This site is reader-supported. We use affiliate links to support our expenses. Learn more

(Last updated on September 23rd, 2020)

McAfee or Norton, which software is a better option in 2020?

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.

Important Note

Best Antivirus Suite for 2020

(All the best security products examined)

Editors' Choice Award Winner 

Overall Score: 9.9/10

SAVE 60%


Special discount ends in...

30-day money-back guarantee

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.

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

1. Features
Winner: McAfee. Norton provides you additional features with every tier, but McAfee gives you an all-inclusive package no matter the number of licenses you require.

2. Malware Protection
Winner: Norton. McAfee was bested by Norton in all independent malware protection evaluations.

3. System Performance
Winner: McAfee. McAfee got perfect scores in both recent independent performance tests, easily beating Norton in this category.

4. User-Friendliness
Winner: Tie. Both Norton and McAfee have simple, intuitive, and highly functional interfaces.

5. Pricing
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: McAfee. Overall, McAfee fared slightly better than Norton in this category.

Short Verdict

McAfee is the overall winner as it offers more security-enhancing features and utilities in its security products than Norton. Also, independent tests show that McAfee is better than Norton in terms of both malware detection and system performance.

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.

1. Features

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 Total Protection Security Features

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.

Norton All Basic Security Suites 2020

If you wish to look at Norton’s business products, click here for detailed information.

Winner: McAfee. Norton has a nice spread of features, but with McAfee, you get the same line of utilities whether you need a single license or protection for multiple devices.

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 test conducted in April 2020, Norton notched a perfect 6 out of 6 score, whereas McAfee got a bit lower score of 5/6.


McAfee Protection Test Results AV Test Evaluations Mar Apr 2020


Norton Security Protection Test Results AV Test Evaluations Mar April 2020

Now, let’s move on to the AV-Comparatives assessment. This lab conducts two types of protection tests – the Real-World Protection Test and the Malware Protection Test – and awards 1 to 3 stars to rank antivirus products.  

In the Malware Protection Test, malicious files are executed on the system.

In the Real-World Protection Test the vector is the web, whereas in the Malware Protection Test the vectors can be USB, network drives or cover scenarios where the malware is already on the disk. 

In the AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test, conducted in February-May 2020, both McAfee and Norton delivered same performance and received the 2-star ADVANCED award.

Real World Protection Test Results AV Comparatives Evaluations Feb May 2020

However, in the March 2020 Malware Protection Test, Norton managed to get the same 2-star ADVANCED award, whereas McAfee lost one star and got the STANDARD (1-star) award.

Malware Protection Test Results AV Comparatives Evaluations March 2020

Winner: Norton. Norton was slightly ahead of McAfee in all three tests and is therefore the winner of this category.

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 April 2020, McAfee achieved a perfect 6 out of 6 score, which shows McAfee didn’t slow down the PC while launching popular websites, downloading and installation of frequently used applications, copying of files, etc.

Mcafee Performance test results AV Test evaluations Mar Apr 2020

By contrast, Norton was a tad behind with a score of 5.5 out of 6.

Norton Performance test results AV Test evaluations Mar April 2020

Let’s move to our next source. In the most recent AV-Comparatives Performance Test, McAfee bagged the top award, i.e. the 3-star ADVANCED+ award.

Norton, on the other hand, received the second-ranked 2-star ADVANCED award.

AV Comparatives Performance Test April 2020

Winner: McAfee. McAfee received the highest possible scores in both key evaluations, showing it’s an antivirus par excellence when it comes to the impact on system performance.

3. User-Friendliness

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.

McAfee User Interface 2020

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.

Norton User Interface 2020

Winner: Tie. Both McAfee and Norton offer intuitive and straightforward interface.

4. Pricing

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 ProductsRegular PriceDiscounted Price
McAfee Total Protection (1 Device)$79.99/yearCheck here
McAfee Total Protection (5 Device)$99.99/yearCheck here
McAfee Total Protection (10 Device)$119.99/yearCheck 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 PriceDiscounted Price
Norton Antivirus Plus$59.99/yearCheck here
Norton 360 Standard$79.99/yearCheck here
Norton 360 Deluxe$99.99/yearCheck here
Norton 360 with Lifelock Select$149.99/yearCheck here
Norton 360 with Utimate Plus$349.99/yearCheck here
Norton Small Business SecurityVariesCheck 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.

5. 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). They collect and process customer feedback into an average letter score from A to F. 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. is a similar service. They average out their feedback into a 5-star ranking. According to this source, McAfee received an average score of 3 stars. Norton performed poorly and received only 1 star.

Winner: McAfee. Both companies performed equally well according to the BBB, but the second feedback contrasted by a considerable margin for both products. McAfee still performed better than Norton in the second rating, so McAfee is the winner.

