Overall Score 69%
McAfee Box

McAfee Security Software Review

The Case for McAfee

  • Same virus protection as McAfee Antivirus plus extra security
  • In business 28 years (1987)
  • Average real-time protection
  • Basic firewall
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • India phone tech support
(1-PC / 1-Year)
Have more than one PC?
Click here ยป
by Kevin R. Smith, Co-Editor
Virus, Spyware, & Malware Protection: 66%

McAfee's virus and malware protection wasn't as thorough as most consumers expect from a company with such well-known brand. Our testing showed McAfee Internet Security to be extremely vulnerable to threats.

During our testing, We infected our PCs with a large amount of malware, including viruses, adware, rogueware, trojans, etc. We then ran a full-system scan with McAfee to see how well their software would detect and remove this malware from our test computers.

The results were poor.

After the scan and clean up by McAfee, nearly 10% of the obvious malware threats were still running undetected. And, Windows Task Manager showed more threats running in the background as well.

All of the malicious software icons remained on our desktops, and worst of all we were still able to open most of them. Essentially, McAfee did very little of note.

  • McAfee Internet Security
    McAfee Box
  • SCORE: 69%
As for realtime protection, McAfee Internet Security fared a bit better but not much. On each clean testing PC, we tried downloading and installing our latest batch of malware threats. McAfee caught many of them, but many were let through as well.

McAfee's scanning process to determine if an installation is malicious is very slow. It's so slow in fact that it's possible for a virus or trojan to find ways into your system in the time McAfee is still trying to figure out if the software is dangerous.

After rebooting, 10% of the obvious malware remained as did most desktop icons, while more malicious threats were still running in the background.

Overall, McAfee's realtime protection was slow and sloppy. Our test PCs remained bloated and sluggish despite McAfee's intervention.

Another important note on McAfee's antiphishing capabilities: McAfee installed a browser add-on meant to protect your PC against phishing sites. However, McAfee does not activate it by default. What?! We found this out the hard way when we first began our phishing tests and saw zero threats blocked. This is just plain stupid.

On the positive side, once we enabled it, McAfee scored 90% in correctly blocking known phishing sites.

Firewall Protection: 44%

A software firewall is the first line of defense against new threats trying to infiltrate your PC. It's meant to act like a moat and drawbridge that makes it so there's only way in or out.

McAfee Internet Security scored a dismal 44% during our firewall security tests. On one hand, McAfee correctly obscured all but one vulnerable ports but failed completely in our barrage of malicious file downloading attempts.

Resource Usage: 97%

On the plus side, McAfee is finally a very lightweight Internet Security Suite with very little system impact.

After years of getting its nose bloodied for its bloated design, they finally fixed things. Well sort of.

During a full scan, McAfee only reduced available CPU resources by about 2%. The downside of this is scans are excessively long. This is one of the reasons McAfee's footprint is so low; it scans files at a very low level so it doesn't affect the system as much as it used to.

User Interface: 33%

Click images to enlarge

McAfee's user interface hasn't changed in years. It remains the same, uninspired, unintuitive, poorly conceived design we've been brutalized with for entirely too long now.

It's understandable when other antivirus companies only change their designs a bit from year to year, but they're either trying to make improvements, or no improvements are necessary. McAfee, on the other hand, seems to think their user interface design is either flawless (far from it) or unimportant (hardly).

Either way, the design is cramped, hard to use, and truly in need of an overhaul.

Between it's tiny main window, the windows within windows, and the dinky scroll bars it's a mystery how it ever made it into production, much less that it has been this way for so long.

Technical Support: 71%

McAfee's technical support is barely acceptable for most problems you may have. There are good FAQ pages, video tutorials, chat, email, and forums where the majority of answers can be found.

There's also a "Virtual Assistant" that's designed to scan your system for potential conflict. For some reason, it's a separate piece of software you'll have to download from McAfee. It's worth reporting though that we tried many times on many PCs to install it, but it failed installation every time, on every PC.

Whether it works or is any good is anyone's guess. We never found out.

If you need more advanced help, like virus removal or help with setup, it's going to cost you. Help with virus removal will set you back $89.95. Or you can upgrade to $179.95/year for full coverage, the most expensive of any brand we tested.

Conclusion - Overall Score: 69%

  • McAfee Internet Security
    McAfee Box
  • SCORE: 69%
  • Average realtime protection
  • Light system resource usage
  • Poor malware detection and removal
McAfee Internet Security has proven once again to be a poorly built, poorly managed piece of security software.

We have to give McAfee credit for (finally) being a lightweight Internet Security suite, but that's about it.

From terrible malware detection and removal scores, to an abysmal user interface, and a bad firewall, we can't recommend McAfee Internet Security to anyone this year. Again.

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
Parental Controls
Scan Settings
Anti-spam Helps prevent unsolicited emails from entering your inbox. It works by creating filters of whitelisted addresses and blacklisted addresses.
TrueKey An interesting evolution of password managers. TrueKey attempt to eliminate the need for passwords by using phone fingerprint scanner and/or your camera using facial recognition. However, there are still many security issues to be considered with this type of technology.
Data backup Basic backup storage for your sensitive files.