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McAfee Safe Connect Review

McAfee VPN on Mobile App

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by Luke Williams

Our Verdict

How is this calculated?

We calculate the VPN service’s Overall Rating by combining the ratings of several testing categories. Each category is weighted as follows:

  • Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%
  • Speed: 20%
  • Security & Technical Features: 15%
  • Streaming: 15%
  • Ease of Use: 10%
  • Torrenting: 5%
  • Server Locations: 5%
  • Bypassing Web Censorship: 5%
  • Customer Support: 5%

Learn more by reading our VPN testing and review methodology.

McAfee Safe Connect is a US-based VPN service with apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. It's a surprisingly fast VPN, but it suffers from weak security, an invasive logging policy, and a lack of customer support. It also fails to unblock streaming services like Netflix. Ultimately, this VPN fails to offer even the bare minimum, and it should be avoided.

Ranked #39 out of 62 VPNs

McAfee Safe Connect Category Ratings

  • 0.8/10
  • 0.7/10
  • 0.1/10
  • 9.6/10
  • 7.2/10
  • 2.5/10
  • 3.6/10
  • 7.1/10
  • 4.0/10
  • 5.0/10

McAfee Safe Connect Pros & Cons

  • Very fast speeds
  • Appealing and intuitive custom VPN apps
  • Can be affordably bundled with other McAfee products

  • One of the most intrusive logging policies
  • Based in the privacy-hostile US
  • No VPN kill switch
  • Doesn't work with any streaming services
  • Untrained and frustrating customer support

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

McAfee has not yet been able to transfer its antivirus success to the VPN space.

In this full McAfee Safe Connect review, we detail why this VPN disappointed us in many areas. We’ll explain what it’s good for, if it’s fast, whether it unblocks streaming services, and how much it costs — amongst other things.

By the end of our McAfee VPN review, you’ll know all about its privacy and security practices, as well as its streaming and torrenting capabilities.

Ultimately, you’ll learn that McAfee VPN is a poor VPN in need of a lot of work. Our advice is to use a secure top VPN service, instead.

EXPERT ADVICE: For a faster and more secure VPN experience, try Surfshark.

As we detail in our Surfshark review, the VPN is our favorite cheap VPN. It streams US Netflix, and comes with a 30-day no-questions-asked refund guarantee.

McAfee Safe Connect Key Data

Data CapUnlimited
Download Speed97Mbps
Logging PolicyIntrusive Logging
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
ServersNot disclosed
IP Addresses-1
Countries with Servers23
US NetflixNo
Simultaneous Connections5
Works In ChinaNo
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$4.99 over 12 months
Money-Back Guarantee30-day Money-Back Guarantee
Official WebsiteMcafee.com

Privacy & Logging Policy

McAfee VPN is Bad for Privacy

How is this calculated?

We analyze and dissect the VPN service’s logging and privacy policy. A VPN should never log and store:

  • Your real IP address
  • Connection timestamps
  • DNS requests

Headquarters outside of 14 Eyes or EU jurisdictions are also preferable.

McAfee’s logging policy is one of the worst we’ve ever seen. The VPN logs personally identifiable information, such as your IP address and the websites you visit. Ultimately, when you use McAfee Safe Connect, you’re not protecting your privacy — you’re handing it over to McAfee.

Ranked #52 out of 62 VPNs for Privacy & Logging Policy

McAfee collects the following information:

  • Your IP address
  • URL and domain names in your browsing history
  • Your purchase history, your hobbies and interests, your photographs, and your biometric data
  • Device information, such as the device’s 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:

Excerpt of McAfee VPN's logging policy

Excerpt from McAfee Safe Connect Privacy Policy.

McAfee retains this information indefinitely, only removing it in the event of an account deletion. Even then, the data is still kept for 30 days.

McAfee also provides this information to other companies owned by McAfee, third-party advertisers, and “service providers who perform services for us.”

Peculiarly, McAfee Safe Connect shares its privacy policy with the broader McAfee cybersecurity product and the policy does not mention the Safe Connect VPN anywhere.

