(Last updated on January 6th, 2021)
McAfee or Norton, which software is a better option in 2021?
Read this ultimate McAfee versus Norton comparison to make a smart choice.
The Internet has made individuals, businesses and governments more efficient, but it has also made them more vulnerable than ever before to ever-growing cybersecurity threats.
Top cybersecurity challenges that organizations and individuals face in 2020 include phishing, ransomware, cryptojacking, Internet of Things (IoT) attacks, etc.
According to Malwarebytes’ 2020 State of Malware Report, HackTools rose against consumers by 42 percent year-on-year. HackTools are a threat category for tools used to hack into systems and computers.
The report also found that businesses were once again hammered with Trojan families, including Emotet and TrickBot, which saw an increase of 6 percent and 52 percent, respectively, last year. Emotet and TrickBot were among Malwarebytes’ top five most-detected threats against organizations.
Apart from this data, there are many other stats that can blow one’s mind. For instance, Kaspersky solutions thwarted more than 975 million attacks last year, launched from online resources located across the world.
Against this backdrop of increasing cyberattacks, every Internet user needs to be prepared to protect their data and privacy. It’s true that you can avoid many online threats by being careful, but for complete protection and peace of mind it’s better that you go for a reliable antivirus suite from renowned brands like Bitdefender, McAfee, Kaspersky and Norton.
You may start with a free antivirus product, but keep in mind that free versions provide only basic protection features and lack many advanced tools that have become essential these days.
For instance, you won’t find features like password manager, parental controls, identity theft protection, performance optimization, secure browser, file shredder, etc. in a free antivirus tool.
Now, the problem is there are dozens of reliable premium antivirus tools, which makes it difficult for you to select one. But don’t worry, we are here to help you make a smart decision.
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.
In this head-to-head comparison, we are going to pit two top-notch antivirus companies – McAfee and Norton – against each other to help you narrow down the list.
In a rush? Below is a quick summary of the comparison, and the winners in each category.
A Quick Rundown of the Winners in Each Category
Winner: Norton. McAfee does give you an all-inclusive package, but Norton provides you with more advanced features with every tier.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Tie. Both McAfee and Norton showed excellent performance in independent malware protection evaluations.
3. System Performance
Winner: Tie. McAfee and Norton got excellent scores in recent independent performance tests.
Winner: Norton. Norton has a simpler, more intuitive, and highly functional interface.
Winner: McAfee. McAfee provides a better value versus money ratio as you add more devices to the equation, which makes McAfee a better pick for families.
6. Customer Satisfaction
Winner: Tie. Overall, both antivirus brands fared equally well in this category.
Norton is the overall winner as it offers more security-enhancing features and utilities in its security products than McAfee. Also, independent tests show that Norton is better than McAfee in terms of both malware detection and system performance.
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
A lot of times, features are where customers try to find the most value for their money. The price has to be justified by the functions and utilities that different products offer. Actually, the more, the better. So, we compare both brands to see which one provides more feature-rich products.
Let’s start with McAfee.
The flagship product from the company, McAfee Total Protection, comes packed with all the advanced features and functions to provide proper malware protection.
- A two-way firewall doesn’t let anything in and out of your computer without your permission. It is regularly updated to keep the latest threats at bay.
- A File Lock feature protects your sensitive information during browsing or online shopping.
- A File Shredder helps to permanently delete any confidential files that you don’t want leaking.
- There’s a Password Management tool that helps store your passwords securely on your device, so your information is safe while you’re on the internet.
- A Network Manager module secures your home Wi-Fi from any external interference and restricts accessibility by external factors.
- The package includes a Safe Family Module that helps track the online behavior of your children so you can set limits to save them from unwanted content on the Internet. You can also use this utility to control the amount of time they spend online to promote healthy habits.
- This product is compatible across different devices (PCs, Macs, and mobile devices).
- The product comes with 24/7 premium customer support.
McAfee LiveSafe is another superior product from the company. It incorporates the same features as the former product. The only difference is that McAfee Total Protection is restricted by OEM deals, which means it can’t be purchased in most countries.
Now let’s look at the range of antivirus products from Norton.
The entry-level offering of the company is called Norton AntiVirus Plus and protects against all sorts of malware threats. It also includes:
- A Smart Wall that monitors your network traffic at all times and secures you against external threats.
- A password manager that securely stores all your sensitive data and provides you safe browsing experience.
- This product applies to both PCs and Macs.
Norton 360 Standard is the next tier of protection that comes with 1 universal license for a PC, Mac, or mobile device. Along with everything from the previous product, the package also offers:
- A secure VPN to allow you an anonymous surfing experience and access to region-specific websites.
- A webcam protector keeps you safe from hackers using your device camera to spy on you.
- The Dark Web Monitoring feature, powered by LifeLock, protects your sensitive information so cybercriminals can’t misuse it.
- You also get 10 GB of cloud data storage so you can store a backup of your important files with access from any device.
Next up is Norton 360 Deluxe that has everything from Antivirus Plus suite with some more additions:
- It provides you with 5 universal licenses.
- It offers multilayered malware protection, so you don’t fall victim to cyber monetary attacks.
- A parental control module keeps track of kids’ online activity, called Norton Family Premier. This feature helps provide a healthy and safe online experience for your children.
- This product includes 50 GB of cloud data.
Finally, Norton 360 Deluxe with LifeLock Select for unparalleled defense in the realm of identity protection. It comes with dark web monitoring, includes all the advanced functions from the Deluxe suite and also offers useful monitoring modules such as:
- The Identity Alert System keeps tabs on your behavioral patterns. The system instantly notifies you if your information is being used in a way that doesn’t match up with your record.
