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McAfee LiveSafe Review (2023): 8 Pros & 3 Cons

By Tibor Moes / Updated: April 2023 / Rating: 4 of 5

McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe Review 2023

McAfee LiveSafe Review: Summary

McAfee is ranked #5 out of 20 antivirus software.

McAfee is one of the best antivirus of 2023. McAfee LiveSafe, also known as Total Protection, has the best design of all the antivirus we tested. It’s both intuitive and beautiful. On top of that, its anti-malware is excellent, its protection for Windows complete, and its password manager outstanding.

Sadly, its VPN is disappointing. It doesn’t have a kill switch, and it tracks what you do online. On the plus side, it’s included for free. So even if you don’t use it, it also doesn’t cost you anything.


  • Excellent Anti-Malware: McAfee has achieved near-perfect scores in all anti-malware trials by AV-Test since the start of 2019.
  • Outstanding Password Manager: McAfee’s True Key password manager is excellent, even when compared to the best competitors out there.
  • Free VPN: Unlike Bitdefender and Kaspersky, McAfee includes its unlimited VPN for free with LiveSafe and Total Protection.
  • Functional Parental Controls: McAfee’s parental controls are not as good as those by Norton or Kaspersky, but they cover the basics.
  • Complete Protection on Windows: Anti-malware, password manager, browser security, firewall, parental controls, unlimited VPN, and more.
  • Complete Protection on Android: Anti-malware, password manager, safe browsing, unlimited VPN, identity protection, Wi-Fi scan, and more.
  • Excellent Design: McAfee’s design is probably the most beautiful and intuitive of any antivirus software we have tested. It’s excellent.
  • Virus Protection Pledge: McAfee will remove all viruses on your devices, or you’ll get your money back.


  • A poor VPN: It lacks a kill switch and tracks your IP address and browsing history. We don’t recommend it. Norton 360 Deluxe includes a better VPN.
  • Limited Features for macOS: Without a VPN and password manager, McAfee is too basic on Mac. We recommend Norton for macOS.
  • Auto-Renewal Limitations: McAfee limits the VPN, virus protection pledge, and dark web monitoring if you turn off automatic renewal.

McAfee’s price varies by region. Click the link below to see it in yours. 

Ranking  #5 of 20
Password Manager
Unlimited VPN
Operating systems Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Discount Save 60% on McAfee

McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus 2023 Full Review

Let’s get some confusion out of the way first: McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection are the same product. McAfee LiveSafe comes pre-installed on laptops, while McAfee Total Protection is sold directly to consumers in both online and offline stores. That’s the core difference.

McAfee offers excellent antivirus protection in 2023. But should you prefer it over Norton or BitDefender? To find out, we tested McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe in-depth. Click the links below or scroll down to read the full review.

Alternatively, you can compare McAfee Antivirus to the best antivirus for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. Or have a look at our privacy focused comparisons of the top VPN and antivirus with a VPN included.

McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe - Home

Image 1: McAfee’s dashboard on Android and Windows 10.

McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus for Windows Review

Key takeaway: McAfee’s design is outstanding. And its protection on Windows is both complete and advanced. Especially the password manager is excellent. The only flaw is the VPN, which lacks a kill switch and tracks you online. So we would avoid it. Privacy-sensitive users could opt for Norton instead, which includes a better VPN. Or, if you have your heart set on McAfee, get a separate VPN, like CyberGhost or NordVPN.

McAfee antivirus on Windows 10 review:

McAfee’s interface on Windows 10 is beautiful and intuitive. Its app is designed like a modern website, somewhat similar to Facebook. A light grey background, on which white boxes with rounded corners stand out.

The big box at the top informs you of your security status and helps you improve it. For example, it might tell you that McAfee has found your data on the dark web or that you should install the browser extension with phishing protection.

The three smaller boxes below it help you navigate the main themes of the app: PC, Web, and Identity. Each has several deeper features structured under them. Below we’ll explain each.


In this segment, you can find four features. The first three are relatively straightforward:

  • Antivirus: The antivirus feature enables you to run a quick or full malware scan, or if you like, schedule one for a later time. We tested this feature in the anti-malware section of this review.
  • Secure Apps: This vulnerability scanner helps you discover and install security updates for Windows. On our PC, which we thought was up to date, it found two key updates.
  • App Boost: The app boost gives programs that you frequently use, like your browser, a performance boost.

