(Last updated on February 19th, 2020)

McAfee or Kaspersky, which antivirus software should you get in 2020?

Read this ultimate, data-driven comparison to make a wise decision.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll see what’s included in different antivirus suites both McAfee and Kaspersky offer, as well as how both software stack up in terms of malware detection, impact on system performance, user interface, and more.

There are a range of malware threats out there in the in the wild; viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms, Trojan horses, just to name a few.

Malware has become increasingly pervasive in recent years.

Do you know AV-Test institute claims to catch over 350,000 new malware samples every single day? Hackers are regularly coming up with new ways to sneak into your computer and other internet connected devices.

In case you’re wondering what malware can potentially do you, it can corrupt your system, breach your privacy, steal your banking details, encrypt your important files, and more

And even if you follow all the best practices, experts say that you can still get infected by malware.

So, it makes sense to say you should go with a premium antivirus suite –especially when your data and privacy is at risk.

Important Note

Best Antivirus Suite for 2020

(All the best security products examined)

Editors' Choice Award Winner 

Overall Score: 9.9/10

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During the past few months, we examined and reviewed over 50 antivirus suites from the biggest names in cybersecurity. We did this so you can confidently choose the best antivirus software to protect yourself and those you love.

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.

First, let’s see the security suites both McAfee and Kaspersky offer.

McAfee Antivirus Suites
McAfee Antivirus (Windows only)
McAfee Antivirus Plus (Windows and Mac)
McAfee Internet Security (Windows and Mac)
McAfee Total Protection (Windows and Mac)
McAfee LiveSafe (Windows and Mac)
Kaspersky Antivirus Suites
Kaspersky Free (Windows only)
Kaspersky Anti-Virus (Windows only)
Kaspersky Internet Security (Mac & Windows)
Kaspersky Total Security (Mac & Windows)
Virus Scanner (Mac only)
Virus Scanner Pro (Mac only)

If you’re in a hurry and just want the summary of this detailed comparison, take a look at the graphic below and also read our short verdict to make your mind.

McAfee vs Kaspersky Infographic

Short Verdict

McAfee is the winner as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its products than Kaspersky. Independent lab tests prove that both software provides excellent malware protection with minimal impact on system performance, but McAfee’s antivirus suites are cheaper than Kaspersky’s.

Our recommendations: If you want to get the highest level of security and performance, there's no better choice than Bitdefender, which protects over 500 million devices worldwide.

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.

Let’s start off the detailed comparison…

What’s Included in McAfee’s Security Suites?

Back in the day, McAfee used to offer a range of antivirus suites but not anymore. McAfee now promotes only two security suites on its official website: McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe.

McAfee Total Protection (compatible with both Mac and PC) is the company’s full-blown antivirus package, boasting almost all the premium security-enhancing features and extra utilities that should be there in a high-end suite.

A two-way Firewall (monitors network traffic and thwarts hacking attempts), a File Shredder (lets you delete your sensitive files so no one can bring them back), and a File Lock utility (prevents others from accessing your confidential files/data) are part of the “Total Protection” suite.

A File Encryption feature (protects your important files and folders), an Anti-spam module (blocks junk emails), and a Vulnerability Scanner (checks for outdated software and security flaws in your operating system) are also included in the suite.

You will also get five licenses of True Key Identity Manager; an advanced password manager that can store an unlimited number of passwords for secure, hassle-free logins.

McAfee Total Protection comes at different price points depending on the number of devices you want to license. If you sign up for multiple devices, you’ll have access to the McAfee’s Security Management Console, from where you can manage protection for all of your devices.

McAfee also offers a 100% Virus Protection Guarantee; In the event of virus infection, a McAfee expert will either remove the virus or give you a full refund. But you’ll have to subscribe for auto-renewal service to be eligible for a refund.

McAfee delivers web protection via the WebAdvisor browser extension. It blocks dangerous websites, thwarts phishing attacks, and also scans downloads for malware in real-time.

Get McAfee Total Protection

Another suite that the company offers is McAfee LiveSafe. It includes everything that comes with the “Total Security” suite, plus 1 GB of secure cloud storage where you can store all your sensitive files/documents.

Note: Both McAfee Total Security and McAfee LiveSafe are compatible with Mac platform, too.

Features Included in McAfee Security Suites

What’s Included in Kaspersky’s Security Suites?

Kaspersky offers a range of antivirus suites, starting from Kaspersky Free — the company’s free antivirus product.

The freeware offers limited malware protection, protects against malicious/phishing websites, and also checks connected USB drives for malware. Advanced security-enhancing and extra utility tools are not part of the free product.

