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McAfee Total Protection Bundle 2024: Security suite reviewed

If you're wondering whether McAfee's Total Security bundle is for you, you're in the right place. We put the bundle through its paces in this review to see if it's worth it.
Writer: Marc Dahan
Specialist in Online Privacy

In this review, we’re looking at McAfee’s Total Protection bundle, which provides the following tools alongside its antivirus, all within a single app:

  • A VPN
  • A password manager
  • A malware blocker
  • A junk file cleaner
  • An online identity protection service

If you’d like all the details, I recommend reading the review from beginning to end. If you’re pressed for time, however, you can read a summary of my thoughts below.

McAfee Total Protection summary

McAfee is well-known in the antivirus space—and for good reason. It’s proven its effectiveness over many years. Indeed, in our antivirus testing, McAfee performed very well and detected all of our virus samples. So, it should come as no surprise that the antivirus is the most compelling component in the bundle.

That doesn’t mean the other components don’t work well – they do. It’s just that password managers and malware blockers are a dime a dozen these days, and often free. While fast and resilient to IP leaks, the bundled VPN is rather basic. So that leaves us with identity protection services (which tend to be opaque regarding how they work) and a file shredder. While helpful, the “extra features” aren’t critical and are rather basic.

There’s also an issue with McAfee’s privacy policy: it’s confusing. On one hand, it states that it collects extensive data about your online activities. While that’s not something I like to see, it does make sense in this context. Malware protection and real-time antivirus scanning imply this. However, in its privacy policy, McAfee states that it doesn’t collect anything about your online activities when you use its VPN. So, if you use the bundled VPN and the malware blocker, what happens?

The asking price is pretty good, but only the antivirus engine stands out. You may not find the bundle worthwhile. For those with more precise or complex needs, I’d definitely look elsewhere for VPN and privacy services.

McAfee Total Protection pros and cons


  • Excellent antivirus engine
  • Good prices
  • The app is easy to use and to navigate
  • VPN is fast and does not leak
  • While not critical, the other bunded services work well


  • VPN is very basic
  • McAfee collects browsing activities while on VPN
  • Limited information on protocols and encryption
  • Collects massive amounts of data due to the nature of services rendered
  • Some bundled services feel like fluff
  • Contradictory privacy policy

The antivirus

This is where McAfee shines. Its antivirus engine scored very well on both AVTests and AVComparatives, and it also scored highly in our own in-house tests. But let’s start by looking at the antivirus app.

McAfee - Main Antivirus UI
McAfee’s app is clean, minimalistic, and easy to use. While there aren’t a plethora of customization options, everything you need is there and accessible.

NOTE: One issue with McAfee’s app that came about quickly in my testing is that there’s no way to quit the app. Once installed, it will always run until you uninstall it, which is not great. I’ll discuss this more in the Support section of this article. For now, let’s focus on the app’s functionality.

From the main antivirus page, you can run a scan, schedule a scan, and choose between scan types.

McAfee - Schedule Scan

McAfee - Scan Types
The infected items it detects are moved to a quarantine folder. You can view its contents by selecting Quarantined Items from the app’s main Settings pane.

McAfee - Settings Pane

McAfee - Quarantined Items

Let’s move onto the antivirus tests.

Antivirus tests

I first tested McAfee using malware samples from the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). EICAR provides files that simulate a virus infection without damaging your system. It detected EICAR in all three modes (Quick, Full, and On-demand).

No valueMcAfee Total Protection bundle
Eicar Sample 1Blocked
Eicar Sample 2Blocked
Eicar Sample 3Blocked
Eicar Sample 4Blocked
Best deal (per month)$7.50/mo
Advanced plan only $7.50/mo

The same was true when testing McAfee against three malware samples: zipped executable files (2 trojans, one adware). All three were detected in all three modes.

No valueMcAfee Total Protection bundle
Live Sample 1 (Adware)Blocked
Live Sample 2 (Trojan)Blocked
Live Sample 3 (Trojan)Blocked
Best deal (per month)$7.50/mo
Advanced plan only $7.50/mo

Impact on system resources

Turning to system resources, here’s McAfee’s impact on system resources for quick scans and full scans.