The fourth feature, the firewall, is customizable:

  • You can manually decide what programs can connect to the internet or let the firewall decide for you. The latter is the default setting.
  • You can open specific ports so that PCs on your network can connect to yours. By defaults these are closed.
  • You can choose the level of advice you would like in making those decisions, what events should be logged, and what networks to trust.

Although there are some advanced settings, the friendly design and helpful “learn more” links make it very unintimidating. To us, it seems that even novice users would be able to master the advanced settings reasonably quickly if they would like to.


There are four features stacked under Web which help you stay safe online:

  • Browser Security: This anti-phishing browser extension, called McAfee WebAdvisor, scans websites and warns you about dangerous ones before you enter them.
  • Web Boost: This browser extension stops videos from playing automatically when you enter a website, saving data and making your surfing experience faster.
  • Tracker Remover: A QuickClean feature that deletes cookies that track you online, as well as temporary files that take up space on your hard drive. You can select which browsers and files it can scan and clean.
  • Secure VPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to surf the web privately and securely. Further down this page, we have an entire VPN section dedicated to it. Spoiler alert: The VPN is slow and lacking a kill switch, which is a shame.


Under Identity, you can find another four separate categories:

  • ID Protection: Here, you can enter email addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, bank accounts, credit cards details, and more. McAfee will then scan the internet and dark web for them, to see if hackers got a hold of them. This feature is limited when you turn off auto-renewal, which is a bit of a dirty trick by McAfee.
  • Password Manager: This is another browser extension, called McAfee True Key, that will help you create, store, and auto-fill highly secure passwords on all your accounts. We tested it extensively in the password manager section on this page. Spoiler alert: It is one of the best password managers in the industry.
  • File Shredder: The shredder allows you to delete files securely. You can select the files that you want to remove and set how thorough you want them shredded.
  • File Lock: A separate app that lets you create password-protected digital vaults in which you can store sensitive files.

McAfee’s US-version of LiveSafe and Total Protection also include Identity Theft Insurance. Together with ID Protection, these make up the total of the identity theft protection features. Not bad, but certainly not the same as what’s on offer by Norton.

Finally, via the Settings menu in the top right corner of the screen, you can find two more features:

  • Anti-Spam: A surprisingly advanced anti-spam feature for Outlook and Thunderbird. You can select the protection level, where to move SPAM mails, set a white-list of friendly emails, and more.
  • Safe Family: A Parental Controls feature that opens in a separate app. We have tested it extensively in the parental controls section on this page. Spoiler alert: It’s pretty good, but we prefer Norton’s parental controls for its design.

All in all, McAfee has about every feature you could want on Windows 10. Its True Key Password Manager is outstanding. And its design is excellent: Beautiful, intuitive, and advanced, yet never intimidating. Too bad the VPN disappoints.

Privacy-sensitive users can opt for Norton, which includes a better VPN. Or if you prefer McAfee, buy a separate VPN, like CyberGhost.

McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus for Mac Review

Key takeaway: McAfee’s protection for macOS is on the basic side. Although it includes anti-malware, a firewall, and web protection, it lacks a password manager and VPN. We prefer Norton on Mac.

As with most antivirus software, McAfee’s antivirus for macOS misses most of the features available to its brother for Windows 10. Basically, three features remain:

  • Anti-Malware Scanning: You can scan your Mac for malware, either directly as a full scan, or as a scheduled scan in the future. McAfee will remove harmful files or place them in the quarantine zone, where you can restore or delete them.
  • Firewall: McAfee’s firewall will monitor your network traffic to protect you from hackers.
  • Web Advisor: McAfee’s web advisor will warn you of dangerous websites, or block your access to them, depending on your chosen settings. You can also select which website categories are regarded as hazardous.

The most notable features that are lacking are the password manager and the VPN:

  • McAfee’s True Key password manager is a browser extension that is not OS-specific. Meaning it will work just as well on macOS as on Windows. So why it’s featured in McAfee’s Windows app, but not in its macOS app, is beyond us.
  • McAfee’s Safe Connect VPN is not compatible with macOS, so it is missing in McAfee’s antivirus on Mac. That’s something the company should work on to attract more Mac users.

