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McAfee Safe Connect Review

Our verdict

McAfee Safe Connect is a US-based VPN service with apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. McAfee VPN is fast but suffers from weak security, an invasive logging policy, and lacks customer support. It doesn't work in China and it doesn't unblock streaming services like Netflix. In short, you should avoid using McAfee VPN.

McAfee has not yet been able to transfer the success of its antivirus to the VPN space. Are you curious to know why?

Then you are in the right place. Our McAfee Safe Connect hands-on review will reveal it all. We test countless VPNs every week, so we don't let the biggest names fool us.

By the end of this review, you will know everything there is to know about McAfee Safe Connect. This includes:

  • What is McAfee Safe Connect?
  • Is McAfee VPN a good VPN?
  • How fast is McAfee Safe Connect?
  • Does McAfee Safe Connect unblock US Netflix?
  • How much does McAfee Safe Connect cost?

But this only scratches the surface. By the end of this detailed McAfee VPN review, you will know all about Safe Connect's logging policy, your chosen VPN protocol, your jurisdiction, and much more.

In general, you will learn that McAfee VPN is a poor VPN that requires a lot of work. Use a superior VPN service that is designed to easily unblock websites, instead

Before we delve into this review, let's see the good and the bad about this VPN service.

Pros and cons of McAfee Safe Connect

Pros

  1. Very fast speeds
  2. Attractive and intuitive custom VPN apps
  3. Can be affordably combined with other McAfee products

Cons

  1. One of the most intrusive registry policies
  2. Based in the United States hostile to privacy
  3. No VPN kill switch
  4. It does not work with any streaming service.
  5. Frustrating and untrained customer service

Keys Summary McAfee Safe Connect

Deadline Unlimited
Speed 88 Mbps
Registration Policy Intrusive log
Data leaks No
Jurisdiction USA (Five-eyed Member)
Servers 23+
IP addresses 23+
Countries 23
US Netflix No
Torrents Unlimited
Work in china No
Support for Live Chat 24/7
Cheapest price $ 4.99 for 12 months
Official website Mcafee.com

Read on for our full McAfee VPN review, starting with a more detailed look at its ownership and registration policy.

McAfee VPN and privacy go separate ways

Regarding and registration

McAfee Safe Connect is owned by McAfee LLC, the cybersecurity giant.

McAfee LLC is named after its infamous founder, John McAfee, who left the company in 1994.

Since 2017, McAfee has been owned by US private equity firms TPG Capital and Thoma Bravo.

Thoma Bravo is no stranger to the cybersecurity domain, having recently expanded its presence with the purchase of UK-based antivirus provider Sophos. for $ 3.9 billion in October 2019.

McAfee LLC itself is now valued at over $ 5 billion and even owns TunnelBear VPN (see our review), which it acquired in 2018.

mcafee-vpn-jurisdiction-8502389

McAfee Headquarters in Santa Clara, USA

Like its parent company, McAfee Safe Connect is based in the United States, within Silicon Valley. As a consequence, McAfee shares an illustrious foundation with some of the colossal names in technology . Sounds great right?

No. The McAfee jurisdiction really couldn't be much worse. America is a downright horrible place to base a VPN provider .

The United States is part of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance, which means that it shares surveillance data with the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Apart from this, McAfee is subject to intrusive US legal policies, such as the infamous PRISM surveillance program , which enables the US government to monitor the online communications of US-based technology companies.

More worrisome, despite everything, is the Stored Communications Act (SCA) . This law gives the US government the ability to seize information from a VPN user if that information has been withheld.

stored-communications-act-700x516-7234394

Extract from the Stored Communications Act of 2010.

This is particularly concerning with Safe Connect, since McAfee logs almost everything .

Apart from this, McAfee's privacy policy explicitly defines that it will provide information to any legal, governmental or judicial authority if at any time it is requested.

Safe Connect doesn't keep your connection secure, after all.

Registration Policy

McAfee's logging policy is one of the worst we have seen .