After we contacted McAfee, a representative did indeed confirm that Safe Connect is governed by the same rules and standards as all other McAfee products.

McAfee claims that this information is required “to help protect” users and “to run [McAfee’s] business”.

This is simply a lie. There are an abundance of VPN services who protect their users and run their business without engaging in such intrusive data collection.

US Ownership is problematic

McAfee Safe Connect is owned by McAfee LLC, the cyber security juggernaut. McAfee LLC also owns TunnelBear VPN (see our review), which it acquired in 2018.

Like its parent company, McAfee Safe Connect is based in the US, within Silicon Valley. As such, McAfee’s jurisdiction really could not be much worse. The US is a downright awful location to base a VPN service.

The US is part of the Five-Eyes intelligence alliance, meaning it shares surveillance data with the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

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

More worrying, though, is the Stored Communications Act (SCA). This law grants the US government the ability to seize a VPN user’s information if that information has been retained.

Excerpt from The Stored Communications Act 2010

Excerpt from The Stored Communications Act 2010.

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

Moreover, McAfee’s privacy policy explicitly states that it will supply information to any legal, governmental, or judicial authority if it is ever requested.

In summary, McAfee Safe Connect VPN is bad for user privacy. To see the benefits of a trusted no-logs VPN, head over to our review of Private Internet Access.


Fast Speeds Across the Board

How is this calculated?

We calculate the VPN’s speed rating using our download speeds, upload speeds, and ping (latency) measurements.

We regularly test the VPN’s local and international speeds using a dedicated 100Mbps internet connection in New York, USA.

Speed is the only area where McAfee Safe Connect excels. In our tests, McAfee VPN recorded fast speeds of 97Mbps when connected to a nearby server. International performance was less impressive, but our download speed never dropped below 75Mbps.

Ranked #8 out of 62 VPNs for Speed

McAfee Safe Connect delivers fast speeds because it uses Hydra, Hotspot Shield’s proprietary protocol. We cover more about the Hydra protocol in our Hotspot Shield review.

Hotspot Shield also licenses the use of the protocol to other VPN services. To find out more read our Kaspersky Secure Connection review and Bitdefender VPN review.

Here are our full speed test results while using McAfee VPN:

McAfee VPN’s speeds are impressive and match the results from some top VPN services.


Doesn’t Work with Netflix & Other Streaming Services

How is this calculated?

This rating is calculated by how many different streaming services and regional content libraries the VPN can unblock, and how consistently it can access them.

We test access to Netflix, Disney+, Max, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more platforms on a weekly basis.

McAfee Safe Connect is a terrible VPN for streaming. The VPN was unable to stream any of the services we tested, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.

Ranked #49 out of 62 VPNs for Streaming

McAfee admits its poor streaming ability, stating “streaming services might not work correctly over the secure VPN connection.”

More worryingly, however, McAfee’s customer service team were frequently surprised when we asked about Safe Connect’s streaming capabilities. They even asked why we thought using a VPN would unblock geo-restricted content.

As the company sees it, which has been reinforced in our testing, McAfee Safe Connect is simply not a VPN that’s designed for streaming.

In short, there are far better VPNs for streaming than McAfee Safe Connect.

Price & Value

Overpriced for What You Get

How is this calculated?

While we do assign a ‘Price & Value’ rating, it doesn’t contribute to the Overall Rating. We believe the reader should decide what is or isn’t a reasonable price.

A good rating isn’t just based on how cheap the VPN is, but for the overall value it offers.

Given its relative lack of quality, Safe Connect VPN is not worth your money. The McAfee Safe Connect monthly plan costs $7.99, which you can lower to $1.99 per month if you pay for a year upfront. For a similar price, there are far better alternative products available.

Ranked #31 out of 62 VPNs for Price & Value

Here are the two different subscriptions available for McAfee Safe Connect:

  1. Monthly


    Billed $7.99 every month
  2. 12 Month(s)


    Billed $19.99 the first year, $47.99 thereafter
    Save 79%

These prices may seem affordable, but McAfee VPN’s limitations aren’t worth the cost in our opinion.

