Security for everyone - Review McAfee Total Protection

2 out of 5 stars

McAfee is a security firm backed by the IT hardware giant Intel and, as a result, their security products are some of the most used in the world. Their premium security solution is called McAfee Total Protection and it’s a product that promises to protect you against various security threats, ranging from malware and network attacks, to dangerous websites and phishing attempts. We wanted to see how good McAfee’s latest security product is, so we took it for a spin and we’ve tested it for a couple of days. If you want to know whether it was good or it disappointed us, read this review:

The download and installation experience

In order to get a trial of McAfee Total Protection on your Windows computer, you must first create an online account. The good thing is that the only personal information you must provide is your email address. Then, you will get to download an executable file called Setup_serial_[some_random_characters]_key.exe. It has a size of 33.1MB, but during the installation process, it will download another 127MB of data from McAfee’s servers.

When we launched the executable file, the installation wizard checked whether our test computer was compatible with McAfee Total Protection. Then, it downloaded the necessary data for installing the security suite. And then the pain began: the installation got stuck at 63% and the computer was so slow that it was impossible to use. It took almost an hour for the installation to be done, which is a very long time. Windows installs itself in less than half of that time!

It’s worth mentioning that McAfee Total Protection doesn’t ask you anything during its installation. You don’t get to choose what protection modules you want, and you don’t even get to choose where to install it on your computer.

When the installation was done on our test computer, McAfee Total Protection loaded its user interface. The computer was still sluggish so we decided to reboot it. After that, everything was running well again. We don’t know why McAfee Total Protection had this extreme negative effect on our computer’s performance and it wasn’t a good start for us.

McAfee Total Protection is relatively easy to install, as the installation wizard is extremely simple and straightforward. However, it also tore down our test PC while doing that, so at least thus far, we can’t say that we like this security product.

Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows platform apps

Right after installing it, McAfee Total Protection updates its database with virus signatures. It also automatically disables Windows Firewall and Windows Defender , which is a good thing because it makes sure that you won’t have to handle unexpected conflicts or slowdowns triggered by the use of two similar security products at the same time.

The security suite also does well in terms of integration with Windows’ networking features. We had no problems when we created or when we joined a local homegroup, when we accessed shared files and folders or when we streamed media files over the local network. Working with universal Windows apps was also a pain free experience.

We noticed that McAfee's firewall module detects the network location you set in Windows and automatically changes its security profile accordingly. If you set your network location to be public in Windows, so does McAfee Total Protection and if you set it to be private, the firewall adjusts again. That’s very nice - a simple thing done right.

The online security you get from McAfee Total Protection is provided through a web browser extension called WebAdvisor , which is available only for Internet Explorer 9 or newer, Chrome and Firefox. If you use another browser, you won't get any protection when browsing the internet.

We also wanted to see if McAfee Total Protection has a meaningful negative effect on the speed and overall performance of our computer. So, we began by checking how much RAM memory it needs in order to keep all its processes running. We found that it rarely goes over the limit of 230MB on our test laptop.

Then, we checked if it the boot time of our test computer increased after we installed McAfee Total Protection on it. BootRacer didn’t measure any significant difference in the average time needed for boot. And, finally, we also ran the more complex Home accelerated tests offered by PCMark 8. The scores we got were almost the same.

McAfee Total Protection is a security suite that integrates well with Windows and its networking features. We appreciate the fact that its firewall module automatically adjusts its protection level according to the network profile you set in Windows, and we like the fact that it is very light on system resources. However, a very big no-go for us is the fact that McAfee Total Protection can protect its users only if they use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or the old Internet Explorer. Other web browsers are not protected.

Ease of use & configuration

The user interface of McAfee Total Protection starts with a dashboard that shows your computer’s security state, as well as the status of a few of the essential protection layers it offers. If all is all well, you’ll see greens all over, and if something’s wrong you’ll see reds. Unfortunately, if you make a step back and look at the interface in its entirety, you’ll see that it looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster. Many of the visual elements, sections, menus and buttons are out of place and many of them look like they were stitched in a hurry on the main body of the user interface. In a way, these rounded buttons and the flat design of some sections remind us of Windows XP and Windows 10 at the same time.

To make it even worse, the user interface is also quite redundant. Take for instance the above screenshot. If, for instance, you click on the Virus and Spyware Protection , you will get to its features, actions and settings. This is what it looks like:

But, if you click on the Manage security button from the main interface, you will get to a new Home section in which you will find another entry point for the same Virus and Spyware Protection. A click on it will take you exactly to the same place as above. It’s like someone thought it’s better to have to go through more steps than through fewer. That may be true if you want to jog, but not if you want to run an antivirus scan!

Wait, you didn’t think it was over, did you? Now… go deeper underground like Jamiroquai used to say, and find that McAfee Total Protection is still using links instead of tiles, switches or any other type of larger buttons that you could use easily on touchscreen devices.

In terms of help, McAfee Total Protection offers online documentation, FAQs, a knowledge base and community forums, as well as live chat and phone support options.

When it comes to logs and history, McAfee Total Protection includes some options to see what happened on your computer. You will find both text logs and some visual reports. However, we couldn't find any logs with detailed information. If you are a professional, you probably won't like this.

During the time in which we tested McAfee Total Protection , we saw it display alerts about malware infected files, but we didn’t see any firewall notifications.

McAfee Total Protection is a security product that offers a poor user interface, with a broken design and plenty of redundancy. We strongly believe that McAfee should hire a user experience designers team.

Read the next page of this review and see how effective McAfee Total Protection is at protecting your computer from network attacks and malware. You will also see our final verdict for this antivirus product.