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McAfee vs Norton: Which antivirus is better in 2022?

Overall Score:
Value for money
Ease of use
Overall Score:
Value for money
Ease of use
McAfee Review - is it enoughMcAfee Norton
Money back Guarantee
Real-time Antivirus
Manual Virus Scanning
USB Virus Scan
Registry Startup Scan
Auto Virus Scanning
Scheduled scan
Threat type
Chat/IM Protection
Adware Prevention
Ease of use
Extra features
Personal Firewall
Parental Controls
Gamer Mode
VPN Service
Smartphone Optimizer
Device Tune-up
Safe browser
Live Help
Phone support
Ticket support

McAfee vs. Norton: Detailed Comparison

In this digital age, it is imperative to protect the data and information stored on your personal computer and other mobile devices, as intruders are always looking to steal it. Having the right antivirus solution can help you safeguard your data and additional sensitive information. 

Both McAfee and Norton have been providing antivirus solution for a long period and are popular products in the antivirus industry. However, how do they compare with each other? 

Even the cheapest of McAfee antivirus solutions offers optimization tools and vulnerability scanner. The Antivirus Plus solution protects 10 different devices with a single subscription. 

In McAfee vs. Norton comparison, Norton antivirus solutions are quite expensive as that of McAfee. Additionally, even with the most expensive solution of Norton, you can only protect up to 5 devices. Whereas, with McAfee’s high-end antivirus product offered you can protect an unlimited number of devices across the different operating system. It makes McAfee a winner over Norton. 

McAfee vs Norton


Online threats are on the rise even with so much advancement in technology. By what has been seen in the past, cyber-threats increase more and more with technological advancements. Thus, having a primary security function isn’t going to protect your data and identity on the internet. Getting access to additional security features is essential. 

McAfee offers five different range of antivirus products. Depending upon your subscription package, you can get access to features like two-way firewall, file shredder, gaming mode, ransomware protection, file encryption, password manager and parental controls among many other features like anti-spam and system optimizer. 

On the other hand, with Norton antivirus protection suite, you can get access to the two-way firewall, password manager, parental controls, automatic backup, and identity protection. However, features like file encryption and gaming mode are missing. Thus, if you are someone who likes to play games and does not want to get distracted with popups and ads, Norton can turn out to be a disappointment. 

When comparing Norton vs McAfee, in terms of feature offerings, McAfee has a number of advanced features to offer – that too at a much lower price in comparison to Norton.  

Antivirus Protection

The malware protection offered by McAfee starts with a file scanner that matches files with various malware signatures. Besides, the heuristic analysis monitors the file behavior and runs the programs in sandboxes to evaluate what they do. Norton antivirus offers the same by using a file scanner and heuristic monitoring to examine behavioral changes. 

Both McAfee and Norton offer excellent protection against viruses and malware and secured a perfect score of 100% in different lab testing results. The antivirus programs were able to catch everything that was thrown at them, ensuring that users will be safeguarded on all fronts. 

McAfee provides two different kinds of scans to ensure that the personal computer is free of any virus or malware. You can perform a Full and Quick scan of your devices from the homepage of the antivirus solution. Apart from this, you also get ransomware protection in McAfee, which is not seen in the Norton antivirus solution. 

The Ransom Guard feature copies that files which are under attack when it detects encrypting activity. The files are rolled back to their original contents once the attack has been avoided. However, in the case when you have already suffered a ransomware attack, the antivirus solution helps you to decrypt the file with their No More Ransom site. 

Protection against ransomware is missing from Norton antivirus solution, which can be a significant point while selecting your next antivirus solution. Norton antivirus also fails to scan the USB flash drives automatically. You will have to initiate the scan manually that can be done along with other scans, by right-clicking it in the Windows Explorer. 

If the antivirus is putting a heavy load on your computer resources and creating lag in performance while you are playing games, you can make use of the gaming mode to enjoy ad and notification free gaming experience, with McAfee antivirus. 


When it comes to scanning your personal computer for viruses and other malware programs, there are three different types of options available at your disposal, in both McAfee and Norton Antivirus solution. 

Following are the three scanning options that you can use with both Norton and McAfee solution suite. 

  1. Full Scan

The full scanning options analysis the entire system, including all the files, vulnerable applications, and other running processes that might leave your computer at risk. 