McAfee also offers McAfee Total Protection Ultimate to those looking for a security software bundle.

The Total Protection annual bundle costs $5.83 per month and includes Safe Connect VPN, McAfee antivirus, McAfee’s password manager, and McAfee’s identity protection software.

Payment and Refund Options

Here’s a full list of payment methods you can use to pay for McAfee VPN:

  1. American Express
  2. Mastercard
  3. PayPal
  4. Visa

McAfee Safe Connect Free

If you try McAfee Safe Connect VPN, you can take advantage of the free plan. You don’t have to enter any email address or submit payment details to download and use the free software.

The McAfee support pages claim that the free plan only allows a VPN connection to your nearest server, but this is not true. We were able to connect to all 23 of Safe Connect’s servers, ranging from France to Singapore.

The company also states that the support options of live chat and telephone are exclusive to paid subscribers, but we also found this to be false.

However, the free tier only allows a very restrictive 250MB of data consumption each month. In comparison, the most highly-rated free VPNs offer up to 10GB of monthly data.

McAfee VPN Free Trial and Money-back Guarantee

Both the monthly and the annual Safe Connect plans come with a 7-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee.

When you buy McAfee VPN, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the free trial, and you’ll be billed on the last day of the trial window. At that point, the 30-day refund guarantee comes into play.

Server Locations

Tiny Server Network Spanning Just 23 Countries

How is this calculated?

The key factor for calculating this rating is the global spread and coverage of the VPN’s server network.

We also consider the total number of servers, the number of city-level servers, and the number of IP addresses available.

McAfee Safe Connect’s number of server locations is one of the most limited around, with a total of just 23 countries. This slim coverage is even more disappointing as Safe Connect doesn't let you connect to city-level servers, a feature we've come to expect from good VPN services.

Ranked #30 out of 62 VPNs for Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag
23 Countries
Image of a city landscape
23 Cities
Image of a pink marker
Undisclosed number of IP Addresses

Though its server network is small in size, McAfee Safe Connect has servers in the most popular countries.

Coverage is particularly concentrated in Western Europe and North America, with the US, Canada, the UK, France, Spain, and Germany all included.

List of McAfee VPN server locations

Asia and Oceania are poorly represented, with just 4 server locations between them. Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore have one server each.

If you live in any of these locations, we recommend choosing a VPN specifically for Australia or your particular country. These services will be faster, safer, and include servers near you.

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

McAfee refused to inform us about how many individual VPN servers and IP addresses there are, or whether these servers are physical or virtual.

We were repeatedly told that server information was “information that cannot be disclosed to customers.”

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

If your home country is not covered, or if you’re a globetrotter that needs the most exhaustive server coverage, check out our HideMyAss (HMA VPN) review. HMA VPN has servers in over 190 countries.


Unsafe for Torrenting

How is this calculated?

This rating is determined by the VPN’s torrenting speeds, the percentage of servers that allow P2P file sharing, the service’s privacy and trustworthiness, and useful settings like port forwarding.

For speed specifically, we calculate the VPN’s average download bitrate using our bespoke torrenting setup.

We do not recommend McAfee Safe Connect for torrenting and P2P activity. The VPN has an invasive logging policy and doesn't include a kill switch. As a result, it can't be trusted to hide your torrenting downloads from third parties.

Ranked #52 out of 62 VPNs for Torrenting

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

This is a shame, as our tests showed torrenting to be allowed on all of Safe Connect’s servers and its fast upload speeds allowed for speedy P2P activity.

But torrenters should absolutely pick a no-logs VPN provider that also provides a kill switch instead.

To find out which VPN services we do recommend for P2P activity, check out our rundown of the best VPNs for torrenting.

These providers combine the most watertight privacy policies with blazing fast speeds and no torrenting restrictions.

Security & Technical Features

No Kill Switch & Weak Security Features

How is this calculated?

A secure VPN must offer OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a working kill switch.

To calculate this rating, we also factor in additional security settings and features.