In conclusion, McAfee’s antivirus for Mac is on the basic side, especially since it lacks a VPN and the excellent password manager. For Mac, we recommend Norton.

McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus for Android Review

Key takeaway: McAfee’s antivirus for Android is beautifully designed and well equipped. The password manager is excellent, and the anti-phishing features work well. Sadly, the VPN disappoints. If you don’t mind that, McAfee is a great choice to protect your Android devices. Privacy-focused users could opt for Norton instead, which includes a better VPN.

McAfee’s antivirus for Android is a beautifully designed app. The clean design style from Windows has made its way to Android too, with a slight twist. On Android, it almost feels more like a blog than a security app.

The app is separated into three tabs, which you can access at the bottom of the screen. The most left tab, indicated by a house icon in the bottom bar, is where you start. Here McAfee wants to educate (“how can unsecured Wi-Fi affect me?”) and inspire you to action (“Let’s protect you from risky websites – get safe browsing”).

Only in the second tab, McAfee starts to feel like a mobile security app. In this section, there are five features for you to access:

  • Antivirus Scan: McAfee will scan your apps, files, photos, and videos for malware.
  • Identity Protection: Here, you can enter personal details, such as your email addresses or credit card details. McAfee will then monitor the dark web to see if hackers got hold of your data.
  • Secure VPN: Activate the VPN to browse the web securely and privately. Confusingly though, the VPN in our app was limited to 500 MB / month. This is not only a tiny amount of data, but also a very strange cap, because we had paid for McAfee’s Total Protection with an unlimited VPN. It might have been a temporary bug, but it made the VPN in our test device useless.
  • Wi-Fi Scan: Use this feature to scan your Wi-Fi and determine whether it is securely encrypted and password protected. In case there is a threat, you can choose to disconnect or switch on the VPN.
  • Safe Browsing: A web advisor with anti-phishing protection that will warn you of malicious websites when you surf, shop, and socialize.

Overall, McAfee for Android is a well-designed and complete security solution. It’s one of the better antivirus for Android that we have tested.

But as on Windows and macOS, the VPN is a disappointment. If you don’t mind that, McAfee is a great choice on Android. But for privacy-sensitive users, who want an unlimited VPN, we recommend Norton.

McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus for iOS Review

Key takeaway: If McAfee improves its VPN by including a kill switch and changing its log policy, it will become an excellent security app for iOS. But until then, we prefer Norton to protect our iPhones and iPads.

McAfee’s antivirus for iOS shares its design with its sibling on Android, which is excellent. It’s clean, beautiful, and intuitive to navigate. The features are also identical across both mobile security products, except for the antivirus scan, which isn’t available on iOS.

This surprises many people: An antivirus for iOS without an antivirus scan. To understand why this is, you have to go back to Steve Job’s design philosophy for iOS and macOS. In contrast to Bill Gates’ vision for Windows, Jobs wanted to build closed systems that tightly controlled both the hardware and software.

Because of this, Apple screens all apps thoroughly before they enter the Appstore, limiting the number of malicious apps on iOS and macOS. On top of that, iOS apps live in a closed-off environment. Therefore, they can neither infect, nor scan, the entire iPhone or iPad. This makes malware scans impossible but also eliminates their need.

Instead, security apps on iOS focus on identity and privacy protection. Therefore, of McAfee’s five features available on Android, only four have made their way to iOS: Identity Protection, Wi-Fi Scan, Safe Browsing, and Secure VPN.

The first three of those work well, but the VPN doesn’t. In our test, the VPN was limited to 500 MB / month, which is very little and incorrect, as we had paid for Total Protection with an unlimited VPN.

Therefore, we can’t recommend McAfee for iOS. Norton doesn’t feature dark web monitoring in its iOS product, but does include a Wi-Fi scan and an unlimited VPN. So as with the other operating software, if you value privacy, choose Norton instead.

