PROS / Your yearly subscription comes with unlimited licenses to protect all your devices, including cell phones and tablets.
CONS / This program received the lowest score for protection from independent lab testing.
VERDICT / Though it doesn't protect as well as most antivirus programs in our review, McAfee is a step up from the basic protection of Microsoft Windows Defender included with your PC.
Editor’s Note: Top Ten Reviews uses test results from the independent laboratory AV-Test as part of our review process for the best antivirus 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 antivirus software.
McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a well-known program that is now part of Intel Security. It didn't fare too well in the Windows 10 antivirus software tests that AV-Test performed in March and April of 2016. It received the lowest score in our lineup for protection, meaning it was unable to recognize and protect against many known internet threats and didn't do well in recognizing newly discovered malware either. With a score of 58 percent, McAfee still worked better than Microsoft Windows Defender, the basic security program that comes standard with any Windows operating system.
McAfee correctly identified good data and let it pass through. This is the only area where McAfee received a perfect score. It did slightly worse than average in performance, meaning that running McAfee computer protection will slow your system a bit.
In addition to antivirus protection, including protection against ransomware, McAfee scans your incoming email messages and their attachments to ensure nothing tacked onto them infects your computer. It also automatically scans USB devices that you plug into your computer for harmful files. McAfee has a gaming mode that suspends some functions while you play computer games so your play isn't interrupted with a slowed system or pop-up reminders.
One perk of McAfee is that it provides you with unlimited licenses as part of your yearly subscription. This means you can protect any web-enabled device you own, including mobile devices such as smartphones. It also includes many features typically found in full internet protection suites, such as a firewall.
McAfee Antivirus for Windows 8
Recently released test data from AV-Test shows that McAfee performs much better as antivirus software for Windows 8. While it still doesn't provide 100 percent protection, it does as well as the industry average in detecting and blocking legitimate malware threats, both known and unknown viruses. This is significantly more than Microsoft Windows Defender, the basic computer protection program included as part of any Windows operating system.
Like the Windows 10 antivirus, McAfee AntiVirus Plus extends protection beyond your Windows 8 system to cover any additional devices you own, including mobile phones and tablets, without requiring you to purchase additional licenses.
McAfee Antivirus for Windows 7
McAfee didn't score high enough to be included in our Windows 7 antivirus software review. However, McAfee Antivirus Pro did well on AV-Test reviews, scoring about average in protection and 100 percent in usability, which measures how often a computer protection program blocks legitimate websites, mistaking them for possible internet threats.
McAfee Antivirus for Windows Vista & XP
Despite consistently receiving such low scores from independent testing laboratories, McAfee is still included in our lineup of antivirus software for Windows Vista. This is primarily because McAfee is so well-known in the computer protection industry and a brand many consider while looking for antivirus software.
AV-Test evaluated McAfee Total Protection 2011 for Vista computer protection, and it ranked very low in all areas. Microsoft Windows Defender proved to be a better solution for protecting computers running Microsoft Vista.
In the antivirus protection results from the June 2014 testing of McAfee Internet Security, McAfee had its best showing, receiving a perfect score for antivirus Windows XP protection. This is the best score McAfee received for protection in any of the AV-Tests of current Windows antivirus solutions. For XP computers, McAfee also proved excellent in correctly distinguishing between legitimate threats and safe websites and only blocking true malware.
Help & Support
McAfee offers a knowledgebase, a FAQs page and community forums on its support site. The community forums are for customers and McAfee employees to exchange conversations about problems. The forums are organized by product and topic, so it is easy to find the place you belong. You can also contact a support technician by telephone 24/7. Live chat is available on the company's support site on weekdays.
McAfee is best for Windows XP, since this operating system was the only one that McAfee was able to fully protect against malware threats in tests. On all other systems, including Windows 10, McAfee struggled to efficiently block even the most basic and well-known threats out there. McAfee scores much lower than other programs on our lineup in its ability as an antivirus solution. However, it does offer better protection than Microsoft Windows Defender and allows you to protect beyond one computer by giving you unlimited licenses as part of your subscription package.