McAfee Safe Connect provides only basic encryption and security. It didn't leak our IP or DNS address, and it secures traffic using AES-256. However, none of its apps include a kill switch, and it doesn't offer any advanced tools, such as split tunneling and manual port selection.

Ranked #49 out of 62 VPNs for Security & Technical Features

ProtocolsAvailable in McAfee Safe Connect
EncryptionAvailable in McAfee Safe Connect
SecurityAvailable in McAfee Safe Connect
Diskless ServersNo
DNS Leak BlockingNo
First-party DNSNo
IPv6 Leak BlockingNo
Supports TCP Port 443No
VPN Kill SwitchNo
WebRTC Leak BlockingNo
Advanced FeaturesAvailable in McAfee Safe Connect
Ad BlockerNo
Dedicated IPNo
Double VPNNo
Split TunnelingNo
Static IPNo
Tor over VPN ServerNo
Tracker BlockerNo

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

The choice of Catapult Hydra concerns us for a few reasons. Firstly, McAfee does not state this is its chosen protocol anywhere. When we asked, multiple support agents stated this was simply “information that cannot be disclosed to customers.”

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

As a result, McAfee’s secrecy makes us immediately suspicious, and for good reason.

In 2018, a major security flaw in Catapult Hydra was discovered by independent security researcher, Paulos Yibelo. This flaw meant that user data, such as a user’s country and the name of their WiFi network, could be accessed by a third party.

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

A fix for the security flaw was quickly issued, but the fact this initially slipped through the net points to the larger problem of Catapult Hydra. It’s still not transparent enough.

Table of VPN encryption protocols and their security risks.

By contrast, our preferred VPN protocol, OpenVPN, has been around since 2001 — having much longer to prove itself and to refine its methods through its open-source community.

Our biggest concern, however, 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 case of a dropped VPN connection. This means that your IP address could be exposed if this happens when running Safe Connect, jeopardizing your online privacy.

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

At least, McAfee Safe Connect utilizes the AES-256 cipher. Most major VPN services favor this method of encryption, 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 an East Coast US server.

Screenshot showing McAfee VPN does not leak IP addresses

Screenshot from Browserleaks.com showing a US IP address, with no IP or DNS leaks.

However, despite the use of AES-256 and IP and DNS leak protection being encouraging, this still falls far short of redeeming the shortcomings of Safe Connect’s encryption and security quality.

Simply, we cannot trust McAfee Safe Connect to keep your online activity anonymous and neither should you.

Device & OS Compatibility

Limited device compatibility

How is this rated?

A high-quality VPN should maintain functional, fully-featured applications and browser extensions for as many platforms and devices as possible.

Our ‘Device & OS Compatibility’ assessment contributes to the Ease of Use rating.

Safe Connect VPN only supports Windows, iOS, and Android. There is no macOS app, which is very surprising, and no Fire TV nor Linux apps, either. McAfee Safe Connect supports a very limited range of platforms and devices compared to other paid VPN services.


McAfee Safe Connect has apps for the following platforms:

  1. Windows
  2. iOS
  3. Android

There is no Smart DNS tool, and it’s impossible to set up Safe Connect on your home router. As a result, there are no workarounds for devices that don’t support VPN applications, like games consoles.

The service doesn’t offer any VPN browser extensions, either. If this is a problem, see our lists of the best Chrome VPN extensions or the top-rated Firefox VPN add-ons.

Frankly, though, for a paid VPN service to have such minimal platform and device support in 2024 is really poor.

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

Most other paid VPN services let you install the VPN on an unlimited amount of devices. Instead, with McAfee VPN, you’ll have to be extremely selective when registering your devices.

Ease of Use

Simple to Use but Not Enough Configuration

How is this calculated?

This rating mainly consists of the user-friendliness and intuitiveness of setting up and regularly using the VPN.

We also factor in customization settings, as well as device and OS compatibility (see section above).

McAfee's VPN apps are user-friendly and accessible for beginners. However, the apps are basic and do not offer many advanced settings. That said, McAfee Safe Connect is simple enough for users who simply want to 'connect and forget.'