Next level up is Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which is only compatible with PCs. Along with everything that comes with freeware, it offers an extra layer of ransomware protection, a Vulnerability Scanner (checks for security loopholes and outdated software), and a Silent Mode feature (suspends notifications for uninterrupted experience).

Get Kaspersky Anti-Virus 

Another level up is Kaspersky Internet Security, which can protect PCs, Macs and mobile devices. It includes everything that is jammed into the previous plan, plus an advanced Firewall, a hardened browser (for safe online shopping/banking), and an Anti-spam module.

A limited parental control filter (blocks age-sensitive content and helps keep a check on kids’ online activities) and protection against webcam/microphone spying are also included in the suite.

Get Kaspersky Internet Security

Kaspersky Total Security is the company’s top-tier suite. In that, you’ll get everything that is part of the “Internet Security” suite, plus a Kaspersky Password Manager (safely stores an unlimited number of passwords), a File Shredder, and a backup utility (with 2GB of online space from Dropbox)

An advanced parental control module and a file encryption utility also part of the “Total Security” suite.

A limited free VPN (with a data limit of 200 MB per day) is also part of all Kaspersky’s security suites.

Get Kaspersky Total Security

Note: Both Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security are compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Features Included in Kaspersky's Antivirus Suites

McAfee vs Kaspersky: Which Software Provides Better Malware Detection?

Malware protection engine stands at the heart of a security product.

Generally, all malware can be categorized into two types: known malware (malware which is widespread) and unknown malware (also called zero-day malware).

The latter form of malware is much more difficult to catch as no previous signature is available for it. Usually, heuristic analysis techniques are used to detect previously unknown malware, as well as new variants of known malware. The former type of malware is generally identified using signature-based scanning (matching a suspicious file against a massive library of malware definition files).

Now, let’s see how McAfee and Kaspersky stack up against each other when it comes to malware detection. I’ll look at the most recent tests conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives — two independent and most respected antivirus software testing institutes.

AV-Test most recent two-round evaluations were conducted in May and June 2018. All participating products — including McAfee and Kaspersky — were tested against 225 samples of zero-day malware and 5,565 samples of widespread malware.

Both McAfee and Kaspersky detected 100% of both types of malware samples, earning perfect 6/6 star ratings from the AV-Test experts in the ‘Protection’ category. (See this and this if interested in detailed results.)

McAfee's protection test report when conducted on Windows 10 by AV-Test on March-April 2018

The experts at AV-Comparatives do Real-World Protection Test and Malware Protection Test. The former test uses a large number of real-world malware samples to examine the protection level of a product with all of its security components enabled, while the latter test examines a security product’s ability to prevent infections by malicious files before, during or after execution.

AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test report includes combined results of the tests conducted over the period of five months, from January to February 2018.

Both McAfee and Kaspersky were among the few companies that received the highest ADVANCED+ award the institute, due to their near-perfect protection rates of 99.6% and 99.7%, respectively. McAfee came up with 7 false positives over the considered period, while Kaspersky returned only one.

***False positive refers to the case when a security program falsely identifies a clean file as malicious.

AV-Comparatives real-world protection test awards - February to June 2018

AV-Comparatives’ Malware Protection Test was conducted in March 2018. Kaspersky once against received the highest ADVANCED+ in this test, because of its impressive 99.98% protection rate while returning only 9 false positives.

McAfee, on the other hand, could only manage the second-best ADVANCED award, as it registered a slightly lower but still impressive 99.95% protection rate with 10 false positives.

AV-Comparatives malware protection test awards - March 2018

Overall, it can be said that both McAfee and Kaspersky are neck and neck in terms of malware protection

Winner: It’s a tie

McAfee vs Kaspersky: Which Software Puts Less Impact on System?

All antivirus programs require (or consume) some percentage of system resources to do their job. If a security product is resource-intensive, it can have an impact on system performance (or system speed) — especially if your computer is a little bit old.

Let’s which of the two software is better in terms of system performance.

The experts at AV-Test measure the influence of a security product puts on system speed while carrying out a few common computer tasks, such as visiting popular websites, downloading and installing applications, copying of files.

Here’re the results of the study with McAfee installed. (The results are expressed in terms of system slowdown on a standard PC as well as on a high-end PC.)

McAfee's performance test report when conducted on Windows 10 by AV-Test on March-April 2018

Here’re the results of the same study with Kaspersky installed.

Kaspersky's performance test report when conducted on Windows 10 by AV-Test on March-April 2018

As you can see, both McAfee and Kaspersky received 6 out of 6 stars from the AV-Test experts in the ‘Performance’ category.

