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McAfee vs Norton: which is better in 2024?


Having a robust antivirus is crucial in this day and age of the digital world. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to spread malware and steal users’ personal data. Even if some OS do include antivirus software, it’s generally not robust enough to fully protect your device. That’s why we strongly suggest using a powerful third-party antivirus solution.

McAfee and Norton are two of the best-known antivirus programs on the market. These rivaling antiviruses both offer market-leading real-time protection that can keep any device safe from malware.

In this 2024 McAfee vs Norton comparison, we'll review both products' pros and cons to help you decide which antivirus can better protect your device and suit your needs.

McAfee vs Norton at a glance

Norton AntivirusMcAfee Antivirus
⭐ Rating:
4.7
4.2
🥇 Overall rank:#2 out of #25#7 out of #25
🔥 Coupons:Norton Antivirus coupon 58% OFFMcAfee Antivirus coupon 70% OFF
💵 Price:From $29.99/yearFrom $39.99/year
✂️ Free version:NoYes (Android, iOS)
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Android, iOS

Apart from protection, Norton 360 and McAfee Total Protection have a huge feature suite with encrypted storage, password managers, Internet security suites, and even VPNs. But if both providers are so great, you might wonder which antivirus software outrivals the other. Norton is way more affordable, with its plans starting at $29.99/year. Besides, Norton offers superior malware protection, faster scanning speed, and a lower impact on system performance than McAfee.

McAfee vs Norton: which offers better security?

McAfee Total ProtectionNorton 360
Independent testsHighest marksHighest marks
Real-time protection99.8%99.9%
FirewallEffectiveEffective
ScanningEffective, caught 10/10 malware threatsEffective, caught 10/10 malware threats

Many Norton 360 vs McAfee reviewers score this one as a tie. To determine the winner, we first looked at the German AV-Test Institute’s independent test results. McAfee Total Protection earned a “Top product” rating, while Norton got a “Certified” badge, meaning McAfee is slightly better than Norton among the best antivirus providers, no matter which device you’re using.

When it comes to AV-Comparatives, both McAfee and Norton managed to score great online protection rates, 99.95% and 99.98%, respectively. However, there are some things to point out. While both providers offer almost the same online detection and protection rates, Norton has a slightly better offline detection rate but a higher false alarm rate.

More so, we looked at the SE Labs test results. Turns out, both competitors got the best possible award. Norton managed to get a perfect score of 100%, and McAfee got 99%.

When it came to our in-house testing, both antivirus providers performed really well. We ran various scan types to see how effective either of them is at removing malware threats. Both providers caught 10 out of 10 malware samples we’ve placed without requiring too many resources from our device.

Wrapping up
While both antiviruses performed exceptionally well in terms of protection, Norton had a slight edge over McAfee. That’s because, in real-world protection tests, Norton delivered slightly better results in terms of performance and protection than McAfee. Plus, it offers extensive features for malware protection.

Real-time malware protection

Both Norton 360 and McAfee have reliable threat prevention systems, and to test them out, AV-Comparatives put them to a rigorous real-world protection test.

During the February – May, 2023 tests, it detected 14 false positives (FPs), while McAfee – 13. In the July – October testing, it detected 16 FPs for Norton, and 6 for McAfee, to Norton’s disadvantage. Despite that, both antiviruses are capable of catching malware with a score of over 99%.

Independent testing aside, we decided to run our in-house tests to see how effectively Norton and McAfee detect malware. The results don't come far from independent testing. During the full scan, Norton and McAfee caught 10/10 malware we planted on the device.

Norton-full-scan-in-progress

During the quick scan test, McAfee found 9/10 viruses during its 12-min-length scan. Norton, on the other hand, didn't find a single malware we planted. However, McAfee took longer to scan and used more PC resources than Norton.

McAfee-quick-scan-in-progress

Despite the mishap, both McAfee and Norton are secure and reliable antiviruses. In fact, they are leading providers on the market.

Malware protection

Both Norton 360 and McAfee offer some great features for protection from malware and its removal.

Norton malware protection includes very reliable real-time protection that monitors and protects your device from various online threats. You can also add a Safe Web feature on your browser to strengthen your device security further. It indicates how secure each site you’re trying to visit is.

