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Malwarebytes vs Norton: which antivirus is better?

Malwarebytes vs Norton – two highly-reputable antivirus providers that offer solid security. While both provide great real-time protection against various threats, they also include a VPN for their users.

Both antivirus providers have their strengths and weaknesses. Norton offers better security features for a friendlier price. So, it is a better option for those who want to get more for less. Meanwhile, the Malwarebytes app is more user-friendly. So, it’s better for those who are less tech-savvy, as it’s easier to navigate.

Read this comparison of Malwarebytes vs Norton and find out which provider offers more features and better threat protection. You’ll also learn the cost of their plans, how each provider affects device performance, and more!

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Malwarebytes vs. Norton at a glance

Norton AntivirusMalwarebytes
⭐ Rating:
🥇 Overall rank:#2 out of #25#12 out of #25
🔥 Coupons:Norton Antivirus coupon 58% OFFMalwarebytes coupon 25% OFF
💵 Price:From $29.99/yearFrom $38.24/year
✂️ Free version:NoYes
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS

While Malwarebytes may seem better, given its broader platform compatibility and free version, Norton excels in its general security rating and long-term price. To summarize, Norton outranks Malwarebytes in our in-depth tests because it provides a better overall service.

Malwarebytes vs Norton: which offers better protection?

In-house testsVery high ratingHigh rating
Real time protection99.8%99.2% (with paid version only)
FirewallEffectiveDoes not have Firewall feature
ScanningDetected 10/10 threatsDetected 5/10 threats
AV-TestTop productTop product

To evaluate the protective capabilities of both antivirus providers, we conducted both in-house tests and reviewed the results of independent labs. While during our tests, both Malwarebytes and Norton performed very well, Norton had a significantly higher threat detection rate. So, while both antivirus providers are great at removing threats, only Norton proved to be reliable at identifying them upon scanning.

Starting from the German AV-TEST Institute, whose primary focus is researching cybersecurity products, it certified and approved both providers. And it’s no surprise considering the outstanding results of both of them.

In the performance and usability categories of the 2023/2024 AV-TEST results, Norton performed better than Malwarebytes – even though in 2021 tests, they used to be equal. In the February 2024 test, Norton got a maximum score of 6. Meanwhile, in the October 2023 test, Malwarebytes dropped from the previous score of 6 to 5.5. In the period of January to February of 2024, Norton did not report false positives. However, in the period of September to October of 2023, Malwarebytes had 1 false positive. In terms of protection – while Norton scored 100% in detecting zero-day malware, Malwarebytes had some fluctuations. During September of 2023, its score was 98.4%, but improved to 99.2% the following month.

Moving on, the AV-comparatives organization evaluated Norton and Malwarebytes the same. They both received the Advanced grade product award. However, once again, Norton managed to block 100% threats while Malwarebytes blocked 99.6% of them.

Lastly, the report of the SE Labs company showed that Norton was one of the top antivirus providers. It received an AAA grade, which is the highest grade possible in the company’s evaluations. The antivirus received a 100% score on all – protection accuracy, legitimate accuracy, and total accuracy – ratings. It’s worth noting that Malwarebytes wasn’t tested by SE Labs.

To sum up, Norton is better and more secure than Malwarebytes. Independent tests show that both Norton and Malwarebytes perform well, but Norton has consistently shown better results in identifying and handling malware threats.

Real-time malware protection

Starting from Norton, the antivirus basically attempts to lower the effects of threats before they get into your device. So, as I mentioned, it all begins with the Norton Safe Web feature, which protects you on the web, and the Isolation mode, which basically shields you even if you still access the suspicious website. But, if some type of malware still finds its way into your system, Norton is going to quarantine the infected files.

Meanwhile, Malwarebytes offers a few features with real-time protection as well. For instance, there’s ransomware, malware, and Web Protection. While the purpose of the first two is clear from their names, Web Protection prevents you from accessing malware-infected websites. Another feature that might grab your attention is Exploit protection. It’s an advanced security approach that is similar to Norton’s vulnerability assessment feature and deals with security flaws.


