McAfee Total Protection (2017)

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Do you know how many Internet-connected devices are in your household? Now, how many of them have an antivirus or security suite installed? With one subscription to McAfee Total Protection, you can install protection on every single one of those devices. However, it doesn't add all that much over and above what you get with McAfee Internet Security for $10 less.

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The Total Protection subscription that lets you protect all of those devices costs $89.99 per year, which is quite a bargain. For that same price, you can install Bitdefender or Trend Micro on five devices. Symantec Norton Security Premium gives you 10 licenses, along with 25GB of hosted online backup storage. But McAfee's unlimited licensing makes it a solid choice for households with many devices.

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Read Me First
The product lines for most security vendors are like a set of Russian nesting dolls, with each product containing all of the smaller ones. In these situations, I review the smallest product, typically a standalone antivirus, and then summarize that testing in my review of the security suite. If there's a feature-packed mega-suite, I summarize my findings of the entry-level suite. Doing so keeps these reviews from becoming impossibly ginormous.

In this case, McAfee Total Protection is nearly identical to McAfee Internet Security. It has one added component, and one feature enhancement. That being the case, I'm going to send you to read my McAfee Internet Security review first. When you're done, come back to learn what's different in McAfee Total Protection.

LiveSafe, McAfee's original unlimited-license product, is also nearly identical to McAfee Internet Security. The only difference between LiveSafe and Total Security is in the added components.

Password Management for All
The entry-level suite includes a subscription to the True Key by Intel Security password manager. While this product isn't quite as full-featured as the top password managers, it outstrips all the others in its multi-factor authentication. In fact, if you enable the highest level of multifactor authentication, you can reset a lost master password using other factors.

But there's a catch. Yes, you can sync your passwords across as many devices as you like, but you probably don't want to share those passwords with your partner, or your kids. With McAfee Total Protection, every member of your household can have a separate True Key account. Well, as long as your household doesn't include more than five people.

File Lock
To the multitude of features found in McAfee's entry-level suite, Total Protection adds file encryption. Like the parental control and antispam components, File Lock isn't installed by default, but getting it installed is a simple matter.

Like the Personal Locker encrypted cloud storage that comes with McAfee LiveSafe, File Lock has you select and answer three security questions, in case you forget one of your passwords. However, where the answers are just part of reauthentication in Personal Locker, they are the keys to the kingdom with File Lock. If you're serious about security, think of not-true answers to the questions, things that you'll remember but that a hacker couldn't determine by Googling you. For example, instead of giving the true answer to "In what town were you born?" you could answer "Not Timbuktu," as long as you'll remember that falsehood.

With the installation complete, you're now free to create as many encrypted vaults as you wish. As with the similar feature in Bitdefender Total Security Multi-Device 2017, Kaspersky Total Security, and others, you name the vault, define its size, and enter a password. Advanced users can choose where to store the file that represents the vault, and pick a specific drive letter for when the vault is open. That's all there is to it.

The file vault in Trend Micro Maximum Security is a bit different. There's just one vault, and its size is not fixed at creation time. More importantly, if your computer is lost or stolen, you can seal the vault remotely, so even the password won't open it.

When the vault is unlocked, it appears like any other disk drive. You can move files into and out of it, edit them in place, and so on. But when it's locked, there's no sign that the files it contains even exist. If you've got any of the vault's files open for editing, you'll get a warning to close them before locking the vault.

You can't change the size of a vault after creation, but you can change the password. If the problem is that you forgot the password, you can unlock the vault with your three security answers. It's probably wise to configure File Lock to lock all open vaults after a given period of inactivity, or when the screensaver kicks in.

Of course, there's no point in encrypting a sensitive file if you leave the unencrypted original lying around for any snoop to read. And merely deleting the file is a half-measure, because its data is still present on disk, and retrievable by forensic tools. For true security, copy the sensitive file into a vault and then use McAfee's Shredder component to securely delete the original.

That's the extent of File Lock's capabilities. It's a useful feature, but not remotely as unusual as the cloud-based encrypted storage that comes with McAfee LiveSafe.

A Capable Option
A McAfee Total Protection subscription lets you install the program on every device in your household, for $10 more than a subscription to McAfee Internet Security. If you have five people who need a password manager, that's quite a deal, as five licenses for True Key would cost nearly $50. If not, the only enhancement you get is the fairly pedestrian (and Windows-only) File Lock.

McAfee LiveSafe, on the other hand, comes with the innovative and unusual Personal Locker, encrypted cloud storage that you unlock using facial and voice recognition. This and the unlimited licensing make it an Editors' Choice for cross-platform multi-device security software. If you don't expect to need more than 10 licenses, you should also consider our other top pick, Symantec Norton Security Premium. All of this suite's components are top-notch, and it comes with 25GB of hosted online storage for your backups.

Sub-Ratings:
Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.
Firewall:
Antivirus:
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Parental Control:

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