McAfee Safe Connect VPN Review 2024: Is It Safe to Use?

McAfee is a name we trust, so imagine our surprise when we tested the Safe Connect VPN and didn’t get the results we expected.
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On McAfee Safe Connect VPN's website

McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Easy to use
  • Bundled into McAfee security suite

While the McAfee brand is well-known and trusted as an antivirus product, their attempt to enter the virtual private network (VPN) market falls a bit flat.

On top of not including some features we expect, like split tunneling and the ability to unblock streaming services, the VPN was also buggy and crashed on us multiple times during testing. Despite using TunnelBear technology, McAfee's VPN functioned noticeably worse.

We did find some positives to McAfee Safe Connect, like a secure DNS connection and an option to bundle with McAfee security. Depending on the security you’re looking for in a VPN, this may work for you. If it doesn’t, we have plenty of suggestions for alternative services to help you find a highly-rated VPN that covers all your needs.

  • Bundled into McAfee security suite
  • Easy to use
  • Works on major operating systems
  • Not many features
  • Doesn’t unblock streaming
  • Tendency to crash
In this article
Review at a glance
Our experience
Who is it best for?
Prices and subscriptions
Test results
Customer support
Bottom line

McAfee Safe Connect VPN review at a glance

Price $39.99–$89.99/yr (first year only)
Free version Yes
Max # of connected devices 5
# of servers Unlisted in 47 countries
VPN protocol Wireguard, OpenVPN, IKEv22, IPSec
Encryption AES 256-bit
No-logs policy No logs
Headquarters San Jose, CA, USA
Netflix access Limited
Learn more Get McAfee Safe Connect VPN

How we test and rate VPNs

We complete standardized hands-on tests for each VPN we review so we can put their claims to the test. This includes vigorous third-party testing by comparing our internet speed while connected to different servers, checking for DNS leaks, making sure the kill switch actually works, and more. We also make sure we can comfortably access popular streaming sites, like Netflix, and still do our day-to-day work without interruption.

Once we’ve completed the testing, our editorial rating is calculated by taking into account key features you’d expect from a good product. We score each VPN in the following categories and use a weighted average to calculate the final rating out of 5 stars: price, server count, speed, security, and features.

To learn more about how we test, check out our full VPN methodology here.

Our experience

Overall, testing McAfee Safe Connect has been an incredibly buggy and frustrating experience, thanks to numerous crashes and the dreaded "Oops! Something went wrong!" message that plagued us. But when it did work, it worked fine.

The initial installation was smooth and we were happy with how quick and easy connecting to servers was. It even recommends a server that would give you the fastest connection, which made it easy to get started.

McAfee Safe Connect Connection Screen

The software was doing decently in our speed tests...until we hit Australia. Connecting to this server actually caused the program to break, and it took several restarts to be able to get any kind of connection going again. The worst part is this had actually happened to us last time we tested it too, which was almost a year ago now.

McAfee Safe Connect Error When On Australia Server

Once we got the connection working again, we were able to move on to our Netflix tests. While connecting to U.S. Netflix from Canada worked, every other server we tried was blocked by Netflix. We couldn't access the site at all while connected to the Australian server.

McAfee Safe Connect Netflix error when connected to Australia

Disappointed with those results, we moved on to testing the kill switch...which actually ended up freezing the program completely.

McAfee Safe Connect not responding

Between the connection issues, the bugginess, and the failure to unblock streaming services, we decided we just couldn’t use this VPN service.

If you’re getting the McAfee security suite (McAfee Total Protection) anyway, you might as well benefit from the VPN when you can. You’ll receive some encryption, so it could be fine for low-risk situations like checking directions on public Wi-Fi or reading a news site in a cafe. We wouldn’t use it for anything serious, like masking your identity or logging into your financial accounts. It comes with too many security risks and red flags for any real protection.

Who is McAfee Safe Connect VPN best for?

  • Recommended for someone who wants a light VPN bundled into their security software.

McAfee Safe Connect isn’t the most robust or reliable VPN available. However, it was able to encrypt our web traffic.

