McAfee AntiVirus Plus Review & Rating

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If you’ve been paying attention to PCMag, you know that you must install antivirus protection on all your PCs. But that’s not all. You also need security (antivirus at least) on your Macs, and on your mobile devices. Fortunately, one license for McAfee AntiVirus Plus lets you install McAfee security software on every Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device in your household. Windows users get such a wealth of features that the Windows edition could reasonably qualify as a security suite, as do Android users. Features are sparser on macOS and iOS, but iOS users get more than many companies offer. It’s an excellent value, and it did very well in some of our hands-on tests, too.

The fly in the ointment is poor handling of real-world ransomware on Windows. Several samples got past all layers of McAfee protection, including the dedicated Ransom Guard. We considered dropping the product’s score and removing its Editors’ Choice designation. However, McAfee earned that title, not by its amazing test scores, but rather by its comprehensive protection. You’d be hard-pressed to find another antivirus with unlimited cross-platform licenses, and its Windows edition beats out many security suites with its wealth of features. McAfee remains in the winners’ circle, at least for now.

You pay $59.99 per year for unlimited McAfee licenses. That’s rare. Most competing companies offer one-, three-, five-, or 10-license subscriptions. For example, nearly the same subscription price gets you 10 Sophos licenses, three Kaspersky Anti-Virus licenses, and just one Norton license. Roughly $40 per month gets you a one-device license for many antivirus products, among them Bitdefender, Webroot, and Trend Micro. Price-wise, McAfee has the competition beat.

You may see descriptions on the McAfee website or on product boxes that mention 10 licenses. Don’t worry; you really do get unlimited licenses. My McAfee contacts tell me that when lining up against other products in a store, “unlimited” confuses potential customers, so they display the number 10 instead.

For those odd ducks who really, truly want to protect just one PC, McAfee makes a one-license, Windows-only version available at that typical price of $39.99 per year. Given that another $20 gets you unlimited licenses, it doesn’t seem an attractive offer, but my McAfee contacts say they get enough sales to keep offering this limited edition.

I should point out that with a free antivirus you effectively have an unlimited license. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free is an especially interesting example because, like McAfee, it offers cross-platform support. You can install it on all your Windows, Android, or iOS devices (but not Macs). On Windows, it includes a subset of the bonus features found in the full-blown Kaspersky Security Cloud.

Getting Started

To install McAfee on a Windows computer, you first go online and activate your license key. If you set up automatic renewal during the process, you get a Virus Protection Pledge from McAfee. That means if any malware gets past the antivirus, McAfee experts promise to remotely remediate the problem, a service that normally costs $89.95. In the unlikely event that they can’t clear out the malware, the company refunds your purchase price. Symantec Norton AntiVirus Plus offers a similar promise.

With that housekeeping out of the way, it’s time to download and install the product. The installer took a while but didn’t require handholding from me. Once installation is complete, the product shows off what it can do. It offers to run a scan, check for outdated applications, remove tracking cookies, and more.

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McAfee’s main window features a security status indicator at left, with a list of your protected devices below. A menu across the top breaks down product features into five main pages: Home, PC Security, PC Performance, My Privacy, and My Info. Buttons at the bottom of the Home screen let you quickly launch a scan, remove cookies, boost application speed, and check for missing app patches. Note that the macOS edition looks extremely similar. The main differences are due to the reduced feature set on the Mac.

Lab Results Up and Down

Over the past few years, McAfee’s scores from the independent testing labs have had some ups and downs. The current batch of results is good, but they were better at the time of my previous review.

The researchers at AV-Test Institute rate antivirus products on how well they protect against malware, how light a touch they have on performance, and how little they interfere with usability by wrongly flagging valid programs and websites as malicious. An antivirus can earn six points each for Protection, Performance, and Usability, for a maximum of 18 points. McAfee did just that last year. In the very latest results, it still has six points for Performance and Usability, but its Protection score dropped to five. F-Secure Anti-Virus, Kaspersky, Windows Defender, and Norton all managed a perfect 18.

Expert testers at SE Labs use a capture and replay system to hit multiple antivirus tools with identical web-based attacks. Products can receive certification at five levels, AAA, AA, A, B, and C. In the latest round of testing, five products received AA certification, McAfee among them. The six products that reached the AAA level include Kaspersky, Microsoft, Norton, and Trend Micro.

