(Last updated on January 7th, 2021)
McAfee or AVG, which security software is better for your protection needs?
Read this comprehensive, data-driven comparison to make a smart decision.
In this detailed guide, you’ll see what is included in different antivirus suites both McAfee and AVG offer, as well as how both software technologies compare in terms of malware protection, system performance, user interface, price, and more.
In the modern, digital world, antivirus software is an essential requirement as it helps protect your data and privacy from a range of malware threats, such as viruses, ransomware, worms, Trojans, exploits, rootkits (all collectively called ‘malware’).
Do you know the AV-Test security institute claims to catch more than 350,000 malware samples every day? Hackers are constantly releasing new malware that can do a lot of horrible things, including stealing your sensitive data, causing your system to malfunction, breaching your privacy, compromising your banking details, and more.
Even if you think you’re a careful web surfer, experts say that you still need reliable security software. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2020
Overall Score: 9.9/10
60-day money-back guarantee
Right now, we think that Norton is the best antivirus software your money can buy. It regularly earns perfect or near-perfect scores from independent labs and has the least impact on system performance compared to rival products. Its products combine top-notch security with an array of excellent security features and, best of all, offer exceptional value for money.
Overall, Norton 360 Deluxe (currently at 70% off) is our pick for the best antivirus suite in 2020. It is competitively priced and comes with almost everything you could possibly ask for, such as a firewall, a fully integrated VPN, dark web monitoring, cloud backup storage (50GB), a password manager, and parental controls. You can cover up to 5 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets with this suite.
If you want full-on identity protection and don’t mind paying more, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (currently at 35% off) gives those in the US a full range of identity protection features, more backup space (100GB), as well as all the above.
First, let’s look at the security suites both McAfee and AVG offer.
|McAfee Security Suites|
|McAfee Total Protection (Windows & Mac)|
|McAfee LiveSafe (Windows and Mac)|
|AVG Security Suites|
|AVG AntiVirus FREE (Windows only)|
|AVG Internet Security (Both Windows and Mac)|
|AVG Ultimate (Both Windows and Mac)|
|AVG AntiVirus for Mac (Mac only)|
If you don’t have time to go through this whole comparison and want the answer straight away, check out the graphic below and also read our short verdict to make your mind.
The biggest difference between McAfee and AVG is the price. AVG is significantly more expensive than McAfee. McAfee also offers more features than AVG. In terms of protection and performance, both brands are neck and neck.
Best Antivirus for 2021
- Robust feature-set
- Excellent anti-malware security
- Minimal system impact
- Easy-to-use interface
- Automatic updates
- Trusted by 50 million users
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day money-back guarantee
#2 (Very Good)
- Exceptional malware protection
- Little impact on performance
- Trusted by millions of users
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- User-friendly interface
#3 (Very Good)
- Good malware protection
- Trusted by big corporations
- Minimal impact on performance
- Good value for money
- 30-day risk-free guarantee
Now, let’s kick off the detailed comparison.
What’s Included in McAfee’s Antivirus Suites?
McAfee — like other antivirus companies — used to offer a range of antivirus suites in the past, but now the company only offers two specialized antivirus suites on its official website, namely McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe.
McAfee Total Protection (compatible with both Windows and Mac platform) is the company’s best-selling and most popular antivirus suite. Besides providing excellent protection against all sorts of malware threats, it offers an advanced two-way firewall (proactively monitors incoming and outgoing network connections and thwarts hacking attempts), a file shredder (lets you delete your sensitive files safely), and an encryption utility (enables you to lock your confidential files/folder and prevent the loss of data in case of theft).
A Network Manager (protects your Wi-Fi network and prevents intruders from hijacking your network), an anti-spam filter (blocks malicious emails), and a Vulnerability Scanner (checks out-of-date software and other security flaws) are also part of the “Total Protection” suite.
A Parental Control module (helps prevent your kids from seeing objectionable content and control what sites they can visit), a social media guard (protects you from malware on social media), and several computer optimization tools are also jammed into the suite.
For online protection, McAfee offers the WebAdvisor browser extension. It steers you clear of malicious websites, secures your online experience, and scans all your downloads for malware.
With McAfee Total Protection, you’ll also get five licenses of the True Key Identity Manager — a password manager that can store all your passwords at one place for secure, hassle-free logins.
The great thing about McAfee is that it allows you to protect up to 10 Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices with just a single license of its high-end security package.
