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Bitdefender vs McAfee: which antivirus is better?

You can find Bitdefender and McAfee listed among the best antivirus programs. They, indeed, deliver high-quality protection services and are even identified as the top products by independent testing labs.

Both antivirus suites have almost identical security features, including real-time protection, a firewall, and even some extras, such as VPN and password management services. So, the question is, how to decide which one’s better?

In this Bitdefender vs McAfee comparison, I will go through their pricing, PC performance, user interface, and features to help you find out which antivirus software is best for your needs.

Bitdefender vs McAfee

BitdefenderMcAfee Antivirus
⭐ Rating:
🥇 Overall rank:#1 out of #25#8 out of #25
🔥 Coupons:Bitdefender coupon 62% OFFMcAfee Antivirus coupon 67% OFF
💵 Price:From $23.99/yearFrom $39.99/year
✂️ Free version:YesYes (Android, iOS)
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, Mac, Android, iOS

Features overview

Bitdefender and McAfee are both among the best antivirus programs. They offer protection against malware, ransomware, and other online threats, such as scam and phishing websites. Each of them even includes a VPN to secure your connection while browsing online.

However, Bitdefender has quite a number of additional features that McAfee just can’t offer. For example, it provides protection against malicious links spreading through social networks and safeguards your webcam and microphone so that hackers couldn’t access them.

Additionally, it has a dedicated browser to help you complete online banking activities safely. You can directly access it through the desktop app without any extra steps. Likewise, I would definitely say that Bitdefender outperforms McAfee in terms of available features.

McAfee features

With a McAfee subscription, you can get protection not only from malware or ransomware, but also from online threats. It has a useful WebAdvisor feature which blocks scam and phishing sites, scans your downloads for malicious components, and even informs about typing mistakes when you enter a website address in the URL bar.

McAfee WebAdvisor feature

This way you can be sure that you won’t be tricked into manually installing malware disguised as a generic file on the web and you’ll not end up on a dangerous website due to typing mistakes.

Additionally, McAfee provides identity theft monitoring for up to 10 email addresses which checks whether your private details have been exposed. You also get a password manager, a file shredder, and a VPN. Yet, the latter feature is limited to 500 MB traffic per month which is quite a small allowance compared to what other suites are offering.

Apart from that, this antivirus has a unique Protection Score system which is designed to help you integrate all of the offered security features to reach maximum protection of your device. The more features you enable and use, the higher the protection score becomes. So, you can always keep track of how secure your device is.

For more features, check out our McAfee antivirus review.

Bitdefender features

Bitdefender is focused on delivering all-round protection against malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). It has advanced Anti-phishing, Anti-fraud, and Anti-spam features to help you avoid suspicious websites which aim to steal personal information or cause financial losses.

Additionally, it has a dedicated SafePay browser that can be accessed directly from the application when you do online banking or shopping. On top of that, Bitdefender offers protection for social networks which are currently widely used to spread malware via infected links.

Bitdefender webcam and microphone protection

With the subscription, you also get a password manager, a file shredder, and a VPN with a 200 MB daily traffic cap. It’s equally important to mention that this antivirus suite includes webcam and microphone protection so that hackers wouldn’t be able to access and monitor your device remotely.

What impressed me the most is the Resque Environment feature which is designed to automatically reboot your computer to remove dangerous rootkits whenever they’re detected. Such malicious programs exploit system vulnerabilities to give unauthorized access to the device and are amongst the most damaging types of malware.

For more features, check out our Bitdefender review.

McAfee vs Bitdefender: which offers better protection?

AV-TestTop productTop product

There’s a reason why Bitdefender and McAfee are both listed among the best antivirus software. They provide high-quality protection services which are even tested and rated by independent testing labs, such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.

Experts of AV-Test gave Bitdefender and McAfee the Top Product award due to their excellent performance during the tests. These antivirus suites were examined in terms of protection, performance, and usability and earned the highest scores of 6 points in each category.

Bitdefender vs McAfee AV-comparatives test

Other tests regarding the malware protection which were completed by AV-Comparatives indicated Bitdefender and McAfee as Advanced+ products. In simple terms, these antivirus suites have one of the highest malware protection rates and are capable of detecting the latest cyber threats with only a few false positives. Thus, no matter which product you choose, you’ll get top-notch protection for your device.

Real-time protection

Real-time protection is one of the most important attributes of a robust antivirus suite. It’s continuously monitoring your device for potential threats and stops malware or ransomware before they are able to infect your computer.