AV-Comparatives reports on a variety of tests; I follow four of them. Products that pass a test earn Standard certification. Those that achieve exceptional success can earn an Advanced or Advanced+ rating. McAfee participates in three of the tests, and earned one Standard, one Advanced, and one Advanced+. Bitdefender holds an Advanced+ rating in the latest reports from all four tests, while Avira and Kaspersky managed three Advanced+ and one Advanced.

MRG-Effitas takes a different approach to scoring tests. Products either achieve near-perfect results or they fail. One of this lab’s regular tests challenges products with a full range of malware, while the other focuses on banking Trojans. These tests are tough. In all of 2016, McAfee had just one success, and the same happened in 2017. Scores in 2018 were much better, with Level 1 or Level 2 certification in each full-range test. Alas, in the latest runs of both tests, McAfee failed. Just under half of the products tested failed the banking test, while three-quarters passed the full-range test. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, Kaspersky, and Norton were among those that succeeded at both.

I’ve devised an algorithm that maps all the lab scores to a 10-point scale and yields an aggregate score. Last year, McAfee scored 9.2 points with results from three labs. Tested by all four this year, it’s down to 8.4. My contacts at the company say they’re working hard to raise those scores and keep them up, and indeed, the product has received quite a few awards.

Kaspersky and Bitdefender routinely achieve perfect or near-perfect scores. Both currently have an aggregate score of 9.9. Avira is next, with 9.7, while Norton and Vipre have 9.6 points.

Decent Malware Protection

In addition to checking results from the independent testing labs around the world, I put every antivirus product through my own hands-on malware protection testing. I start by opening a folder containing a collection of malware samples that I have manually analyzed, so I know just what they do. For many antivirus products, the minimal access that occurs when Windows Explorer checks the file’s name, size, and so on is enough to trigger an on-access scan. McAfee doesn’t scan until the sample launches, so I tried launching them in batches of three or four.

I ran McAfee, along with our other Editors’ Choice antivirus tools, through testing immediately after putting my newest malware collection into use several months ago. It caught 85 percent of the samples immediately on launch. In most cases I saw a Windows error message flash past, followed by a notification that McAfee quarantined a threat. In a couple cases, it removed the virus from an infected file while leaving the now-clean file intact. That left 15 percent of the samples that got past their initial launch. McAfee detected and fully eliminated some of those during the install process, but completely missed others. Most unfortunately, several of those it missed were real-world ransomware attacks. Overall, it detected 91 percent of the samples and scored 9.1 of 10 possible points.

Surprisingly, the top-scoring product against this malware collection is Windows Defender, with 98 percent detection and 9.8 points. Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus detected 100 percent of the samples, but scored 9.7 points due to letting through a few malware traces.

Norton has the top score among products tested with my previous malware collection. Like Webroot, it scored 9.7 of 10 possible points.

As I mentioned, McAfee’s testing happened a few months ago. Just to see what would happen, I re-tested McAfee against the files that didn’t get eliminated on launch. The good news is that it detected some of the ransomware that it missed before. That only makes sense, given that it “saw” the samples several months ago. The bad news is that one of them still got past all its layers of protection, encrypting documents and wreaking havoc on my virtual machine test system. Whether the file is new or old shouldn’t matter to a behavior-based ransomware detection system, of course.

It takes me a long time to analyze a new set of samples, so I don’t change to a new set often. For a view on how antivirus products handle the very newest malware, I use a feed of the latest discoveries from MRG-Effitas, a list of malware-hosting URLs discovered in the last few days. I use a small program that launches each and lets me easily note whether the antivirus blocked access to the URL, eliminated the malware download, or did nothing.

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McAfee’s WebAdvisor component blocked 43 percent of the URLs, displaying for most a big red warning calling the page very risky. In a few cases, a yellow notification called the page slightly risky. For another 57 percent of the sample URLs, McAfee quarantined the download, announcing “Woah, that download is dangerous.” (Yes, it says “woah,” like Tintin’s dog Snowy.) That comes to 100 percent; McAfee wins this test. Trend Micro is close behind, with 99 percent in its latest test, while Sophos and Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center come next, each with 97 percent.

When you have effective real-time protection, scanning the whole computer becomes less important, but you really should do it once, immediately after install. I found that a full scan of my standard clean test system took a very lengthy three hours and 35 minutes. In my latest review of Norton, it took even longer, 4.5 hours. Some while after that test, my Symantec contacts suggested a problem with my virtual machines, which have a single virtual core. Why that configuration? I’ve maintained these VMs for years, updating Windows as needed, adding RAM and disk space as needed, but I didn’t think about upgrading the virtual CPU to have a dual core.