  • Norton 100% 100%
  • Kaspersky 99% 99%
  • Bitdefender 99% 99%
  • Avira 98% 98%
  • AVG 98% 98%
  • Avast 98% 98%
  • McAfee 96% 96%
  • BullGuard 96% 96%
  • Windows Defender 95% 95%
  • TotalAV 81% 81%

Graph 1: The average of all anti-malware test results for Windows 10 since October 2016 by AV-Test.

McAfee LiveSafe 2023: Anti-Malware Review

Key takeaway:McAfee’s anti-malware test scores have been nearly perfect since the start of 2019. That is not reflected in the graph above, which goes back to 2016. However, today, McAfee’s anti-malware capabilities are excellent. We have complete confidence in their abilities.

What are malware and anti-malware?

Malware describes anything that can infect your device, such as viruses, worms, adware, spyware, trojans, keyloggers, ransomware, and more. Anti-malware, a feature of antivirus software, is there to remove any malware on your devices and spot new malware attacks before they become a problem.

Before 2019, Windows Defender was relatively poor at detecting and removing malware. But since then, it has made significant steps and can be considered on par with some of the best antivirus software.

Do you still need anti-malware and antivirus in 2023?

Yes, unfortunately, you do. Today’s online threats are broader than just malware. Big data companies and advertisers are constantly violating your privacy, and your identity might be for sale on the dark web.

Luckily, modern antivirus software are here to help. With tools like VPN, password managers, advanced firewalls, and dark web monitoring, they can significantly improve your protection online.

But as malware are still a real threat, we have analyzed whether each antivirus software is at least capable of matching or beating Windows Defender’s test scores.

How did we test McAfee, and how good is it?

To analyze McAfee’s anti-malware protection, we averaged the historical anti-malware test results by AV-Test, an independent IT security institute. They have tested most leading antivirus software, several times per year since October 2016, in their anti-malware capabilities for Windows 10.

With a few exceptions, McAfee faired very well in those tests. In fact, since June 2020, it has scored perfect test results in each trial.

Still, McAfee doesn’t find itself at the top of the list. Other brands, like Norton, BitDefender, Kaspersky, Avira, Avast, and AVG, scored better. More troubling, McAfee is only slightly ahead of Windows Defender.

McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe - Password Manager

Image 2: McAfee’s True Key password manager.

McAfee LiveSafe: True Key Password Manager

Key takeaway: McAfee’s True Key password manager is one of the very best in the industry, and can easily compete with stand-alone password managers like Dashlane. The setup is intuitive and straightforward, the auto-fill quick and accurate, and you can use your devices’ face and fingerprint scanners to log in.

What is a password manager?

Most people use the same email and password combination for most of their accounts, whether email, banking, or social media. Sadly, that is really dangerous. When one account gets hacked, all the other accounts become accessible to the hackers as well.

In an ideal world, you would use a unique password for each account. An example could be: 5uk9NDT1Bxh$PcT?gzGH. A password we generated using McAfee’s password manager.

Of course, we can’t remember or type such a random password. Luckily, that is where a password manager can help us:

  • It helps you create and store highly unique and secure passwords.
  • It automatically fills-in those passwords when you enter a website.
  • It automatically syncs those passwords across all your devices.

To determine whether McAfee’s password manager, called True Key, is any good at these tasks, we tested it on both Windows and Android.

How good is McAfee’s password manager?

McAfee’s password manager is outstanding.

Like most other password managers, it is an app on Android and iOS, and a browser extension on Windows and Mac, where it works with Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Sadly, it but does not support Safari.

The setup on Windows is straightforward. When you click the icon in the antivirus software, McAfee opens your browser. Here you are prompted to install the browser extension, log in with your McAfee account, and create a password vault.

The password vault is where all your passwords are stored. To create it, you will need to give it a master password. As this is the last password you’ll ever have to create and remember, we recommend making it an easy yet secure one. Combining a few random words with a number, symbol, and capital letters will do. For instance, #PresidentTeddyBear47.

Now you are all set up. The next time you create an account for a website, or log in to a website that you already have an account for, the password manager will store the email and password combination into the vault. Whenever you visit that same website again, it will automatically fill-in your email and password.

And to make it even easier, whenever you want to access your vault, you can either type in your master password or use the Windows Hello biometrics scanners, with are the face recognition or fingerprint scanner on your laptop. So you won’t even have to type in your master password if you don’t want to. It makes password management a breeze.

