McAfee LiveSafe Review (2023)

Back in the day, McAfee LiveSafe pioneered the concept of a cross-platform security suite with no specific limit on the number of devices protected. You were (and are) free to install protection on every Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS device in your household. That unlimited protection now applies to all of McAfee's security product line. As you go up the ladder from the standalone antivirus to this suite, Windows devices get more security features, but protection on other platforms remains the same. Well, almost. The Personal Locker encrypted cloud storage feature in LiveSafe works with Windows 8 and newer, Android, and iOS 10 or lower. There's no macOS version, though, and it's incompatible with iOS 11, too.

Those unlimited licenses list for $99.99 per year, and that's not bad. To get unlimited licenses for Bitdefender Total Security, you must spring for the $119.99 Family Pack. Norton costs a little more, $109.99 per year, which gets you 10 cross-platform licenses and 25GB of online storage for your backups. And while Panda Protection Complete costs just $74.99 per year for unlimited licenses, those licenses are only good on Windows and Android. Note that these prices are frequently discounted.

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If you go looking for this product in a brick-and-mortar store, you won't find it. On the shelves, McAfee emphasizes McAfee Total Protection, which differs from LiveSafe in just one feature. Don't let the promise of 10 licenses on the Total Protection box confuse you; that's just to catch your eye. Both products really do give you unlimited licenses.

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Reading Assignment

Most security companies offer at least three levels of security protection. For example, Kaspersky offers a standalone antivirus, an entry-level security suite, and top-of-the-line mega-suite Kaspersky Total Security. I typically review the antivirus, then summarize and reference that article in my review of the suite, working my way up the food chain.

The McAfee line packs a huge feature set into McAfee Antivirus Plus. Stepping up to McAfee Internet Security(39.99 For the First Year at McAfee)(Opens in a new window), doesn't add a lot. Specifically, the entry-level suite adds an ineffective parental control app, a spam filter that you may not need, and a password manager that focuses on multi-factor authentication. The final step up to McAfee LiveSafe gets you multiple password manager licenses and exactly one new feature, an encrypted cloud storage system with unusual biometric authentication.

Given there's so little difference, I'm not going to recap my review of the entry-level suite. Please read that review before continuing. Done? OK, let's talk about what's different in LiveSafe.

McAfee LiveSafe Review (18)

More Password Power

You manage all your McAfee-protected devices from one central console, and the members of your household are surely happy to let you take care of that task for them. There's nothing sensitive or personal about staying safe from malware. But no matter how intimate you are with your fellow McAfee users, sharing your passwords is quite another thing.

McAfee Internet Security comes with a single license for McAfee's True Key password manager. You can use that license on all your devices, and True Key's advanced multi-factor authentication factors give you many options for protecting your passwords and other private data. Your devices all sync the same single password collection, though, and even if you wanted to share, another user would have a tough time supplying your face or fingerprint for authentication.

LiveSafe solves this problem by offering five True Key licenses, not just one. Now each household member (up to five) can have a personal True Key profile, complete with personalized biometric authentication. Given that a standalone True Key license costs $19.99 per year, this is quite a deal.

Personal Locker

In addition to extra licenses for True Key, LiveSafe gives you the Personal Locker, an encrypted cloud storage system that uses advanced biometric authentication. It's not a lot of storage, just 1GB of space, but things you store in it are ultra-safe. You can access your Personal Locker from Android and iOS devices (running version 10 or earlier), and from Windows boxes running Windows 8 or better. Sorry, there's no macOS support with this component, and it's not compatible with iOS 11.

McAfee LiveSafe Review (19)

Unlike the File Lock component of Total Protection, Personal Locker doesn't show up in the main user interface. To install it, you log into your McAfee account and either download it to the current device or send yourself a link with an activation code. After an introduction to this app's features, you create a six-digit PIN. Then comes the fun part.

Like True Key, Personal Locker can use face recognition for authentication, but unlike True Key, face recognition is a requirement, not an option. You snap a photo with your device, verify that it's a good likeness, and submit it to the app. When I did this on the Nexus 9 I used for testing, it repeatedly complained that my entire face was not in the picture. The real problem turned out to be my glasses; removing them solved the problem.