This is definitely not a great option if you’re looking for real security. If you’re on public Wi-Fi and want something light to encrypt your traffic, you may be ok using this VPN.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN prices and subscriptions

McAfee VPN's payment options are pretty straightforward. It only offers annual plans, there's no way to pay per month. You can purchase the VPN alone, with McAfee security, or in the full bundle (McAfee Total Protection), including McAfee security and identity theft protection. You won’t get any extra VPN features by including security or identity protection, but you will expand the features available to you in the McAfee dashboard.

Because the VPN is meant as an addition to McAfee security, there aren’t any additional features as you move up in price. Your best value would be the Privacy + Security plan because it’s the same price as the Privacy plan and adds antivirus.

We don’t suggest purchasing the VPN as a standalone product, as there are other VPN services with more features and better security.

If you're looking for identity theft protection services, bundling all three of these together in the Privacy + Security + Identity plan for an additional $30 a year is definitely an option. You’ll receive identity theft protection insurance and personal data cleanup, which will help you reduce your online presence. A password manager is also included in this premium plan. The other two services are great, but we wish the VPN option was better.

Plan 1-year cost
Privacy $39.99/yr (first year only)
Privacy + Security $39.99/yr (first year only)
Privacy + Security + Identity $89.99/yr (first year only)

You can try McAfee Safe Connect for free, but will be limited to 250 MB per month and only one server. If you want to try out the premium version, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN alternatives

If you’re searching for a VPN provider with a lot of features and tight security, you may notice that Safe Connect doesn’t fit the bill. The options below are some of the best VPN services available, which include all the security features a VPN should offer. We would recommend any of these as an alternative to Safe Connect.

Price $3.39–$15.99/mo $2.19–$17.95/mo $2.03–$12.99/mo
Free version
Max # of connected devices 10 Unlimited 7
# of servers 6,300+ servers in 111 countries 3,200 in 100 countries Servers in 100 countries
VPN protocol NordLynx (WireGuard), OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2
Encryption AES-256-GCM AES-256-GCM AES-256
No-logs policy No logs No logs No logs
Headquarters Panama The Netherlands Romania
Netflix access
Learn more Get NordVPN Get Surfshark Get CyberGhost

McAfee Safe Connect VPN features

As far as VPNs go, McAfee Safe Connect’s features offering is fairly conservative. If you’re looking for a VPN with a lot of robust and interesting add-ons, this is likely not it. But if you’re looking for a security bundle that includes a way to encrypt your traffic, this could be what you’re looking for in a VPN.

Server count and countries

  • Unlisted number of servers in 47 countries

McAfee won’t give you an exact total on how many servers it offers, but it tells you that you can choose from 47 countries. When you connect to the VPN, the fastest VPN server is recommended. You can, however, use the drop-down menu to choose another location if you want to be specific.

You won’t be able to get really granular with your server location with McAfee. There aren’t a ton of options, including no way to filter or search the server locations that are available.

What you can do, however, is use it to appear like you’re in a general location. This will suffice for geo-specific content, like checking the price of a new VPN in the country where you’re headed next.

McAfee won’t give you an exact total on how many servers it offers, but it tells you that you can choose from “nearly 50 locations.”

No-logs policy and headquarters

  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN logs policy: No logs
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN headquarters: San Jose, California, U.S.A.

McAfee Safe Connect seems almost like an afterthought for the security giant. There’s a single line in the privacy policy stating, “Note that if you use our VPN services, our VPN servers do not look at or log any information that you send or receive on the internet.” Ok. That’s great and all, but there isn’t much more information than that. Even that line is a little unclear. If there are truly “no logs,” then just outright state, “We log nothing.”

Also, the Safe Connect website claims its VPN has been independently audited, but the provided link takes you to a TunnelBear webpage. Apparently, the McAfee VPN uses TunnelBear’s technology. So do the logs follow McAfee’s privacy policy or TunnelBear’s policy? It’s unclear, and we couldn’t get more answers from customer support either.

McAfee's headquarters are located in the U.S., which also gives us pause. The U.S. is part of the Five Eyes alliance, which is a grouping of countries that have entered into intelligence sharing agreements. That means McAfee VPN could be legally required to hand over your internet activity if requested. This, combined with the unclear logs policy, is dissuading. 

Kill switch

  • Kill switch: Yes, it’s called safe reconnect instead of a kill switch

Safe Connect is a fairly bare-bones product, but it does include a kill switch. But don’t go looking for the phrase “kill switch” because it’s marketed as “safe reconnect.”