  1. Quick Scan

With the quick scan functionality, the antivirus program only scans a portion of your system that is most vulnerable to threats and gets compromised easily. 

  1. Customized Scan

If you suspect that any of the files or folders could be at risk or are compromised, you can make use of custom scans to ensure the protection of your data and information.

That being said, the full scan functionality of Norton antivirus creates a heavy impact on the performance of your system, as it requires a lot of resources while ensuring that the computer is free from any virus or malware. McAfee, on the other hand, uses fewer resources, thus causing a lesser impact on the performance. 

McAfee main screen

Firewall Protection

McAfee firewall protection is efficient and continuously monitors the internet connections for various online threats, including spyware, bots, and rootkits. As it offers a two-way firewall with McAfee LiveSafe antivirus solution, it filters both the incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure that your system is fully protected from any unauthorized access. 

Not only you can use the firewall protection on your personal computer, but it is also compatible with Android and iOS devices. 

Speaking about Norton, it also offers personal firewall protection with Norton Security Deluxe antivirus solution, ensuring the continuous monitoring of your networking to avoid any break-in and loss of sensitive information. It can be used on Windows and Mac OS and is also compatible with smartphones and other tablet devices. 

In addition to this, Norton firewall comes with 100% protection guarantee. And in case, if your device gets infected with a virus or malware, the support team at Norton will help you clean your system. It is something that you won’t find it, McAfee. There is no protection guarantee, but it certainly does a good job of keeping your personal computer from any virus infection.

Norton firewall blocks viruses trying to get downloaded on the computer and provides a warning when you try to visit a malicious website. Norton firewall also cloaks unused ports to hide them from intruders. 

Malware Protection

Norton offers anti-phishing protection with all of its different product offerings. Anti-phishing is a crucial element while deciding on your next antivirus solution. Safe browsing is essential to keep the data protected on the system, and anti-phishing software provides the ability to browse safely on the internet. 

Norton anti-phishing software blocks access to any malicious website or link that you visit on the internet and prevents it from getting downloaded on your system. It detects suspicious links and protects your computer from getting compromised. 

As compared to Norton, McAfee’s anti-phishing protection is also up to the mark and is one of the best in the industry. When tested, the antivirus solution was able to block most of the malicious websites and avoided user access. It receives a perfect anti-phishing score from many different lab testing results. It was able to block all of the malicious websites that I tried visiting with complete authority. 

To compare the anti-malware feature of both the antivirus solution, we used the test results of AV-Tests and Comparatives. Norton was able to block all the known and zero-day malware and thus received a full score. However, McAfee was not able to block all of the zero-day malware, and therefore, the percentage dropped to 99.2% initially, but in the second time did receive 100%. 


Norton features

When it comes to additional feature offering like VPN, Norton does offer VPN services to its users with Norton Standard and Norton Deluxe antivirus solution. You can make use of the VPN services with these packages to connect to servers from 29 different countries and get access to unlimited bandwidth to watch your favorite movies and shows from all around the world. 

McAfee does not offer VPN services with any of its feature offerings. So if you need a VPN solution included within your antivirus suite, Norton Standard and Deluxe options can be a better choice. 

With Norton antivirus, you also get access to features like automatic back of data and files that can be retrieved back as and when needed. Norton also offers identity threat insurance with some of its high-end antivirus solution like Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus. But you will have to pay $35 per month to avail such facilities. 

There is no gaming mode available in Norton security solution. There is a silent mode to suppress popups and ads, but if you need a gaming mode feature, McAfee antivirus does provide it with all of its different packages. 

You also get access to features like system optimizer and file shredder which are not available in Norton. Thus, the kind of antivirus solution you need will depend upon the kind of features you require. 

For instance, for an active gamer, McAfee solution will be perfect because of its offering of gaming mode. Whereas, if you need an in-built VPN service, Norton antivirus will be the best. 

System Performance

The system took a toll on performance while running full Norton antivirus scans. Even with the quick scan, the performance of the system was slowed down. Thus, if you are an existing user of Norton antivirus solution, you might want to schedule a full scan for hours when you are not using the system. 

When compared to McAfee antivirus, the toll on performance was relatively low as that of Norton. Being said that, the system did slowdown, just not as much as when it did while using Norton antivirus. 