McAfee collects the following information:

  • Your IP address
  • URLs and domain names in your browsing history
  • Your shopping history, hobbies and interests, photos, and biometrics
  • Device information, such as device battery level, location information, hardware type, and ISP
  • Information about other devices connected to your network

Here is the information as it appears in the McAfee privacy policy:

mcafee-logging-policy-6045067

Excerpt from the McAfee Safe Connect Privacy Policy.

McAfee retains this information indefinitely and only deletes it if an account is deleted. Even then, the data is kept for 30 days.

McAfee also provides this information to other McAfee-owned companies, third-party advertisers, and "service providers who provide services to us."

Interestingly, McAfee Safe Connect shares its privacy policy with McAfee's broader cybersecurity product and the policy does not mention Safe Connect VPN in Nowhere .

After we contacted McAfee, a representative confirmed that Safe Connect follows the same rules and standards as all other McAfee products.

McAfee claims this information is necessary "to help protect" users and "to run [McAfee's] business."

This is basically a lie. There are a host of VPN services that can protect your users and run your business without engaging in such intrusive data collection.

All of this adds up to betray why you should be looking to use a VPN.

When you use McAfee Safe Connect, you are not protecting your privacy - handing it over to a multinational corporation for sale to the highest bidder.

One of the fastest VPNs out there

Speed and reliability

Speed and reliability is the only area where McAfee Safe Connect truly shines. Actually, McAfee VPN is very fast .

McAfee Safe Connect offers these high speeds because it uses Catapult Hydra, Hotspot Shield's proprietary protocol. We covered more about Catapult Hydra in our Hotspot Shield 2021 review.

Hotspot Shield authorizes the use of the protocol to other VPN services, including Kaspersky Secure Connection and Bitdefender.

When connecting from our London test server to a nearby VPN server, we saw only a 10% drop in download speed and an 8.73% drop in upload speed. This is truly impressive.

Local speed test results

Before using McAfee Safe Connect :

 

  1. Download Mbps

    99

  2. Rise Mbps

    98

  3. Ping ms

    4

When connected to McAfee Safe Connect :

  1. Download Mbps

    88

  2. Rise Mbps

    90

  3. Ping ms

    7

Speeds remained impressive on international connections. We saw a drop in download speed from 37% when connecting to a server on the US East Coast and only 13% when connecting to the Netherlands.

Under normal circumstances, we would be lauding McAfee Safe Connect with praise, as these types of speeds would allow for smoother streaming from US Netflix and Disney +.

But frustratingly, McAfee Safe Connect proves so powerless in unlocking geographically restricted streaming services that its blazing-fast international speeds seem redundant.

Using our 100Mbps fiber optic connection, you can see the results of our speed tests by connecting from the UK to multiple McAfee Safe Connect servers below:

USA: 62 Mbps (download) and 46 Mbps (load)
Germany: 84 Mbps (download) and 85 Mbps (load)
Singapore: 44 Mbps (download) and 28 Mbps (load)
Australia: 38 Mbps (download) and 30 Mbps (load)

If you'd like to read more about how we test VPN speeds, you can learn more about our extensive and extensive testing procedure.

Doesn't unblock streaming services, not recommended for torrenting

Streaming and torrents

McAfee Safe Connect is a terrible VPN for streaming. The VPN was unable to transmit none of the services we test, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney +, and Hulu.

Inclusive McAfee admit this fact , stating that "Netflix and Hulu […] may not function properly over the secure VPN connection."

Most concerning, however, is that McAfee's customer service team was often surprised when asked about Safe Connect's streaming capabilities. They even asked why we think using a VPN would unblock geo-restricted content.

As the company sees it, which has been beefed up in our testing, McAfee Safe Connect is basically not a VPN designed for streaming.

For streaming-optimized VPNs, take a look at our dedicated guides for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and many other streaming services.

Torrents

No we can Recommend McAfee Safe Connect for torrenting and P2P activity, basically due to its invasive logging policy and lack of kill switches.