Personal Locker also uses voice recognition. To set up this feature, it requires you to speak a specific phrase three times. To avoid the possibility of a sneak thief using a recording to open your locker, at verification time you must also say another phrase, one that's different each time. Among the phrases I encountered in testing were "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" and "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

There is one security hole in the system. In case your face becomes horribly scarred, or your voice changes so it's not recognized, you need a backdoor into your locker. McAfee handles this by asking you for answers to three security questions. As with File Lock in Total Protection, the questions are fixed, with no option to create your own. A hacker could find most of the answers by googling you or peeking at your social media profile. If you take your security seriously, you'll think up wrong answers for these questions, wrong answers that you'll remember but that nobody else would guess. And please do it right the first time, because you can't change your answers later.

McAfee LiveSafe Review (20)

I also installed Personal Locker on an Apple iPhone and on a Windows 10 PC. On the Windows device, installing Personal Locker also installed McAfee Central, a Windows Store app that managed your locker also serves to track security status. On the iPhone, I got a warning saying that the app is not compatible with iOS 11. After finishing my testing, I manually updated the phone to iOS 11 and confirmed that it's just not compatible.

Given that iOS users almost universally upgrade to the latest version, that's a serious problem, or so I thought. My contact at McAfee explained that hardly anyone uses this feature, so iOS 11 compatibility is not as important as other work they're doing in the mobile area. I'm not entirely convinced.

Once you've activated Personal Locker on your various devices, you can start putting files and photos into it for safekeeping. You can snap a photo directly into the locker, so it never exists in unencrypted form. If you copy a file to the locker from a Windows device, you should use McAfee's Shredder to securely delete the original. There's no similar secure deletion component on other platforms.

For each secured file you can choose high or low security. If you choose low, then all that's needed to access the file is your PIN. At the high level, opening the file requires face and voice recognition.

From each device that has the app installed, you can view all your devices that have access to Personal Locker. If you lose or replace one of them, you can remove it, so there's no chance anybody else could get access to your stuff. On the flip side, you can share your locker with one or more friends.

Naturally, you must authenticate your identity before setting up sharing. You hand off one of your devices to the friend, who then goes through the same initial setup that you did. Once that's done, the friend can add one or more personal devices.

I haven't run across anything quite like Personal Locker. It has its limitations. You can't use it in the dark, or at a time when speaking aloud would be problematic. It only stores 1GB of data. And there's no support for macOS devices, or devices running iOS 11. But if you truly need super-secure cloud storage with biometric authentication, it's one of a kind.

Do You Need It?

In a household with multiple adults, the five True Key licenses that come with McAfee LiveSafe can be a great boon. You'd pay almost $100 for those if you bought them separately. Personal Locker is cool, in a spy-games sort of way, but few people really need it, and (according to McAfee) hardly anyone uses it. Also, if you truly did need biometrically authenticated cloud storage, would you be satisfied with just 1GB of storage space?

As noted, McAfee's entry-level suite adds little that you don't get with McAfee AntiVirus Plus, which is an Editors' Choice. The suite products install precisely the same protection as the antivirus does on all platforms except Windows. Personal Locker doesn't support macOS or the latest iOS. You just don't get a big benefit by upgrading from the antivirus to any of the three McAfee suite products. Given these factors, we've decided that LiveSafe doesn't merit the Editors' Choice designation we've given it in the past.

While it offers 10 licenses, not unlimited ones, Symantec Norton Security Premium is our Editors' Choice for cross-platform multi-device security suite. Its individual components outshine McAfee's overall, and it comes with 25GB of hosted online storage for your backups.

(Video) McAfee LiveSafe Review

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: McAfee LiveSafe Review (22)
Antivirus: McAfee LiveSafe Review (23)
Performance: McAfee LiveSafe Review (24)
Privacy: McAfee LiveSafe Review (25)
Parental Control: McAfee LiveSafe Review (26)

McAfee LiveSafe


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  • Security suite or antivirus protection for all devices in your household.

  • Offers 1GB of encrypted cloud storage with biometric authentication.


  • Use of security questions renders encrypted storage vulnerable.

  • Personal Locker not compatible with macOS or with iOS 11.

  • Parental control weak and awkward.

The Bottom Line

If you need encrypted cloud storage and multiple password manager profiles, McAfee LiveSafe can help. If not, stick with McAfee's entry-level suite or standalone antivirus.

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