McAfee also offers the “100% Virus Protection Guarantee” if you subscribe for its auto-renewal service. The guarantee says that in the event of malware infection, a McAfee expert will either remove the virus or give you a full refund.”
Another antivirus suite that the company offers is McAfee LiveSafe. It includes everything jammed into the “Total Protection” suite, plus 1 GB of secure cloud storage where you can store your confidential files.
Note: Both McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe are compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS platforms.
What’s Included in AVG’s Antivirus Suites?
Unlike McAfee, AVG offers a free antivirus solution, called AVG Free AntiVirus. It protects a range of malware threats (like ransomware, viruses, worms, Trojans, etc.) but doesn’t include advanced protection-related features or extra utilities, other than a useful file shredder.
However, protection against malicious websites and dangerous links is incorporated into the freeware.
Next up is AVG Internet Security – the company’s mid-level antivirus offering. Along with excellent malware protection, it offers an advanced firewall, an encryption module, an anti-spam feature, and a WiFi guard (protects against intruders and hackers.
Protection against webcam spying is also incorporated into the suite.
A single AVG Internet Security license will provide a year of protection to an unlimited number of family devices (PCs, Macs, and mobile phones) in your household.
AVG Ultimate is the company’s top-drawer antivirus offering. It includes everything found in the “Internet Security” suite, plus AVG’s advanced Tune-up utility (cleans junk space, speeds up your system, and boost performance), an Anti-theft feature (helps you find lost or stolen devices), and an automatic software updater.
A single subscription of AVG Ultimate protects every Windows, Mac, Android device in your household.
Note: Both AVG Internet Security and AVG Ultimate are compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms.
McAfee vs AVG: Which Software Offers Better Malware Protection?
There can be no security product without a solid malware detection engine.
It is important for a security product to detect all kinds of malware threats, such as viruses, worms, spyware, ransomware, rootkits.
To find out which of the two software is better in terms of malware protection, I will look at the most recent independent tests conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives – two well-known and respected security labs.
AV-Test’s most recent evaluations were conducted in July and August 2018. All participating products – including McAfee and AVG — were tested against 275 samples of zero-day malware and 19,747 samples of widespread malware.
McAfee’s performance was flawless; its detection rate was perfect, at 100%, against both type of malware during both months. It was awarded 6 out of 6 stars by AV-Test experts in the ‘Protection’ category.
AVG’s results were slightly less appealing; it got marginally lower protection rates of 99.2% and 99.9% against zero-day and widespread malware, respectively, during July, but it still managed to get 6/6 rating from the experts.
The experts at AV-Comparatives do several tests to evaluate how well as security product detects and prevents malware infections. The two main tests that deserve a mention are Malware Protection Test and Real-World Protection Test.
In the most recent Malware Protection Test, which was held in March 2018, AVG demonstrated a perfect 100% protection rate with 9 false detections, while McAfee blocked 99.95% of malware and returned 10 false positives.
AVG received the highest ADVANCED+ award in the test, while McAfee had to settle for the second-best ADVANCED award.
***False positive is when a security product wrongly classifies a clean file or URL as malware-infected.
In the most recent Real-Word Protection Test report, which includes combined results of all the tests conducted from February to June 2018, both McAfee and AVG were awarded the highest ADVANCED+ award due their impressive protection rates of 99.6% and 99.4%, respectively. AVG returned 6 false positives during the five-month period, while McAfee returned 7.
Overall, it can be said that both McAfee and AVG provide comprehensive protection against all kinds of malware threats.
Winner: It’s a tie
McAfee vs AVG: Which Software Puts Less Impact on System Performance?
Antivirus software run like other computer programs, which means they need some percentage of system resources to do their job. If a security product is resource-heavy, it may have a negative impact on your computer performance (or computer speed).
To see how much impact both McAfee and AVG put on computer performance, I will once again look at the most recent independent tests conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
AV-Test examination looked at the average influence of security product on computer speed while carrying out a few common computer tasks, such as launching popular websites, installing/lunching software programs, copying files, and more. The results are displayed in terms of the slowdown a security product caused on a standard PC as well as on a high-end PC.
McAfee received an excellent 6/6 rating from the experts in the ‘Performance’ category.
AVG, on the other hand, could only get 5.5 stars out 6 in the test.