McAfee’s real-time protection consists of two main features – the Ransom Guard and the File Content Transformation. In simple terms, this antivirus closely monitors all files and online activity. If it detects an attempt to encrypt your data, the malicious software is put into quarantine and copies of the threatened files are immediately created for you to never lose important data.

Bitdefender online threat protection

Bitdefender also has highly robust real-time protection which is called the Advanced Threat Defense. This antivirus suite is a part of the Global Protective Network, meaning that it has access to an exceptionally large malware database which helps to quickly identify even the latest cyber threats or new variants of the existing ones.


Both antivirus suites have multiple scanning options which you can choose depending on your needs. If you’re in a hurry, you can opt for a Quick scan which is the fastest available option. Keep in mind that it is not as thorough, so it should only be used for occasional checkups.

Bitdefender and McAfee have the Full scan that is recommended as the first thing you should run on your device immediately after you install the antivirus. This scanning option checks all files and apps for malicious components and might take some time to complete. Yet, you’ll receive a detailed report about the threats found on your computer.

Bitdefender vulnerability assessment

Additionally, since many hackers aim to identify vulnerabilities within the system and applications to infiltrate malware, these antivirus programs have dedicated Vulnerability scan options. It checks whether you need to update any of your apps or alter security settings in order to avoid potential attacks.

Firewall protection

Another essential protection attribute is the firewall which prevents hackers from connecting to your device. Like all reputable antivirus suites, Bitdefender and McAfee both have strong firewall features.

With McAfee, you’ll find this feature directly accessible on its dashboard. You can manually enable or disable (I highly recommend you not) it by clicking on the switch button. The firewall creates a “barrier” between the secure and insecure network connections, so that people with malicious intentions would not gain access to your computer.

Bitdefender also has a firewall which you can get by subscribing to the Internet Security or Total Security plans. You have the ability to adjust the network adapter and security settings, as well as app access.

Impact on PC performance

To examine the impact these antivirus suites have on the PC performance, I’ve ran a full system scan using Bitdefender and McAfee on a mid-range Windows laptop with Intel i5-8265U processor for comparison.

First of all, the difference in duration of the scan between these two antivirus programs is quite shocking. Bitdefender took approximately 25 minutes to complete the full system scan, while McAfee – around 2 hours.

However, I also looked at the percentage of CPU resources used during the scanning time. Bitdefender utilizes between 90% to 100% of CPU. McAfee, on the other hand, keeps the rate between 80% to 90% with only several peaks to 95%.

Looking at the performance test results, I can say that Bitdefender takes more CPU resources in order to deliver a faster scanning process. Even though it’s a more aggressive strategy, Bitdefender is 4.8 times faster than McAfee and I would definitely dedicate it as a winner in this category.

Pricing and plans

When it comes to pricing, Bitdefender and McAfee offer several different subscription options, so that everyone would find which suits their budget. Even though both of these antivirus suites are quite expensive, they include additional security features, like the VPN and protection against online threats, that make the investment worthwhile.

Antivirus Plus/Plus$23.99/year, 3 devices$39.99/year, 5 devices
Total Security/Premium$35.99/year, 5 devices$54.99/year, unlimited devices
Family Pack/Advanced$54.99/year, 15 devices$89.99/year, unlimited devices
Check pricingCheck pricing

I think that the subscription packages of Bitdefender have a better pricing strategy compared to McAfee. It’s very clear that McAfee aims to encourage users buying the most advanced subscriptions by placing an extremely high price on the basic plan. However, its Multiple Device plan costs less than the Bitdefender Total Security for the same number of 5 devices. For that reason, I would call it a draw.

McAfee plans

McAfee has four plans which offer different subscription options depending on how many devices you want to cover and for how long. Here is a quick summary of the available packages:

  • McAfee Plus – $39.99/year for 5 devices
  • McAfee Premium – $54.99/year for unlimited devices
  • McAfee Advanced – $89.99/year for unlimited devices

Keep in mind that the indicated price of McAfee Plus is only available if you opt for the 2-year subscription.

Bitdefender plans

Bitdefender has four main subscription packages which are just enough for everyone to get what they need. You can find the available options with corresponding prices below.