On the other hand, McAfee does offer a wider variety of features that include Tracker Remover, Secure Apps, and a file shredder. The Tracker Remover feature helps clean your device from cookies and temporary files to improve security. As for the other two – let’s just say that you won’t have to worry about your deleted sensitive files being recovered by cybercriminals or having to update apps manually. Furthermore, McAfee also has a feature to boost your browser security. It’s called WebAdvisor, and it protects you from misclicks and typos to ensure you won’t accidentally visit dangerous sites.

Firewall protection

Norton 360 Deluxe’s Smart Firewall works hand-in-hand with the Intrusion Prevention System. The former decides which data goes through, while the latter checks if there are no malicious pieces. It also hides all unused ports to limit the connection options for third parties.

Norton firewall

Of course, the firewall can work the other way as well, blocking you from accessing potentially harmful websites. However, you should expect quite a few false positives.

McAfee’s firewall protection works better in the sense that you’ll encounter fewer false positives. Other than that, the settings and performance are quite similar to Norton’s.

In this case, it’s enough to know that both firewalls do their job, and you shouldn’t be thinking this part over when selecting between McAfee Total Protection and Norton 360 Deluxe.

Scanning

In terms of scanning, both providers have quite a few options to choose from. Norton 360, for instance, offers multiple types of scans – quick, full, smart, file, and more scans.

Norton scanning options

The quick one works as a great alternative for a regular checkup – it analyzes the most vulnerable spots of your device. Meanwhile, the full scan analyzes everything – your entire system. And if you believe that a certain file is infected, you’ll make use of the file scan.

Moving on, McAfee has three types of scans as well – quick, full, and custom. The quick and full scans have the same purpose as relative Norton’s scans.

McAfee scanning options

As for the custom scan, you don’t get a dedicated scanning button for it. If you need to scan a specific file or folder, you need to locate it on your device, right-click it, and press the “scan” button.

McAfee vs Norton price

PlanNortonMcAfee
AntiVirus Plus vs Plus$29.99/year$39.99/year
Standard vs Premium$39.99/year$49.99/year
Deluxe vs Advanced$49.99/year$89.99/year
Select vs Ultimate$99.99/year$119.99/year
Check Norton DiscountsCheck McAfee Discounts

Both McAfee and Norton have a number of subscriptions to choose from. Four main plans for both McAfee and Norton. However, comparing the prices, Norton has a cheaper starting plan at $29.99/year for those who don’t need that many features and are looking to save a buck. McAfee’s corresponding plan starts at $39.99/year, which is double of what Norton costs. In this price comparison, you can clearly see that all of McAfee’s plan prices are much higher than Norton’s.

McAfee has a 30-day free trial, while Norton 360 gives you a 7-day free trial for annual subscriptions. Even after that, you get a 30-day money-back guarantee with McAfee and a 60-day money-back guarantee with Norton 360. You can pay for both products with a credit card or PayPal.

Wrapping up
Norton offers more budget-friendly subscription options than McAfee. Additionally, all Norton plans come with more security features than the competitor. This is why Norton is the winner of the price category.

Norton pricing

When choosing Norton 360 as your antivirus, you have 4 main options to choose from. All of the plans include malware and online threat protection, a firewall, backup storage, and a password manager.

Here’s every plan Norton offers and what you get with it:

AntiVirus Plus
StandardDeluxe
LifeLock Select
Price$29.99/year$39.99/year$49.99/year$99.99/year
Price upon renewal$59.99/year$94.99/year$119.99/year$179.99/year
Devices13510
Cloud backup storage
2GB2GB50GB250GB
Secure VPN
No✅Yes✅Yes
✅Yes
Privacy monitor
❌No
❌No✅Yes
Yes
Parental controls
No❌No✅Yes
Yes
Dark web monitoring❌No✅Yes✅Yes✅Yes
Identity theft protection
❌No❌No❌No✅Yes

The most basic plan option (from $29.99/year), AntiVirus Plus, offers 2GB of cloud backup storage and the security features available for all the plans, like a virus scan option, real-time protection, and a firewall. However, by investing more into the Standard plan (from $39.99/year), you also get a VPN and dark web monitoring.

The most optimal plan is the Deluxe one (starting at $49.99/year), offering all of the Standard plan features and adding privacy monitoring, parental controls, and much more.

However, to get identity theft protection, cover 10 devices, and get 250GB of storage, you’ll have to pick the Norton LifeLock Select plan, which is the most expensive (from $99.99/year).

