ESET vs. McAfee — Which Antivirus Is Better in 2023?

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McAfee vs. ESET: Which Is Right for You?

Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
QA Editor

McAfee vs. ESET: Which Is Right for You?

Both ESET and McAfee are excellent antiviruses with good malware detection rates, but there are some key differences you need to know about.

For example, McAfee offers the best web protection on the market in 2023. ESET also has good web protection, but it’s a little overly vigilant compared to McAfee and often won’t let you access legitimate websites.

However, ESET includes excellent diagnostics tools that advanced users will appreciate. McAfee doesn’t include any diagnostics tools.

Today, I will look at some key differences between ESET and McAfee so you can decide which antivirus to download.

ESET vs. McAfee: Final Verdict:

  • 1st place: ESET vs. McAfee: Final Verdict:
  • 2nd place: ESET vs. McAfee: Final Verdict:

McAfee has better web protection and customer support. If you’re after some of the best web protection tools on the market, go for McAfee.

ESET has advanced diagnostics tools. If you’re a tech-savvy user wanting to troubleshoot your computer, go for ESET.

ESET vs. McAfee: Malware Protection

ESET has a powerful malware scanner that can scan and remove trojans, rootkits, worms, cryptojackers, and more.

ESET was able to find every malware sample in my tests. I hid 1,000s of malware samples on my Windows 11 PC and ran ESET’s full system scan, which found and removed every malware sample in around 40 minutes.

ESET’s real-time protection works pretty well, too. When I downloaded the same archive containing 1,000s of samples, ESET was able to block the download before it could damage my PC.

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McAfee uses heuristic analysis and a huge malware database to scan your computer and remove all kinds of malware, including worms, rootkits, cryptojackers, spyware, and adware.

I ran McAfee’s full scan after hiding 1,000s of malware samples on my PC. McAfee found every malware sample and only took an hour to complete.

I was impressed with McAfee’s real-time protection too. I tried to re-download the same 1,000 samples with McAfee’s real-time protection turned on. Like ESET, McAfee was able to block the download before the malware samples could damage my computer.

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ESET vs. McAfee: Web Security

ESET’s web security is pretty good at blocking phishing websites, but it’s a little too vigilant and often blocks safe websites.

I visited 100 phishing websites, and ESET was able to block every one. This included sites that Firefox, Chrome, and Edge all failed to block, which is excellent.

However, when I tried to visit safe websites I trusted, ESET blocked them, too. ESET allows you to add permanent exceptions, but it’s quite difficult. You have to manually open the user interface and navigate through 4 different windows to add an exception. Even more annoying is that there’s no way to temporarily bypass a block on the webpage. Most antiviruses give you a “proceed anyway” option.

That said, ESET is a good option if you’re worried about phishing websites and don’t mind the lengthy process involved with adding permanent exceptions.

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McAfee features a web security extension called WebAdvisor. It can block exploit attacks, browser-based cryptojackers, and phishing websites. It also works on all major web browsers, including Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

I tested McAfee by visiting the same 100 phishing sites I used to test ESET; similarly, McAfee was able to block every single one. This included the phishing websites that the default protections on Chrome, Edge, and Firefox missed. I also found McAfee much less overly vigilant than ESET, so it wasn’t blocking sites I trust.

McAfee also provides security ratings for websites on Google and across social media, allowing you to see if a link is dangerous or not before clicking it.

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ESET vs. McAfee: Features

ESET Smart Security Premium offers coverage on up to 10 devices — but you have to pay an additional fee for each device you add. It also has:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Network inspector.
  • Advanced diagnostics tools.
  • Password manager.
  • Parental controls.
  • System cleaner.
  • And more…

ESET’s advanced diagnostics tool is a unique feature that advanced users will appreciate. It lets you see an overview of your system, including an in-depth list of running processes, and generate security reports that are helpful for troubleshooting.

I also really like ESET’s firewall. It managed to block every network intrusion in my tests, and it’s so simple to use that beginner users can just leave it running in the background. That being said, it also includes many customization options that give advanced users tons of control if they want to adjust how the firewall works.

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McAfee’s top-tier plan offers coverage on an unlimited number of devices and includes:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Firewall.
  • Web protection.
  • VPN.
  • Parental controls
  • Identity theft protection.
  • Computer optimizer.
  • Password manager.
  • And more…

Like ESET, McAfee offers a good firewall with many security capabilities. Non-tech-savvy users can leave the firewall to run out-of-the-box, but if you’re an advanced user, you can decide which programs can access the web, open and close chosen network ports, whitelist specific programs, and more. In my tests, McAfee’s firewall was able to prevent every network intrusion.

I also like McAfee’s VPN. It works well, has over 1,900 servers, and runs fast on all of them. It also supports torrenting and works with most streaming platforms.

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ESET vs. McAfee: Ease of Use

ESET only took 10 minutes to install, and I found navigating it quite simple. It features a straightforward, white interface, with all of the features listed on the left side of the screen. Whatever you click on appears in the center of the window.

That said, I did have a hard time setting up some features that should be pretty straightforward. For example, to schedule a virus scan, you must go through an entire 15-step process, which is ridiculous. Most competitors allow you to schedule scans in one or two clicks.

I did like ESET’s mobile app, though. It’s pretty intuitive and shares most of the same features as the PC version of ESET. However, ESET doesn’t have an iOS app, which is disappointing when McAfee offers apps for both iOS and Android.

