well house-trained.
Although not the fastest piece of software we’ve ever experienced when it comes to installation and setup, the process is extremely straightforward so it’s not as though you need to be sitting at your PC or smartphone watching the entire process and troubleshooting. Slow but slick is the name of the game when it comes to setting up McAfee.
It is currently unclear whether the entry-level option, McAfee Anti-Virus, is still available or not. A search engine will pick it up, but on the McAfee website itself, only three products are listed, namely, Total Protection, Live Safe and Identity Theft Protection. Having said that, it is still available to purchase so is present if not blatantly advertised. This baseline protection package includes a social media guard which helps to protect your passwords on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter while enabling you to filter out content you don’t wish to see.
McAfee’s Antivirus Plus package includes much of the same protection as it’s premium packages, giving you the benefits of both cloud-based threat analysis and safe web browsing. All McAfee’s packages include sophisticated firewall protection and its Ransom Guard feature. Ransom Guard keeps an eye out for suspicious changes to your files and gives the user advice on what to check and what actions to take in order to keep the threat at bay.
If, however, you want additional protection against identity theft, you either purchase an additional subscription to McAfee’s Identity Theft Protection product to enhance your Anti-Virus or upgrade to Total Protection.
McAfee is confident of its ability to both detect and remove viruses and includes a Virus Protection Pledge guarantee with all its packages. What this means for the consumer is that, should their device become infected while under the protection of automatic renewal of a McAfee product, they’ll receive a refund, unless they’re situated in the Netherlands.
Like most leading antivirus programs, McAfee uses a process known as heuristic analysis to keep tabs on your device’s behavior and identify potentially harmful scripts and programs. Anything behaving suspiciously is moved to a virtual machine where its behavior is scrutinized for replication, overwrites, and performs other common virus-like actions. If any such conduct is detected, the user is alerted to the presence of the suspicious file and can then act accordingly.
Regardless of whether you opt for a basic or premium subscription, McAfee provides all-round protection against a range of cyber threats, although the premium packages do offer some useful additional features, like anti-spam security, parental controls, and a password manager.
Aware of the sluggish performances it’s given the past, McAfee has tried to rectify the situation by introducing system-optimization tools in the form of its PC and App Boost functions. These effectively move system resources to the apps that need them most while preventing pop-ups and background videos from playing and slowing your system down even further.
In addition to the standard features, McAfee has an impressive range of free tools available to boost the performance of your device. The Ransomware Removal tool is probably one of the most useful and popular, giving users the capacity to get out from a ransomware stranglehold by decrypting their locked files and documents. Other free tools include the McAfee GetSusp, which is designed to help those who suspect their device is contaminated with malware and don’t have the technical knowledge required to isolate and neutralize the infection.
In addition to its free tools, McAfee has a range of products that you can subscribe to in order to boost the level of your cybersecurity protection. For example, you could increase your online security by adding McAfee’s Safe Connect VPN to your package, although, when it comes to providing a strong level of encryption and a strict policy of no logging, there are numerous VPNs that can do a better job.
Both the standard features and those available with McAfee’s top-tier packages are useful and effective and it has recently introduced some other security features that have taken it to the next level, including webcam protection, a safe browsing tool, and a virtual keyboard to prevent hackers from monitoring your keystrokes when entering sensitive account information.
McAfee recently announced that it intends to release another product in the near future aimed entirely at dedicated gamers. The Gamer Security package is designed to speed up performance while maintaining a high level of threat detection by prioritizing an active game over less important tasks. This new feather in McAfee’s cap is due for release soon.
When it comes to complete online security, McAfee has got you covered, but only if you’re prepared to shell out for a premium package.
There isn’t anything particularly outstanding about McAfee’s user interface but it does enable you to access important features and security options without having to open a series of different windows. Features such as spyware protection, updates, and web protection can be accessed easily from the main interface, while smaller modules will direct you to other services, such as parental controls and network tools.
