Malwarebytes vs. McAfee — Which Should You Choose in 2023?

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McAfee vs. Malwarebytes: Which Is Right for You?

Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
QA Editor

McAfee vs. Malwarebytes: Which Is Right for You?

Both Malwarebytes and McAfee offer comprehensive malware scanners. However, while Malwarebytes is minimalistic and offers the most basic protection, McAfee is a complete antivirus suite with tons of extras — such as a powerful firewall and good parental controls.

Today, I’ll explain some key differences between McAfee and Malwarebytes so that you can make an informed decision on which you should download in 2023.

Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Final Verdict:

  • 1st place: Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Final Verdict:
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McAfee is better for malware protection, web protection, features, and customer support. For comprehensive online security, go with McAfee.

Malwarebytes is easier to use and cheaper. It offers minimalistic but essential malware protection. If that’s all you need in 2023, go with Malwarebytes.

Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Malware Protection

Malwarebytes’s malware scanner uses heuristic analysis and an extensive malware database to protect your computer from both known and emerging threats. This includes worms, ransomware, cryptojackers, and more.

Malwarebytes detected 95% of malware samples in my tests. I downloaded a repository that contained 1,000s of malware samples and hid them in different locations on my Windows 11 PC, including inside critical system folders. I then ran the full scan, which completed in around 3 hours.

Malwarebytes’s real-time protection performed well in my tests. I tried to download the same malware repository, and the real-time protection blocked 98% of the malware samples. Finally, I ran simulated exploit attacks against my system, and Malwarebytes was able to block all of them.

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McAfee also uses heuristic analysis and a large malware database to keep your computer protected from malware.

McAfee’s malware scanner performed much better than Malwarebytes’s — it completed in an hour and found every malware sample I’d hidden across my Windows 11 PC (the same repository I’d used to test Malwarebytes).

I also much prefer McAfee’s real-time protection. It blocked every malware sample I tried to download, including those that Malwarebytes couldn’t detect.

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Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Web Security

Malwarebytes’s web security extension works across all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. It stops you from visiting phishing websites, having trackers steal your data, and being issued annoying pop-up ads.

Malwarebytes was able to block around 90% of the phishing websites I tried to visit. This is better than the default protections on most web browsers. However, McAfee had slightly better detection rates in my tests.

I wasn’t too impressed with Malwarebytes’s ad blocker. It was only able to block 35% of ads on the testing website I visited — which is pretty disappointing.

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McAfee’s web security extension works with Windows and Mac, as well as on all major web browsers, stopping you from accessing dangerous websites. However, McAfee doesn’t block ads or trackers like Malwarebytes does.

That said, in my tests, McAfee blocked every phishing site I tried to visit. This is much better than Malwarebytes’s 90% detection rate.

McAfee also offers color-coded safety ratings on search results, which is pretty good. You can see whether a link is safe to click on before you do, which is an excellent way for beginner users to avoid dangerous websites.

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Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Features

Malwarebytes’s most premium plan offers coverage for up to 5 devices and includes:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • VPN (virtual private network).

I particularly like the real-time protection. It offers several layers of protection that advanced users can customize. For example, you can choose whether Malwarebytes protects against dangerous websites, dangerous malware, PUPS, ransomware, or exploit attacks. Beginner users will just want to keep all options turned on. However, if you’re an advanced user getting lots of false positives, you can make adjustments, which is excellent.

I also like Malwarebytes’s VPN. It offers access to 300 servers across 30 countries, has a strict no-logs policy (so Malwarebytes doesn’t store any user data), and offers decent connection speeds on both near and far servers. However, I’m disappointed at Malwarebytes’s lack of a kill switch. If the VPN connection drops, Malwarebytes will expose your data. That said, this didn’t happen in any of my tests.

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McAfee is much more comprehensive than Malwarebytes. It offers coverage on either 5 or an unlimited number of devices and includes:

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

I quite like McAfee’s password manager. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to keep your data secure and includes a zero-knowledge policy so nobody but you can access your saved logins. If you want a password manager that just contains the fundamentals, it’s a neat inclusion. However, it doesn’t include vault auditing and secure password sharing — something standalone password managers have.