On Android and iOS, it works in a very similar way. You download the app from the AppStore and log in to the vault with your master password. As McAfee keeps your password synced across all your devices, you have all those passwords you entered on Windows, on your smartphone too.

Next time you want to log in to an app or website, a small symbol in the top right corner appears, click it, and McAfee will type the correct email and password here too.

And last but not least, you can give the password manager on Android and iOS access to the biometrics scanner (face or fingerprint) of your mobile device. That way, when you want to log in to your vault, it will be effortless.

How does McAfee’s password manager compare to other Password managers?

We use Dashlane for our password management. It is an excellent stand-alone password manager, like Keeper or Lastpass. And truth be told, McAfee’s password manager can easily keep us with the best.

From setup to login, using the biometrics of your device, McAfee’s password manager is genuinely excellent.

If you choose to get a McAfee subscription, there is absolutely no reason to get a separate subscription at a dedicated password manager. McAfee’s Password manager is top-notch.

So are there no downsides to McAfee’s True Key password manager?

We can only find two. First, the password manager works fine on Google Chrome on macOS. Yet, the password manager does not have a link in McAfee’s antivirus app for Mac, which we don’t understand. Does McAfee not want its Mac users to know about the password manager?

Second, there is no browser extension for Safari on macOS. Safari is a very mainstream browser and should be supported. We guess that McAfee doesn’t consider Mac users its target audience, which is a shame.

McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe - Parental Controls

Image 3: McAfee’s parental controls.

McAfee LiveSafe: Safe Family Parental Controls

Key takeaway: McAfee’s parental controls, called Safe Family, enable you to set protective boundaries on your children’s digital life. You can block apps and websites, and set screen time limits. The functionality works, but the design is a disappointment. On top of that, the app is hidden deep in the Settings menu and it’s not available on macOS. If parental controls are important to you, Norton and Kaspersky are better options.

What are Parental Controls?

Parental controls help you protect your children both online and offline. You’ll be able to see, via GPS, where they are in the real world. And, by installing the app on your children’s devices, analyze and limit their whereabouts in the digital world.

The exact features differ from provider to provider. But with McAfee’s parental controls you will be able to do the following:

  • See where your children are on a map and where they have been.
  • See what apps and websites your children have used and when.
  • Block access to specific apps and websites or entire categories such as “gambling” or “violent content.”
  • Set daily time limits on specific apps.
  • Set limits to their allowed screen time, which you can split into weekday and weekend, or set on a per-day basis.

Once you have installed the Safe Family app on your kids’ devices and created their profiles, you can analyze their behavior and set rules remotely from the Windows app. So you’ll never have to touch their device again to set boundaries and make sure they are okay online.

How good are McAfee’s parental controls?

The functionality works. There is no doubt about that. Whenever we blocked a specific app or website, and attempted to access it from the child’s device, it would work as advertised. Also, the activity notices we received on their browsing behavior were in real-time, and the map accurately displayed where our fictional child went.

That being said, McAfee Safe Family feels a bit like an unloved side feature:

  • It’s a separate app from the main antivirus app, and it’s hidden well. You’ll need to click on Settings in the top right corner and scroll to the bottom of the menu to find it. We would certainly forgive you if you had never discovered it.
  • Compared to the outstanding design of the antivirus app, the Safe Family app looks and feels very basic. We found it so unattractive that we almost wrote it off before even testing it, which would have been a mistake, because the functionality works.
  • It’s not available on macOS.

All in all, McAfee’s Safe Family does the trick. But if we would want to protect our kids online, we would instead use Norton’s app instead. It won’t win any beauty prizes either, but it is much more user-friendly. And on top of that, it has a shortcut in the main menu, so you’ll actually be able to find it.

McAfee Antivirus LiveSafe - Safe Connect VPN

Image 4: McAfee’s VPN app on Android and Windows 10.