McAfee has also done away with some of the confusing terms it used in the past, and, should you not understand a feature on the main interface, you can click on the light bulb icon in the top right-hand corner and all will be revealed. If you go to the PC Security interface, you’ll find the operations that are already running listed on the left and a range of additional functions at the bottom of the main window. Clicking on any of these gives you instant access to a range of tools, from running an unscheduled scan to updating apps.
Finding and accessing all the features, even in Total Protection, is easily done since the redesign and it has certainly dragged McAfee into the 21st century and made it into an antivirus to be reckoned with. There are one of two peculiarities, however, like the fact that the most obvious way to access your secure vaults is through the file locker which may be logical to some, but may not be immediately obvious to others.
Another slight niggle is with the settings menus which seems to basically give you access to many of the same features you can operate from the main interfaces and menu options which appears to be an unnecessary duplication. In fact, the settings menu gives you access to a far more sophisticated level of operation and customization, but the whole layout could be improved to make these processes more linear.
Once you’ve got to know McAfee, navigation and operation become surprisingly easy, but the initial learning curve is slightly steeper than necessary. There is also a fair amount of wasted space that could be used to give clearer and more in-depth insights into your level of protection.
Moving up the pricing tier, we next arrive at McAfee’s Internet Security package which, at $69,99, gives you the additional benefits of performance optimization, anti-spam and phishing features, and a password manager for one user. Next up is the package McAfee advertises with the most enthusiasm – the Total Protection suite which includes tools to protect online transactions, the ability to put specific parental controls in place, and secure file storage. This is much the same as the top-tier package, the only exception being that, if you subscribe to LiveSafe, you’ll get the added benefit of secure cloud storage.
At the standard prices, McAfee isn’t cheap, but it’s also not much more expensive than its rivals. One of the biggest differences is that McAfee no longer offers a free version, only a 30-day free trial, whereas other big names in antivirus protection, such as AVG and Avast, both have free products available. Nevertheless, McAfee’s more basic offerings are cheaper than either of the paid versions of AVG or Avast and give you better protection.
Overall, McAfee could be cheaper but its regular discounts and special offers make it surprisingly competitive and cost-effective, especially given the comprehensive nature of the protection on offer.
McAfee makes use of the popular online ticket system for any queries or feedback and you can expect an answer within 24 hours in most instances. If this isn’t sufficient or your problem is particularly pressing, you can also make use of the McAfee virtual assistant, although the answers aren’t always useful or relevant, meaning you’ll have to revert to another means of communication.
Fortunately, McAfee has a strong social media presence so you can get in touch with a customer support representative via Twitter or Facebook, and check out a variety of useful and videos and tutorials on the McAfee YouTube channel.
In the event of application malfunction or urgent troubleshooting, McAfee has a Virtual Technician on hand to resolve your problems. When downloaded, this tool basically scrolls through your McAfee product, finding and resolving any issues it may have developed. Similarly, the virtual technician can streamline the installation process for those struggling with Windows 10 compatibility.
If none of these options have managed to address and resolve your problem effectively, your last resort is, somewhat inevitably, to throw money at it in the form of McAfee’s TechMaster solutions. Although the TechMaster will perform a free scan to ascertain the problem, you may find you have to sign up for one of its not so cheap support services. For example, if you’ve had difficulties setting McAfee up on a new device, the TechMaster offers device setup support for $69.95 per year which seems a little rude. If the program doesn’t work effectively, surely McAfee should be paying for the error, rather than the user? Similarly, if you think you’re going to need a lot of support throughout the year, you can sign up for an annual support service like Concierge Gold, which will cost you $179.95 per year but give you access to TechMaster support whenever you need it.
The trend of charging for support has been doing the rounds of antivirus software for some time and has a substantial impact on your annual charges. On the plus side, however, McAfee does offer some great customer support and troubleshooting tips for free, especially when compared with some of its competitors who are less free with their expertise.