(Last updated on January 9th, 2020)
McAfee or Avast, which antivirus software is a better pick in 2020?
Read this data-driven McAfee versus Avast comparison to make a smart decision.
According to new research from SonicWall, over 10 billion malware attacks occurred last year. Ransomware attacks saw the biggest growth, a 117% year-by-year increase, and mobile malware attacks also doubled during the same period.
And it’s not just the volume of malware that’s increasingly at an alarming rate, the tactics used by cybercriminals are also becoming more sophisticated.
The message is clear: you should not be complacent when it comes to protecting yourself and your family against ever-evolving digital threats.
It’s no secret that you need an excellent antivirus program to protect your data, privacy, and identity. But free or low-end security solutions don’t cut it anymore. Their defenses aren’t strong enough to resist advanced malware threats (like cryptoware), and their definitions aren’t updated as often as they should. Also, all cybersecurity companies reserve their best features and utilities for their top-tier products.
So, investing in a premium security suite is the only way to guarantee complete digital protection.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2020
(All the best security products examined)
Editors' Choice Award Winner
Overall Score: 9.9/10
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Overall, Bitdefender is our #1 antivirus software for 2020, because of its excellent, flawless performance in all the recent independent lab evaluations we considered, particularly those conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
Right now, we think that Bitdefender Total Security 2020 (currently at 60% off) is the best antivirus package available in the market. Apart from providing excellent anti-malware protection, it offers all the advanced premium features and utilities that must be there in a high-end package -- and best of all, it offers excellent value for money. You can protect up to five devices (PCs, Macs, or smartphones) with just one subscription.
If you need protection for more than five devices, we highly recommend Bitdefender Family Pack 2020. It will cover all the internet-capable devices in your household with the Total Security suite, so your family will be protected no matter what goes wrong.
In this guide, we’ll go over McAfee and Avast and compare the two in a head-to-head competition to see which software is a better option.
In a rush? Look at the breakdown below. It’ll give you a quick summary of the winners in each category. You can scroll down to the individual categories for details.
A Quick Rundown of Winners in Each Category
Winner: McAfee. McAfee offers all the advanced security-related features and utilities with its flagship premium product, while Avast reserves its important features and tools for its high-end products.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: McAfee. Overall, McAfee offers better anti-malware security than better than Avast, as evidenced by independent lab tests.
3. System Performance
Winner: Tie. Independent tests confirm that both McAfee and Avast are excellent in terms of the impact on system performance; both software put a very minimal (almost negligible) strain on systems.
Winner: Tie. Both McAfee and Avast offer a simple, easy-to-use user interface.
Winner: McAfee. McAfee gives you more bang for your buck; you can get more licenses for less money through McAfee.
6. Customer Satisfaction
Winner: McAfee. McAfee has slightly better customer satisfaction ratings than Avast.
Both Avast and McAfee offer several feature-rich antivirus suites to meet your protection needs. Independent tests prove that both software provide top-notch protection against all sorts of malware threats, but McAfee is slightly better than Avast in terms of the impact on system performance.
We have reviewed, ranked, and rated all the best antivirus software products out there, and we think that Bitdefender Total Security 2020 (currently at 50% off) is the best antivirus package you can buy right now. You can protect up to five devices (PCs, Macs, or smartphones) with just a single subscription of this suite.
If you need protection for more than five devices, Bitdefender Family Pack 2020 is the best option for you.
Looking for Mac-specific protection? Check out Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac for complete peace of mind.
Now, let’s delve into the details.
These days, almost all cybersecurity companies offer a slew of advanced security-enhancing features and tools as part of their security packages.
First, let’s see what McAfee brings to the table in terms of features.
McAfee Total Protection (works on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS) is the company’s flagship and most popular security offering. It has a unique purchasing model in that it can be bought in bundles of 1, 5, or 10 devices depending on your preferences. No matter which bundle you select, you will get top-drawer malware protection along with a full set of advanced features and utilities.
The package has a smart two-way firewall that monitors all incoming and outgoing network connections and blocks all sorts of sophisticated attacks. The Vulnerability Scanner is also part of the software; it checks for security flaws and holes that hackers can potentially exploit and use, such as outdated software.
The TrueKey Identity Manager (lets you store all your passwords and sensitive details for in a secure vault) and a file shredder (allows you securely delete confidential files) are also jammed into the suite, along with the Network Manager tool that protects your WiFi against intruders and hackers.
The file encryption utility is also there as well; it lets you encrypt your sensitive files so no one can have access to them without authentication. There’s also a full suite performance optimization features; these features help your computer run faster and more efficiently, so you can focus on doing things that matter to you.
Finally, the suite comes with a full suite of parental controls. These features allow you to monitor the browsing habits of your children and control which websites they can (and cannot) visit. You can also set daily time limits on their computer use, to prevent them from spending all day in front of the computer.
Another suite that the company offers is McAfee LiveSafe. There’s no difference between LiveSafe and Total Protection in terms of features offered, but the former allows you to protect unlimited devices with a single license. But the major downside of LiveSafe is that it comes at a slightly higher price point. (You’ll see prices later in this guide.)
Now, let’s see what Avast offers in terms of features.
Unlike McAfee, Avast offers separate products for Windows and macOS. We’ll cover the Windows-only products first.
Avast Free Antivirus is the company’s first antivirus software. As the name suggests, you can use it for free for as long as you want, but there aren’t any advanced features and utilities jammed into this package. However, the product does protect against different types of digital threats, including viruses, ransomware, worms, spyware.
Next up is Avast Internet Security, the company’s first premium antivirus offering. It offers top-notch protection against all sorts of malware threats, plus several useful advanced features and functions. There’s a smart firewall that protects your computer against unauthorized access and hacking attempts, an email filter that can keep junk mail from clogging up your inbox, and the WiFi Inspector tool that protects your network against hackers and intruders.