Norton provides three types of scans – quick, full, and file scan. The quick scan is recommended as more of a daily checkup option, while full scan is a more in-depth look at device files. File scanning allows you to choose what you want the antivirus to focus on. For instance, if you just installed a new program or application and want to check if it’s safe, you can run a scan of that particular file.

Norton quick scan

With Malwarebytes, you can simply click on “Scan” and start a quick scan, a threat scan, or you can also customize it. By doing that, you choose what the antivirus checks. While quick scan reviews memory and startup objects, you can also choose to scan for rootkits, within archives, PUPs, and more.

Malwarebytes scan options

Overall, Malwarebytes and Norton are quite different in terms of scanning. Norton offers three scanning options while Malwarebytes lets you customize it yourself. Yet, it could be said that both providers offer great scanning solutions.

Malware protection

Overall, either Malwarebytes or Norton are good options for malware protection. According to our in-house tests, Norton is better at detecting and removing malware, while Malwarebytes may not be as good at detecting, but is equally great at removing threats. For example, on their website, Malwarebytes state that they can effectively remove existing malware.

As for independent testing, like AV-TEST, Malwarebytes performed really well. It detected 99.9% of widespread and prevalent malware. It also met the industry average for real-time malware protection, scoring 99.2%.

Norton, however, still performed better. It detected 100% of widespread malware and real-time threats. While the difference between Norton and Malwarebytes might be tiny – in tenths of a percent – Norton still offers better overall protection against all kinds of malware.

Firewall protection

A firewall is an important security feature that assists in preventing threats and hackers from infiltrating itself into your device in the first place. Unfortunately, Malwarebytes doesn’t provide a firewall. Norton, however, does.

Norton antivirus firewall

In fact, Norton’s two-way firewall protection observes the sent and received network traffic on your device when you’re online. The firewall also includes a vulnerability assessment feature which does exactly what the name says – it assesses the vulnerability of your device to fix anything that could let a threat infiltrate itself in case of a potential cyber attack.

Impact on PC performance

In the round of Norton vs Malwarebytes in terms of impact on PC performance, Norton takes the win.

Since scans can be performed regularly and can take some time, a quality antivirus is supposed to remove threats without having visible issues in performance. Sure, it’s virtually impossible to find a threat removal service that will not affect your processing power to at least some extent. However, you want those effects to be as small as possible. And that’s what Norton ensures.

When comparing the CPU usage of Malwarebytes vs Norton, the latter showed significantly lower utilization of processing power. It’s no surprise considering that users of Malwarebytes often litter forums with complaints and questions regarding exceptionally high CPU usage during scans.

As for Norton, not only does it have recommended suggestions for fixing high CPU usage such as updating the antivirus, it also offers the Norton Power Eraser tool. It’s often the case that your device performance is suffering because of seemingly innocent apps. So, the eraser tool that Norton offers scans your computer for potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

This includes toolbars and bloatware, which are hidden and unwanted programs on your device. However, Norton’s Power Eraser might detect innocent programs as threats simply because they were used less. So, double-check before trusting its evaluation. Removing such issues helps solve specific problems related to performance. It’s also worth noting, though, that it’s only supported on Windows.

Having all that in mind, Norton still relentlessly defeats Malwarebytes in terms of performance.

Malwarebytes vs Norton pricing and plans

Both Malwarebytes and Norton offer several plans to choose from. While Malwarebytes has a free version, it’s quite basic compared to paid options. But if we compare only paid subscriptions, then Norton is not only better for the features it offers but also has far better value for money.

Premium/AntiVirus Plus
Premium + Privacy/Deluxe
Check PricingCheck Pricing

Malwarebytes definitely sounds appealing with its free version. But Norton 360 is also available on a 14-day free trial. While it may not seem much, it’s worth noting that those 14 days could give you far more security features than even a premium version of Malwarebytes could offer.

If you do get a premium plan of either Malwarebytes or Norton, you would be eligible for a 60-day money-back guarantee. That’s more than some other providers can offer. However, if you were to choose a premium antivirus, Norton is significantly cheaper than Malwarebytes.

Malwarebytes might have a free version, but when comparing paid subscriptions, Norton offers a better value for money. For example, Norton’s Premium plan, with countless useful features, is much cheaper than a less feature-rich Malwarebytes premium subscription.

