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McAfee vs Norton: side-by-side comparison


McAfee and Norton are two of the best-known names in the antivirus space. They've been around for decades, watching many of their competitors go bankrupt and always adapting to stay on top.

Both Norton 360 and McAfee Total Protection offer huge feature suites that not only contain excellent malware protection but also encrypted storage, password managers, Internet security suites, and even VPNs. So, which antivirus software outrivals another?

In this McAfee vs Norton comparison, I’ll review both products to find out which of these two products is better for your cybersecurity, faster, and has more additional features. Read on and see who’s the winner here.

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McAfee vs Norton

Norton AntivirusMcAfee Antivirus
⭐ Rating:
4.7
4.2
🥇 Overall rank:#2 out of #21#7 out of #21
🔥 Coupons:Norton Antivirus coupon 66% OFFMcAfee Antivirus coupon 67% OFF
💵 Price:From $19.99/yearFrom $39.99/year
✂️ Free version:NoYes (Android, iOS)
🖥️ Platforms:Windows, macOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Android, iOS

Norton vs McAfee: feature comparison

Norton provides you with a much wider range of security features than McAfee Total Protection. While both antiviruses cover the essentials, Norton includes additionals, such as better identity theft protection tools and cloud storage.

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

NortonMcAfee
VPN (unlimited data)
Firewall
Password manager
Dark Web Monitoring
Credit monitoring
Phone takeover monitoring
401(k) & Investment Activity Alerts
Parental Control
File Shredder
Secure browser
Secure cloud storage

Overall, Norton is better in terms of features than McAfee because of the more extensive anti-identity theft tools and cloud storage. It doesn’t have McAfee’s file shredder or encryption, but those won’t agitate most users.

Norton features

Norton’s arsenal is loaded with features beneficial for advanced protection from threats. Of course, the amount of features you get depends on the plan you choose.

For instance, the AntiVirus Plus plan ($19.99/year) includes all the basics. This includes various types of malware and online threat protection. Not to mention that you also get a 100% virus protection promise.

For secure storing of your credentials, you get a password manager even with the entry plan. And if you want to protect your device from threats accessing your device, all you have to do is enable the firewall.

My-Norton-interface

Each of the plans includes cloud storage – with the entry one, you get 2GB. If you want more, you’ll have to opt for more expensive plans. For instance, the Standard plan ($39.99/year) includes 10GB of storage.

Speaking of the Standard plan, it includes everything that AntiVirus Plus has and more. This includes the Secure VPN feature that will keep you anonymous online. Meanwhile, the PC SafeCam will stop unauthorized third-party access to your webcam.

Additionally, the Dark web monitoring feature searches for your personal information and informs you if your data has been leaked somewhere.

Moving on, the Norton 360 Deluxe plan ($49.99/year) is a great pick if you’re concerned with your child’s online activities. The parental controls feature will help you have some peace of mind. Not to mention that School-time will help you limit hours that your child spends on their device.

For more information about features, visit our Norton Antivirus review.

McAfee features

McAfee Total Protection doesn’t fall far behind Norton’s plans. While it offers 3 plans, they’re all very inclusive.

Take the McAfee Plus ($39.99/year), for example. Aside from malicious threat and web protection, you get such essentialities as a firewall which stops threats from getting into your device in the first place.

Thanks to a file shredder, the documents you remove are also protected. This means no cybercriminal will be able to recover the files you deleted and use it against you.

McAfee features

If you’re one to use the same password on multiple websites, you’ll make use of McAfee’s password manager. And for a full cybersecurity suite, a VPN is also included. It might not be the best VPN on the market, but it’ll do the job well.

It’s worth mentioning that the Premium subscription ($49.99/year) will have all the mentioned features plus parental controls. So if you’re a guardian, you might want to look into this plan.

Last but not least is McAfee’s Advanced ($89.99year) subscription that includes even more security features. For instance, personal data cleanup will search for and remove your personal data from data brokers and search sites, ensuring additional anonymity.

With the most expensive plan, you also get up to $1M identity theft coverage. Aside from that, there’s also lost wallet protection which helps you cancel your credit card and contact your bank.

For more information about features, visit our McAfee Antivirus review.

McAfee vs Norton: which offers better protection?

McAfee Total ProtectionNorton 360
AV-TestTop productTop product
AV-ComparativesAdvanced+Advanced+
SE LabsAAAAAA

Many Norton 360 vs McAfee reviewers score this one as a tie. To determine the winner, I decided to first take a look at the German AV-Test institute’s independent test results. Both McAfee Total Protection and Norton 360 earned “Top product,” which means they are among the best antivirus providers, no matter which device you’re using.

When it comes to AV-Comparatives, both McAfee and Norton managed to block 100% of malware threats, and detected very few false positives. Which is why both providers have the honorary Advanced+ badge. However, during real-world protection tests, Norton detected 50 false positives, while McAfee Total Protection detected only 5, giving the latter an advantage.