The Sandbox utility is also part of the suite; it lets you run suspicious files and software in a secured portion of your computer, so you don’t risk the rest of your computer when installing new software or opening new files. The Real Site utility is also incorporated into the suite; it protects your network and prevents fake DNS routing from taking place, which is a common tactic that hackers use these days to steal financial details and other sensitive information.
Another level up is Avast Premier. This suite includes everything that is found in the previous suites, plus a webcam protector that stops people from secretly spying on you through your webcam and an automatic software updater. The Data Shredder utility is also included; it allows you to securely erase your sensitive files so no one can recover them.
Finally, there’s Avast Ultimate – the company’s top-tier security package. This package has everything that comes with the Premier suite, plus there’s a VPN that you can use to anonymously browse the internet and access content that is restricted in your geographic location.
The Avast Cleanup utility is also jammed into the Ultimate suite; it cleans junk files and improves the performance of your computer.
For Mac users, there’s Avast Security for Mac. This suite comes in two versions, Free and Premium. The freeware is very barebones in terms of advanced features and utilities but does offer “essential malware protection.” The Premium offering comes with advanced ransomware protection and the WiFi Intruder Alert feature.
If you’re interested in Avast’s business-specific solutions, click here for more information.
Winner: McAfee. Overall, McAfee is the winner in this category as it offers all the advanced features and tools with its flagship product. Avast’s best features are only found in its high-end suites.
2. Malware Protection
Malware defense is one of the most important aspects you should consider when purchasing antivirus software.
But how to tell which software boasts better anti-malware defense? We can examine how both McAfee and Avast fared in the recent lab evaluations conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives – two highly regarded independent organizations in the antivirus space.
In AV-Test’s April 2019 evaluations, all antivirus products were evaluated in three different areas: Protection, Performance, and Usability.
In the Protection test, McAfee received a perfect 6 out of 6, showing exceptional anti-malware capabilities.
Avast’s performance was slightly less appealing; it got a 5.5 out of 6, which is a good score but not a perfect one.
AV-Comparatives, another reputable independent organization, also conducts several thorough tests to evaluate the performance of various security software brands.
In their recent Real-World tests, both McAfee and Avast fared exceptionally well; both software received the highest ADVANCED+ award because of their impressive protection rates and low false positives’ count.
Winner: McAfee. It’s a close call, but McAfee is the winner in this category as it fared better than Avast in the AV-Test evaluations.
3. System Performance
There’s no doubt that malware defense is important, but if a security software becomes a burden on your system and slows down your routine tasks and activities, it’s not worth your money.
Let’s examine how much impact both McAfee and Avast on system performance.
In the Performance category of AV-Test evaluations, McAfee came up with another 6-star rating, an excellent system performance score.
Avast also got a full score in these evaluations, matching McAfee.
In the AV-Comparatives April 2019 performance test, both software secured the highest ADVANCED+ award because of their exceptional impact scores.
Winner: Tie. Both McAfee and Avira are neck and neck in terms of system performance.
All the factors we have discussed so far are important, but if a software has a clunky, outdated user interface, it’s likely that you won’t enjoy using it.
First, let’s examine McAfee’s user interface.
McAfee’s interface is simple, bright, and sleek – in colors of blue, gray, and white. There’s a horizontal menu at the top that allows you to access all the features and functions with just a few clicks. Links to Notifications, News, Help, Settings are also there on the right side of the menu.
On the main screen, you’ll find a large green checkmark in the top left corner if everything is okay. The checkmark will change into a red warning sign when there’s an issue.
At the bottom, there are blocks for running a scan, updating apps, removing browser cookies/trackers.
Now, let’s examine Avast’s interface.
Avast uses a dark, modern-styled interface that is both simple and intuitive.
There’s a vertical menu on the left with four different tabs: Status, Protection, Privacy, and Performance. The Status window is what you see when you open the interface. You will find your protection status in the center, as well as a button to run a quick scan. The other tabs have relevant features and options.
The link to Settings is available in the bottom-left corner.
Winner: Tie. Overall, it’s a tie in this category as both software offer a simple, easy-to-use interface.
Now, let’s look at the prices of the security suites offered by both companies.
McAfee Total Protection, the flagship product from McAfee, comes at different price points; $24.99 per year for 1 device, $39.99 per year for 5 devices, and $44.99 per year for 10 devices.
McAfee LiveSafe protects unlimited devices for $99.99 per year.
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Avast Free doesn’t cost anything, but it doesn’t offer much value. Avast Internet Security, the first worthwhile software from the company, costs $59.99 per year for 1 PC. Avast Premier comes at $69.99 per year for 1 PC.
Avast Ultimate, the full-blown antivirus solution, costs $119.95 per year for 1 PC.
Avast Security for Mac, the company’s only offering for macOS users, costs $59.99 per year for a single Mac.
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Winner: McAfee. McAfee offers better value for money; you can get more licenses for less money through McAfee than through Avast.
6. Customer Satisfaction
One last aspect we will consider is customer satisfaction. Let’s see what the actual customers of both McAfee and Avast think of their products.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a well-known site that collects customer reviews for all companies and averages them out into an A to F letter grade rating. Both McAfee and Avast have an excellent A+ rating from the BBB, which indicates exceptional customer service and high levels of user satisfaction.
Winner: Tie. Both software have comparable customer satisfaction ratings.
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Overall Score: 9.9/10
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Editors Choice Award Winner
Got more than five internet-capable devices? We found that Bitdefender Family Pack 2020 is the best option out there in terms of value for money.
If you are still unsure, Bitdefender offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and exceptional customer support, so you there is nothing to lose.
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