To get even better deals, you can always get discounts by taking a look at our pages for Norton coupons and Malwarebytes coupons.

Malwarebytes pricing

Overall, the more features you’d like to get, the more Malwarebytes subscription will cost you. There are multiple plans for you to choose from, so here is the breakdown of Malwarebytes pricing:

Basic SecuritySecurity + VPN
Complete ProtectionTeams
Price per month-From $3.75/monthFrom $5/monthFrom $10/monthBilled only annually
Price per year-From $29.99/yearFrom $49.99/yearFrom $149.99/yearFrom $105/year
Premium anti malware❌No (just basic clean-up)✅Yes✅Yes✅Yes
Browser guard
Privacy VPN

Besides general clean-up of an infected device, the Malwarebytes Free version has nothing else to offer. At least the Standard plan has anti-malware and browsing protection. But by subscribing to the priciest non-business plan, you’d still only be getting a VPN. So, whichever paid plan you choose, you will still get a very small number of features.

Norton pricing

Norton has a far wider selection of plans compared to Malwarebytes. Each plan offers a number of handy features. While renewal prices might seem expensive, beginner users can definitely get pocket-friendly deals.

AntiVirus Plus
LifeLock Select
Price upon renewal$59.99/year$94.99/year$119.99/year$179.99/year
Cloud backup storage
Secure VPN
Privacy monitor
Parental controls
Dark web monitoring❌No✅Yes✅Yes✅Yes
Identity theft protection

Norton AntiVirus Plus plan is not very impressive feature-wise compared to other options. It covers just one device. However, it offers 2GB of cloud backup and strong threat protection. Still, it’s the only plan without a Secure VPN.

The difference between Standard and Deluxe plans is much more substantial than the difference between Deluxe and LifeLock Select. If you want 3-device coverage, strong antivirus protection, and dark web monitoring, then the Standard plan should be enough. But if you want parental controls and privacy monitoring, then Deluxe is the option you should pick. However, only LifeLock Select can offer a full security package, including identity theft protection.

Features overview

Type of dataMalwarebytesNorton
Password manager
Parental control
File shredder
File encryption
Secure browser
Secure cloud storage
Money-back guarantee

When it comes to features of Malwarebytes vs Norton, the latter offers more functionalities. Of course, it's worth noting that what you get strictly depends on which plan you’re looking at.

For instance, Malwarebytes has three plans to offer. One of them is a basic free plan, and the other two are paid tiers – Premium and Premium + Privacy. They're the same plans, except you get a VPN with the more expensive one. Malwarebytes doesn’t characterize in having many features compared to the other antivirus.

Norton doesn’t offer a free version like Malwarebytes, but it includes four feature-rich paid editions – AntiVirus Plus, Deluxe, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, and Ultimate Plus. Sure, not offering a free plan can be a drawback to some, but it’s worth noting that Norton is a more comprehensive service than Malwarebytes in terms of feature array. So, let's get into what both providers offer.

Norton features

Norton offers quite more features than Malwarebytes with its plans. First off, just like the competitor, Norton includes real-time protection. It uses artificial intelligence to monitor all threats. Plus, Norton comes with a Safe Web feature that always warns you about sites that are suspicious. But, if, for some reason, you still need to access a potentially harmful website, you can make use of the Isolation mode, which withholds threats from accessing or damaging your device.

If your camera doesn’t have a cover, the SafeCam feature for your PC will be useful. After all, if there are any third-party apps that are trying to peek, you’ll be notified immediately. For users who have children, there’s the Parental control feature that allows you to choose which websites can be accessed and which cannot.

Norton antivirus features

You also get to use a free password manager to store all of your login credentials securely in one place. And, depending on the plan you get, you get from 10 to 100GB of cloud backup storage. The best part is that you also get a VPN. However, it has no kill switch which is crucial for a quality VPN service.

And, if your information is ever going to be leaked on the deep web, Norton will be sure to alert you. That’s what its Dark Web Monitoring feature does. It monitors the dark websites and forums for any leaked personal data so that you could be aware of it and act on it faster.