Finally, I looked at the SE Labs test results. Turns out, with a total accuracy rating of 99%, both competitors got the best possible award (AAA) together with 5 more antiviruses.

Wrapping up
While both antiviruses performed exceptionally well in terms of protection, McAfee had a slight edge over Norton. That’s because in real-world protection tests, McAfee delivered much better results in terms of false positives than Norton. 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.

It turns out, both antivirus software are more than capable of catching malware with 99% success rates. However, this time, Norton 360 had many more false alarms than McAfee. February-May 2022 results show that Norton detected 50 false positives, while McAfee – only 5.

This gives McAfee a clear edge when it comes to real-time malware protection. However, both antiviruses are reliable at detecting nearly 100% of threats.

Malware protection

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

Norton malware protection includes a 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 further strengthen your device security. 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 QuickClean, a file shredder, and a vulnerability scanner. The QuickClean 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 cyber criminals. And device vulnerabilities won’t ever go unnoticed, ensuring top-notch protection.

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.

McAfee firewall

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 three types of scans – quick, full, and file scan.

Norton scanning options

The quick one works as a great alternative for 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 scan 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.

Impact on PC performance

In terms of performance, both providers are quite gentle on system resources. While Norton 360 was much quicker during the scans, the resources used turned out to be very similar. No antivirus won’t have any effect on your device performance, so such results are great compared to many other services.

And these are not only my tests talking – AV-Comparatives performance impact test showed that both providers are some of the best. For instance, Norton scored 6.8 points and ranked 5th place. Meanwhile, with a score of 7.2 points and ranking 6th place, McAfee didn’t fall far behind either.

For my own batch of tests, I’ve checked how long a quick scan and full virus scans of 41GB of data takes. I also noted down how much the CPU, memory, and disk usage changed during that time.

Quick scan

McAfeeNorton
Quick scan2 min 20 s1 min 16 s
CPU load4%7%
Memory load18%15%
Disk load38%42%

As you can see, Norton 360 Deluxe is much faster when running a simple quick scan. The CPU and memory load was similar, and neither of the contestants clogged more than a half of the disk load capacity.

Full scan

McAfeeNorton
Full scan0 h 57 min0 h 10 min
CPU load8%10%
Memory load53%15%
Disk load52%55%

When performing a full scan, McAfee takes almost six times longer, which can be a real nuisance unless you're leaving it through the night. The CPU and disk load were quite similar, while the memory load was more than three times lower in the case of Norton.

Everything considered, although Norton 360 is much faster at scanning, both providers aren’t too hard on system resources, ensuring a smooth experience even while scanning.

Pricing and plans

Both McAfee and Norton have a number of subscriptions to choose from. The latter has four, while McAfee – three. However, Norton has more plans that are suitable for any budget.

Here’s how they look in a comparison-friendly table (all prices are for the first year):

PlanNortonMcAfee
AntiVirus Plus vs Plus$19.99/year$39.99/year
Standard vs Premium$39.99/year$49.99/year
Deluxe vs Advanced$49.99/year$89.99/year
LifeLock Select$99.48/year
Check Norton DiscountsCheck McAfee Discounts

Norton 360 and McAfee offer pretty similar prices on average. A higher price isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it means you get extra features that may come in handy.

Also, with Norton 360 LifeLock Select, you get an awe-inspiring list of seven tools for identity theft protection. That’s something that McAfee cannot offer at the moment.

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 60-day money-back guarantee with Norton 360. You can pay for both products with a credit card or PayPal.

Wrapping up
When it comes to pricing, Norton offers more budget-friendly options than McAfee. Plus, its plans come with more security features as well.

Norton 360 pricing plans

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, and a password manager.

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

AntiVirus PlusStandardDeluxeLifeLock Select
Price$19.99/year$39.99/year$49.99/year$99.48/year
Devices1355
Cloud backup storage2GB10GB50GB100GB
Secure VPN
✅ (up to 3 devices)✅ (up to 5 devices)✅ (up to 5 devices)
PC SafeCam

Privacy monitor


Parental controls

School time

Dark web monitoring
Stolen wallet protection
ID verification monitoring

Norton 360 is expensive when compared to many other premium antivirus products. However, one would be hard-pressed to find the same list of features for a better price. Even the AntiVirus Plus plan gives you 10 GB of cloud storage, SafeCam, and a dark web scanner. Throw in 15 bucks, and see your storage increase fivefold, plus adding a full Parental Control extra feature.

Visit our Norton coupon page and look if there's any discounts that tickle your fancy.

McAfee Total Protection pricing plans

McAfee has 3 plans for you to choose from. They don’t have too many differences so it all comes down to your needs. That’s because you get malware and web protection, a password manager, a firewall, a file shredder, identity monitoring, and Secure VPN for up to 5 devices with every plan.