Quick scan

No valueMcAfee Total Protection bundle
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)12
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)10
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)66
Quick Scan Time (seconds)633
Quick Scan Memory Utilization %77
Quick Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)912
Best deal (per month)$7.50/mo
Advanced plan only $7.50/mo

Full scan

No valueMcAfee Total Protection bundle
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)12
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)10
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)66
Full Scan Time (minutes)10:55
Full Scan Memory Utilization %75
Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)253
Best deal (per month)$7.50/mo
Advanced plan only $7.50/mo

While McAfee’s scans consumed quite a bit of CPU and memory, I could still use my computer without issue. Antivirus scans will inevitably use significant system resources, but a proper antivirus engine can mitigate usability issues during scans. McAfee does this brilliantly.

Antivirus testing methodology

We’ve structured our antivirus testing methodology to provide reliable data on the software’s effectiveness at malware protection and performance.

Our testing process includes:

  • Using malware test samples from EICAR
  • Testing live malware samples, including Adware and Trojans
  • Comparing our own tests with independent antivirus lab test results

In addition, we measure several PC performance metrics and analyze pricing, ease of use, compatibility, and additional features.

We have a dedicated post on our antivirus research and testing methodology if you want to know more about how we analyze antivirus software.


McAfee’s VPN is the second most useful component in its bundle after the antivirus. In my testing, it was fast, worked very well (no connection issues or random disconnects), and didn’t suffer any IP or DNS leaks. That’s all good.

McAfee - VPN Main UI

The downside of McAfee’s VPN is its extreme simplicity. The above displays everything you get with the VPN—not much.

In addition to selecting your location, you can click on VPN Settings to display a limited set of customization options for the VPN component.

McAfee - VPN Settings

From this page, you can:

  • Enable the VPN’s auto-connect feature
  • Enable the kill switch
  • Curate a list of WiFi networks deemed safe enough to automatically disconnect the VPN when on those networks.

And that’s all you get.

Another thing I found lacking about McAfee’s VPN is information. There’s very little technical information about its VPN service. Aside from vague allusions to AES-256, McAfee doesn’t disclose the protocol it uses. The AES-256 reference points to IPsec or OpenVPN; my money would be on OpenVPN. But I couldn’t tell you for sure.

Here are the speed test results for McAfee’s VPN:

McAfee - VPN Speed Test

  • North America: 497 Mbps
  • Europe: 362 Mbps
  • Asia: 130 Mbps
  • Global average: 329 Mbps

Those are excellent speeds.

Below you’ll find the results of our IP leak tests. McAfee didn’t leak anything.

Without VPN

McAfee - IP Test - Without VPN

With VPN

McAfee - IP Test - With VPN

Discussing McAfee’s VPN gives us a nice segway to look at McAfee’s privacy policy.


Looking through its privacy policy, we find this:

McAfee - Privacy Policy 1
We also find this, just below:

McAfee - Privacy Policy 2
Wow, that’s a lot of collected data. It likely comes down to the fact that it provides ID, credit, and PII protection, as well as malware blocking and real-time antivirus scanning, so it will need to know a lot about you to provide those services. Still, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable being that intimate with a corporation.

Also, the note at the bottom of the first screenshot states that if you use the VPN, McAfee’s VPN servers do not look at or log any information you send or receive on the Internet. That’s good to know, but what does it mean for users of the VPN in combination with McAfee’s other services? It’s somewhat confusing.

Now, let’s look at the “extra” software included in McAfee’s bundle.

Tracker Remover

Within your software bundle is McAfee’s tracker remover. Basically, it scans your system for unneeded temporary and junk files and deletes them from your computer, freeing up space and potentially giving you a performance gain (your mileage will vary).

McAfee - Tracker Remover
To use it, select Tracker Remover from the side pane. You can then run a scan on-demand or schedule a scan. Clicking Get Started launches the scanner.

McAfee - Scanning for Unwanted Items

When the scan is finished, it displays the results, and you’re prompted to either remove the resulting items or select the items you want to delete.

McAfee - Confirm Remove Items
Clicking Change Items allows you to select what to delete more granularly.

McAfee - Select Items to Remove
After that, the scan and removal results are displayed. It’s straightforward and easy to use.

File Shredder

McAfee - Display Removed Items
The file shredder is a deletion utility. Most of the time, when you delete an item from your computer, it’s still actually there. In simple terms, it’s just that the link(s) to the deleted item(s) are removed, and the disk sectors where they reside are marked as overwritable. With forensic software, there’s a non-zero chance those deleted items could be recovered (no guarantee either).

File Shredder overwrites those disk sectors multiple times, rendering the deleted files unrecoverable.

Again, the feature is very straightforward to use. Simply select File Shredder from the side pane and select the files you want to “shred.”