I also like McAfee’s performance optimizer. It can remove temporary files, cached browser cookies, and junk files, and it includes a tracker remover too. However, I wish McAfee blocked trackers in the first place like Malwarebytes does. When I tested McAfee’s performance optimizer, it only took a minute to complete and saved 2 GB of space on my PC.

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Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Ease of Use

Malwarebytes is well laid out and simple to navigate, and it features a straightforward user interface with one-click access to most features. Since Malwarebytes is so minimalistic, it only takes a few minutes to download and install, and then it runs silently in the background without any slowdown to your PC.

Malwarebytes’s mobile apps are also well designed and great to use — especially if you’re a beginner. The Android version has the same features as the Windows version, and the iOS version features everything except for the malware scanner. I like the additional inclusion of spyware protection and privacy auditing on mobile, but I’m a bit disappointed these aren’t featured on the desktop version. That said, if you’re looking for minimalist protection on mobile, Malwarebytes is a good choice.

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McAfee has a slightly higher learning curve than Malwarebytes, but it’s still pretty easy to navigate. The main desktop application shows everything in your current subscription, and you can access features like the malware scanner in just a couple of clicks.

That said, you can’t access some of McAfee’s features from the desktop app, and you need to navigate to the online dashboard to use them. If you’re a beginner user, this can quickly get frustrating. Further, it makes the features completely inaccessible if your internet connection drops.

On the other hand, I really like McAfee’s mobile apps. They’re well laid out, uncluttered, and fast. I didn’t notice any slowdown on my Huawei P30 Lite with McAfee installed, and I enjoyed having every feature in one location (unlike on the desktop app).

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Malwarebytes vs. McAfee: Customer Support

Regrettably, Malwarebytes falls short in terms of phone or live chat support, which is quite disappointing. Instead, they provide a 24/7 chatbot that allows users to explore their knowledge base. While the chatbot proves to be helpful to a certain extent, it is not the ideal solution when you require answers to specific inquiries.

If you do have specific questions, Malwarebytes does have email support. Its email support team is friendly and helpful, but the support reps take 24 hours to reply, which isn’t the fastest response time.

That said, I’m a huge fan of the Malwarebytes knowledge base. It offers in-depth guides that answered the majority of questions I had.

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McAfee offers more customer support options than Malwarebytes. It has an online knowledge base, 24/7 live chat and phone support, and an online forum where you can get community answers.

When testing the live chat, I consistently got through to an agent quickly, and they were always really helpful and responsive. Similarly, McAfee’s phone support was great — they even offered to take control of my PC to help me resolve an issue I was having with the software.

That said, I wasn’t too impressed with McAfee’s knowledge base. It often gave instructions for older versions of McAfee that were no longer relevant to the version I was using — this is a problem I didn’t have with Malwarebytes.

However, McAfee makes up for this by having a 6-hour email response time — which is much better than Malwarebytes’s 24-hour response time. McAfee’s email team was helpful each time they responded, and they gave me clear and straightforward answers.

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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...
Jul. 23, 2021
I had a shit tone of malware left after a ransomware attack and it removed...
Gucci G
Feb. 12, 2021
i had a "yahoo virus", the virus was deleted within a few minutes
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...
Michael Weser
Mar. 31, 2022
Support SERIOUSLY Lacking!!!
I have been trying to get support for a licensing issue and now a refund...
bob venezia
Mar. 23, 2022
poor customer support
bought subscription for 3 devices thinking it would cover my laptop and...
Our Verdict
Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
QA Editor
Both Malwarebytes and McAfee are good antiviruses. However, McAfee is the better choice if you want a comprehensive antivirus suite to protect you from malware in 2023. It has more features than Malwarebytes, and all of those features work well. I particularly like McAfee’s password manager and performance optimizer. McAfee also has the best web protections I’ve seen in an antivirus in 2023. That said, Malwarebytes is still a good choice, but it lacks many features McAfee includes. If you’re only looking for the most fundamental malware protections or are a beginner user, go with Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes has a 60-day money-back guarantee, whereas McAfee has 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.