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McAfee Safe Connect Review

(2 User reviews)
McAfee Safe Connect screenshot
Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

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

Ask Callum about McAfee Safe Connect

Our Verdict

McAfee Safe Connect is a US-based VPN service with apps for Windows, iOS, and Android. McAfee VPN is fast but it 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. Bottom line, you should avoid using McAfee VPN.

Read our ExpressVPN review, our #1 VPN of 2021
McAfee has not yet been able to transfer its antivirus success to the VPN space. Curious as to why?

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

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

  • What is McAfee Safe Connect?
  • Is McAfee VPN 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’ll know all about Safe Connect’s logging policy, its chosen VPN protocol, its jurisdiction, and much more.

On the whole, you’ll learn that McAfee VPN is a poor VPN that needs a lot of work. Use a top VPN service that’s designed to easily unblock websites, instead

Before we take a deep dive into this review, let’s look at the good and the bad of this VPN service.

McAfee Safe Connect Pros & Cons

  1. Very fast speeds
  2. Appealing and intuitive custom VPN apps
  3. Can be affordably bundled with other McAfee products
  1. One of the most intrusive logging policies
  2. Based in the privacy-hostile US
  3. No VPN kill switch
  4. Doesn't work with any streaming services
  5. Untrained and frustrating customer support

McAfee Safe Connect Key Data

Data CapUnlimited
Logging PolicyIntrusive Logging
Data LeaksNo
JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
IP Addresses23+
US NetflixNo
Works in ChinaNo
Support24/7 Live Chat
Cheapest Price$4.99 over 12 months
Official WebsiteMcafee.com

Read on for our full McAfee VPN review, starting with a closer look at its ownership and logging policy.

McAfee VPN is bad for privacy

About & Logging

McAfee Safe Connect is owned by McAfee LLC, the cyber security juggernaut.

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

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

Thoma Bravo is no stranger to the cybersecurity domain, having recently expanded its foothold with the purchase of British-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

McAfee’s HQ in Santa Clara, USA.

Like its parent company, McAfee Safe Connect is based in the US, within Silicon Valley. As a result, McAfee shares an illustrious base with some of the most colossal names in technology. Sounds great, right?

No. McAfee’s jurisdiction really could not be much worse. The US is a downright awful location to base a VPN provider.

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.

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

Safe Connect does not keep your connection safe, after all.

Logging Policy

McAfee’s logging policy is one of the worst we’ve ever seen.

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 are able to protect their users and run their business without engaging in such intrusive data collection.

All this adds up to betray the very reason you should be looking to use a VPN.

When using McAfee Safe Connect, you are not protecting your privacy — you’re handing it over to a multinational corporation to sell on to the highest bidder.

One of the fastest VPNs around

Speed & Reliability

Speed and reliability is the only area where McAfee Safe Connect really shines. In fact, McAfee VPN is very fast.

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

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

Connecting to from our London test server to a nearby VPN server, we saw just a 10% drop in download speed and an 8.73% drop in upload speed. This is seriously impressive.

Local Speed Test Results

Before using McAfee Safe Connect:

  1. DownloadMbps


  2. UploadMbps


  3. Pingms


When connected to McAfee Safe Connect:

  1. DownloadMbps


  2. UploadMbps


  3. Pingms


Speeds remained impressive on international connections. We saw a download speed drop of 37% when connected to an East Coast US server and just a 13% drop when connecting to the Netherlands.

In usual circumstances, we would be showering McAfee Safe Connect with praise, as these kinds of speeds would allow for the smoothest of US Netflix and Disney+ streaming.

But, frustratingly, McAfee Safe Connect proves so impotent at unblocking geo-restricted streaming services that its blazing fast international speeds seem redundant.

Using our 100Mbps fiber optic connection, you can view our speed test results connecting from the UK to various McAfee Safe Connect servers below:

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

If you want to read more about how we test VPN speeds, you can learn more about our thorough and extensive testing process.

Doesn’t unblock streaming services, not recommended for torrenting

Streaming & Torrenting

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.

Even McAfee concedes this fact, stating “Netflix and Hulu […] 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 meant for streaming.

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


We cannot recommend McAfee Safe Connect for torrenting and P2P activity, simply because of its invasive logging policy and lack of kill switch.

Without using a 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.

No kill switch, unproven VPN protocol

Encryption & Security





Advanced features

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 from our base in London.

Screenshot showing McAfee VPN does not leak IP addresses

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

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.

Overpriced for what you get

Pricing & Deals

McAfee Safe Connect Pricing Plan

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 if you pay for a year upfront.