McAfee LiveSafe 2023: Safe Connect VPN Review

Key takeaway: McAfee’s VPN is a slow and primitive VPN, that doesn’t work on macOS. During our test, we could only use 500 MB per month on Android and iOS, while the VPN was unlimited on Windows. But the biggest problem is the privacy policy, which is the worst we have read so far. The only upside is that McAfee includes the VPN for free. But we don’t recommend you to use it. If you want to use McAfee’s antivirus, get a separate VPN, like CyberGhost or NordVPN. Or you could get Norton instead, which includes a better VPN.

What is a VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your internet connection and masks your IP (Internet Protocol) address, which identifies your device on the internet. You can see it as the digital version of your home address.

Using a VPN has several advantages:

  • You can surf the web anonymously: Many organizations want to track you online: Governments, ISPs (Internet Service Providers), advertisers, big data companies, and more. By using a VPN, these organizations can’t track you and see what you’re up to.
  • You can securely use public Wi-Fi networks: Because your internet connection is encrypted, hackers on public Wi-Fi networks won’t be able to read your data stream. Even if they hack the network, all they get from you is scrambled information.
  • You can watch foreign TV shows: Companies like Netflix have different shows in different countries. For instance, you can’t watch US-exclusive content if you’re in Japan. But if you log in to a US-based VPN server, you can watch the US shows, even when you’re in Japan.
  • You can avoid censorship: Some countries, like China, don’t allow you access to particular websites. By logging into a foreign VPN server, you can avoid these restrictions. For instance, if you are in China but log into a Singaporean VPN server, you can surf the web as if you were in Singapore.

So the advantages are clear. But is McAfee’s VPN, called McAfee Safe Connect, any good? To find out, we investigated the following questions.

  • On what operating software does the VPN work?
  • How fast is it and how does it compare to other VPN?
  • How secure it is?
  • How private it is?
  • How many server options do you have?
  • Does it work with Netflix?
  • Does it work with torrents (P2P)?
  • Does it work in China?

On what operating software does McAfee’s VPN work?

McAfee’s VPN is available for Windows, Android, and iOS. But not for macOS.

With a LiveSafe or Total Protection subscription, the VPN should be unlimited. In our test, though, the VPN was only unlimited on Windows 10. Instead, on Android and iOS, we got 500 MB per month.

Once we reached that limit, McAfee told us to upgrade. However, when we tried, we were told we couldn’t because we already had a subscription. It was both confusing and annoying.

If the above is not a temporary bug, McAfee’s VPN on mobile devices will be completely useless. To show you why, let us highlight just how little 500 MB per month is:

  • BitDefender includes a free version of its VPN with any antivirus package. This free version has a limit of 200 MB per day, which means 6.000 MB per month.
  • After running three speed tests on McAfee’s VPN, we already used up our entire 500 MB data budget. So depending on what you do online, 500 MB will deplete quickly.

How fast is McAfee’s VPN and how does it compare?

When you connect to a VPN server, the encrypted connection slows your download speed. Advanced VPN, like NordVPN or CyberGhost, will slow you down by about 5% to 15%. To find out what McAfee’s impact was, we ran the following test on a 300 Mbps connection in Europe:

  • We tested our download speed three times using speedtest.net, without an active VPN connection, and then averaged the results.
  • We then repeated this test three times while connected to McAfee’s local server and repeated it another three times while connected to its US-based server.
  • To put those results into context, we repeated the same while connected to servers of CyberGhost.

As you can see in the table below, the results were pretty dramatic. Although CyberGhost slowed our connection down by only 9% to 12%, McAfee did so by 56% to 75%. That’s really a bad result.

Speed (Mbps) Impact
No VPN 306.4 0%
McAfee Local 134.6 -56.1%
CyberGhost Local 279.6 -8.7%
McAfee US 76.1 -75.1%
CyberGhost US 271.2 -11.5%

How secure is McAfee’s VPN?

To find out whether McAfee Safe Connect VPN lives up to its name, we investigated the following:

  • What encryption protocols and standard does it use?
  • What security features are present, and which aren’t?
  • Does it leak any data?

McAfee’s VPN uses the intransparent Catapult Hydra VPN protocol in combination with 256-AES encryption. Although it’s not our favorite protocol, it certainly is capable of delivering high speeds. Hotspot Shield, a competing VPN, uses it to achieve remarkably high download speeds. But, unfortunately, McAfee can’t seem to get the same results.

