McAfee Total Protection 2018 full review

McAfee Total Protection 2018 is a complete antivirus package with some useful additional features. It's a little on the pricey side, but with unlimited installs you certainly get bang for your buck. We've tested the security software to bring you a complete McAfee Total Protection 2018 review.

McAfee is one of the oldest antivirus companies, with a Virus Protection Pledge that means if your PC gets a virus, a McAfee engineer will remotely access your machine and remove it. If this is proves impossible, you will receive a full refund.

At £79.99/$99.99 for unlimited installs (limited to 10 in the US), this represents very good value for money. You can sign up here.

Continue reading to find out more about the value offered by this product, but if you're concerned that the price tag is out of your budget we'd recommend visiting our round-up of the best antivirus here. You may also enjoy our round-up of the best antivirus deals.

The interface has been updated for 2018, but the underlying tools remain the same. The seemingly misnamed Vulnerability Scanner is still there, for example. This regularly searches out vulnerable software and downloads the latest versions for installation. Manually scanning for outdated apps showed old versions of Chrome and VLC Player on my laptop. I was advised to upgrade Chrome myself, which is fair enough, but the automatic update of VLC Player failed. The “details” button simply told me that I must upgrade the latter myself.

The main components of Total Protection are still the antivirus scanner and web/email protection. The scanner is billed as award-winning and is certainly up there with the best of the signature-based scanners. Nowadays, however, more protection is required. Most major threats come not from hackers directly infiltrating your network, but from unwise web surfing leading to drive-by infections, and from opening malicious email attachments.

Because of this shift in attack vectors, the WebAdvisor tool scans downloads for malicious payloads, and identifies any suspicious URLs as you click them. Backing this is the associated anti-spam module, designed to keep your inbox free of scams and adverts.

The File Lock module is a data vault. It will password-protect your valuable files against stealthy Trojans, ransomware, and prying eyes. Allied to this is the Shredder, which will ensure that the files you delete stay deleted with no hope of resurrection. There are options here to shred the recycle bin, your temporary internet files, or you can choose your own files. You can also set the shredding level from Basic, which is fast, to Complete, which is slower but far more secure.

Also included is the TrueKey password manager. This allows you to use multi-factor authentication, including fingerprint recognition if your phone allows it, and even facial recognition on devices such as phones that support these interactions.

Speaking of mobile devices, the Mobile Security app is fully functioned and features all the usual toys. There are also some nice touches, such as a battery optimiser. This shortens the screen timeout, lowers the screen brightness, and empties areas of memory (such as the cache) that are not used.

There's also a little green tab at the right hand side of the home screen, which when clicked gives you immediate access to a scan, and also shows you any battery-draining apps, and current resource use. Versions exist for Android, and Apple iOS 9 or later.

An issue for me was that during normal use, McAfee stopped a maintenance update to the massively popular War Thunder from completing. The IP address being connected to by the laptop was one that McAfee didn't like and so it prevented the update. I was busy and dismissed the alert, but this raises an important point: finding the details of the blocked connection later was nigh on impossible. 

Trying to scroll back through the log is difficult because the window is so small and cannot be resized, and only 25 alerts are shown per page anyway. Such alerts come in all the time, so finding the correct one after a few hours is difficult. Also, you cannot copy and paste suspect IP addresses to load into other programs or online services to check them out.

There are other niggles. For example, after a few weeks of living with McAfee, I clicked the the weekly security report. I was surprised to see that there was no data in the report despite the interface telling me that the last scan had inspected over 6,500 files.

Finally, there's a browser plugin that will advise and protect you while surfing. The current list of supported browsers includes Internet Explorer 10 upwards, Firefox, Chrome and Safari (on Mac and iPhone). Conspicuous by its absence is Microsoft's Edge browser.