Over the last few years we’ve seen McAfee become much better at protecting against malware. In our own tests, it stopped every one of the 352 malware samples we used. Other security software testing labs gave McAfee perfect scores, too, so its overall protection rating is 100 percent. Only one other program of the 14 we tested was able to accomplish this.
Our tests of the best internet security and premium security suites included trying to download malware – Trojans, rootkits, ransomware, etc., – from the internet. This simulates how computers usually become infected. We also tried to access websites known to have threats hidden on them, including virus downloads and phishing schemes designed to trick you into providing personal information to identity thieves. McAfee really did an excellent job warning us of each threat. And it provided us with a lot of details about what was hidden on websites and the type of malware we tried to download.
When we performed internet searches using search engines like Google or Yahoo, McAfee placed an icon next to the results so we could easily see which sites were safe to visit and which to avoid. Even in Microsoft Edge, which doesn’t typically work well alongside internet security programs, McAfee did a great job blocking sites, tagging search results and stopping malicious downloads.
One area McAfee typically struggles in is with performance. McAfee has used a lot of system resources that cause your computer to slow down. But recently its developers have focused on fixing this. All of McAfee’s products, including LiveSafe, its internet security program, and Total Protection, its premium solution, include App Boost. This function looks over the programs your computer is using and pulls back resources from those that aren’t being used. This helps free up energy for more important tasks, including internet security, and helps your computer run faster. We wanted to try this out, so we spent a few days in our lab checking it out.
During our initial tests of McAfee, we saw a lot of lag, so much so that it was impossible to play simple games online, like Solitaire, without the lag causing issues with drag and drop. And when we tried to navigate webpages, there were times our mouse lagged enough that when we thought we were clicking on one link it actually registered with another and took us places we didn’t intend to go.
Subsequent tests showed that the App Boost did help during McAfee’s virus scans. We were able to navigate the web without a problem, and downloading and uploading files and programs didn’t take as long as before App Boost was included. There was still some lag when playing online games, and the virus scan itself took four hours to complete. This surprised us since the next longest virus scan was Bitdefender, and it only took 20 minutes. Most other programs perform their deep virus scans in under five minutes.
Both McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection come with a file shredder that completely destroys files so they can’t be recovered, and cloud backup storage so you can save important files away from your computer in case it is attacked. These files are also encrypted for added protection. McAfee comes with a 100 percent virus-free guarantee, one of only two programs we tested to offer this much assurance (the other is Norton).
McAfee’s parental controls are very good at blocking inappropriate content. When you select a filter category, this internet security program blocks your children’s access to content of that type. You can also set time restrictions so your kids aren’t on their devices all the time. And because both McAfee Total Protection and LiveSafe are compatible with both Android and iOS mobile devices, you can use the parental controls on your kids’ cell phones and tablets.
Safe banking tools are also included with McAfee Total Protection. These features are designed to keep your bank and credit card account information secure so you can shop and pay bills online without spybots or other internet snoops being able to see or swipe your information. The password manager is also a big help with this since it shields your username and password while you log into your online accounts.
There are a few extra security tools missing from both McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection. These are webcam monitoring that ensures people or applications aren’t using your webcam without your permission, and a VPN that hides you while online so your browser history can’t be logged, tracked or used by adware.
Overall, McAfee LiveSafe and McAfee Total Protection are both great programs for protecting you and your family while online, regardless of the device you are using. It earned a perfect score in our in-house tests and in other third-party evaluations. We did experience enough slowdown while McAfee was running to disrupt some of our online activity. There are a few tools missing, like webcam monitoring. But both McAfee programs include a password manager and great parental controls.