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus – $23.99/year for 3 devices
  • Bitdefender Internet Security – $32.99/year for 3 devices
  • Bitdefender Total Security – $35.99/year for 5 devices
  • Bitdefender Family Pack – $54.99/year for 15 devices

It’s important to mention that the Antivirus Plus and the Internet Security plans only support the Windows operating system. If you want multi-platform compatibility, you should choose the Total Security plan which is compatible with all devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Apps and interface

Both Bitdefender and McAfee have dedicated desktop and mobile apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. While the installation and setup processes are relatively easy to complete, the overall experience using the applications afterwards is different.

Bitdefender has a very user-friendly interface which is not cluttered and easy to navigate through. Unfortunately, this is not the case with McAfee. Even though the overall look and feel of the application is pleasant, it’s relatively hard to find some of the tools.

For example, you really have to dig deep to find the File Shredder. Also, the Vulnerability scan is hidden under the Update my apps section. That’s why I would definitely say that Bitdefender takes the lead in this category.

Desktop app

You can get Bitdefender on Windows and macOS. While the installation process is not complicated, it does take some time since the size of the installation file is 400 MB. Yet, I wouldn’t consider this as a drawback since the antivirus carries numerous useful security features.

Bitdefender Windows dashboard

The appearance and the feel of the application is very pleasant. Everything is carefully organized into three main categories – Protection, Privacy, and Utilities. So, you can easily find the tools to help you protect your device against malware and remain anonymous online.

While the installation and setup process of McAfee is faster, the application itself is not so user-friendly. You can access the main tools like the firewall and scanning options directly through the dashboard, but other features are not so easy to find.

McAfee Windows app

Additionally, McAfee comes with pre-set settings which might not be suitable for everyone. For example, when I tested the software, it was scheduled to run an automatic scan at 4 am which is useless for me as I turn off the computer whenever I go to sleep. Thus, you must definitely go through all the settings and customize them according to your needs manually.

Mobile app

Bitdefender has dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS which you can easily install on your device. They are easy to use and do not include any unnecessary visuals which would otherwise clutter the interface. Even though the applications might seem visually similar, there are quite a few differences in terms of their functionality.

Bitdefender antivirus android app

The Android version has everything Bitdefender has to offer, including the Malware scanner, Web protection, a VPN, an App Lock, and an Anti-theft feature. Its iOS version, on the other hand, only protects against fraudulent websites, checks for personal data leaks, and provides VPN services.

McAfee mobile app

McAfee is also compatible with Android and iOS devices. Its interface on both apps is clean and relatively easy to navigate through. However, what I found slightly annoying is the numerous pop-ups explaining what each feature does whenever you try to enable it. Although it might be useful for inexperienced users, it becomes frustrating after some time.

Customer support

The comparison of Bitdefender vs McAfee customer support is quite tough as both antivirus suites have numerous options. You can manually scroll through their how-to guides, FAQ section, or community forum to find relevant information about the product and how to use it. Additionally, if you can’t find answers, there’s an option to get a support agent on the phone or via the live chat.

Here is the full list of customer support options offered by Bitdefender and McAfee:

24/7 live chat
Email support
How-to guides
Phone support
Community forum

At first sight, the only difference is that McAfee doesn’t provide support via email. However, when I tested each option, I found out that its 24/7 live chat is not so privacy-friendly. If you try to contact the agent, you’ll be asked to provide an enormous amount of personal information, such as your first and last name, phone number, and email address.

While Bitdefender also asks to enter your first name and an email address, it’s still less data compared to McAfee. That’s why I would dedicate Bitdefender as the winner of this category since it just performs slightly better.

Final verdict

PC performance
User interface

In this Bitdefender vs McAfee comparison, I came to the conclusion that Bitdefender is a better antivirus suite. It includes more security features, such as webcam/microphone protection and a browser for safe online banking. It even blocks malicious links spreading through social networks.

Bitdefender showed excellent performance in each of the listed categories, while McAfee’s customer support and user interface on the desktop app were quite disappointing. Therefore, Bitdefender definitely should be your top choice when it comes to top-notch antivirus software.

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Daniel Hurst
Daniel Hurst
prefix 4 months ago
which will allow me to download on two laptops and 2 cell phones?
Cybernews Team
Cybernews Team
prefix 4 months ago
Hi! Both of these providers have plans that can cover 4 and more devices. Bitdefender Total Security plan covers up to 5 devices, and the McAfee Multiple Devices plan also covers up to 5 devices. If you ever need more device coverage, both also offer plans for that. Check the pricing topic of this article for more information.
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