- There’s a Credit Monitoring suite that warns you if there’s a sudden drop in your funds. This is another sign of identity theft.
- A Million Dollar Protection Package provides insurance for up to $1 million in case of stolen funds. This insurance guarantees your peace of mind in such an event.
- You also get 100GB of Cloud Backup with this product.
All Norton premium products are covered by 24/7 customer support.
Winner: Norton. Norton has a nice spread of features and offers different packages for all kinds of users.
2. Malware Protection
A good set of features is meaningless if the antivirus suite can’t protect your device from different types of malware threats roaming freely on the Internet.
Let’s find out which among the two brands offer stronger malware-protection capability.
In this category, we’ll take findings from two unbiased independent testing organizations, namely AV-Test and AV-Comparatives.
AV-Test uses 1- to 6-point system to rate antivirus products. In the latest AV-Test protection tests conducted in May-June 2020 and July-August 2020, both Norton and McAfee notched a perfect 6 out of 6 score.
McAfee (May-June 2020):
McAfee (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Tie. Both Norton and McAfee showed impeccable performances and bagged the highest possible scores in the two evaluations.
3. System Performance
An antivirus program that brings your computer to a halt while performing its operations is not the software you need. A reliable antivirus suite is a silent guardian that protects your PC without influencing its speed.
Let’s see which among the two top antivirus programs has the least impact on your system performance.
According to the latest AV-Test Performance test results, published in June and August 2020, both McAfee and Norton achieved a perfect 6 out of 6 score, which shows they didn’t slow down the PC while launching popular websites, downloading and installation of frequently used applications, copying of files, etc.
McAfee (May-June 2020):
McAfee (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Tie. Both brands received the highest possible scores in both key evaluations, showing their products are par excellence when it comes to the impact on system performance.
The user interface holds great importance, as it improves the user experience and customer satisfaction. Today’s computer users don’t like to get into complex processes. They not only want aesthetically pleasing icons, toggles, buttons, lists, etc., but they also want one-click operations to get the job done quickly.
Let’s take a look at the user interfaces of McAfee and Norton to find out which one is more intuitive and straightforward.
McAfee has a simple interface that uses dark grey and white as primary colors. There’s a panel on the left side that tells you about the system security status as well as sorts all primary operations for easy access.
Most of the screen is dominated by a central hub that switches screens as you move from function to function. Every major function has its separate section. The screen layout is quite easy to use and you won’t find it difficult to find the required options.
Now let’s see what Norton interface looks like.
Norton uses a pretty straightforward interface divided into one main panel at the top and four to five big blocks at the bottom leading to different sections like Security, Internet Security, Backup and Performance.
Everything is within easy access and one-click operation. Norton does use pop-ups to alert you about any issues or changes in the software. While it can get annoying, it also keeps you well-informed about the health of your device. Norton interface is optimized for mobile devices, which makes it fairly easy to use on different devices.
Winner: Norton. While both McAfee and Norton offer intuitive and straightforward interfaces, Norton’s UI is more in line with modern trends.
Price is a pressing point for many. While everybody wants premium protection, not everyone can afford the most premium offering. So, let’s take a look at the pricing plans for both McAfee and Norton to see which one is a better contender in terms of rates.
Let’s start with McAfee’s pricing.
McAfee Total Protection offers fours packages:
- Single Device package costs $29.99 per year for 1 device as the name suggests.
- Individual & Couples package comes at $34.99 per year for 5 devices.
- Family package costs $39.99 per year for 10 devices.
- Ultimate package costs $59.99 per year and protects unlimited devices.
McAfee LiveSafe costs $39.99 per year for unlimited devices.
|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|
Now let’s take a look at Norton’s product pricing.
Norton Antivirus Plus is the company’s entry product, which costs $19.99 per year and offers protection for 1 PC or Mac.
Norton 360 is another comprehensive product, which is divided into three plans, including:
- Norton 360 Standard costs $39.99 per year and protects 1 PC, 1 Mac or 1 smartphone or tablet.
- Norton 360 Deluxe costs $49.99 per year and protects up to 5 devices.
- Norton 360 Premium comes at $59.99 per year and protects up to 10 devices.
Norton 360 with LifeLock also has three plans, which are:
- Norton 360 with LifeLock Select costs $99.99 per year and offers protection for up to 5 devices
- Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage costs $199.99 per year and protects up to 10 devices.
- Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus costs $299.99 per year and protects unlimited devices.
|Norton Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Norton Antivirus Plus||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Standard||$79.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Deluxe||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Lifelock Select||$149.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Utimate Plus||$349.99/year||Check here|
|Norton Small Business Security||Varies||Check here|
Winner: McAfee. Although Norton’s entry-level package costs less, McAfee is a better pick for anyone needing to protect several devices. This difference makes McAfee more suitable for families.
6. Customer Satisfaction
Customer support is a massive part of any service in this day and age. If your customers aren’t happy with your service, they’ll find an alternative service provider very soon. Let’s see how well McAfee and Norton take care of their customers.
Our first source for this assessment is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It collects and processes customer feedback into an average letter score from A to F. The BBB awarded McAfee with a stellar A+ rating. Norton matched McAfee on this and also received an A+. These ratings show that both companies are exceptionally good at customer support.
ConsumerAffairs.com is a similar service. It averages out its feedback into a 5-star ranking. According to this source, both McAfee and Norton have a modest rating of 2.5 stars, which reflects mixed reactions from users.
Winner: Tie. Both companies performed equally well according to both consumer review websites.
Norton is a better choice as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its security suites than McAfee. Independent tests prove that both software are excellent in terms of the impact on system performance, but Norton offers better anti-malware security than McAfee.
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.