Both the quick scan and full scan were completed faster with McAfee antivirus and took less amount of time as that of Norton. Within 35 seconds, McAfee quick scan was able to scan approximately 6500 files. 

Apart from this, make sure you enter the gaming mode before playing games with your friends. Do not schedule any scans during that time as it will utilize a lot of resources in the background, causing lag in your experience. Indeed, you cannot do so in Norton, but do enter into the silent mode to avoid unwanted pop ups and notifications.

Norton Main screen

User Interface

When it comes to the user interface, McAfee has a sleek and clean design with everything that you need access to on the homepage. There is a green checkmark on the upper left side of the screen that tells you everything is safe and secure on your computer. From the front page of the antivirus, you can also add another computer which needs antivirus protection. 

There are separate tabs for activities such as scheduling scans (PC Security), optimizing tools (PC performance), and file encryption (My Privacy). 

Even the Norton Ultimate LifeLock antivirus Dashboard offers clear and sleek design, allowing easy access to its various features. There are seven different tabs on the dashboard that can be used to perform different activities. These include connecting to VPN, cloud backup, password manager, and parental control. 

You can start the quick scan and full scan on Norton security antivirus solution straight from the home screen. If you do not make use of the home screen for half an hour, the antivirus solution will log you out automatically. Yes, it can be annoying for some, but it is crucial to think about the amount of sensitive information it has to handle. 

All in all, using both the antivirus solution is quite easy, and anyone without any technical assistance can make use of the antivirus. Even downloading and installing the antivirus solution is easy and can be done with any hassle. You do not have to be a tech-savvy individual to find your way across this antivirus software. 

Pricing & Plans


The Norton 360 Standard can be availed at $39.99 per year for one Mac, PC, and Android or iOS device and includes all of the above plus access to VPN. Norton 360 Deluxe can be used at $49.00/year along with 50 GB of cloud backup and parental control. It offers licenses for up to 5 devices in addition to all of the above features. 

The Life Lock Select and Ultimate Plus can be availed at $9.99/month ($99.99/year) and $29.99/month ($349.99/year) respectively. 

On the other hand, the McAfee Total Protection Individual can be availed at $34.99/year that offers protection for one device and features like gaming mode, file shredder, firewall, and browser plug-ins. 

The price for 5 devices (Multi-Device option) is $39.99. It offers additional features like parental control, file encryption, and identity protection.

McAfee Total Protection (Household) is available at $49.99 per year, and includes Safe Family feature, along with the features from previous packages.

McAfee LifeSafe is availabe at $39.99 per year and presents the comprehensive antivirus, implying cloud-based technologies and storage.

McAfee is cheaper in comparison to Norton and offers more day to day required features like Parental control, file shredder that is not to be seen in Norton. The only thing that is missing from McAfee is a VPN option, which is available in Norton with unlimited data access. 

Trial and Free Versions

Though there is no free version offered by both the brands, you can certainly make use of their trials before you commit to the antivirus solution for a long period. Norton offers a 30-day free trial that users can test out and see if the product is good. 

Just like Norton, McAfee also offers a free trial for its users that can be used for 30 days before you commit and pay towards its subscription. There is another antivirus solution available in the market that offers free versions, but since both Norton and McAfee are renowned brands, they do not offer a free version to attract new users and consumers. 

These trail versions of the antivirus solution can be used on different platforms that include personal Windows computers, Mac OS, iOS, and Android devices. Test out the solutions and see what works for you better before you pay for it. 

Payments and Money Back Guarantee

To buy these antivirus packages, you make the payment using your debit and credit cards and even through PayPal. Both of these companies accept all major debit and credit cards. If you subscribe for a long period, you can also get good discounts on the monthly prices of these antiviruses. 

In addition to this, there is also a full money-back guarantee, if the antivirus solution is not able to remove the virus from your system. Both of the companies offer this money-back guarantee. It means that they ultimately believe in their solution offering and trust the ability to completely protect their customers from all types of known and zero-day malware and viruses. 

So, in case if you find that the antivirus is not able to detect and quarantine viruses on your system, you can certainly report this to their customer support. The customer support will then try to remove it. And if they fail, you can have a full refund. 