McAfee pricing

PlusPremiumAdvancedUltimate
Price$39.99/year$49.99/year$89.99/year$119.99/year
Price upon renewal$39.99/year$149.99/year$199.99/year$279.99/year
Devices5UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Parental controls
❌No
✅Yes
✅Yes
✅Yes
Personal data cleanup
No❌No
Yes✅Yes
Identity theft coverage
❌No
❌No
✅Yes (up to $1M per adult)
✅Yes (up to $1M per adult)
Lost wallet protection
❌No
❌No
✅Yes
✅Yes
Security freeze
No❌No
Yes✅Yes
Ransomware coverage❌No❌No❌No✅Yes (up to $25K each for 2 adults)

McAfee’s cheapest plan (from $39.99/year), called Plus, is also the most basic one. Apart from the virus scan, real-time protection, and firewall features, it offers no addition to the security package.

However, if you invest in Premium plan, which is slightly more expensive (starting at $49.99/year) but supports unlimited devices, you’ll also get parental controls and a VPN.

There’s also the Advanced plan (starting at $89.99/year), offering all that you get with Premium, as well as personal data cleanup, identity theft coverage, and many more features.

The most expensive plan (starting at $119.99), Ultimate, offers all of the above features plus includes Credit lock (to prevent unauthorized opening of accounts in your name) and $25K ransomware coverage.

Norton vs McAfee feature comparison

Norton provides you with a much wider range of security features than McAfee. While both antiviruses cover the essentials, Norton includes additionals, such as phone takeover and monitoring cloud storage.

Here’s what we found during our Norton vs McAfee feature research:

NortonMcAfee
VPN (unlimited data)✅Yes✅Yes
Password manager✅Yes✅Yes
Dark Web Monitoring✅Yes✅Yes
Credit monitoring✅Yes✅Yes
401(k) & Investment Activity Alerts✅Yes✅Yes
Secure browser✅Yes✅Yes
Secure cloud storage✅Yes❌No
ReviewNorton Antivirus reviewMcAfee Antivirus review

Overall, Norton is better in terms of features than McAfee because of the more extensive cloud storage. It doesn’t have McAfee’s file shredder or encryption, which won’t agitate most users.

Norton’s arsenal is loaded with features beneficial for advanced protection from threats (obviously depending on the plan you choose.) Besides, you get a 100% virus protection promise. McAfee Total Protection doesn’t fall far behind Norton’s plans, all very inclusive. Aside from threat and web protection, you get such essentialities as a firewall as well as extras, such as a file shredder, to protect the documents you removed from recovering.

For a full cybersecurity suite, both Norton and McAfee offer a password manager and a VPN. What we like about Norton is that it has a PC SafeCam, which will stop unauthorized third-party access to your webcam. Additionally, the Dark web monitoring feature, that both providers have, searches for your personal information and informs you if your data has been leaked.

Wrapping up
Norton offers a much better feature package than McAfee. With Norton, you’ll get extensive security features, ID theft protection, secure cloud storage, and device monitoring options. On the other hand, McAfee’s features are reliable and enhance your security, but it simply cannot compete with Norton’s offer.

Norton vs McAfee apps, interface, and ease of use

Both Norton and McAfee have a smooth installation and setup process. Their apps were user-friendly and simple to navigate.

Desktop app designs are not outdated or clogged with menus and buttons, so it all depends on which one appeals to you more. As for the mobile devices and their apps, I have noticed that Norton offers most of the features, while iOS users should expect a few less. McAfee is doing everything similarly but emphasizes improving your device’s performance with specialized tools. However, McAfee is easier to navigate as in Norton's app, you have to open many new tabs and apps to find features.

Wrapping up – it's a draw
To sum up, no matter if it’s Norton or McAfee, both providers are user-friendly, and you won’t have issues with setting them up. In terms of design, both McAfee and Norton offer clear, modern, and very organized interfaces. Our top recommendation for the overall category is Norton.

Norton antivirus vs McAfee desktop apps

Norton 360 offers a minimalist design with fewer colors and fewer things to click on, which can be easier to navigate for beginner users. There’s no left sidebar, only five big buttons clearly informing what purposes they perform (Security, Online Safety, Backup, Performance, My Norton) at the bottom and settings at the top-right of the window.

Norton interface

However, there’s a small price to pay for this initial simplicity – Norton uses pop-ups that are informative, but I found them to be quite annoying. Yet, the most important part is that everything is clear and easy to understand, even for beginners.

In the meantime, the McAfee antivirus program gives you a clear and concise main screen. However, for some reason, I was not able to maximize the window or change its size in any other way, which can be irritating for users.