The annual package also has the additional bonus of being eligible for a 30-day money back guarantee, whereas the monthly plan is not.

These prices are fine, but certainly not great. For just 50¢ extra per month, you are able to get access to our third favorite VPN provider — IPVanish. You can read more about how IPVanish provides a much better bang for your buck in our full IPVanish review.

However, if you are interested in the broader McAfee product range, you can save a bit of money with McAfee Total Protection Ultimate. This bundle works out to be just $5 per month and includes access to Safe Connect, McAfee antivirus, McAfee’s password manager, and McAfee’s web protection software.

Image detailing McAfee's bundle product

If you just want to test out McAfee Safe Connect, there is a decent free plan available. You’re not obliged to enter any email address or payment information to get access to the free tier — ensuring that you don’t get surprised by any unwanted outgoings on your next bank statement.

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.

McAfee also state 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 does only allow a super-restrictive 250MB of data to be consumed each month.

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

If you want to see what free VPN providers we do recommend, which combine good logging policies with adequate data allowances, why not check our rundown of the best free VPNs for 2021.

  1. Monthly


    Billed $7.99 every month
  2. 12 months


    Billed $34.99 every 12 months
    Save 64%

All plans have 30-day money-back guarantee

Payment & Refund Options

Credit CardYes

Tiny server network spanning just 23 countries

Server Locations

Globe with a blue flag
Image of a city landscape
Image of a pink marker
23+IP Addresses

McAfee Safe Connect’s number of server locations is one of the most limited around, with a grand total of just 23 countries.

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

The meager selection of countries may be enough for you, though, as all the usual suspects are there.

List of McAfee VPN server locations

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

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

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

McAfee refused to inform us about how many individual VPN servers and IP addresses there are and 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 to explain 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.

Only available on Windows, iOS, and Android

Platforms & Devices


Windows LogoWindows
iOS LogoiOS
Android LogoAndroid

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

Safe Connect supports:

  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

That’s it.

On top of this, it’s not possible to manually install Safe Connect on a router, meaning there are no workarounds for unsupported devices.

As a result, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and games consoles are all not included.

McAfee Safe Connect doesn’t come with any browser extensions either.

If this is an issue 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.

Frankly, though, for a paid VPN provider to have such minimal platform and device support in 2021 is really poor.

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

This means that you cannot register all your family’s devices and only connect when appropriate, like most other paid VPNs allow. Instead, you will have to be extremely selective in which five devices are to be registered.

Simple to set up and use but not enough configuration

Ease of Use

How to Install & Set Up McAfee Safe Connect

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.

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

Image of the McAfee Safe Connect introduction screen

As a whole, the apps are user-friendly and are definitely geared more towards VPN newbies than experienced users.

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

All this is not necessarily a bad thing, as McAfee Safe Connect is a dependable choice if you’re looking to connect and forget, which is the consumer base that might be swayed by the McAfee branding.

But if you want a bunch of configurable options and advanced features, you will want to look elsewhere.

If you’re an advanced user and want to configure advanced settings, then check out AirVPN. You can read more about AirVPN in our expert review.

Won’t work in censored regions like China


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

In order to bypass the so-called Great Firewall of China, VPNs need to employ clever obfuscation tools which mask VPN data and make it 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 we do recommend for anyone living or traveling to a high-censorship country, check out our recommendations for the best VPNs for bypassing censorship.

Always available, never helpful

Customer Support

24/7 Live chat supportYes
Online ResourcesYes

Despite being convenient with its 24/7 availability, McAfee Safe Connect’s customer support is really poor.

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 which 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.


Do We Recommend McAfee Safe Connect?

The Bottom Line

We do not recommend using McAfee Safe Connect. Despite its big name and brand appeal, you should avoid using McAfee’s VPN.

McAfee Safe Connect is a speedy VPN aimed at newbies who want a hassle-free way of hiding their IP address. Sadly, though, even for VPN amateurs, Safe Connect fails to provide the bare-minimum to make it a good VPN choice.

Most worrying is McAfee’s logging policy. The data that McAfee retains means you could end up handing over more information than you’re protecting with Safe Connect. This is made even worse by McAfee’s base in the US — one of the most privacy-unfriendly jurisdictions on the planet.

So 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 has very easy to use and intuitive apps, meaning you can start using the VPN without hassle. Surfshark is also very affordable and it unblocks most major streaming services. Read Surfshark review

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ExpressVPN is our top-rated VPN service. It's fast, secure and private. It also unblocks a wide range of streaming platforms, and it allows P2P on all servers. Read ExpressVPN review

About the Author

  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

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

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