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McAfee is very easy to download, install, and use. Once you’ve installed McAfee, you’re introduced to a straightforward user interface categorized into 5 sections: Antivirus, Tracker Remover, My Subscription, Firewall, and General Settings. It sounds straightforward enough; however, some features are difficult to find. For example, you can only access the parental control feature from the web app — which is annoying as McAfee doesn’t make this super obvious.

That said, I do like McAfee’s mobile app. It’s well laid out and easy to navigate, with everything localized in one place. You can access the main tools (such as the malware scanner) by pressing on-screen buttons, and everything else is accessible through a menu bar in the top right corner. I appreciate the fact McAfee offers iOS support, too (something ESET doesn’t offer).

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ESET vs. McAfee: Customer Support

ESET provides live chat, phone, and email support, along with a helpful knowledge base. However, apart from the knowledge base, locating ESET’s support resources on the website can be quite challenging. Furthermore, phone support is offered to business users only, whereas many competitors offer phone assistance to all subscribers.

That said, ESET’s live’s chat team was helpful when I contacted them, and they answered all of my questions quickly and concisely. However, the chat is restrictive and only available in specific markets — so not everyone has access to it.

Otherwise, you have to use ESET’s email support, which isn’t the best. When I got in touch with them, they replied to me in 8 hours, which is pretty good. However, their response was copied and pasted and didn’t make me feel valued as a customer.

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McAfee has an extensive range of support options, including live chat support that’s accessible 24/7, a community forum, an online knowledge base, and phone and email support.

I really like McAfee’s live chat and phone support. I connected with agents at different hours of the day, and each time they were able to give me clear and straightforward answers. I didn’t encounter any of the restrictions I encountered with ESET, and I quickly solved any problems I had.

I found the email team to be more responsive, too. They replied to my email in about 6 hours, and unlike ESET, where the answer was copied and pasted, I found the agent was friendly, helpful, and showed genuine concern for me as a customer.

My only complaint with McAfee’s customer support is its knowledge base. Unfortunately, many of the guides on the knowledge base are outdated, so I couldn’t follow them on the latest version of McAfee. However, McAfee makes up for this with its other support options.

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Latest Positive Review*User reviews are not verified
Maria Davis
Dec. 28, 2020
It's good product for protection
I have purchased McAfee antivirus now, try to download and install then I...
Dec. 20, 2020
Pretty good
I'm still trying to figure out how to use this software, but it has served...
Mar. 23, 2021
It brings all the features I need
- Great Product, easy to use - Excellent Password Manager - many features...
Jun. 10, 2020
Izuzetan proivod!
Lagan i efektivan antivirus.Mnogo značajki koje mogu biti podešene upravo...
Latest Negative Review*User reviews are not verified
May 1, 2023
McAfee VPN Has Major Issues
McAfee virus protection seems to work alright but their VPN has major...
The Big Duck
Jan. 6, 2023
Terrible and Just spams you constantly
Worst AV I have ever used. Constantly get spamming pop-ups that just don't...
Nov. 19, 2020
Worst business practice ever
Two years ago, I lost all my information on the hard drive. After checking...
Dave Gann
Apr. 30, 2020
ESET Customer Service - Linux AV NOD32
I had a trial version of Eset AV for Linux. I purchased the product but...
Our Verdict
Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
QA Editor
McAfee and ESET are excellent antivirus choices, but McAfee is better. It offers excellent malware detection rates and some of the best web protections on the market. It also has awesome extra features such as a customizable firewall and a fast VPN. ESET is more suited to advanced users who want to troubleshoot their PC using excellent diagnostics tools. I found its web protection to be overly vigilant and was disappointed that ESET doesn’t offer an iOS app like McAfee. That said, if you want the extra customization ESET offers in its firewall and diagnostics tools to monitor your computer's activity, then it’s a pretty good choice. Either way, both antiviruses offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Time To Decide Which One Is Best For You

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find the best antivirus for me?

The first thing to do is to understand what you need — all antiviruses come with different internet security tools to help you stay protected, so identifying what level of protection you want will help you figure out which product is right for you.

Some antiviruses have a virtual private network (VPN), some have safe browsing extensions, and some have a password manager. Some only work on certain operating systems, while others cover all operating systems across multiple devices.

It’s important to compare the best antiviruses on the market to find the perfect one with the functionality you need.

What makes an antivirus secure?

A high-quality antivirus suite will detect, flag, and remove viruses and various types of malware. It will also offer real-time protection against all threats, regardless of whether you are browsing the internet, downloading software, shopping online, or opening email. For additional security, many antivirus suites offer a VPN, secure storage, and a password manager — these things all add several layers of protection against various cyber threats.

For more information on how antiviruses work, read this.

What do I need to look for when searching for an antivirus?

An antivirus needs to protect against all types of malware — trojans, rootkits, worms, spyware, viruses, ransomware, and anything else that might cause damage to your devices. This is done in a variety of ways, but the most essential feature of an antivirus is real-time protection — this makes sure that an active threat is effectively stopped before anything serious can happen.

Other things to look for include — excellent detection rates, fast system performance, included extra features (like a VPN, password manager, etc.), easy-to-use interface, good customer support, and overall value.

Go here for a list of the best antivirus software of 2023.

How do I know if one antivirus is better than another?

When researching antiviruses, it’s a good idea to visit a few well-known antivirus software websites such as Norton, McAfee, and Bitdefender to directly compare each antivirus’s features.

You can also look at the expert opinions of our reviewers at to find the most up-to-date and unbiased information about the best cybersecurity products on the market today.