McAfee AntiVirus 2019 review: Fast, reliable PC protection

Stops malware with perfect accuracy without causing slowdown.

In the past, McAfee has gotten some slack for being a real resource guzzler and creating a lot of computer slowdown despite doing a decent job of stopping malware infections. But over the last couple of years, McAfee has really focused on refining its programs and optimizing them for peak performance without the lag. McAfee AntiVirus Plus didn't cause any noticeable slowdown during our in-house tests and was one of the only programs to earn a perfect score for malware protection from both us and other internet security testing labs. McAfee also earned the top spot in our best antivirus software for Windows in 2020 roundup.

What you'll love about McAfee AntiVirus Plus

McAfee is so fast and so light that you can surf the web, send emails, and watch videos without interruptions. We tested this program 12 times and never experienced any slowdown. Even during virus scans, we could upload and download files, play games online, and perform other tasks without experiencing any lag or buffering.

During our testing of the best antivirus software, we noticed that McAfee AntiVirus Plus stopped malicious files before they had the chance to start downloading. And when we attempted to visit a dangerous website, McAfee displayed a warning message along with details about the threat that was hidden there. This included keyloggers, adware, viruses, Trojans and phishing schemes. And search results were also clearly marked as safe or dangerous. All the details McAfee gave about each threat it stopped let us know exactly what we were being protected from.

McAfee AntiVirus Plus comes with several user licenses and works on both Windows and Mac computers, and on both Android and iOS cell phones and tablets. But McAfee AntiVirus Plus doesn't have a lot of features beyond excellent malware protection. But there is another program available from McAfee that is chalked full of security tools.

McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a great tool for stopping malware. But McAfee Total Protection has more tools for securing your whole computer.

McAfee Total Protection is the premium computer protection program that builds on the impressive framework of AntiVirus Plus. Total Protection includes parental controls that both block inappropriate websites and let you set time controls for how long your kids can be online each day. It also includes encrypted storage so you can secure sensitive files so they can't be penetrated by hackers or ransomware.

You also get password managers, a personal firewall, vulnerability scanner, and cryptocurrency shields with Total Protection. In our tests, we found no difference in overall performance between McAfee's Antivirus Plus and Total Protection, both using performance optimization to minimize bandwidth so you can protect yourself and enjoy your online activities without experiencing any slowdown.

McAfee Total Protection also comes with multiple user licenses to protect several devices at once, and while it is more expensive than AntiVirus Plus, the overall cost isn't much more and is a great deal considering the amount of advanced security tools you get. Also, with Total Protection, you get McAfee's 100 percent virus removal guarantee. This means if any of your computers running Total Protection become infected, McAfee will ensure each one is removed and your computer restored to its pre-attacked state or you'll receive a refund. All of McAfee's internet security programs include 24/7 live support.

What you'll dislike about McAfee AntiVirus Plus

There isn't a lot of negatives that we saw while testing McAfee AntiVirus Plus. It's a good solid program that stops malware quickly without using up too much of your computer's resources. The biggest drawback is that this is a very bare-boned program without a lot of extras. There isn't a firewall or password manager. No vulnerability scanner or safe money tools. This means that while internet threats are stopped from infecting your computer, other types of threats can still sneak in. However, McAfee Total Protection includes all these extra protections on top of parental controls and internet filters. This program just costs a bit more than McAfee Antivirus Plus.

Should you buy McAfee AntiVirus Plus or Total Protection?

McAfee AntiVirus Plus is a good program for reliable and efficient protection against malware and for warning against malicious websites that harbor dangerous threats. Given the choice, though, we recommend investing in McAfee Total Protection instead. Total Protection has the same level of internet security as its basic antivirus program, which is excellent. But Total Protection also includes many more valuable tools for keeping tabs on your internet connection, your children's online activities and cryptocurrency accounts that are worth the few extra dollars.

This antivirus program earns a perfect score for stopping every malware threat we used during our testing and doing it without slowing down our computers. It also marks dangerous websites before you visit them. There isn't much more to this software. However, you don't need more than this in a basic antivirus program, so McAfee AntiVirus Plus definitely comes out on top in this category.

Nikki Johnston
Commissioned editor

Nikki is a commissioned editor for Future Plc covering internet security including antivirus and VPN. With over 18 years of research and writing experience, and 11 years of testing and reviewing internet security solutions, Nikki knows how to dive deep to get the information consumers need to make better buying decisions. She is also a mom to 10 children, and personally uses many of the products she reviews to ensure the safety of her own family.