McAfee - File Shredder
You also have the option of choosing the number of overwrite cycles. The default is two.

Advanced Firewall

McAfee includes an additional firewall to protect your computer. While every major operating system includes a native firewall by default, they typically only block incoming connections. McAfee’s firewall will also block outgoing traffic, giving you more granular control over the connections happening on your network.

You can enable the firewall by selecting Advanced Firewall from the side pane.

McAfee - Advanced Firewall

Once you’re on the Firewall page, simply toggle the switch, and it will start monitoring your connections. You can always fine-tune the firewall by clicking Allow or block connections to fix any over or under-blocking that may occur.

By selecting Security Report from the side pane, you can get readouts of the firewall’s performance.

McAfee - Firewall - Security Report

Web Protection

McAfee - Web Protection
Web Protection is actually external software—it’s a browser plugin that blocks malware and dangerous downloads as you browse the web. It’s an extension that you need to install in your web browser for it to work.

Supported browsers are:

  • Internet Explorer 10.0 or later
  • Microsoft Edge (Chromium-based)
  • Microsoft Edge (Windows 10 or higher)​
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Safari (Mac and iOS)

When you click Get McAfee WebAdvisor, you’re taken to an external web page to complete the setup process.

McAfee - Web Protection - Setup Page

True Key Password Manager

Yet another bundled extra is McAfee’s cloud password manager. You select Password Manager from the side pane and then Get Extension from the Password Manager pane. From there, as above, you’re taken to an external website and need to download and install a browser extension.

It’s somewhat annoying that you need to register again to use the password manager, but alas, you do. The stored passwords are encrypted (AES-256), and the password manager has two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled by default.

McAfee - Password Manager

Identity Protection

The bundle also includes an online identity protection service. It works similarly to the above: You select ID Protection from the side pane, and you end up on an external website to set up the service. Thankfully, there’s nothing to download this time. You simply enter your email address, and it will scour the web (regular and dark) for any privacy breaches associated with that address.

McAfee - ID Protection - Setup Page

The service can also monitor your credit cards and bank accounts. And, if you go for the Ultimate plan, you can also get three-bureau credit monitoring.

After entering your email and clicking Check now, McAfee will send you a 2FA code. Once you enter that code, you can view what its ID Protection service found.

McAfee - ID Protection Results
To add more items to monitor, click on Add info to monitor at the top right of the page.


McAfee - ID Protection - Add More Checks
McAfee offers five subscription tiers, from Basic to Ultimate. As you would imagine, the more you pay, the more you get. And, given everything you get with McAfee’s bundles (even though you could legitimately wonder if you would ever use all those extras), its prices are pretty good.

McAfee - Pricing 2 Support

McAfee - Pricing 1
McAfee - In-App Support
McAfee provides two support options:

  • An online knowledge base
  • An online chat

While the app doesn’t explicitly mention online chat, you can chat with a McAfee Support representative by visiting its support website (second option). That’s what I did. I had two questions:

  1. Is it possible to quit the app?
  2. Is it possible to benefit from malware blocking and real-time scanning while on VPN?

And while the rep was polite and fairly knowledgeable, the answers they provided were somewhat disappointing.

The answer to the first question is, in a nutshell, no. You cannot quit the McAfee app. The rep suggested that disabling real-time scanning and the firewall would stop the app from running, but it didn’t. There’s simply no way to quit the McAfee app.

As for question two, it turns out that (at least according to McAfee Support) McAfee still collects your visited URLs and online activities while on VPN despite its statement to the contrary in its privacy policy. McAfee’s VPN is clearly not a great option for the privacy-conscious.

McAfee - Support Chat

Do I recommend McAfee Total Protection?

Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag with McAfee. I feel its antivirus engine is excellent. The extra bundled services… not so much.

Its VPN isn’t the most private option, and it’s extremely basic, with few customization options.

Aside from malware blocking and real-time scanning, where McAfee can claim some expertise, I don’t see a compelling reason to rely on McAfee for its other services, like identity protection or password management.

It feels like McAfee is trying to expand its reach by throwing every conceivable security product at you. Many feel like afterthoughts rather than serious, dedicated service offerings.

Credit where credit is due: McAfee’s antivirus engine is excellent. And criticism where criticism is due: its bundle isn’t worth it. Despite its competitive prices, I still feel you can do better elsewhere on every other service in McAfee’s bundle.

McAfee’s Total Protection bundle is not recommended. Just get the straight antivirus and call it a day.