I rolled the virtual machine back to a snapshot before the timing test, reconfigured it to have a dual-core virtual CPU, and ran a full scan. McAfee didn’t finish any faster, but I will test using a virtual dual-core CPU going forward.

Normally I’d run a repeat scan, to check for speedup due to optimization, but I had already invested over six hours on timing tests. In the past my McAfee contacts have indicated they expect optimization to speed up later scans by 25 to 55 percent. I’ve seen repeat scans gain vastly more speed than that. Kaspersky went from 70 minutes to five minutes, for example, and ESET NOD32 Antivirus went from 66 minutes to seven minutes.

Fabulous Phishing Protection

A malware coder must grok the arcane details of operating systems to slip past protection and steal data, remotely control the computer, install ransomware, and the like. A phishing fraudster, on the other hand, only has to dupe foolish netizens into logging in on a replica of some secure site. If you fall for these frauds, you’ve handed your credentials to the fraudster. Phishing sites quickly wind up blacklisted, but the perps just shut them down and create new ones.

Because they’re ephemeral, I test using the very newest reported phishing sites, scraped from websites that track them. I make sure to include those that have been reported but haven’t yet gone through analysis. This puts pressure on the antivirus to heuristically examine web pages and detect frauds without relying on an always-outdated blacklist.

I launch each URL simultaneously in four browsers, starting with one protected by the product in testing. The other three use protection built into Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. I try for 100 verified phishing URLs, discarding any that don’t connect for one or more of the browsers, and any that aren’t verifiable credential-stealing frauds.

McAfee managed an impressive 99 percent protection, matching scores by Bitdefender and Trend Micro. Only Kaspersky, with 100 percent, has done better recently. McAfee AntiVirus Plus (for Mac), tested with the same samples as the Windows edition, earned an impressive 98 percent. Interestingly, its results don’t all align with those of its Windows cousin. Both missed a few that got discarded from scoring because they didn’t load in another test browser. In each case where McAfee whiffed on one platform, it blocked the fraud on the other. Clearly this feature isn’t entirely the same across platforms, but either way it’s very effective.

Scores in this test are all over the map, with almost half the products failing to outperform one, two, or even three of the browsers. At the other end of the scale, McAfee and a half-dozen others scored 97 percent or better.

Ransom Guard

Ransom Guard, McAfee’s ransomware protection component, doesn’t have any visible existence. It’s just another layer of real-time protection. If regular protection doesn’t recognize a brand-new ransomware attack, Ransom Guard watches its behavior. At the first faint sign of an attempt to encrypt files (what McAfee calls “file content transformation”), Ransom Guard makes protected copies of those files and ups its vigilance. When it reaches a firm decision that the program is truly ransomware, it quarantines it and restores the files from backup. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security does something similar.

When possible, I simulate the zero-day possibility by turning off real-time protection, leaving only the ransomware component active. But as with Trend Micro, turning off real-time protection also disables Ransom Guard.

As noted, I didn’t need to disable real-time protection to challenge Ransom Guard. Three of my ransomware samples completely eluded real-time protection. Unfortunately, they also got past Ransom Guard. That’s very bad. Tested again three months later, McAfee caught two of the three, but still let one run to completion, encrypting tons of important files. My McAfee contact explained, “This is an evolving technology, still being tuned to balance false positives and false negatives.” Tell that to the user who just lost all the chapters of her novel, or her payroll spreadsheets.

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I turned to KnowBe4’s RanSim, a ransomware simulator. This tool runs 10 scenarios that emulate common ransomware behaviors, along with two benign encryption techniques. McAfee initially quarantined RanSim’s launch components. I restored them, added them to the exclusions list, and tried again. McAfee did block all 10 of the scenarios, but its popup notifications just called them suspicious, with no message from Ransom Guard. It’s hard to see Ransom Guard as a success.

Ransom Guard is, of course, just one of a huge number of features offered by this suite-like antivirus. For now, I’d suggest supplementing it with a free, purpose-built ransomware protection utility.

Unobtrusive Firewall

Most security companies reserve firewall protection for the full-blown security suite, but McAfee puts it right in the standalone antivirus. In testing, the firewall correctly stealthed all ports and resisted the web-based attacks I threw at it. Since the built-in Window Firewall can do the same, this test is only significant if a third-party firewall fails it.

Those of us who’ve been around long enough remember the early personal firewalls, with their incessant, incomprehensible queries. Microsfot.exe wants to connect to URL on port 8080; allow or block? Few consumers are qualified to answer those questions. Some always allow access. Others always block access, until they break something, and switch to allow. It’s not an effective system.

