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Compare Windows Defender vs McAfee

Overall Score:
Value for money
Ease of use
Overall Score:
Value for money
Ease of use
Windows Defender ReviewWindows Defender McAfee Review - is it enoughMcAfee
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

Which is Better Antivirus: Windows Defender vs. McAfee in 2020?


The first thing you need to know about the Windows Defender is that it is a free antivirus. For many regular users, this is an obvious pro, and most of them stick with it and never think about switching to a more sophisticated solution. Although Microsoft’s Defender has been significantly perfected over the last couple of years, it’s still not on par with the leaders.

When compared to the McAfee antivirus, it lags due to a lack of many key features. Furthermore, the Defender is only compatible with the Windows OS (as the name suggests). That’s right: you can’t use this antivirus software to protect a Mac, Android, or iOS device. Currently, it’s available with Win 7, 8.1, and 10, but very soon, Windows 10 will be the only Microsoft OS with the full support of the built-in antivirus.

With that said, it’s important to compare the Defender to McAfee in real-world tests to see exactly how much of a better choice the paid solution is. We’ll take a look at third-party lab evaluations, the results of our experts’ tests, and talk about McAfee’s standout features. In the verdict, you’ll find a summary and our team’s recommendation.

Is Windows Defender Good Enough to Protect My Computer?

Let us start this McAfee LiveSafe vs. Windows Defender comparison with the AV-Test lab results. This company rates antivirus products based on three criteria: Protection, Performance, and Usability. In the most recent test, McAfee showed a flawless protection rate – 100% – and earned a perfect 6/6 score. The Windows Defender’s results were also quite impressive (for a free product, that is) – it attained a 5.5/6 score.

In the Performance test, McAfee and Defender got an equal rating: 5.5/6. In Usability, McAfee was again rated higher: 6/6 vs. 5.5/6. In the AV-Comparatives malware protection test, McAfee got the perfect “ADVANCED+” score; the Defender got the second-best with “ADVANCED.” In the real-world tests, McAfee attained the “ADVANCED” rating, while Microsoft’s antivirus was rated “STANDARD.”

False positives are one of the Defender’s biggest cons. And, overall, while it’s a good antivirus program, it still can’t compare to the likes of McAfee.

Mcafee LiveSafe vs. Windows Defender

Now that we’ve got the test results out of the way, it’s time to move on with this comparison Windows Defender vs. McAfee and check out the latter’s extra features. As one of the leading commercial computer security solutions, it’s got quite an impressive list of tools and features. Here they are:

  • Fully compatible with Mac, Android, iOS
  • Email Protection (prevents malicious email and spam from infecting your device)
  • Anti-Spam
  • Game Mode (no pop-ups when you’re playing a game)
  • Device Tune-Up (optimization tools for speeding up the OS)
  • Safe Browser (an extra layer of defense when you’re surfing the web)
  • Live Help (a live chat with an agent ready to lend a helping hand)
  • Phone support
  • Email support
  • 100% free 24/7 support
  • Password Manager (for creating hard-to-crack passwords and protecting your accounts)
  • File Shredder (for getting rid of unwanted files/apps on the OS)
  • Encrypted Storage (1GB of cloud storage for keeping your most sensitive files)
  • Wi-Fi Protection tools
  • Vulnerability Scanner (does exactly that: finds vulnerabilities in the system and warns the user)

This is pretty much it for the most important McAfee features. As you can see, it prevails not only in malware protection, but also includes a long list of useful features. We already mentioned that it’s compatible with four major platforms (both desktop and mobile). On top of that, it offers a safe browser, tune-up tools, support via phone, and email.

Encrypted storage, anti-spam, the vulnerability scanner, and the password manager are even more reasons to consider this paid product over the Windows Defender antivirus.

Windows Defender vs. McAfee Windows 10

Since Defender is Microsoft’s creation, it works flawlessly on Win 10. The interface is user-friendly, intuitive, and it doesn’t take long to make sense of all the controls. This antivirus is an integral part of the OS and is almost on par with other free products. The latest edition introduced a two-way firewall, but, compared to the one in McAfee, it leaves a lot to be desired.

And while it does have parental control features, they only work with the Edge browser. Furthermore, even though it’s a default Windows program, as we learned earlier, Defender has a slightly higher system impact. That means owners of older computers should pick McAfee. It doesn’t put any “pressure” on the CPU and requires very little RAM to work in the background.

McAfee LifeSafe, the ultimate protection package from McAfee, can be yours for $44.99 a year. It is a fair price, especially given the fact that with it, you can protect an unlimited number of connections. And, again, you won’t be limited to Windows and can also secure an iPad, Android smartphone, and Mac computer.

Our Verdict: Windows Defender vs. McAfee

Based on our analysis, it’s safe to say that McAfee is a far more reliable antivirus than the built-in Windows Defender. If you don’t want to get into the ins and outs of how to protect the computer and are looking for a leading product, McAfee will be a worthy pick. It’s got a long list of extra features that Microsoft’s solution lacks and is compatible with Mac, Android, and iOS, along with Windows.

But, if you’re a user of the Windows OS, the Defender can serve as a solid starting point before you purchase a paid antivirus. We already mentioned that the latest edition is significantly better than the previous ones. Plus, it’s 100% free. In all the other regards, McAfee is way ahead of it.

Last Customer Reviews: Windows Defender vs McAfee

I just completed my upgrade of the Windows Defender anti-virus. I must say, it is cool, but I can hardly tell the difference between the versions.. Good firewall service but not so user-friendly interface.
Windows Defender will immediately scan any external device that is placed on your computer, it is a nice idea, but then I think the developer should upgrade the software to identify devices that it has previously scanned, so it doesn’t keep scanning a device more than once daily. My own thoughts tho…the firewall service is also commendable.
I am so happy to have this software. Free and I have no viruses! However, my laptop overheats from time to time...
Tony Cortez
I think that Mcafee antivirus is the simplest antivirus in the best sense of the word. I’ve never experienced any troubles with installing and tweaking it.
Marcus Sweeney
What I like about this program in particular is that it is very easy to use. I didn’t see a simpler antivirus app. It works without causing any problems for a user. The interface is also intuitive. Definitely recommend!
Brenda Brooks
This program is very easy to use. I grasped how to use all features pretty much instantly. I don’t even know how to install MS Word on my PC

Windows Defender highlights:

  • Provides robust protection from most types of malware
  • Has a built-in firewall
  • Phishing protection for IE and Edge browsers
  • Parental control feature is available.
  • Comes pre-installed in Windows OS; protection is enabled by default.

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.