Here’s how the McAfee Total Protection plans differ from one another:

PlusPremiumAdvanced
Price$39.99/year$49.99/year$89.99/year
Devices5UnlimitedUnlimited
Parental controls


50GB
Personal data cleanup

Identity theft coverage


✅ (up to $1M)
Lost wallet protection


Security freeze

McAfee offers all the essentials with the cheapest plan, meaning you’ll get everything you need even if you’re on a budget. However, I was a bit disappointed to find that the plans that support unlimited devices let only 5 of them use Secure VPN. Other than that, the antivirus suite of security seems pretty good.

Check out our McAfee coupon codes to snatch the best prices.

Apps and interface

Both Norton vs McAfee offer simple installation processes, are 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, 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.

Wrapping up
To sum up, 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.

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 can still be annoying. But the most important part is that everything is clear and easy to understand even for beginners.

In the meantime, McAfee antivirus program gives you a clear and concise main screen. However, for some reason it’s not possible 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 3 main options related to McAfee functions: PC Security, PC Performance, and My Privacy. Clicking each of them shows what’s on or off, what McAfee did while you weren’t looking, and buttons at the bottom to choose a possible action.

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. I personally 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-mobile-application

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 wifi.

Moving on, McAfee’s mobile app is simpler than its desktop counterpart. You get four main options (Storage Cleaner, Memory Booster, App Lock, Anti-Theft), which emphasizes improving performance. The hamburger menu on the top-right server as a notification area and settings for all the tools.

McAfee mobile interface

Customer support

NortonMcAfee
Email
24/7 live chat
Phone line
Knowledge base

Both contestants have solid customer support. McAfee and Norton 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 I would say that I was 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+.

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.

Video review

Norton 360 vs McAfee video review

Final verdict

NortonMcAfee
Features
Malware protection
PC performance
Pricing
User interface
Support

After looking into all aspects, it's clear that Norton is a much better service than McAfee. That’s because it has more features, brings more value for your money, and offers great customer support options.

Meanwhile, McAfee offers better malware protection measures and detects fewer false positives. The provider doesn’t fall far behind Norton with its useful customer support options and essential features.

It’s worth noting that these contestants are among the best antiviruses that you can find in 2022. In fact, most of the time, they'll be in the Top 5, so choosing one or another comes down to a few aspects which may not be that important for some.

Alternatives to McAfee and Norton

If neither McAfee or Norton caught your attention, the antivirus market has some great alternatives, including Bitdefender and TotalAV.

Bitdefender

Being a market-leading antivirus, Bitdefender can boast a wide range of security features that will prevent various types of threats from entering your device. It’s an independent laboratory-approved antivirus that also includes real-time protection, a built-in VPN, a password manager, and more.

Bitdefender’s prices start from $23.99/year. Plus, there’s a free version you can try out.

TotalAV

With excellent malware detection rates and ample security features, you’ll be able to secure multiple devices in your household with TotalAV. Real-time protection, performance optimization tools, a VPN, a password manager, ransomware detection – you name it, this antivirus has it.

TotalAV prices start from $19.00/year. And if you want to test it first, there’s a solid free version.


Other antivirus software comparisons:


FAQ

Comments

Matthew
Matthew
prefix 6 months ago
Have used both, Norton is a little annoying to me, i ain't gonna lie but it's a legit antivirus which makes you feel secure enough but there are multiple reasons why I shifted to Macafee, Firstly it's not annoying, secondly it really is helpful for my young siblings in blocking unwanted sites and it's more family oriented.
Anita
Anita
prefix 6 months ago
I appreciate your review and can make an intelligent decision and not an emotional one. Thank you
Anu
Anu
prefix 8 months ago
I have Norton 360 but get popup to pay more for fixing things and for performance tuning and so on, which is irritating. Not sure what I paid them for.
Saul
Saul
prefix 1 year ago
Go with Norton if you love constant pop ups.

I just can't stand it any longer
Willan Beck
Willan Beck
prefix 1 year ago
I purchased a new Dell desktop computer with McAfee security, previously I owned a Hp Desktop computer with Norton security. The Norton security does not expire until August 2021. Both of these securities are on my PC and McAfee keeps trying to disable the Norton security. What should I do? Does it hurt to keep both securities on my pc until the Norton security expires?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 1 year ago
Hi, Willan. I’m afraid that you must use only one antivirus at a time to avoid them fighting each other. My suggestion would be to try McAfee and see if you like it better. If not, you can still use Norton for the upcoming months. Good luck!
CA
CA
prefix 1 year ago
I have Norton 360 and i installed it with a key that i bought from internet for 12 euros.
Norton offers to renew the subscription for 19.99 euros for 1 year , from Norton’s 360 user interface.
Lennox
Lennox
prefix 1 year ago
I was looking for CSR phone # for Norton – very hard to find. website has different pricing
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