Like Norton, Bitdefender, and others, McAfee doesn’t rely on the untrained user to make these decisions. In its default Smart Access mode, the firewall makes those decisions internally. If you get nostalgic for popups, you can dig into the settings and change Smart Access to Monitored Access, but really…don’t. Yes, there are tons of ways to configure and fine-tune the firewall, but the average user should just leave them alone.

Not being an average user, I did play with some of the settings. I turned on Monitored Access and noted that the firewall correctly asked what to do when my hand-coded browser tried to get online. I was mildly surprised to find that it also asked about Opera. Note that the similar feature in the macOS edition, Application Control, dropped out as of the previous edition due to “a business decision, based on usage relative to the cost of maintenance.”

I enabled Intrusion Detection and hit the test system with 30-odd exploits generated by the CORE Impact penetration tool. As in past tests, none of the exploits succeeded in infecting the fully patched test system, but the firewall took no active part in exploit defense.

Firewall protection isn’t much use if a malware coder can craft an attack that disables it. As part of my firewall testing, I attempt to disable protection using techniques that a coder could implement. I didn’t find any way to turn off protection by tweaking the hundreds of keys and thousands of values McAfee adds to the Registry, so that’s good.

I tried to kill off the software’s 17 processes, but it protected them all. Six of its essential Windows services were also protected, but I managed to stop and disable the other three, including the WebAdvisor service. When a service is disabled, it doesn’t restart on reboot. And, indeed, after reboot WebAdvisor didn’t function. Clearly the developers know how to protect processes and services. Why not extend protection to all of them?

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See How We Test Security Software

New Cryptojacking Blocker

A ransomware attack is like, well, being held for ransom. It’s scary, and kind of violent. Cryptojacking is a much more subtle attack. You visit a website, and it coopts your system resources as part of a distributed system that mines for bitcoins or other cryptocurrency. Bear in mind that there’s nothing illegal about mining for bitcoins. Mining is where bitcoins come from! The problem comes when a website or program hijacks your computer’s resources to do the job.

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Piggybacking on WebAdvisor, the new Cryptojacking Blocker keeps these sites from leeching away your resources. It suppresses cryptojacking code when found, and slides in a banner explaining what it did. There is an option let the site use your resources regardless. Why? Because there are a few sites that openly use cryptomining for financial support, in exchange for no advertisements.

My Home Network

The My Home Network page lists all the devices it sees on your network, identifying those it can by name and listing the IP address of others. It shows online/offline status and displays those that have McAfee protection in color. You can set up a trust relationship between multiple Windows boxes, which allows you to monitor and even configure security remotely.

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My Home Network has been around for many years. There’s another, newer feature that takes the concept to the next level. If you click the button the Protect more devices button on the Home screen, you get three choices: PC or Mac; Smartphone or tablet; and Unprotected devices. This last choice lists the devices on your network that could benefit from McAfee protection but don’t yet have it. If you don’t see all the devices you expect, give it time. It turns out that McAfee waits as much as 24 hours before fully populating the list.

Vulnerability Scan

Some hackers devote their time to finding security holes in popular apps or even operating systems, holes that they use to create attacks that breach security. Opposing them, software companies try to patch these security holes as quickly as they can. But you, the user, must do your part by installing the security patches as they become available. McAfee’s Vulnerability Scanner reports on products that need update.

Like Avast Premier and Avira Total Security Suite, it automates the update process when it can. Just click the Install Updates button and sit back. If it can’t automate an installer or two, you’re still better off for the ones it did fix automatically.

Secure Deletion

Deleting a file in Windows just sends it to the Recycle Bin, and even when you bypass or empty the bin, your deleted file data remains on your disk, subject to forensic recovery. The Shredder tool overwrites files before deletion, to foil forensic recovery. Five shred types range from Quick (which overwrites file data once) to Comprehensive (which runs a whopping 10 overwrite passes). You can shred the Recycle Bin, or Temporary Internet Files, or any file or folder you really want permanently deleted.

Secure deletion is especially important when used in conjunction with a file encryption tool like the File Lock component of McAfee Total Protection. If you don’t thoroughly delete the plaintext originals, they could be recovered using forensic software or hardware. Kaspersky Total Security goes farther, automatically offering to shred the originals after an encryption job.