When it comes to advanced features, McAfee lacks all of them. Things like Onion over VPN, protocol selection, dedicated IP addresses, and a VPN tunnel all shine in their absence. The only feature McAfee offers is a kill switch, but there is a problem too.

The kill switch is only present in McAfee’s standalone VPN app, called Safe Connect, on Windows 10. Note that this is a different VPN from the one built into your antivirus. The one in your antivirus doesn’t have the kill switch. And on Android and iOS, neither the standalone VPN nor the integrated VPN, have a kill switch.

To McAfee’s credit, none of our data leaked in the IP, DNS, and WebRTC tests using browserleaks.com.

All in all, McAfee is not secure enough.

How private is McAfee’s VPN?

McAfee’s Privacy Notice begins with: “We at McAfee (…) care deeply about your privacy.” Only to continue saying that they collect:

  • Your IP address and geo-location
  • The websites you visit and the applications you install
  • Your interests, purchases, demographics, photos, videos, and biometrics
  • Device ID, language preference, ISP, and so much more

The privacy policy also states that McAfee can share your data with companies part of the McAfee family, governmental authorities, and “service providers who perform services for us.”

How is this any different from Facebook or your Internet Service Provider? It defeats the entire purpose of using a VPN. It’s the worst VPN privacy policy we have read so far.

When you use McAfee’s VPN, you are not protecting your privacy. Instead, you are handing it over to McAfee. It’s disgraceful.

How many server options does McAfee’s VPN have?

McAfee’s VPN has servers in 46 countries. Outside of the many European countries, these are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.

That isn’t a bad list. On the contrary, it’s more than Norton Secure VPN offers. And the representation of the African continent is excellent. Many VPN only include South Africa.

Does McAfee’s VPN work with Netflix?

Yes. Both while connected to McAfee’s local server, and its US-based server, we could stream Netflix. This is a bit strange, as McAfee says it doesn’t guarantee that you can stream Netflix on their servers.

Does McAfee’s VPN work with torrent (P2P)?

Yes. However, we don’t recommend downloading torrents with McAfee’s VPN due to the invasive privacy policy and the lack of a kill switch.

Does McAfee’s VPN work in China?

No. McAfee does not work in China. But frankly, few VPN do. A VPN needs to apply specific obfuscation tools to mask the VPN data as regular HTTPS traffic to work in China. Only few VPN software have that tech.

McAfee Company Profile

McAfee Corp, the company behind the security software, is a global leader in online protection for consumers and small businesses. It is installed on more than 600 million consumer devices, spread across 182 countries.

The colorful John McAfee founded the company in 1987 but left in 1994, only to become a vocal critic of the software in the years that followed. The company would change owners and names several times, rebranding to Intel Security in 2014 and back to McAfee in 2016.

In October 2020, McAfee listed as a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange (ticker MCFE), valuing the company at $ 8.4 billion. 

A year later in November 2021, however, McAfee agreed to a buy-out by a group of private-equity firms. The consortium took McAfee private once again in a $ 14 billion deal. Like its main US rival, NortonLifeLock, McAfee would refocus entirely on the consumer segment. It had already sold its enterprise business in July 2021 to the Symphony Technology Group (STG).

McAfee’s Product Line-Up

McAfee’s product line-up is reasonably logical, but the website’s design doesn’t help. So below, we will explain the product range in a way that makes sense. But before we do, we want to highlight two important points:

  • Like any antivirus software, McAfee wants you to renew your subscription at the end of the year. After all, the renewal price is higher than the first-year price. However, McAfee’s methods are a bit dodgy: If you turn off auto-renewal, McAfee will limit the VPN and dark web monitoring features. That’s unfair. User have paid for those features. Whether the renewal is active or not, they should get what they pay for.
  • McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe are essentially the same product, but sold in different channels. Total Protection is sold directly to consumers via brick-and-mortar stores and their webshop. While LiveSafe comes pre-installed on a new device you might buy. Below, we will focus on the Total Protection range, as it’s the one advertised on McAfee’s website. But remember, the two are essentially the same.

Let’s dive in.

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McAfee Antivirus Plus

McAfee Antivirus Plus is the entry-level security software. It features antivirus protection, a secure browser, customer support, and PC optimization features. Although it’s a basic product, you will be able to install it on ten separate devices, which is generous.

