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McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus Software Review for 2020
July 13, 2020
As malware becomes increasingly sophisticated and elusive, computer users find it more and more challenging to keep pace with the rapidly growing threat landscape. Protecting your computers with antivirus and security software is especially important these days.
Read on for important features to consider when shopping for antivirus protection software for your system and learn about how McAfee® LiveSafe Antivirus software can protect your system from viruses, malware, spyware, phishing, and other security vulnerabilities and threats.
What is malware?
Malware, which is short for “malicious software,” encompasses all types of malicious software, including worms, viruses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and more. Malware’s intent is to damage systems as much as possible – such as stealing data and identities, and even stealing currency.
What is a computer virus?
Even though the terms malware and computer virus are often used interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same; viruses are actually a subset of the overarching category of malware.
A virus is a particularly egregious, malicious software that self-replicates and infects by inserting its harmful code into a program, application, or file, which the victim then unintentionally activates by opening.
Ever since the Creeper Virus first made its appearance back in the internet dark ages of the 1970s, viruses and other malware have been a pesky presence (and threat) to both individual consumers and organizations.
Why do you need antivirus and security protection?
As we become increasingly dependent on the internet for work, play, and communication, the likelihood of falling victim to some form of a data breach has been on a steady trend upwards. Keeping your online browsing safe and secure has only become more intricate and difficult as online technology has become smarter.
Malware threats, including viruses, continue to grow regardless of device and with a very specific focus: to make money. In fact, the number of threats has grown year over year on both PC and mobile platforms. Total malware has grown 30% to 954 million samples. 
Thirty years ago, the security industry was detecting approximately 5 new malware threats every week. Today, McAfee Labs detects over 503 new threats every minute or more than 8 threats every second.
What is McAfee LiveSafe?
McAfee LiveSafe is award-winning antivirus protection that defends against viruses, online threats, and ransomware with both online and offline protection. It’s the ultimate protection for all of your devices.
McAfee antivirus offers a number of best-of-breed product features and benefits to combat viruses and other security threats. Let’s unpack the most important ones in our McAfee review.
McAfee LiveSafe features
1. Integrated protection
Malware, virus and spyware protection
As we mentioned earlier, malware is a particularly nasty little beast. Humans known as cyberattackers develop code to specifically gain unauthorized access and wreak havoc on computers and/or networks. And often, these users have no idea that their system is even compromised.
Spyware, one of malware’s unruly spawn, secretly monitors and collects information on users. It may even record system information, web browsing history, keystrokes, applications used, messages sent, and vulnerabilities for future attacks. It’s important that your software protects you and your system from these types of threats.
Phishing is the malevolent messenger of malware, and those email offers that seem too good to be true, are especially urgent, or come from someone you don’t know – including those that even look “official” – are all in its mailbag.
Opening one of these tainted email or text messages and then clicking on the fraudulent attachments, links, or websites gives the attacker access to sensitive information like passwords, usernames, bank accounts, and credit card numbers.
Although phishing websites often get blacklisted, new ones keep popping up. Phishing protection is therefore a critical component of security software.
How McAfee antivirus protection stacks up:
McAfee LiveSafe offers protection on various devices as well as integrated protection that is managed from one console. The same powerful anti-malware technology that McAfee uses to protect its enterprise customers is also used in its consumer security services.
In fact, 80% of worldwide Fortune 100 companies worldwide use McAfee as well as 87% of the world’s largest banks. It’s also the preferred choice of the world’s largest PC and mobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
2. Minimal impact on performance
Antivirus software programs that run in the background on PCs can impact system performance to some degree since they use a percentage of system resources. It’s a good idea to evaluate your antivirus protection and software on how much they affect your system’s performance, speed, and usability.
To measure how much impact a security product has on PC performance, some independent test labs include performance impact benchmarks in their security product tests. AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, both independent, well-known, and reputable test labs, looked at approximately 20 security brands.
How McAfee stacks up:
Test results showed that McAfee Total Protection® is one of the lowest-impact security products available today. Since Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe share the same antivirus (AV) engine and feature set, performance test results are comparable.
McAfee has consistently received the highest scores in all performance tests since 2016.
Every two months AV-Test publishes the results of its ongoing tests of 20 security products. As part of these tests, the lab continuously evaluates the latest versions of all products using their default settings and measures the average impact of the product on computer speed in daily use.
A security product can achieve a maximum of 6 points depending on the test results. McAfee has consistently received the highest score in all performance tests since May 2018. McAfee was awarded the “2019 Performance Award” by AV-Test in March 2020.
Every year in April and October, AV-Comparatives publishes its Performance Test Report. For this report the lab looks at 17 security products including McAfee antivirus software and evaluates how much impact these have on system performance.
Based on the results of these tests, the products are then evaluated and graded in award levels ranging from ADVANCED+ (the highest possible ranking) to STANDARD (the lowest ranking).
McAfee achieved the ADVANCED+ ranking published in the April 2020 Performance Test Report and has, in fact, continuously received it since October 2016.
McAfee received the Silver Award in the category “Overall Performance (Low System-Impact)” in February 2020 for demonstrating a lower impact on system performance than other products throughout 2019.
3. One of the lightest security products
One of the lightest security products available today, McAfee LiveSafe taps into the power of McAfee Global Threat Intelligence (GTI): a reputation-based system in the cloud with visibility into all types of cyber threats from around the world to help security solutions make decisions in real time.