Cleanup and Speedup

Clicking the Remove cookies and trackers button on the main page opens McAfee’s QuickClean feature. QuickClean scans your computer for cookies and temporary files. These both use up valuable disk space and potentially provide a snoop with information about your browsing and computer use habits. When it has found tracking cookies and other junk files, it reports how much space you could save by cleaning up. You can dig in for a bit of detail about the kinds of things the scan found, but most users should just continue to the cleanup phase.

The PC Performance page has two features, “Speed up apps” and “Speed up browsing”. To speed up apps, PC Boost runs in the background looking for apps that need more resources as they load, and gives them what they need. McAfee reports lab results showing an average six percent faster load. It also diverts extra resources to the foreground app. Per McAfee’s own tests, this enhanced app performance from 11 to 14 percent. A report page lets you know what this feature has done for you lately.

The feature to speed up your browsing only works in Google Chrome, so I installed the McAfee Web Boost Chrome extension, whose purpose is to stop auto-play videos from launching. It works. The video even displays the overlay Paused by McAfee Web Boost. I don’t know how many times I’ve been startled by a loud video playing unexpectedly on a page. And if you wish, you can exempt videos on any site from Web Boost’s activity. I like the idea, I just don’t like that it’s limited to Chrome.

Mac Protection

I’ve written a full and separate review of McAfee AntiVirus Plus (for Mac) on the macOS platform; I’ll refer you to that for details. It’s not truly a different product; you still get protection for all your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. But you don’t get as many protection features on the Mac.

A high point of the review is that it managed 98 percent protection against phishing attacks, just one percentage point below the Windows edition. The user interface matches the Windows version, except for the omission of Windows-only features. However, McAfee has no current lab scores for Mac-specific malware protection. For a full evaluation, please read my review.

Android Protection

The easiest way to install McAfee on an Android device is to use the online console to send yourself an install link. As with all Android security products, McAfee requires a passel of permissions, but it helpfully leads you through granting everything necessary.

The user interface focuses on a big Scan button, with buttons for four of the many other features below. Swipe up for a list of your McAfee-equipped devices, color-coded to show security status. You can click for a more detailed look at status, though you can’t fix security problems remotely. Tap the menu at top left for access to all features.

Android Lab Results

The testers at AV-Test Institute offer Android security apps up to six points each for effective protection, small performance impact, and low false positives, with six points available in each category. Like about half the products in the latest test, McAfee took the full 18 points.

Reports from AV-Comparatives list the percentage of Android malware thwarted. Trend Micro topped the list with 100 percent. All the other major players, including McAfee, earned 99.9 percent.

Researchers at MRG-Effitas report separately on early detection and on detection at the time of installation. They also report separately on handling of lower-risk PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Programs), and break down results for categories such as Trojans and Spyware. Bitdefender, ESET, Kaspersky, and Symantec earned 100 percent in both early detection and install-time detection. McAfee came close, with 98.8 percent for early detection and 96.3 percent for detection at install.

Scan Two Ways

When you tap the big Scan button, McAfee scans to make sure your Wi-Fi is secure and quickly checks your apps. You can also choose a deep scan that looks at preinstalled apps, files, and messages. Both scans ran in seconds on the Motorola Moto G5 Plus I use for testing.

Anti-Theft Features

To get full advantage of McAfee’s Android anti-theft features, you need to give the program access to your camera and location. As with most such services, you must also give McAfee Device Administrator status, so it can remotely wipe a hopelessly lost device. Activate the SIM tracking feature and you’re ready to go.

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With these features configured, you can deal with a lost or stolen phone from the McAfee online console. Click on the device that’s in trouble and enter the PIN you defined on that device. If you’ve just misplaced the device around the house, you can make it sound an alarm. If the situation is worse, click I Lost My Device, which locates the device on a map.

Only when you click the It’s Still Lost option do you get the scary options to wipe the phone’s data or reset it to factory settings. Here you can also choose to track its location for a month, and to back up your personal data to the McAfee cloud. Other features include: Thief Cam, which, like the Mugshot feature in Kaspersky, snaps a photo after multiple failed attempts to unlock the device; an automatic location message when the battery is very low; and automatic locking on removal of the SIM card.

Feature Confusion

When I connected to the Android device online, I got a warning from McAfee that certain features had to be removed due to changes in Google policy. Specifically, it can no longer: warn you if a thief swapped out the SIM card; backup, wipe, or restore call logs and text messages; or customize a lock screen message for a missing device.