Ranked #35 out of 62 VPNs for Ease of Use

Downloading the McAfee Safe Connect app on mobile is simple — just search for it in your device’s app store.

For Windows, the process is a bit different. Head to the direct Windows download link and the download should start automatically.

From there, the installation process is as simple as following the on-screen steps.

Once installed, the McAfee Safe Connect app is appealing and a pleasure to use, despite its plainness.

The McAfee VPN app for Windows

We particularly liked the app’s tutorial screen which nicely explains and locates key features of the VPN.

The McAfee Safe Connect introduction screen

The main screen is minimal, including a connect button and server list. This screen displays some useful information at a glance, such as connection time, data transfer and your WiFi/network connection.

Settings can be found on the app’s sidebar, but the options are far too limited for our liking.

The McAfee VPN apps for Android and iOS

You can choose your language preference and whether or not the app should run on startup, but that’s it. More experienced users will miss being able to fiddle with configurable options.

If you want a range of configurable options and advanced features, we recommend using more advanced VPNs like AirVPN (read our expert review).

Bypassing Web Censorship

Won’t Work in Censored Regions Like China

How is this calculated?

We routinely test if the VPN can bypass strict internet restrictions in China using our remote-access server in Shanghai.

Other important factors we consider include obfuscation technologies and the availability of servers in neighboring countries (for faster connections).

McAfee Safe Connect cannot be used in heavily censored regions, such as China. Unlike many VPNs, it does not have any obfuscation tools or VPN protocols designed to beat censorship.

Ranked #46 out of 62 VPNs for Bypassing Web Censorship

In order to bypass the Great Firewall of China and other forms of internet censorship, VPNs need to employ clever obfuscation tools to make your traffic appear as regular HTTPS web traffic.

Only the very best VPN providers manage to consistently circumvent state-enforced restrictions, so it’s little surprise that McAfee Safe Connect falls short here.

McAfee Safe Connect lacks any of the required obfuscation tools and will therefore fail to bypass China’s, or any other regions’, censorship laws.

Even if that weren’t the case, Safe Connect’s overly intrusive logging policy means it would be a simply terrible VPN for use in highly-censored regions.

By logging your IP address, your device’s MAC address, your GPS location, and your biometric information, McAfee makes it as simple as possible for any government to identify you.

If you want to know what VPNs work in high-censorship countries, see our article on the best VPNs for bypassing censorship.

Customer Support

Live Support Is Not Very Helpful

How is this calculated?

This rating is based on our assessment of the VPN’s:

  • Live chat support
  • Email support
  • Online resources

Not every VPN offers all these support options, and they often vary in quality and response times.

McAfee VPN's customer support is really poor. Although it's available 24/7, its support agents are not well-informed about VPN-related issues. Its knowledge base is extremely limited, too, with only a handful of articles being relevant to Safe Connect.

Ranked #50 out of 62 VPNs for Customer Support

Customer SupportAvailable in McAfee Safe Connect
24/7 Email SupportNo
24/7 Live Chat SupportYes
Email Support via Online FormNo
Online ResourcesYes
Tutorial VideosNo

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

Like with the rest of Safe Connect, it proves here again to be the neglected child of McAfee.

Safe Connect does have a phone number that you can contact, but we were told on two separate occasions that we would be called back and these calls never came.

Frustratingly, the live chat disconnects multiple times during a conversation. It will reconnect, most of the time, but we completely lost contact a few times.

McAfee Safe Connect shares a support infrastructure with the broader McAfee product line and it’s clear the agents have not been adequately trained to deal with the VPN product.

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

Screenshot showing McAfee's live chat support

On top of this, Safe Connect seems stifled by the legacy baggage of McAfee. For example, you are forced to provide your full name, email address, and phone number before initiating 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 self-defeating.

The Safe Connect support agents are also extremely heavy-handed in remotely taking control of your device. For example, we were asked to allow remote access after asking a simple question about access to US Netflix.

All of this is extremely off-putting and unnecessary. Especially for privacy-sensitive users, the thought of handing over your phone number and allowing remote access for basic issues might be a bit too much to swallow.