McAfee GTI combines collective intelligence with McAfee research to provide comprehensive protection against the latest online threats. It also:
- Collects over 20 years of threat research data from McAfee Labs
- Has over 1 petabyte (PB) of security data in the cloud
- Processes an average of 49 billion-plus queries per day
- Features a footprint of 300+ servers across 9 data centers on 3 different continents
4. Two-way firewall with McAfee NetGuard
Your system is only as secure as the weakest link in the chain, and firewalls often provide an enticing entry access to cyber criminals. Those with malicious intent and the appropriate techniques (and code) can disable them easily. Software that protects your firewall and thwarts web-based attacks is absolutely essential.
How McAfee virus protection stacks up:
McAfee LiveSave prevents hackers from gaining access to your PC and stops it from becoming part of a botnet. The firewall monitors incoming and outgoing internet traffic and guards against unwanted network traffic.
McAfee NetGuard anti-bot protection leverages McAfee GTI to learn if IP destinations are dangerous and identifies and blocks connections that are risky and possibly related to botnet activity. This extra layer of defense helps prevent your computer from sending out personal information to internet crime networks.
5. Vulnerability Scanner
Automatic vulnerability scans and security patches for product updates
Another weak link is having out-of-date applications and programs on your system. It’s incredibly easy to forget about checking in on these – let alone even knowing what they are and where they all reside – and updating them periodically with fixes or security patches. Security software should include automated scans and reports about which need updates.
How McAfee stacks up:
Part of McAfee LiveSafe, Vulnerability Scanner ensures that your Windows software and other PC applications are up-to-date. It searches for all of the outdated programs and software on your system. Then it'll show you the number of updates found as well as rate the importance of maintaining updates on that particular application. You can choose to run it automatically on a specific date or create a schedule to run in at a certain time; weekly, biweekly, or monthly, for instance.
6. McAfee QuickClean
Secure deletion of files
When you delete files and websites on your system in Windows, they get sent to the recycle bin, temporary internet files, and other folders. But as we all know they’re not completely deleted. You still need to empty the bin and/or folders periodically.
And even when you do, the data in that deleted file stays on the hard drive – ready and waiting for potential forensic software or hardware recovery efforts. Your software needs to be on the case to permanently delete sensitive data or files.
How McAfee stacks up:
McAfee QuickClean removes unwanted items like cookies and temporary internet files that websites can use to track you online. QuickClean safely deletes unnecessary files, thus improving performance and stopping sites from tracking you online. It cleans selected locations and items so that you can reclaim storage and free up to 364.5MB of space on your PC.
McAfee QuickClean cleans files and folders that you specify, such as:
- Recycle bin
- Temporary files
- Lost file fragments
- Registry files
- Sent and deleted mail
- Problem report files
- Cached files
- Browser cookies
- Browser and Windows history files
- Memory image files
7. McAfee Shredder
McAfee Shredder deletes sensitive files completely, ensuring that no traces are left behind. It protects your identity and privacy by digitally destroying no-longer-needed sensitive files and prevents anyone from accessing them. You can use the McAfee Shredder tool to delete content on your hard drive as well as on external hard drives and USB drives.
In addition, you can specify how thoroughly you want to shred an item: from basic (the fastest and least thorough) to complete (which shreds items 10 times). You can also shred an item directly from Windows Explorer with a manual shred by right-clicking.
8. McAfee File Lock
Lock your important, sensitive files in secure digital vaults on your computer, quickly and easily, with McAfee FileLock. It has password-protected vaults that let you store your personal files in vaults on hard drives or removable drives to prevent others from accessing your information.
FileLock features strong encryption that uses 256-bit AES file encryption. It also enables multiple Windows users on your PC to create their own vaults.
9. McAfee Password Manager
McAfee Password Manager lets you securely manage your passwords and allows you to log in up to 5 users. Users can create complex, safer passwords without the burden of trying to remember a random assemblage of letters, numbers, and symbols.
10. Multi-platform security and unlimited licensing
If possible, look for antivirus software with unlimited cross-platform licenses. Otherwise, you may have to pay more for less flexible licensing subscription scenarios that charge for each additional license.
How McAfee stacks up:
You can protect an unlimited number of personal devices for the duration of your subscription with McAfee LiveSafe. McAfee consumer security suites offer protection that goes beyond your PC by supporting multiple OS platforms. Protect an unlimited number of devices with one subscription.
What is McAfee security?
Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Santa Clara, California, McAfee is one of the most respected and trusted brands in the antivirus world. It makes security software for both consumers and businesses running Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS platforms.
Millions of consumers rely on McAfee computer protection and solutions, which shield them from identity theft, phishing scams, spyware, malicious websites, and other online threats.
First in class over the years
Since its founding, the company has been innovating continuously. In 2004, for instance, it was the first to proactively protect consumers against phishing scams and, in 2005, led the industry as the first to offer antivirus with spyware to stop it before it’s installed.
McAfee has been tested, certified, and recommended by the world’s most reputable, specialized anti-malware test-labs including AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, and SE Labs, which have all awarded McAfee products with the highest ratings.
Preinstalled, ready to go, and continually updated
If you’re buying a new HP PC, you won’t need to download or activate McAfee LiveSafe. Pre-installed and ready to go, it’s included as a preinstalled trial that comes with a new HP system purchase. You can try it out for 30 days, and receive a threat report on all of the malicious files that have been blocked.
The trial is also continually updated. No matter when you buy your PC, LiveSafe automatically updates itself in the background so it is always up-to-date with the latest threats.
 McAfee® Global Threat Intelligence data sheet “Bringing the power of McAfee Labs to consumer security” and McAfee Labs 2019
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.