It does the same thing: interrupting your internet connection in the event the VPN disconnects. This security feature is meant to keep your IP address safe if your VPN connection fails.

Safe Connect is a fairly bare-bones product, but it does include two protocol options and a kill switch.

Split tunneling

  • Split tunneling: No

If you’re looking for a VPN that offers split tunneling, we weren’t able to find the option within the Safe Connect VPN.

If you want to use a VPN for most of your online activities while using some sites or apps (like Netflix) that block VPNs, you’ll want to get a VPN that offers split tunneling. It’s helpful to keep most of your activity private while still allowing you access to sites you want.

VPN protocols

  • VPN protocols: Wireguard, OpenVPN, IKEv22, IPSec

While we found a support page that stated you can choose from a variety of VPN protocols, we were unable to find that option on the Windows app.

After asking customer support, it was determined that you can only choose which protocol you want to use when using the Android or iOS app. The Windows version connects to Wireguard by default and you can't change it manually.

McAfee Safe Connect agent confirms you can't choose protocol on Windows

McAfee Safe Connect VPN test results

Considering we already had issues with connection, we weren’t optimistic about completing our tests with this VPN. Here's what happened for each feature we tested.

Speed tests

  • Speed test results: It lowered our upload speed by an average of 45%, which wasn't too noticeable. Connection to Australia was almost impossible though.

When we test VPNs, we compare how the different servers available with the software differ in terms of impact on your internet speeds. Even the best VPNs will likely slow down your speeds a little bit, but it's not usually noticeable.

Connecting from Canada to Canadian, U.S., and U.K. servers was actually pretty unremarkable. It didn’t slow that much, and we didn’t notice a difference. 

When we got to Canada to A.U., it was a problem. It took over 10 minutes to connect to the Australian server. It kept crashing and was unable to connect to any servers until we reboot the program a couple times.

This kind of connection and speed problem would lead us to not use this VPN in our everyday life. It’s just not a viable solution, at least not if we wanted to connect to a server in a country significantly further away from where we were located. If we had to use Safe Connect, we would choose only the fastest connection option so we knew we wouldn’t have to wait longer than it takes Starbucks to make a cup of coffee.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN speed test results

Test type No VPN Canada to Canada Canada to U.S. Canada to EU Canada to AU
Download speed 229.46 Mbps 121.44 Mbps 127.39 Mbps 129.53 Mbps 92.82 Mbps
Upload speed 54.64 Mbps 51.24 Mbps 49.29 Mbps 48.78 Mbps 39.14 Mbps
Latency (ping) 18 ms 49 ms 50 ms 97 ms 281 ms
Download speed % difference N/A -47% -44% -44% -60%
Upload speed % difference N/A -6% -10% -11% -28%
Latency % difference N/A +172% +178% +439% +1,461%
Test results as of 05/28/2024.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN Netflix tests

  • Netflix test results: Fail

We started off the test by accessing Netflix without a VPN turned on. We were able to navigate our library the same as any other time, so we knew Netflix wasn’t having issues.

We then connected McAfee Safe Connect VPN to a U.S. server, which worked fine. 

McAfee Safe Connect working with American Netflix

Unfortunately, that's the only place it worked. When trying to connect to U.K. and Canada servers, Netflix detected we were using a VPN and blocked us from watching content.

McAfee Safe Connect UK Netflix problem

This was made worse when we tried to connect to Australia, at which point Netflix refused to even load, as we mentioned in the Our experience section above.

Suffice it to say McAfee doesn’t have the technology behind its VPN servers to unblock Netflix. Chances are, McAfee VPN will struggle with other streaming services too.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN Netflix test results

U.S. to U.S. U.S. to U.K. U.S. to Canada U.S. to AU
Did it work with Netflix?
Test results as of 05/28/2024.

DNS and WebRTC leak tests

  • DNS leak test results: Pass
  • WebRTC leak test results: Pass

This is the one place where McAfee Safe Connect actually improved since our last test in 2023. Originally, it failed the WebRTC leak test, but this time around it did pass with flying colors.