For extra protection, Norton provides you with a two-way silent firewall that monitors sent and received traffic on your device and protects you from intrusions.

All of these features ensure Norton's users with almost flawless protection and a secure online experience.

For more features, check out our Norton review.

Malwarebytes features

Malwarebytes feature variety depends on the plan you pick. The free plan, I would say, is pretty limited as all it can do is scan your device and remove threats that have already infected your device.

While the free plan is good for basic protection only, the Premium subscription hands out some extras for security. You get real-time protection, which prevents threats from invading your device. You’re kept safe with integrated Web, Malware, Ransomware, and Exploit protections.

If you’re looking for a smooth and secure browsing experience, Malwarebytes Browser Guard can be quite helpful. After all, it’s an extension for such browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, which blocks annoying pop-up ads, trackers, malware, scams, and PUPs (potentially unwanted programs). On top of that, you get malicious website protection, which blocks suspicious domains and IP addresses so you’d avoid encountering online threats.

Furthermore, if you’re wondering how the Premium + Privacy plan is different from the other paid subscription, the answer is short – the more expensive plan includes a VPN. And, if you don’t know what a VPN is, it’s a virtual private network that hides your personal data from prying eyes, including your ISP (internet service provider) and government.

malwarebytes vpn feature

The VPN that Malwarebytes has doesn’t compete with the best antivirus with a VPN included, but it offers 400 servers in 34 countries, which is still a decent amount of choices to connect to.

The only drawback of Malwarebytes is that it lacks more advanced features for extra protection, such as a password manager for securely storing login credentials, or a firewall for additional security.

For more features, check out our Malwarebytes review.

Apps and interface

In terms of installation, both Malwarebytes and Norton are simple to set up and have a quite similar process. You go to their official websites, pick a subscription, sign up, pay, and install the program. The setup is very fast, taking only a few minutes to set up.

It turned out that Malwarebytes is very intuitive having in mind that everything is on hand. The app is not overfilled with unnecessary sections, so if you’re searching for specific features or settings, you’re most likely going to find it in no time.

Norton, however, has a slightly different interface. You have to access the antivirus through “My Norton” window, which provides you with all of your features in one place. It’s worth noting that the image of a person hiking up mountains takes a lot of space, which could be used more efficiently.

So, while features and protection are crucial factors when examining Norton vs Malwarebytes, apps and interface are also important to review. After all, you want to be aware of which platforms the antivirus has apps on before purchasing it. On top of that, you want the service to be easy to navigate.

Malwarebytes vs Norton desktop apps

Norton’s desktop app is very simple. Once you open the application, you’re brought straight to the “My Norton” section which shows you everything from the antivirus itself to all the available features. While some users might find it organized, those who like to have everything in one place can be a bit disappointed.

My Norton interface

When you click on “Open” by the “Device Security” section, you’re taken straight to the antivirus. Norton’s interface is very minimalistic, with black and white being the dominating colors. As soon as you open the antivirus, you get a clear view of where everything is placed at the bottom of the page. You can check your security status, clean or scan your device, get live updates, or go back to “My Norton”.

Norton interface

At the top right of the window you’ll find even more buttons, the most important being the settings. There you can manage the Firewall, Secure Web features, see security history and product settings. Everything is placed into certain sections, so the app is very easy to navigate and doesn’t take long to figure out.

Moving on, Malwarebytes has an even more simplistic design. You have blue and a shade of green as the dominating colors. What’s interesting is that its scanning button is in the middle of the bottom of the window, which is very convenient. You can also see detection history and can enable real-time protection features without having to search for them anywhere.

Malwarebytes interface

The settings button on the top right corner of the window lets you manage more things, such as scheduling scans, your account, and even CPU usage. The linear graph displays how much CPU Malwarebytes is using in real-time, and you can even choose what CPU usage you allow.

All this makes Malwarebytes very intuitive and easy to navigate. If you like to have everything on hand, the provider’s desktop app might be your choice.