AV-Comparatives’ Performance Test is similar to AV-Test’s study. Few common computer operations are executed, and an impact score (the lower, the better) is awarded to each participating product depending on the slowdown it exerted on system performance (or system speed).

Both McAfee and Kaspersky came out of the test with the ADVANCED+ award.

AV-Comparatives performance test awards - April 2018

It’s a tie in this category, too, as both products are extremely lightweight.

Winner: It’s a tie

McAfee vs Kaspersky: Which Software Offers a Better User Experience?

Now, let’s see which of the two software offers a better user experience.

McAfee’s interface has recently gone through significant improvements, and its now simple and bright — in colors of light blue, grey and white. Home, PC Security, Identity, Privacy, and Account are the tabs that constitute the main menu, along with quick links to Settings, Alerts, and Tips (available in the top-right corner).

Home window — which is your default screen — shows your protection status and also has buttons run a Quick Scan or a Full Scan. At the bottom, you’ll find either 2 or 4 rectangular tiles for doing different things, such as checking application updates, setting up True Key password manager, and removing browser cookies/trackers.

McAfee interface as seen on Windows 10

PC Security window includes advanced features (like Firewall and Real-time Protection), while Identity tab contains File Shredder, Anti-spam, and WebAdvisor modules.

Privacy contains parental control features and a File Vault (secures sensitive files with a password and encryption). Finally, Account tab has information about your subscription status.

Now, let’s delve into Kaspersky’s interface.

Kaspersky’s interface is simple and intuitive, in shades of green and white. Home window — which is the first thing you see when you open the software — has a lot of information, buttons, and links. But everything is so well organized that the interface doesn’t look crowded at all.

Scan, Database Update, SafeMoney, Privacy Protection, Parental Control, and Protection for all devices are the modules you’ll find on the main screen. The modules are pretty much self-explanatory and contain relevant features (and their settings).

If you’re using the freeware, most of the premium features won’t be available to you.

Kaspersky's interface as seen on Windows 10

The name of the suite you’re subscribed to is displayed in the title bar, while the bottom bar has quick links to reports, news, notifications, settings, and other Kaspersky’s products.

Overall, both McAfee and Kaspersky provide a simple and easy-to-use user interface.

Winner: It’s a tie   

McAfee vs Kaspersky: Which Software is Less Expensive?

McAfee Security ProductsPrices
McAfee Total Protection (1 Device)Check Price
McAfee Total Protection (5 Device)Check Price
McAfee Total Protection (10 Device)Check Price
Kaspersky Security ProductsPrices
Kaspersky Anti-VirusCheck Price
Kaspersky Internet SecurityCheck Price
Kaspersky Total SecurityCheck Price
Kaspersky Security Cloud (Personal)Check Price
Kaspersky Security Cloud (Family)Check Price
Kaspersky Small Office SecurityCheck Price
Kaspersky End Point Security CloudCheck Price

Since McAfee does not offer a range of security products (like Kaspersky), no comparison can be drawn in this category.

Winner: None

McAfee vs Kaspersky: Which Software is More Popular?

Both Kaspersky and McAfee are well-known antivirus brands in the antivirus arena, but which of two is more popular among users? Let’s find out!

According to Statista’s most recent Windows anti-malware market share report, Avast is currently leading the antivirus with an impressive 19% market share, followed by ESET (14.03%) and Malwarebytes (12.73%). McAfee stands fourth on the list, with a market share of 8.41%.

Kaspersky is tenth on the list with a market share of 3.79%.

Statista's anti-malware market share report as of January 2018

OPSWAT also releases monthly reports on the market share of leading anti-malware vendors and companies. Their findings are more or less the same as Statista’s, with Avast leading the market with a 19.3% market share, followed by ESET and Malwarebytes.

McAfee – which is placed fourth on the list — is shown to have 8.46% market share, while Kaspersky is last on the table with 3.76% share.

OPSWAT Anti-virus Market Share Report (August 2018)

Overall, it can be comfortably said that McAfee is more popular than Kaspersky Lab.

Winner: McAfee

Final thoughts

Both McAfee and Kaspersky are well-known companies in the antivirus realm.

Get Bitdefender at 60% off today


Overall Score: 9.9/10

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Editors Choice Award Winner

Our recommendations: After reviewing 50 antivirus suites from some of the biggest names in the cybersecurity realm, we believe that Bitdefender Total Security 2020 (currently at 60% off) is the best antivirus suite for 2020 in terms of value for money. You protect up to five devices (PCs, Macs, and smartphones) with a single license of this suite.

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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