For context, Domain Name System (DNS) is the internet’s address book. It allows us to type in website addresses, and the computer uses DNS to translate that into internet language and guide us to the right website. Computers read each other’s IP addresses during this exchange, and Safe Connect kept ours hidden. That’s a bonus!

If DNS is the address book, then WebRTC is the internet’s phone book. It’s the technology we use to make video and voice connections online. Whether you’re using Zoom or recording your voice sans video, you’re using this technology. 

McAfee Safe Connect WebRTC Leak Test

Kill switch test

  • Kill switch test results: Failed?

This is usually the part where we use to see if our real IP address shows up when switching servers with the kill switch on. Unfortunately, turning on this functionality actually totally froze the app, so we were unable to test it at all.

As we've been writing this, we've been periodically checking back in to the app to see if we can reconnect and give it another go. So far, we've had no luck and are forced to give this a probable fail.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN compatibility

McAfee claims compatibility with both Microsoft and Apple products. You should be able to use the VPN on your computer or phone if it’s running one of these operating systems.

We did run into some issues installing it on our Mac, which was running Ventura 13.4 with an M2 chip, but when we installed it on our iPhone 12 Pro Max, it worked with no issues. We were also able to install it on our old Windows 10 machine.

According to their customer support, McAfee Safe Connect is compatible with:

  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • macOS
  • Chrome OS

McAfee Safe Connect VPN customer support

McAfee does boast 24/7 customer support, which is available through chat or phone. Thankfully it was relatively easy to get connected with an agent, and is accessible through their support page.

Live chat and phone

We connected to a live chat agent almost immediately at 1 PM Eastern Time on a Tuesday. Though the agent was nice and tried to help, our question seemed a bit more technical than what they're used to so it took a bit to clarify what we wanted and to get an answer.

McAfee Smart Connect Customer Service

If your question is related to more standard things, like issues connecting or billing questions, then this chat option is likely good enough.

Online guides

Though McAfee has plenty of guides, they actually relate to everything McAfee and not just the VPN. This made it more difficult to find relevant answers and their search function wasn't the best we've seen.

McAfee Safe Connect VPN FAQs


Is McAfee VPN good?

No, McAfee’s VPN isn’t good. It offers some basic protection and a few features like a kill switch and different VPN protocols. Otherwise, there isn’t much to it, and it kept crashing on us during testing.


Is McAfee VPN good for streaming?

No, McAfee VPN isn’t good for streaming. We were unable to unblock Netflix with it on most servers and were denied access to the Netflix site entirely when connected to an Australian server. 

In addition, there was considerable lag time on all servers not located in North America (where we are), which means you’d have streaming interruptions if you were able to get a streaming site to work.


Is McAfee VPN free?

McAfee VPN does have a free option, but you're limited to only one server and 250 MB a month. You can also get it bundled with your antivirus for the same price as buying either one on its own.

Bottom line: Is McAfee Safe Connect VPN good?

No, overall, McAfee Safe Connect is not a good VPN provider. If you bundle it with your antivirus, it may be ok for low-risk activities, like online reading, but we wouldn’t recommend it for high-risk activities or anything that needs a reliable connection.

If you’re looking for a strong and secure VPN service, we recommended NordVPNSurfshark, and ExpressVPN, which can keep your IP address and online activity hidden. You’ll also likely notice faster speeds and better web page loading times. VPN users are usually interested in online privacy and safe internet access, especially if your connection drops.

A VPN is an important tool to use when online, so you want to make sure you’re using one that keeps your data private. Even though we’re fans of McAfee’s antivirus security, we just can’t get behind McAfee Safe Connect.

Editorial Rating
Learn More
On McAfee Safe Connect VPN's website
McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Easy to use
  • Bundled into McAfee security suite
Author Details
Mary is a seasoned cybersecurity writer with over seven years of experience. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University, she educates audiences on scams, antivirus software, and more. Her passion lies in educating audiences on helpful ways to protect their data.
Kalleigh Lane is a passionate digital security advocate and the Lead Editor at All About Cookies. After completing her Master of Arts in English Literature, Kalleigh has gained over 5 years of editing and writing experience in the fields of cybersecurity, tech, and finance. She has been featured in major media outlets such as The Globe and Mail and CTV News, emerging as an advocate for digital security.