Malwarebytes vs Norton mobile apps

Norton’s iPhone app is organized and dark-themed. It has various functions to choose from – you can check pending iOS updates and whether the wifi you’re connected to is safe. You can also turn on web protection and a VPN. But, you don’t have much control over the VPN locations. Moreover, you get an option to enable SMS Security and Secure Calendar features which protect you from phishing attacks.

Norton mobile application interface

The Android app of Norton has the same features as those on the iPhone. However, you also get app installation and spam call checks as well as battery usage warnings.

In terms of Malwarebytes mobile apps, the iPhone app is only available in the US, Canada, and some other countries. You can check whether Malwarebytes is supported in your country by checking whether you can find it in Apple store. The iOS app offers more color variety, making it look much more modern in terms of design. As for features, Malwarebytes blocks ads and trackers, forwards fraudulent texts to junk tab, protects from malicious sites and scams, and blocks calls from suspected scammers.

Malwarebytes mobile application interface

The Android app is a bit different as it has a more minimalistic and quite basic design with a white background. However, once you open the app, you can instantly start the scan as the button is right in the middle of the window. The Android app offers threat removal, privacy audits for all apps, and detecting phishing URLs when using the Chrome browser.

Customer support

In terms of customer support, both providers have quite some benefits yet Norton wins this round of Malwarebytes vs Norton. That’s because while the first one offers a phone line and email, Norton also has a 24/7 live chat and it takes only up to a few minutes to get a response.

24/7 live chat
Phone line
Twitter and Facebook

Both Malwarebytes and Norton offer knowledge bases with helpful guides, and you can also try reaching both of the providers by X (Twitter) or Facebook. However, there’s nothing better than live support when it comes to more complex issues.

So, while Malwarebytes offers quite a few customer service options, Norton takes the first place because it offers a live chat which is available 24/7.

Video review

Check out our video review on how Malwarebytes compare to Norton:

Final verdict

At the end of the day, it depends on what you personally value more in an antivirus. If you’re looking for a complete security package that leaves no gaps and very little chance of error, then I recommend choosing Norton Antivirus. If you want to spend as little money as possible, then Malwarebytes can offer you a free version to download. But, overall, here is how both Malwarebytes and Norton performed in the following categories:

Malware protection
PC performance
User interface

When comparing Malwarebytes vs Norton, both proved to be quality services. However, the further I examined, the faster I reached a conclusion that Norton is a better service. The provider has a great feature array and is more affordable, creating a much better value for money.

While it could be said that the apps of Malwarebytes have a more modern interface, Norton offers better protection. After all, it almost flawlessly protects its users from various threats according to independent lab tests. On top of that, Malwarebytes lacks the 24/7 live chat support option, which is crucial for a great customer experience.

To conclude, Norton is a much better antivirus service in comparison to Malwarebytes because of its protection quality, freebies, performance, price of plans, and customer service.

How we tested and compared Malwarebytes vs Norton

Our team conducted in-house tests to determine the functionality and security of both Malwarebytes and Norton. These tests were performed to get a more in-depth understanding of how each antivirus software performs under regular conditions and hopefully offer you a better view of which provider is best. Here are the criteria that we used to test each antivirus:

  • Detection and removal of malware. We performed the test on the Virtualbox VM with Windows 11 installed on Lenovo ThinkStation. The device had 10 malicious files planted, and both Norton and Malwarebytes were installed individually to see how many they could detect and remove.
  • Real-time protection. We also examined how quickly each antivirus detects malware, if manual scans work just as well as automatic scans, and if there’s a difference in detection rates.
  • Performance. The overall performance, consisting of malware detection rate, pressure on the CPU, and speed, was evaluated to determine which antivirus is better.
  • Features. This category usually depends on the subscription plan, and both Malwarebytes and Norton are very open about what features you will get if you choose one of their plans. The one with more features was rated higher.
  • Compatibility and ease of use. The more platforms an antivirus can cover and the better its user interface is, the better its ranking in this category.
  • Customer support. It’s important to get proper customer support if you were to encounter any issues with your account. So, we evaluated how Malwarebytes and Norton deal with customer problems.
  • Pricing. Some people value this aspect more than any other. So we compared each provider's plans and pricing, as well as general value for money, to present you with a researched perspective on which antivirus is most pocket-friendly.

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