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McAfee alternatives

If you've decided to look for a McAfee alternative, we've got you covered. In this article, we've listed all the leading candidates who could potentially replace this provider.

To compile this list, I worked with the research team to test popular antivirus services and used reviews from expert ranking sites like AV-Comparatives. Our overview includes malware detection rates, device compatibility and resource consumption, app design, and pricing. The testing has shown that TotalAV is currently the best McAfee alternative.

Best McAfee alternative
TotalAV is the best McAfee alternative because of its free version, feature variety, and affordable pricing plans. It maintains the same high malware detection rates and real-time online protection features to safeguard your online activities.
cybernews® score
4.9 /5

Each app on the list can replace McAfee without compromising your security and provide extra features that improve it. Furthermore, to compensate for the somewhat steep McAfee price, we verified that they include a risk-free trial, money-back guarantee, or a sufficient free version.

Let’s go through and find you the best alternative to McAfee.

Top 5 best McAfee alternatives

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Why look for an alternative to McAfee?

McAfee is one of the oldest antivirus programs and is regarded as the best antivirus software. However, it has some limitations. Here's why you may want to consider a McAfee competitor:

  • Pricing. McAfee antivirus plans start at $39.99/year, compared to Bitdefender's $19.99 and TotalTV's $19.00. Furthermore, these are discounted prices for the first year, and McAfee costs $109.99/year after that, which is more expensive than the Surfshark One bundle, which also offers a top-notch VPN.
  • No free plan. Although we don't recommend staying on a free antivirus version for long due to its lack of advanced features, sometimes it is sufficient to protect one device from malware infection. While McAfee doesn't have one, you can use Malwarebytes or TotalAV to get rid of viruses without paying anything.
  • False positives. This antivirus occasionally produces false positives that could block access to legitimate websites or mislead the user about a safe app. AV-Comparatives revealed McAfee showed 19 false alarms during the 2024 March Malware protection test.

Best McAfee alternatives in 2024

McAfee's basic plan is packed with features, including a VPN and a password manager. Below are McAfee alternatives that can meet its standards of variety. In-house tests also show which McAfee competitor outperforms it regarding specific features.

1. TotalAV – the best McAfee alternative overall

totalav antivirus banner
Simultaneous connections:8
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Coupons: TotalAV coupon 80% OFF

TotalAV is the best McAfee alternative that offers just as good cyber protection for a lower price.

This antivirus software has built-in ad blockers, disk and browser cleaners, as well as system tune-up tools. More importantly, it offers real-time malware detection, phishing, and ransomware protection and notifies of potentially unwanted programs. Higher-tier plans include a password manager, VPN, and simultaneous device support.

AV-Comparatives revealed that TotalAV has a nearly perfect 99.94% online protection rate during the March 2024 test. At the same time, AV-Test assigned it a maximum 6 score in three categories regarding Android safety. During our in-house testing, it maintained a light 8% to 38% CPU load during a quick scan that didn't even last a minute.

TotalAV antivirus cost starts from $19.00/year for 8 devices. If you notice something you don't like, there's a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Norton 360 – McAfee alternative with cloud backup

Norton Antivirus Banner new
Simultaneous connections:10
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Coupons: Norton Antivirus coupon 58% OFF

Norton 360 is another excellent McAfee alternative that adds cloud backup storage on all plans.

The antivirus is just one part of Norton's full cybersecurity package. Starting from the basic plan, users get 2GB of cloud backup to safeguard important files and a password manager for online account protection. More expensive plans add a VPN, dark web monitoring, parental controls, and identity theft protection features.

During the AV-Comparatives performance test, Norton got all the highest results except a slight fall behind regarding other application installations. Despite having a 99.97% online protection rate, it produced 26 false alarms, so it's especially picky about malware detection. The AV-Test assigned it a Top Product badge in February 2024, which compensates for these minor issues.

​​In-house Norton 360 tests delivered mixed results. We started by testing real-time protection with 10 malware samples, and the antivirus had a 70% success rate. It failed to identify and remove 3 malicious files.

The best Norton 360 plan starts at $29.99/year for protecting 10 devices, but it can go down to $29.99 to use it on one device. It also offers a lengthy 60-day money-back guarantee.

3. Bitdefender – highly rated alternative to McAfee

Bitdefender interface
Simultaneous connections:15
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Coupons: Bitdefender coupon 78% OFF

Bitdefender is a McAfee alternative that continuously receives high independent test results.

This excellent antivirus scored a maximum of 6 in all three categories during AV-Test trials, earning it a Top Product badge. The last time it got something less was in June 2023, with a 5.5 for usability, which is still a high score. This McAfee alternative will keep your devices safe for years to come.

