uninstall McAfee antivirus

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how to uninstall McAfee or Norton antivirus and security products. Maybe its because trial versions of these products were preinstalled when the customer purchased the computer, or maybe you want to uninstall McAfee and install another antivirus software product.

I've even received mail from computer users trying to install an antivirus product and they are told to uninstall McAfee before they can proceed even though it appears McAfee is not running on the system.

 I'm also amazed at how many viruses attack McAfee and Norton products especially and disable them so they can wreck havoc on the computer.

My personal experience with McAfee hasn't been positive. I installed McAfee on my wife's computer a year or so ago. Everything seemed to work ok, although the antivirus slowed down her system a bit. Then roughly a year later, I look at my monthly credit card bill and see that McAfee has automatically billed me for another year of service. I was planning on removing the software and installing a free antivirus called Avast on her computer when the renewal time expired. But McAfee decided to bill me. Needless to say, I removed McAfee from her computer and called their billing department ASAP. I was told by a friendly customer service representative they autobill so customers wont be caught unprotected. Let's just say I like to control my purchases a bit more than that and didn't appreciate an automatic bill that I didnt expect. I requested a refund which I received a week later and promptly uninstalled McAfee.

One other interesting tidbit, during the research for this article. I ran the latest Hijackthis program, now owned by Trend Micro. Version 2 of Hijackthis has a few very nice features and I expected to get a list of all the files McAfee was running in the background. Instead I received the following message:

 



McAfee blocked Hijackthis_v2 and tells me it contains a virus. Strange since I've used Hijackthis on a daily basis and none of my antivirus products have ever alerted me to the presence of a virus in it. McAfee claims Hijackthis is infected with the W32/Generic.worm!p2p, which according to their virus database is a generic detection of worms that can propagate through P2P file-sharing software (Kazaa, Gnutella, eDonkey, Bearshare, Shareaza, Gnucleus, Limewire, Morpheus, Grokster, etc.). I don't have any of these P2P file sharing programs installed on the computer and use HijackThis on it regularly.

Just to be sure, I ran the Hijackthis_v2 file through several online file scanners and none of them found a virus in the file. This makes me question the accuracy of McAfee's virus database and file signatures.

Although you are welcome to draw your own conclusions about McAfee, that false positive was enough for me to remove it from my computer and install a free antivirus instead.

Follow the instructions below to safely remove McAfee security products including their antivirus and firewall from your computer.


Removal through the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel

In many cases, you can simply remove McAfee products through the Add/Remove Control Panel.

1) Click on Start, Click on Control Panel
2) Double-click on Add or Remove Programs
3) Find the Network Associates or McAfee product listed and click on it. It should look similar to the following
McAfee Add Remove entry
4) Click on Change/Remove
5) You'll see a screen similar to the one below. Place a checkmark next to each McAfee product you wish to remove and click Remove
McAfee Uninstall Program
6) You'll see a warning message like this one, click on the Remove button
Uninstall McAfee programs
7) .The removal process will start showing each program being removed, then it will ask to restart the computer. Go ahead and reboot after the removal process is finished.
McAfee Removal Status
8) After rebooting McAfee should be removed from your system.

If for some reason, the normal uninstall does not remove it, I recommend following the automatic uninstall instructions below to remove McAfee security products.

Removing McAfee Automatically

McAfee has created an automatic removal program to remove the following software products when the normal removal methods fail. It does not work with Windows 98 or Windows ME. The removal tool deletes all traces of the following products in Windows 2000 Pro, Windows XP Home and Professional, and Windows Vista.

  • McAfee Security Center
  • McAfee VirusScan
  • McAfee Personal Firewall Plus
  • McAfee Privacy Service
  • McAfee SpamKiller
  • McAfee Wireless Network Security
  • McAfee SiteAdvisor
  • McAfee Data Backup
  • McAfee Network Manager
  • McAfee Easy Network
  • McAfee AntiSpyware
Follow these directions to download the McAfee Removal Tool and run it to remove the above programs.

  1. Click on the following link to download the MCPR removal tool

    http://download.mcafee.com/products/licensed/cust_support_patches/MCPR.exe

  2. Click Save and save the file to your desktop
  3. Close all McAfee Application windows you may have open, and double-click on MCPR.exe to start the removal tool. Windows Vista users will have to right-click on the file and select "Run as Administrator"
  4. After the removal tool finishes, you should be prompted to restart your computer.
  5. Once the computer restarts, your McAfee product should be uninstalled.
  6. If for any reason there appears a red X during the uninstall, go to the following location for more advanced uninstall instructions involving the registry.
    http://service.mcafee.com/faqdocument.aspx?id=TS100299&lang=en_US&prior_tid=6&AnswerID=16777219

Extra Optional Steps

  1. Open My Computer, double-click on Drive C
  2. Double-click on Program Files
  3. Look for any McAfee product folders that remain. Right-click on them and choose Delete
  4. Close My Computer and other folders

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