ESET vs. McAfee — Which Antivirus Is Better in 2024?

Find the best antivirus for you and your devices.
We compare security, extra features, ease of use, and more to help you decide.

McAfee vs. ESET: Which Is Right for You?

Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
Chief 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 2024. 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.

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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.

Malware Protection

ESET

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.

McAfee 

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.

Web Security

ESET

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.

McAfee 

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.

Features

ESET

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.

McAfee

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…

LLike ESET, McAfee offers a good firewall with many security capabilities. McAfee’s version works on top of your default firewall and has fewer customization options, but it’s still effective at blocking attacks.

In terms of extras, I really like McAfee’s Identity Monitoring feature, which will alert you if any of your information has been leaked. It works on everything from passwords to passports. ESET’s password manager will alert you to leaks, but this can’t really be compared with McAfee’s extensive leak checker.

Ease of Use

ESET

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.

McAfee 

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).

Customer Support

ESET

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.

However, the live chat team at ESET was quite supportive when I reached out, responding to all my queries in a prompt and clear manner. Nonetheless, the chat has its limitations and is only accessible in certain markets — thus, it’s not available to everyone.

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.

McAfee

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 found McAfee’s live chat and phone support particularly impressive. I interacted with their agents at different times, and each time they provided clear and straightforward answers. Unlike my experience with ESET, I didn’t face any restrictions with McAfee, and any issues I had were resolved quickly.

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.

Starting Price
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Latest Positive Review*User reviews are not verified
lenjin
Dec. 16, 2021
very good
I'm very pleased with the antivirus. I used Kaspersky and Bitdefender...
BigEyedBeans
May 16, 2021
Very Good
I've used McAfee for 25yrs plus and I have had NO problems whatesoever. I...
Mar. 23, 2022
Best antivirus for windows
ESET caught all of the 30,00,000 samples I used in protection of zero-day...
Cyril Bartlam
Mar. 22, 2022
Incorrect Info
In the UK Eset do have a Tech Support telephone number, with Norton you...
Latest Negative Review*User reviews are not verified
Larry Andress
May 1, 2023
Terrible Customer Svc
It is easy to sign up and pay them but if the McAfee doesn't agree with...
Steve
May 1, 2023
McAfee VPN Has Major Issues
McAfee virus protection seems to work alright but their VPN has major...
Richard Stephenson
Feb. 5, 2023
Awful
False positives, removes legitimate software and when manually selected to...
Sep. 7, 2021
Blocks WSL2 and WSL1 Network interfaces
works great for most things, bit of a CPU hog on startup but most of my...
Our Verdict
Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
Chief 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 firewall, Identity Monitoring, 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 2024.

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 SafetyDetectives.com to find the most up-to-date and unbiased information about the best cybersecurity products on the market today.

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