Final Verdict

McAfee is a better choice as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its security suites than Norton. Independent tests prove that both software are excellent in terms of the impact on system performance, but McAfee offers better anti-malware security than Norton.

Get Bitdefender at 60% off today


Overall Score: 9.9/10

Offer ends in ...

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.

Related Comparisons

Bitdefender vs Avast
Bitdefender vs Kaspersky
Kaspersky vs Avast
Kaspersky vs Norton
Avira vs ESET
AVG vs Norton
Kaspersky vs Avira
Norton vs Malwarebytes

McAfee vs Avast
Norton vs Avast
McAfee vs Kaspersky

22 thoughts on “McAfee Vs Norton | Ultimate, Head-to-Head Battle (2020)”

  1. As far as reviews are concerned, you guys are the best of the best. Perfect explanation of every detail.

    You should write “How to” books.

  2. I do not see anywhere on Mc Afee Total Protection the Win operation sys that cover; e.i: Win 10, Win 8, Win 7 pro, Win XP, neither where it is made, could you please comment, thanks.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Francisco. Not sure if I understand what you mean. McAfee Total Protection is compatible with most versions (new and old) of Windows OS.

    Thanks a lot for sharing the information the writing skills are also worth of appreciation.

        1. Hello Rachael,

          The VPN is a useful tool that helps you surf the web anonymously. You can read more about it online. I can’t really answer if you need it or not. But you do need a solid antivirus software these days. You can get Bitdefender, which is our #1 antivirus software recommendation.

          Thanks 🙂

      1. Would Bitdefender work with my Stopzilla? I have a lifetime subscription with Stopzilla and it works great with Norton, but Norton’s just getting to damn expensive.

        1. I guess it should work with Bitdefender as well. But you should check with Bitdefender. Norton is getting expensive; you can save 50% with Bitdefender if you use the links present on this page.

  4. I have used Norton for a number of years. But, I had the Security version and decided to change to the 360 Deluxe. When I made the purchase I went to shut off the automatic renewal, knowing they always set it to auto. I received the message that if I turned off the automatic renewal I would lose the VPN security feature and the 100% guarantee feature. So, be aware, since the confirmation email I first received said I could turn off the automatic renewal. This seems a bit duplicitous which make me wonder how trusting I should be with the company. I cancelled the order and will go with McAfee.

    1. Sorry to hear that! And yes, McAfee is a decent choice these days. Excellent detection rates with low system impact. Be sure to purchase through our links if you would like to support our work.

  5. I purchased McAfee, partly based on your analysis. I have had it two days. Yesterday, it only made it halfway through the installation, uninstalling the package that had expired, but not giving me any protection. I kept going to their website which was down, I called the support number, but they could not do anything because their system, therefore the site as well, was down. Today, I am trying to get it downloaded to my phone, I signed in twice on my phone, it kept saying the password was invalid, so I signed in on my PC and it took the password…but gee, then when I was going to get the support number the website went down again. Meanwhile, I uninstalled my norton on my phone and it still says my password is wrong. If these techs can not keep a system running, or a website working and accepts the password on a pc but not on the phone (yes, the second time I punched it in verrrrrry carefully, how are these same bungling techs going to protect anything? I absolutely will never recommend McAfee!!

    1. Hello Pauline,
      Sorry to hear about your experience. It’s unusual to hear about McAfee’s website being down. Anyway, if you have just purchased McAfee, you can still return it and get your money back. We recommend getting Bitdefender, which is our top-rated antivirus software these days. Make sure to purchase through our link to get the best price.

  6. Please update your incredibly misleading OPSWAT chart, since your most recent update to this page was May, 2019, but that chart is so old (3/2018) it doesn’t even show up on their site any longer.

    Also, most recent AV-test has McAfee at a rating of 5/6/6.

    People seem to trust this page, so you should make every effort to keep it updated – going 17 months with old data is not ‘Proficient Blogging’ Umair.

  7. Mcafee all the way. I used to buy Norton every year but the software is so huge that it slows down the laptop. Also the pop ups warnings will drive you nuts. If you go direct to a domain, you will be asked to confirm that you are happy to do that.

    So i stopped using it. I have Mcafee now. All that annoying stuff is gone now. I don`t know if Mcafee is as good as Norton to stop viruses, but it is way smaller and it does not slow down my laptop

    Thank you

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Bitdefender at 50% OFF

Don't rely on low-end, incomplete antivirus software when your security is at stake.


Protect yourself and your loved ones with the best antivirus software available. Act now to save an amazing 50% off the regular price.

bitdefender logo

Exclusive discount ends in ...