Without using a kill switch, you risk revealing your true IP address if your VPN connection goes down for any reason. Along with this, the sinister amount of information that McAfee Safe Connect records could be effortlessly used to identify you personally.

It's a shame, given that our tests showed that torrents are enabled on all Safe Connect servers and their fast upload speeds allowed for fast P2P activity.

But torrent users should select a no-log VPN provider that also provides a kill switch.

To understand which VPN services we suggest for P2P activity, check out our roundup of the best VPNs for torrenting.

These providers combine the strictest privacy policies with blazing-fast speeds and no torrent restrictions.

No kill switch, untested VPN protocol

Encryption and security

Protocols

Property

Encryption

AES-256

Security
Advanced features

McAfee Safe Connect runs on the somewhat secretive Catapult Hydra VPN protocol, making it a risky gamble when it comes to your online security.

The choice of Catapult Hydra concerns us for several reasons. First of all, McAfee does not claim that this is its protocol of choice anywhere. When asked, several support agents said that it was basically "information that cannot be disclosed to customers."

Virtually all other VPN providers definitely declare their chosen VPN protocol, including those that also use Catapult Hydra, such as Hotspot Shield and Kaspersky Secure Connection.

As a consequence, McAfee's secrecy makes us immediately suspicious, and for good reason.

In 2018, a independent security researcher, Paulos Yibelo, discovered a major security flaw in Catapult Hydra . This flaw meant that a third party could have access to user data, such as a user's country and the name of their WiFi network.

Along with other publicly available data, this information could be used to locate and personally identify a user.

A fix for the security flaw was quickly issued, but the fact that it initially slipped through the net points to Catapult Hydra's bigger problem. It is not yet transparent enough.

9-protocols-vpn-security-levels-desktop-700x494-1894767

In contrast, our preferred VPN protocol, OpenVPN, has been around since 2001 and has a lot more time to prove its worth and refine its methods through its open source community.

However, our biggest concern is that McAfee Safe Connect lacks a kill switch on all platforms .

A kill switch is a feature that blocks your web traffic in the event of a broken VPN connection. This means that your IP address could be exposed if this occurs when Safe Connect is running, jeopardizing your online privacy.

There are also no advanced security features like split tunneling or manual port selection.

At the very least, McAfee Safe Connect uses AES-256 encryption. Most of the major VPN services favor this encryption method, which has yet to be broken.

Safe Connect also passed our IP and DNS leak tests. This is shown in the image below, where we are connecting to a server on the US East Coast from our base in London.

browser-leaks-700x523-7143608

Screenshot from Browserleaks.com showing a US IP address, no IP or DNS leaks from our base in London, UK.

However, while the use of AES-256 and IP and DNS leak protection is encouraging, this is still a long way from redeeming the encryption and security quality shortcomings of Safe Connect.

Basically, we cannot rely on McAfee Safe Connect to keep your online activity anonymous, and neither should you.

Too expensive for what you get

Pricing plan McAfee Safe Connect

Given its relative lack of quality, Safe Connect VPN is not cheap. The McAfee Safe Connect monthly package costs $ 7.99, or you can lower the cost to $ 2.92 by paying one year in advance.

The annual package also has the added benefit of being eligible for a 30-day money-back guarantee, while the monthly plan is not.

These prices are fine, but they are surely not good. For just an extra 50 ¢ a month, you can get access to our third favorite VPN provider: IPVanish. You can read more about how IPVanish offers much better performance for your money in our full IPVanish review.

However, if you are interested in the broader range of McAfee products, you can save a little money with McAfee Total Protection Ultimate . This package costs only $ 5 per month and includes access to Safe Connect, McAfee antivirus, McAfee password manager, and McAfee web protection software.

total-protection-ultimate-image-1311784

If you just want to try McAfee Safe Connect, there is a decent free plan available. You are not required to access any email address or payment information to gain access to the free tier, ensuring that you are not surprised by any unwanted expenses on your next bank statement.

