Overall Score 74%
McAfee Box

McAfee AntiVirus Software Review

The Case for McAfee

  • In business 28 years (1987)
  • Average real-time protection
  • Built-in firewall
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • India phone tech support
(1-PC / 1-Year)
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by Kevin R. Smith, Co-Editor
Virus, Spyware, & Malware Protection: 66%

McAfee AntiVirus is one of the few "basic" antivirus software that includes a built-in firewall. Since this is the case, you'd think McAfee would fare much better than the competition in our tests. It didn't.

We first infected our test PCs with our standard assortment of malware samples that included spyware, viruses, trojans, and other forms of malware. We then turned McAfee AntiVirus on and ran a scan to see how many samples it could clean up or remove.

McAfee AntiVirus left behind several active malware samples. In one batch alone with 40 of the newest viruses, there were at least three very obvious malware infections constantly popping up on our test PCs, and another four actively running in the background.

  • McAfee AntiVirus Plus
    McAfee Box
  • SCORE: 74%
As for real-time antivirus protection, which is where some products excel, even if they do poorly at removel, McAfee didn't do much better. With McAfee fully updated and running on each of our test PCs, we attempted to download and install different batches of known viruses, trojans, and other malware.

McAfee was very slow at scanning them compared with their competitors, which is a concern with us. In the time it takes McAfee to determine if a piece of software is safe or not, some malware could get through and do a lot of damage in the meantime. Regardless, McAfee was able to correctly identify most threats, but over 10% of our malware samples remained alive and active.

The only area where McAfee got most things right was with their antiphishing where they scored 90%. A good score for an otherwise poor virus and malware protection performance.

Firewall Protection: 46%

A firewall is your first line of defense against many types of threats trying to infiltrate your PC. Think of it like a moat around your castle: the only way in and out is through the drawbridge and a guard is checking everyone for hidden threats.

McAfee AntiVirus Plus scored a very poor 46% during our firewall testing. On the plus side, McAfee was able to obscure all but one of the vulnerable ports. But on the other hand, the firewall failed to block even basic downloading and flagging tests.

Resource Usage: 98%

McAfee's overall system impact was very light. PC boot time was very fast compared to other antivirus software. And, there was virtually no system impact when running a full scan. This is a significant change from McAfee's performance in recent years. They deserve big praise for this.

The downside, and the reason McAfee doesn't get an even better score in this department, is because scans take so. long. to. complete. This enables McAfee AntiVirus Plus to run with such a low drain on your PC by scanning files very slowly.

It's a bit of give and take, but on balance we have to credit to McAfee in this area.

User Interface: 33%

Click images to enlarge

The user interface for McAfee AntiVirus Plus is the same, dull, unintuitive design they've been using for years. Literally.

When most antivirus companies make massive overhauls (or at least minor updates), McAfee still relies on a design that looks and feels like someone made a sketch on paper, then built their interface to look just like that.

Not only does it look amateurish, but more importantly, it's painfully difficult to use compared to its competitors. Most of the relevant sections are virtually hidden within small links or small scrolling boxes, sometimes boxes within boxes. At its worst, a smattering of links make it all but impossible to find the right settings you need.

While we may sound overly harsh for something that may seem insignificant (the design), it's the part of the antivirus software you're using. And if it represents poor craftsmanship, then that says a lot about the company behind it.

Technical Support: 71%

The technical support for McAfee is usable for the majority of questions you may have. They provide very good video tutorials, FAQ pages, chat, email, and forums for the most common issues.

If you need further help, McAfee first requires you to install their "Virtual Assistant" to scan your system and attempt to fix any existing problems For the record, we repeatedly tried to install this software; it failed installation every time.

If you need to then talk to a technician, phone support is available, but person-to-person support is going to cost you. Virus removal assistance is $89.95, or you can upgrade to $179.95/year for full technical support. Your options are basically: expensive or more expensive.

As for the "Virtual Assistant," who knows if it's any good—we don't.

Conclusion - Overall Score: 74%

  • McAfee AntiVirus Plus
    McAfee Box
  • SCORE: 74%
  • Lightweight software
  • Poor malware detection
  • Average technical support
Let's consider the positive aspects of McAfee first. They've included a built-in firewall (as they've done for years), which is better than not having one... even if it's not the best firewall we tested.

Next, McAfee AntiVirus is very light on its feet and does well against phishing threats. In all our tests, McAfee barely made a blip on the radar even when doing heavy computer tasks like multiple downloads and web-surfing. This is praise-worthy, particularly given the reputation McAfee has had in recent years for bogging down PCs.

But then there's the dark side of McAfee: their terrible virus and malware protection score, their less-than-stellar technical support, and their downright bad user interface.

All together to us, McAfee AntiVirus Plus doesn't make the cut this year.

Software Version 2019
Supported Operating System (OS) Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7
Minimum RAM Required 2 GB
Minimum Space Required 500 MB
Required Processor Speed 1 GHz
Money-back Guarantee 30 Days
Software Manufacturer McAfee
Click images to enlarge
Home Screen
Navigation Center
Virus and Spyware Protection
Web and Email Protection
Data Protection
PC and Home Network Tools
Help and Suport
Secure file eraser Windows often leaves traces of files on your system even after you've deleted them. This feature helps permanently delete them.
Built in firewall Most basic antivirus software doesn't come with a firewall, which is the major distinction between antivirus and Internet Security software. Even though McAfee's firewall is far from perfect, having one is better than not having one.
Data backup Basic backup service to secure your files in case your PC becomes corrupted or breaks down.