First-year price in the US: $ 29.99. Afterward: $ 59.99.

McAfee Total Protection - Single

McAfee’s main security product is Total Protection, also known as LiveSafe, which comes in four different levels.

The first is called Single, which includes all features from Antivirus Plus, and adds a firewall, VPN, password manager, identity protection, and a file shredder on top. As a result, it’s a much more complete security solution. And as the name “Single” suggests, you are allowed to install it on only one device.

First-year price in the US: $ 34.99. Afterward: $ 84.99.

McAfee Total Protection - Basic

McAfee Total Protection Basic offers all the features available in Single, but allows you to install it on five devices, rather than just one. Considering that nearly everyone has more than one device these days, this is a more logical option. 

First-year price in the US: $ 39.99. Afterward: $ 104.99.

McAfee Total Protection - Pro

McAfee Total Protection Pro offers all the features present in Single and Basic, but can be installed on ten devices. It also includes Parental Controls that allow you to monitor and protect your children online. For families, this is the best option.

First-year price in the US: $ 49.99. Afterward: $ 124.99.

McAfee Total Protection - Ultimate

McAfee’s range-topping product is called Total Protection Ultimate. It includes all the features of Pro, but removes the VPN’s auto-renewal limitation and adds identity theft insurance and restoration on top.

First-year price in the US: $ 69.99. Afterward: $ 159.99.

McAfee Gamer Security

McAfee Gamer Security is designed to reduce the resources required by the antivirus and increase your PC’s performance. It does so by:

  • Utilizing McAfee’s new MicroAV engine. This offloads malware threat detection to the cloud when you’re online, reducing the resources the AV requires.
  • Pausing power-hungry programs that run in the background.
  • Giving you access to critical metrics such as FPS, CPU, GPU, and RAM in a cool and intuitive dashboard. While also allowing you to close resource-heavy programs straight from McAfee’s app without opening task manager.

Note: McAfee Gamer Security is exclusively for Windows 10 users.

First-year price in the US: $ 59.99. Afterward: $ 59.99.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to be anonymous and safe online, by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address. No one, whether Google, Facebook, your Government, or Internet Service Provider (ISP), will be able to see what you do online.

McAfee includes its VPN in all Total Protection and LiveSafe plans, but also offers it as a standalone product. It works on Windows, Android, and iOS. And you can install it on up to 5 devices.

It is a low quality VPN with an invasive log policy and weak security. But for $ 19.99 per year, it’s a bargain.

First-year price in the US: $ 19.99. Afterward: $ 49.99.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions about McAfee.

What is McAfee LiveSafe?

McAfee LiveSafe is security software that includes antivirus protection, firewall, password manager, parental controls, dark web monitoring, VPN, and more. Functionality-wise, it is the same as McAfee Total Protection. The only difference is that LiveSafe comes preinstalled on new laptops, and Total Protection is sold in both online and offline stores.

Is McAfee antivirus good?

McAfee is one of the best antivirus software in the world. It frequently achieves maximum points in anti-malware protection tests, and features an excellent firewall and password manager. However, it’s not perfect. We don’t like its VPN, auto-renewal practices, and its limited feature set for macOS. Read all about it in our review.

Is McAfee antivirus safe?

Yes. McAfee antivirus is 100% safe. In fact, McAfee has a Virus Protection Pledge, which states that you will get your money back if you encounter a virus they can’t remove. The company behind McAfee is publicly traded and co-owned by Intel, one of the largest chip manufacturers in the world. You can rest assured that McAfee is built by engineers who want to best for their customers.

Is McAfee antivirus worth it?

As Warren Buffet said: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”. McAfee is certainly not the cheapest antivirus software available. But does offer great value by combining excellent antivirus protection, a firewall, a VPN, and an outstanding password manager. So yes, in our opinion, McAfee is worth it.

Is McAfee antivirus free?

No. McAfee antivirus is not for free. But in general, we don’t recommend installing free antivirus software unless you have no other option. Free antivirus software frequently come with ads and sometimes even spy on their users. As the saying goes: If the product is free, you are the product. So be careful with free software.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.