McAfee's support pages state that the no-cost plan only enables a VPN connection to your closest server, but this is not true. We were able to connect to all 23 Safe Connect servers, from France to Singapore.

McAfee further claims that the live chat and phone support alternatives are exclusive to paid subscribers, but we also found this to be false.

However, the no-cost tier only allows 250MB of super restrictive data to be consumed each month.

This bandwidth limit is fine if you just want a quick idea of whether or not Safe Connect is the right VPN for you, but it won't take you much further than that.

If you want to see which free VPN providers we suggest, combining good logging policies with proper data allotments, why not check out our roundup of the best free VPNs for 2021?

  1. Monthly

    US $ 7,99 / month

    Billed $ 7.99 every month

     

  2. 12 months

    US $ 2.92 / month

    Billed $ 34.99 every 12 months

    Save 64 %

All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Payment options and money back

Credit card Yes
PayPal Yes

Small network of servers that includes only 23 countries

Server locations

23 countries

23 cities

23+ IP addresses

The number of McAfee Safe Connect server locations is one of the most limited, with a total of only 23 countries.

This poor coverage is made even more disappointing, since Safe Connect does not allow you to connect to city-level servers, a feature we expect from good VPN services.

However, the narrow selection of countries may be enough for you, since all the usual suspects are there.

mcafee-server-locations-3015392

Coverage is specifically concentrated in Western Europe and North America, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Spain and Germany.

Asia and Oceania are poorly represented, with only 5 server locations between them. Australia, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore each have one server.

Coverage is truly abysmal in other areas, with Brazil being the only South American option and no servers in africa .

McAfee declined to tell us how many individual VPN servers and IP addresses there are and whether these servers are physical or virtual.

We were repeatedly told that the information on the server was "information that cannot be disclosed to customers."

We were not given a reason to clarify this, which is particularly frustrating given how common it is for VPN services to definitively indicate your server and IP address count.

If your home country isn't covered, or you're a globetrotter who requires the most comprehensive server coverage, check out our HideMyAss (HMA VPN) review. HMA VPN has servers in more than 190 countries.

Only available on Windows, iOS and Android

Applications

McAfee Safe Connect supports a very limited variety of platforms and devices compared to other paid VPN providers.

Safe Connect supports:

  • Windows
  • ios
  • Android

That's.

Apart from this, it is not feasible to install Safe Connect manually on a router, which means that there are no solutions for unsupported devices.

As a consequence, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and game consoles are not included.

McAfee Safe Connect also does not come with none browser duration.

If this is a roadblock for you, don't worry, we've got you covered - check out our picks for the best VPN extensions for Chrome and the best for Firefox.

However, frankly, for a paid VPN provider to have such minimal platform and device support in 2021 is seriously lacking.

McAfee Safe Connect enables up to five simultaneous connections, with the big caveat that it also only allows you to register a maximum of five devices to your account.

This means that you can't register all of your family's devices and only connect when appropriate, as most other paid VPNs do. Instead, you will have to be extremely selective when it comes to registering five devices.

Easy to install and use, but not enough.

How to install and configure McAfee Safe Connect

Downloading the McAfee Safe Connect app on a cell phone device is simple - just search for it in your device's app store.

For Windows, the procedure is a little different. Go to Windows direct download link and the download should start automatically.

From there, the installation procedure is as simple as following the onscreen steps.

Once installed, the McAfee Safe Connect application is attractive and a pleasure to use, despite its simplicity.

We especially liked the app's tutorial screen, which explains and locates the key features of the VPN very well.

tutorial-screen-700x467-9067473

In general, the apps are straightforward to use and are definitely geared more towards VPN novices than experienced users.

The main screen is minimal and includes a connect button and a list of servers. This screen shows useful information at a glance, such as connection time, data transfer, and your network / WiFi connection.