Final Thoughts

Selecting Norton or McAfee depends upon what else you need from an antivirus solution rather than the usual protection against viruses and malware. Norton is better suited for people who want antivirus protection plus access to geo-restricted content on Netflix. McAfee is better suited for people who need an end to end protection, including protection against ransomware and identity threat. 

The performance of McAfee is better in most of the areas as compared to that of Norton. McAfee creates a lesser impact on system performance as compared to Norton and offers great security overall.

McAfee highlights:

  • McAfee offers full-featured protection.
  • This is one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use antiviruses.
  • Reliability is well above average, but not superb.
  • Value: above average.
  • Money-Back Guarantee is 30-days-long.

Norton highlights:

  • Safe and reliable files and data storage
  • Blocking of illegitimate software
  • Flexible scanning options
  • User-friendly interface
  • Decent variety of packages

Last Customer Reviews: McAfee vs Norton

I got 12 months of McAfee Live Safe included with a Dell notebook. I think it works fine, McAfee tries to upsell you with other products all the time in the app. You don't have to take the bait and they are not annoying. It scans fine, and I like that finally the suite isn't a resource hog like in the past. I could install it on my Mac as well, but Catalina really locks down the OS these days and MacAfee would install but you have to manually address the permission blocks the OS does so its sort of messy and nowhere near as easy to install on Catalina as it is on Windows 10. I decided to pass on the Mac install, but can recommend the PC version.
Richard Stevens
I had a major problem re McAfee. A computer I bought came with a year subscription to Norton, but had McAfee pre-installed on it. So I tried uninstalling the McAfee. It appeared to be gone but when I tried to install Morton it detected McAfee on my machine and I had a really difficult time getting rid of the McAfee trace. I had to go online to get a special download, it was not easy. A warning to people, McAfee is very hard to totally uninstall. I don't like companies that do that.
Worst antivirus ever. It loads your PC heavily and creates 30+ processes in memory. It follows to frequent lags, which are very annoying. As a programmer I couldn't install Golang with its tools and Rust. This stupid piece of shit developed by stupid people doesn't allow installer to rename directories (sure because it desperately tries to find some virus in them and locks them) At the same time this bloody bastard reacts on very simple "hello world " programs written in pure assembly language and shows huge alarm popups. - Hey I found a treat! Never use that shit.
Richard Stevens
You have given Norton a top rating and I have been using Norton on my computers for several years. However, after I had tried a Software cleaning program for a year then decided to uninstall it, it left an annoying nag pop up that Norton did nothing about. I tried Malwarebytes and it immediately detected it as malware and eliminated it. Shouldn't Norton have done that? What other programs would have worked like Malwarebytes since I notice that Malwarebytes doesn't get a top review from you?
Bridget Cunningham
April 2020--I have been a Norton customer for years. My subscription auto-renewed in January 2020. I began getting error messages on my laptop saying that my subscription has lapsed, which it had not, and that the virus protection programs could not run or update. I spent 3 hours on the phone with Norton Support for them to correct the issue. Supposedly, the issue was fixed. The same issue with error messages occurred again in February. Another 3 hour phone call, with the issue supposedly fixed. The same issue occurring in April. I had 2 more 3+ hour phone calls, with the Support person telling me in the end that he could not fix the issue and that the issue had to get raised to their engineering team and that I would hear back from them in 7-10 days! The support person had enabled and disabled dozens of settings on my computer so that my computer function was negatively impacted. I ended up having to spend another 5+ hours on the phone with Dell Support. In the end, my computer function had been so negatively impacted by Norton Support that Dell had to do a complete factory reset on my laptop. They had to remove Norton from my computer as a part of the exercise. I since spent another hour on a chat with Norton trying to find out when Norton Support is going to rectify the issue and get Norton replaced on my computer. I am paying for this service that I don't even have. They said another 7-10 business days! They have limited staff due to Coronavirus and everyone is working from home?? How does that even happen to a tech company??!! No capability to work from home. Are you kidding?? So, in the meantime, I have no virus or malware protection, and I am inundated with ad's. Awful. And I have no remedy. Beyond angry and I will post negative reviews on every site that I can find.
Frank Johnson
I've been using Norton antivirus for years and never been disappointed. It is a very good software with which everything can be secured & protected. Truly delightful product to use. I would recommend to a friend.
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