McAfee interface

On the top menu, you will find the 4 main options related to McAfee functions: Protect your PC, Protect yourself on the web, Protect your identity, and More security. During the test, clicking each of them showed us what was on or off, what McAfee did while we weren't looking, and buttons at the bottom to choose a possible action.

McAfee vs Norton 360 mobile apps

Norton's Android version installation starts with choosing your desired tools. It can be basic Norton Security or you can add a password manager and Norton Secure VPN. We recommend installing all 3 if you don’t have separate apps for the latter two. With McAfee, you get to install everything at once.

Norton’s mobile apps are pretty similar in the number of available features. What iOS might miss are app installation checker, spam call checker, and battery usage warnings. Also, it’s not possible to have it start up automatically whenever you switch to a public or another unsecured Wi-Fi.

Moving on, McAfee’s mobile app seemed simpler than its desktop counterpart. Compared to the desktop app, the mobile one heavily lacks certain features. For example, it no longer offers features like a Storage Cleaner, Memory Booster, App Lock, and Anti-Theft.

Customer support: Norton or McAfee?

NortonMcAfee
Email✅Yes✅Yes
24/7 live chat✅Yes✅Yes
Phone line✅Yes✅Yes
Knowledge base✅Yes✅Yes

Both competitors have solid customer support. McAfee or Norton, they both offer 24/7 live chat options, as well as a phone line for contacts with human agents. The waiting times for a response are a few minutes tops, so for any urgent issues you’ll receive the needed help quickly.

There are also forums for individual research for both providers, and we were able to find more help from the McAfee community. Their knowledge base is also nicely structured.

Looking for some external opinions, I checked what the Better Business Bureau had to say about the customer service of each contestant. Turns out, they both get an A+.

Wrapping up – it's a draw
To sum up, both Norton and McAfee are equal when it comes to customer support. Both providers offer many different communication and help channels, so you’ll surely find all the needed help or information either independently or with a trained agent’s help. Our overall recommendation and top pick is Norton.

Final verdict: McAfee or Norton?

NortonMcAfee
Features✅Wins❌Loses
Malware protection✅Wins❌Loses
Pricing✅Wins❌Loses
User interface✅Draw✅Draw
Support✅Draw✅Draw

Norton and McAfee are among the best antiviruses in 2024, offering excellent protection and a great selection of features. Based on independent and our in-house tests, Norton has better malware protection ratings and more features, brings more value for your money, and offers great customer support options. Meanwhile, McAfee also has solid malware protection that performs just slightly below Norton. The provider also doesn’t fall far behind Norton with its useful customer support options and essential features.

It’s worth noting that these competitors are among the best antivirus that you can find in 2024. In fact, most of the time, they'll be in the Top 5, so choosing one or another comes down to a few aspects that may not be as important for some.

After careful consideration, we can clearly state that Norton is a better antivirus compared to McAfee. It shows better protection, offers more features, and has more affordable pricing.

How we tested and compared Mcafee vs Norton

Choosing the best antivirus software always depends on what exactly you need this AV for. The relevant characteristics change based on your OS, the level of protection you need, your financial situation, and more.

However, here are the main criteria we followed when comparing Norton vs McAfee:

  • Malware detection and removal. We evaluated the antivirus' ability to detect and remove a wide range of malware, including viruses, Trojans, and other threats. Having the AVs tested by companies like AV-Test Institute or AV-Comparatives helps us to know how legitimate the AV is. In addition, running tests of our own gives a real-life, hands-on experience.
  • Real-time protection. We always check whether the antivirus provides real-time protection by continuously monitoring your system for threats. This is essential for preventing infections in real time.
  • Performance. As antivirus is a constantly running process, it’s important it doesn’t have too much effect on your device's performance.
  • False positive detection rates. We always pay attention to how many false positives the AV catches to avoid oversensitive protection.
  • Extra features. We explored the additional features the antivirus has to offer, like a VPN or a password manager, to enhance your security and overall experience.
  • Compatibility. We ensured that the antiviruses are compatible with all the most popular operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux, to be able to protect all of your devices.
  • Customer support. A reliable antivirus provider should offer timely assistance in case you encounter issues. That’s why we always test the responsiveness and effectiveness of customer support.
  • Price. After testing dozens of antiviruses, we aim to select only those that offer the best quality and price ratio. After all, cybersecurity shouldn’t be a luxury item.

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