The experts at AV-Comparatives conduct a similar test to measure the impact of various security products on computer performance. Several common computer operations are executed, and each participating product is allotted an impact score (the lower, the better) based on the negative influence it exerted on computer performance during the test.
Both McAfee and AVG were awarded the highest ADVANCED+ award in this test, because of their impressively low impact scores of 6.9 and 6.7, respectively.
Overall, both software provide excellent malware protection with minimal impact on system performance.
Winner: It’s a tie
McAfee vs AVG: Which Software Offers Better User Experience?
First, let’s delve into the McAfee’s user interface.
McAfee’s new interface is simple, light, and bright – in shades of white, grey, and pale blue. At the top, you’ll find a horizontal menu with five modules, namely Home, PC Security, Identity, Privacy, and Account. Quick links for Notifications, Helps, Support, and Settings are available on the right side of the main menu.
Home window – which is the default screen — shows your protection status and has buttons to help you run different types of scans. You can also access essential modules, like the True Key Identity Manager, from directly from this window.
PC Security tab contains advanced modules like Real-time Scanning, Firewall, etc., while Identity page contains WebAdvisor, file-shredder and anti-spam utilities.
Parental Controls are available in Privacy category, while Accounts tab has information about your subscription plan.
Now, let’s go over the AVG’s interface.
AVG’s interface is dark and modern – in shades of light green and grey. It may look a bit complicated at first, but as you delve into it, you’ll see that it’s not that hard to figure out.
The default screen has the following five main modules: Computer, Web & Email, Hacker Attacks, Privacy, and Payments. As usual, each module contains relevant features and their settings.
At the top, you’ll see your protection status represented by either a checkmark or a warning symbol. At the bottom, you’ll find a noticeable ‘Scan Computer’ button (which lets you run a quick scan), along with information about when the last scan was run and when the virus definitions were last updated.
The name of the AVG plan you’re on is displayed in the title bar. Clicking the Menu button in the title bar opens a drop-down menu, which has links for Support, Settings, and Help.
Overall, McAfee’s user interface is better and more intuitive than AVG’s.
McAfee vs AVG: Which Software is Less Expensive?
|McAfee Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|McAfee Total Protection (1 Device)||$79.99/year||Check here|
|McAfee Total Protection (5 Device)||$99.99/year||Check here|
|McAfee Total Protection (10 Device)||$119.99/year||Check here|
|AVG Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|AVG Internet Security||$89.99/year||Check here|
|AVG Ultimate||$119.99/year||Check here|
|AVG Business Products||Varies||Check here|
McAfee’s security suites are slightly cheaper than AVG’s.
McAfee vs AVG: Which Software is More Popular?
Now, let’s see which of the two software is more popular.
OPSWAT, which is an independent security firm, releases a monthly report on the market share of leading anti-malware products. According to their most recent report – which was published in September 2018 — Avast currently leads the table (sorted by market share) with 16.84% market share. McAfee is third on the list with 11.55% market share, while AVG doesn’t make it to the list.
Statista is another popular company that reports on the market share captured by leading antivirus companies. Their report, which was last updated in August 2018, is similar to OPSWAT’s findings.
So it is clear that McAfee is more popular than AVG.
Both McAfee and AVG offer a range of antivirus suites to match your protection needs.
The independently held examinations conducted by the AV-Test and AV-Comparatives prove that both McAfee and AVG provide excellent malware protection with minimal impact on system performance. But McAfee offers more protection-related features and extra utilities in its security suites than AVG.
Our recommendations: If you want to get the highest level of security and performance, there's no better choice than Norton, which protects over 50 million users worldwide.
After reviewing dozens of antivirus products from some of the biggest names in the cybersecurity realm, we believe that Norton 360 Deluxe is the best antivirus suite available on the market. It provides flawless anti-malware protection without slowing you down. Plus, you get almost all the advanced features you could ever want.
If you're willing to pay more for advanced identity protection features, we recommend Norton 360 with LifeLock select (only available in the US). It's a bit pricey but worth the price.
Anas Baig is a consumer privacy advocate and cybersecurity journalist by profession. Has has more than 7 years of professional experience under his belt. Anas has been featured on numerous media publications including The Guardian, Lifehacker, The Next Web, Infosecurity Magazine, Security Boulevard, Hacker Noon, CMS Wire, IAPP, SC Magazine, and many others. His interest includes Digital Privacy Rights, Information Security, Networking, Privacy, and Data Protection.