What's more, AV-Test assigned it the same highest rating regarding the macOS operating system. Bitdefender antivirus is one of the best choices for protecting Apple devices. You will also find a device optimizer, firewall, and VPN, although the latter has too limited traffic.

Regarding the price, it asks for $19.99/year to protect a single device. You can also use a 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. Surfshark Antivirus – best McAfee substitute with outstanding VPN

Surfshark Antivirus banner
Simultaneous connections: 5
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android
Coupons: Surfshark Antivirus coupon 80% OFF + 3 months FREE

This alternative to McAfee will protect your online privacy like no other, and it has one of the best VPNs in 2024.

Surfshark is best known for its VPN, simplistic app, and family-friendly plans. It aims to protect large households and individual users simultaneously, so it wasn't surprising that it launched an antivirus, which is included in its Surfshark One bundle. Its antivirus offers quick, complete, scheduled, and drag-and-drop file scans, which we found efficient and comfortable.

Among its many cybersecurity features, you'll find real-time email, credit card, ID breach alerts, a private search tool, an ad blocker, and, of course, thousands of VPN servers. The more expensive Surfshark One+ adds two data removal tools for identity theft protection.

Now, about the price, Surfshark One costs $47.85/year or just $15.95/month and has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

5. Malwarebytes – McAfee alternative suited for beginners

Malwarebytes-banner new
Simultaneous connections:20
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Android, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS
Coupons: Malwarebytes coupon 25% OFF

Malwarebytes is a top McAfee alternative thanks to its free version, which provides sufficient malware protection.

There is no need to be alarmed if you can't find Malwarebytes on AV-Test and AV-Comparatives because this antivirus decided to switch testing partners, and more trial results are yet to come. However, AV-Comparatives assigned it an excellent performance rating in 2022, and AV-Test also awarded it a Top Product badge in 2023.

Our in-house tests confirm that the Malwarebytes antivirus free version will efficiently clean up an infected device. However, its real-time protection features are paid, which is standard in this industry.

Malwarebytes costs $38.24/year and offers a 60-day money-back guarantee alongside its free version.

Which McAfee alternative should I pick?

What's the best alternative to McAfee depends on your demands and browsing habits. However, during tests, I verified their cross-device compatibility and malware detection rates on different operating systems.

Our selected McAfee alternatives will satisfy most needs, but here are some more details to consider if you’re struggling to decide:

  • Additional benefits. McAfee offers a VPN and a password manager on its basic plan, so we double-checked that our selected competitors also have these features. Moreover, bundles like Surfshark One made it easy to decide because they added unique online privacy protection features, like personal data removal tools from online databases.
  • Pricing. One of the oldest antiviruses is also pretty pricey, especially after the first-year discount ends. The costs quickly build up to quite a sum if you add other paid apps to your device. Our selected McAfee substitutes are either more affordable or offer benefits that you'd otherwise have to pay for elsewhere.
  • Free version. While free plans might be limited, they’re a good way to try an antivirus before committing long-term. They’re also important for people on a budget who can't spend much on antivirus software. In this case, you can try TotalAV, Bitdefender, Malwarebytes, and Norton, which offer completely free plans.

How we tested these McAfee alternatives

I combined several methods to compile the list of the best McAfee alternatives. I scrutinized online reviews, independent lab tests, and antivirus in-house testing.

Here's a summary of what together with a research team I did:

  • In-house testing. We launched malware examples using the chosen antiviruses and inspected the results to identify the best performers.
  • Independent tests. To verify that research results align with those of cybersecurity professionals, I compared them to AV-Comparatives and AV-Test results. Furthermore, I checked their historical analysis to see how well-selected antiviruses perform over time.
  • Compatibility. Nowadays, most people use more than a few devices with different operating systems. I consider excellent cross-device compatibility with sufficient simultaneous connection support a significant advantage.
  • Security features. Contemporary antiviruses not only scan for viruses but also provide additional benefits like a VPN, password manager, anti-theft features, etc. My selected nominees have a vast array of cybersecurity benefits that supplement the antivirus for all-encompassing online safety.
  • Pricing. McAfee is expensive compared to the other alternatives, especially after the first year of use. To ensure most people can afford the McAfee alternative they're looking for, I compared their prices, free versions, free trials, and money-back guarantees.

Do I really need an antivirus tool?

Yes, a reliable antivirus is a must-have for active internet users. In fact, cybercrime has been steadily rising over the last decade, amplified by the recent pandemic and the current geopolitical tensions. As a matter of fact, cybercriminals exploit social crises to attack victims who are already preoccupied with other worries.

What's more, our chosen best McAfee alternatives go beyond malware detection. TotalAV also offers a disk cleaner, system tune-up, a web shield browser extension, robust real-time online protection, and more. Alongside making you safer, it will also make your device more comfortable to use.

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