The app itself showed no sign of these features not working. I successfully set a customized lock screen message. I enabled SIM card tracking. And I backed up my contacts with apparent success. My McAfee contacts explained that the feature changes, related to Android Q, haven’t all taken effect yet, and that the customized lock screen message won’t actually be affected.

App Lock and Guest Mode

Like Bitdefender, McAfee offers an App Lock feature that locks your most sensitive apps behind a six-digit PIN. A sneak thief picks up your unlocked phone still won’t be able to read your email or place orders on Amazon, as long as you’ve locked them up. Bitdefender, Norton, ESET, and several others offer a similar feature.

Parents these days give unhappy kids their phones to placate them. Sure, a nice streaming cartoon will calm kids down, but you really don’t want them getting into other apps. Guest Mode, previously called Kid Mode, is like the inverse of App Lock. Instead of locking certain apps, it locks everything and only allows access to the apps you specify. Apps outside the list aren’t merely locked; they vanish from the home screen.

Bonus Features

McAfee’s Android solution doesn’t stop with security; most of these additional features appear when you tap the menu icon at top right. The Storage Cleaner looks for junk files, app data, and data files that you could delete to gain storage space. Memory Booster frees up memory allocated to apps that aren’t in use. Safe Web keeps you safe from dangerous websites, like WebAdvisor does on Windows. Safe Wi-Fi warns when you connect to an unsecured hotspot. You can back up your personal data to the cloud. The Battery Booster takes control of screen brightness and sleep timeouts to save battery. Privacy Check reports on the permissions required by your apps and flags any that seem out of line.

McAfee can track your data usage and warn if it’s approaching the limit. You set the monthly cap and tell McAfee what day today is in the billing cycle. That lets it track progress and warn when you use too much. As you can see, this a comprehensive Android security suite.

Protection for iOS Devices

As on Android, McAfee on Apple has a simplified, streamlined user interface. However, the feature set is sparse by comparison. It has the same big scan button, which scans the system and the Wi-Fi network for threats. It’s not entirely clear what happens during the system scan, though it did recognize that my test iPad needed an iOS update. On Android, it clearly states that it’s scanning for viruses, and shows a completion percentage. I did find its forced portrait orientation a little annoying, given the sparse use of screen space.

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You get Safe Web for iOS devices too, but you must set it up separately. For iOS, McAfee implements Safe Web as a VPN connection. For a sanity check, I tried to visit a couple phishing sites from the macOS test that hadn’t been taken down. Safe Web correctly blocked them.

My McAfee contact confirmed that if you install an actual VPN it will supersede the Safe Web proxy VPN. Also, some browsers deliberately evade Proxy VPNs, so McAfee works specifically with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

The Anti-Theft component is more complete than most iOS offerings. From the web console, you can locate your device on a map, and you can sound a loud alarm to find a nearby device. Be warned; the alarm sounds like a woman screaming. Another button puts a message on the device instructing the finder to contact you and return it. You can remotely back up your contacts to the cloud (if you remembered to enable this feature on the iPad first).

I was surprised to find a Wipe option; that’s not something you usually find in an iOS antitheft app. It turns out that invoking this option simply wipes your contacts.

The final piece of the iOS puzzle is the media vault. When you enable this feature, it moves selected media to encrypted storage. It warns at setup that you must move files out of the vault before uninstalling McAfee, or risk losing them. You enter and confirm a six-digit PIN and give McAfee access to your photos. Now you can move photos into the vault, or snap new photos directly to the vault, bypassing the regular Photos app.

That’s it for McAfee on iOS, but it’s more than many companies offer.

Comprehensive Protection

McAfee AntiVirus Plus doesn’t always get the best marks from the independent labs, but it seems to be improving. It’s still not up to the near-perfect lab scores of Bitdefender and Kaspersky, but McAfee did score very well in our phishing protection test, and it aced our malicious URL blocking test with 100 percent success. You get the most comprehensive protection when you install it on Windows. The Android edition is also quite full featured, but you get less protection under macOS and still less on iOS devices.

As noted, we remain concerned about McAfee’s failure against several real-world ransomware attacks. At present, the wealth of features for Windows and Android, along with the product’s near-unique unlimited licensing, outweigh that flub, enough to let the product retain its Editors’ Choice designation.

In an eclectic household with a mix of platforms, its unlimited licensing is a very good deal. However, if what you need is antivirus protection for a defined number of PCs, you’ll do better with one of our other Editors’ Choice products. As noted, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and Kaspersky Anti-Virus are the darlings of the independent labs. And Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is the tiniest antivirus around. Your choice should depend on exactly what you want to protect.

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