PROS / When you buy this program, you can install it on every computer you own.
CONS / It lets far too much spyware, viruses and other threats slip through the cracks.
VERDICT / Its poor test scores are in stark contrast to its high name recognition, placing it near the bottom in our review of the best spyware removal programs.
Editor’s Note: Top Ten Reviews uses test results from the independent laboratory AV-Test as part of our review process for the best antispyware software. AV-Test looks specifically at protection, performance and usability on multiple versions of Windows operating systems, and it performs these evaluations several times throughout the year. We use the most current AV-Test scores available at the time of our review. It is possible that new AV-Test scores will be released after our review goes live on the site. We will consider these scores during our next review of the best antispyware software.
McAfee is one of the biggest names in the antispyware software industry. Unfortunately, its AV-Test scores don't measure up to its brand recognition – not by a long shot. This spyware removal program put up the lowest protection score of all the products we reviewed. While it has most of the detection and removal tools we look for in this category, its substandard protection relegates it to the bottom tier of our side-by-side comparison chart.
AV-Test is an independent institute dedicated to measuring the effectiveness of anti-malware software. It tests all the spyware removal programs on our side-by-side comparison chart several times a year. We used the results of three of its tests in our evaluation: protection, performance and usability.
The protection test puts software up against more than 14,000 digital threats, including spyware, viruses, worms and rootkits. In this test McAfee scored 58 percent. This means that a large number of computer threats made it by McAfee and could infect your computer. The average score for the spyware removers in our lineup was 92 percent. McAfee simply fails at its most fundamental function – protecting your computer from malware. Any benefits this software offers are far outweighed by this failure.
McAfee put up 83 percent in AV-Test's performance test, which is average for products in this category. The performance test measures how well software uses your computer resources. McAfee doesn't use up that much processing power, but you can expect some activities like downloading, uploading and streaming to lag from time to time when it's performing a scan.
The final test we consider when evaluating the best spyware removers is usability, which monitors how often software flags safe files and programs as threats. McAfee scored a perfect 100 percent in this test, so you don't have to worry about getting any false positives.
Unlike with the other programs in our lineup, you can install McAfee on an unlimited number of computers. The rest of the programs in our review only let you protect one to three machines. This is a great feature because most people own and use multiple computers. The ability to install McAfee on all the computers in your life is a huge money saver.
This antispyware software has a nearly full feature set. It automatically scans USB devices and emails in real time. It also has a gamer mode, which allows you to put it in the background while you play games, and even performs vulnerability scans to see where the weak spots are in your computer's security. However, these features are useless if McAfee is unable to detect and remove threats from your computer.
With name recognition like McAfee's, you would expect it to rank highly in our review of the best antispyware software. This software has almost every feature we look for in this category and lets you install it on an unlimited number of devices. But an extremely poor showing at AV-Test wipes out any benefit this program gets from its feature set or its name.