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McAfee 2021 Antivirus solutions review

Feature-rich and competent packages for different requirements.

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

McAfee Total Protection comes in three forms that carry solid protection for your devices, lots of usual and unusual features, and they’re all very reasonably priced.


  • Not expensive for what it offers
  • Plenty of features in all packages
  • High customization levels


  • Protection could be better

McAfee is a veteran in the cybersecurity sphere that has been around since 1987. It is well known for its high-quality antivirus software which includes three consumer McAfee Total Protection packages. This range consists of the entry-level Individual package, followed by the Total Protection Multi-Device, rounding it up with Total Protection Family, all of which can be tested for free if you prefer to have hands-on experience before buying. 

McAfee Total Protection Individual 

McAfee Total Protection Individual (opens in new tab) includes all the basics and then some. With it, you’ll get the antivirus protection, dangerous website blocking, spam filter, firewall, file shredder, file encryption, vulnerability scanner, network monitor, and even a password manager, on a single device. Also, when you auto-renew any subscription, you'll get McAfee's VPN as an additional feature.

Installing McAfee won’t clash with other already installed security software and it won’t affect your system’s performance, which is always a welcome sight. The interface is large yet simple enough for even a beginner to get around.

(Image credit: Future)

Unlike most competitors who provide a prominent scan button for either a quick scan or a full system scan, McAfee Total Protection does things differently. Accessing scanning options will require that you switch to a different tab and choose which one you want. This tab also provides information about the status of your apps’ updates and allows you to perform them on the spot.

Users can’t choose to create a custom scan, scan select removable drives, or set up a new scan type. Another problem is the strange scan finalization process which removes ‘threats’ without user input and doesn’t provide any details about them except a cryptic name. A quick scan is also too simple - it analyses files only and ignores boot records, processes, and critical system files, which is slightly discouraging.

(Image credit: Future)

The firewall stays out of your way, for the most part, automatically making intelligent decisions about which of your apps should connect to the Internet. There are a lot of settings here, but most of them are overly complicated unless you’re an expert. 

In terms of spam filtering, an extension is added to your Outlook immediately upon the program’s setup and it performs superbly. Here as well, users get a long list of possibilities to customize its functionality.

The True Key Password Manager is excellent in some areas. In others… not so much. For instance, its features include generating and syncing passwords across five devices and various multi-factor authentication methods. On the other hand, it doesn’t have any general form-filling capabilities nor any secure password sharing options. 

If you’re seeking to optimize your device’s performance, you’ll be able to do so in the PC Performance section. Here you’ll find options such as App Boost that optimizes CPU and I/O priorities, and Web Boost that prevents videos from playing automatically on websites.

All the features in this package will cost you $80.

McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device 

Just like its name says, McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device (opens in new tab) extends the core package with coverage of up to five devices at the same time, be it Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android, for which it has equally useful apps.  

(Image credit: Future)

However, it doesn’t end there. If you’re a US user and you turn on auto-renewal option for your subscription, the package also throws in solid identity theft defenses in the form of McAfee’s Identity Theft Protection Essentials service. It scours the darkest corners of the web to check if your personal information has been leaked and helps you mitigate the consequences of any concerning situations.

The ad-filled free Android app comes with an on-demand scanning option, anti-theft measures, as well as reports about apps using the most of your data. The paid version adds browsing defenses, battery booster, device cleaning, app locker with a Guest Mode (hiding apps on your device from snoopers), as well as additional protection if you’re connecting to an unsecured network.

(Image credit: Future)

As for iOS, its app is similar, with the free version featuring Wi-Fi scanning, anti-theft tools, and a secure folder where you can store media you don’t want anyone else to have access to. The paid app throws in McAfee’s Safe Web tool that keeps your device safe from malicious URLs, phishing attempts, and ARP spoofing.

Mac users will find their app a bit more limited but still covering all the basics - antivirus, browsing protection, and a firewall. 

McAfee Total Protection Multi-Device pricing begins at $50 for the first year, only to renew at $100. This puts this package in the category of mid-priced antivirus products and especially pays out if you’re using the identity theft protection.

McAfee Total Protection Family 

As you’d expect, McAfee Total Protection Family (opens in new tab) provides a family-oriented service which can cover up to 10 devices and includes parental controls called Safe Family. Do note, though, that the parental controls don’t work on Mac. 

(Image credit: Future)

The tools included in this service include blocking websites by content category, limiting access to select apps, restricting access to device(s) in defined hours, and locating your kids’ device(s) on a map. You can even narrow down specific websites you want allowed or blocked if the category filter is too general for you. If you’re a beginner, there are default settings on the basis of your child’s age. If not, you can further fine-tune these features yourself.

A great option is included in this service - a Request messaging system your kids can use to ask you for more screen time or access to a specific website if they need it. This means more flexibility and usefulness than what most other competitors offer in their parental controls.

This package is priced at a measly $55 in the initial one-year term, after which its price tag increases to a still acceptable $120.

Final verdict

Some minor issues aside, McAfee Total Protection is a collection of solid products with features and pricing suitable to various needs, whether it’s for just one or multiple devices, or for your entire family. They all have plenty of features, some of which are yet to be seen among the competition. The best part? You can try them out yourself.

The Verdict

out of 5

McAfee 2021 Antivirus solutions review

McAfee Total Protection comes in three forms that carry solid protection for your devices, lots of usual and unusual features, and they’re all very reasonably priced.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.