The settings can be found in the sidebar of the app, but the alternatives are too limited for our whim. You can choose your language preference and whether or not the app should run on startup, but that's it. More experienced users will surely miss being able to play with the configurable alternatives.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, given that McAfee Safe Connect is a reliable alternative if you are looking to connect and forget, which is the consumer base that could be influenced by the McAfee brand.

But if you want a bunch of configurable alternatives and advanced features, you'll want to look elsewhere.

If you are an advanced user and want to configure advanced settings, see AirVPN. You can read more about AirVPN in our expert review.

It won't work in censored regions like China

Censorship

McAfee Safe Connect cannot be used in heavily censored regions, such as China.

To avoid the call Great Firewall of China , VPNs should employ clever obfuscation tools that mask the VPN data and make it appear as regular HTTPS web traffic.

Only the best VPN providers consistently manage to bypass state-imposed restrictions, so it's no surprise that McAfee Safe Connect falls short here.

McAfee Safe Connect lacks the necessary obfuscation tools and thus you will not be able to circumvent the censorship laws of China or any other region.

Even if that's not the case, Safe Connect's overly intrusive logging policy means that it would be a basically terrible VPN to use in heavily censored regions.

By recording your IP address, your device's MAC address, your GPS location, and your biometric information, McAfee makes it easy to identify any government.

If you want to know which VPN we suggest for anyone living in or traveling to a country with high censorship, check out our recommendations on the best VPNs to bypass censorship.

Always available, never useful

Customer Support

24/7 live chat support Yes
E-mail Yes
Online resources Yes

Despite being convenient with its 24/7 availability, McAfee Safe Connect customer support is seriously lacking.

McAfee shares a knowledge base for its entire suite of products, but out of a total of 360 posts, only eight of them mention Safe Connect.

As with the rest of Safe Connect, here he again proves himself the abandoned son of McAfee.

Safe Connect has a phone number that you can contact, but on two separate occasions they told us they would call us and these calls never came.

It is frustrating for live chat to disconnect multiple times during a conversation. It will reconnect, most of the time, but sometimes we lost contact completely.

McAfee Safe Connect shares a supporting infrastructure with the more extensive line of McAfee products and it is clear that the agents have not received adequate training to operate the VPN product.

Support agents were unable to answer routine questions, such as whether Safe Connect could be used to bypass geo-restricted content and how many VPN servers in total there are.

live-chat-netflix-250x361-2001951

Apart from this, Safe Connect seems stifled by the McAfee legacy. By way of example, you are required to provide your full name, email address, and phone number before starting a live chat.

For a product that exists to protect your personal information, the requirement to provide information that can be used to personally identify you is counterproductive.

Safe Connect support agents are also extremely tough about taking control of your device remotely. As an example, we were asked to allow remote access after asking a simple question about accessing US Netflix.

All of this is extremely unpleasant and unnecessary. Especially for privacy-sensitive users, the thought of handing over their phone number and allowing remote access for basic issues can be too much to swallow.

Do we suggest McAfee Safe Connect?

We do not suggest using McAfee Safe Connect. Despite its great name and brand appeal, you should avoid using the McAfee VPN.

McAfee Safe Connect is a fast VPN for newbies looking for an easy way to hide their IP address. Unfortunately, however, even for VPN enthusiasts, Safe Connect doesn't provide the bare minimum to make it a good VPN option.

Most concerning is McAfee's logging policy. The data that McAfee retains means that it could end up delivering more information than it is protecting with Safe Connect. This is compounded by McAfee's base in the US, one of the most privacy-hostile jurisdictions on the planet.

As long as McAfee continues to rest on its laurels and allow its VPN product to stagnate, you should avoid Safe Connect.

Alternatives to McAfee Safe Connect

Surfshark

Surfshark has very easy-to-use and intuitive applications, which means you can get started with the VPN without any hassle. Surfshark is also very affordable and unlocks most of the major streaming services. 

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our highest rated VPN service. It is fast, secure and private. It also unlocks a wide range of transmission platforms and enables P2P on all servers.