Malwarebytes vs. Norton — Which Antivirus Is Better in 2023?

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Norton vs. Malwarebytes: Which Is Right for You?

Sam Boyd
Sam Boyd
Junior Editor

Norton vs. Malwarebytes: Which Is Right for You?

Malwarebytes and Norton are both good antivirus options, but they’re very different. Norton is a full-featured antivirus program with perfect malware detection rates. In contrast, Malwarebytes is a minimalist antivirus that’s great for beginner users who just want essential malware protection.

Today, I’m going to take a close look at both options so you can decide which is better for you.

Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Final Verdict:

  • 1st place: Norton. Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Final Verdict:
  • 2nd place: Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Final Verdict:

Norton has better malware protection, web security, features, and customer support. If you want the best antivirus suite in 2023, go with Norton.

Malwarebytes is better for ease of use. If you’re only after a basic antivirus with essential protections, then go with Malwarebytes.

Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Malware Protection

Malwarebytes’s anti-malware engine works well. Like Norton, it uses an extensive malware database and heuristic analysis that blocked the majority of malware samples on both my Windows and Mac devices.

In my testing, I downloaded an archive containing 1,000s of malware samples. These samples included ransomware, rootkits, computer worms, and more. I hid each sample in different locations on my Windows 11 PC — including inside critical system folders — and ran a full system scan. Unfortunately, Malwarebytes’s scanner took over 3 hours to finish on my computer and only found 95% of malware samples. This is disappointing as Norton had perfect malware detection rates (and was much quicker).

That said, I like Malwarebytes’s real-time protection, which blocked 98% of the malware samples I tried to download. Again, it’s not as good as Norton, but it’s still better than the default protections built into Windows and Mac.

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Norton’s malware scanner uses a large malware database in addition to machine learning and heuristic analysis. Combined, these allow Norton to detect both known and new malware threats.

I downloaded the same malware sample archive I used to test Malwarebytes and ran Norton’s full system scan. The scanner took 40 minutes to check every file and folder on my PC and found 100% of the hidden malware files. I like that Norton scanned my computer without any slowdown too.

Norton’s real-time protection also performed really well. When I turned the real-time protection on and tried downloading the same malware sample archive, Norton blocked the download and immediately quarantined the zipped file.

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Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Web Security

Malwarebytes handles its web protections through Browser Guard — a browser-based extension that works on most Chromium-based browsers (Chrome, Edge, Brave, etc.) and Firefox. The protection works well and blocks phishing websites, trackers, and pop-up ads.

In my testing, Malwarebytes’s web protection blocked 90% of dangerous phishing websites. This is pretty good — but it’s not as good as Norton, which has perfect detection rates.

I’m also not a massive fan of Malwarebytes’s ad blocker, which only blocked 35% of ads in my tests. However, it’s still better than the default protections built into most major web browsers.

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Norton’s web shield, Safe Web, works really well. It stops you from accessing dangerous websites containing malicious file downloads.

I tested Norton’s Safe Web with 100s of known phishing websites, and Norton was able to block every single one. It even blocked phishing websites that the default protections in most web browsers missed.

Safe Web can be downloaded as a free extension for most major web browsers — including Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari — so you don’t need a subscription to benefit from Norton’s web protection. However, I recommend getting a Norton subscription anyway, as Norton’s other protections are really good.

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Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Features

Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy offers coverage for up to 5 devices and includes:

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

It’s much more minimalistic than other antiviruses on the market, but both the malware and web protections work well. I also think the VPN is pretty good — it’s fast and can keep you safe from web trackers. However, it’s still not as good as a standalone VPN as it lacks key features like a kill switch and torrenting support.

That said, I think Malwarebytes is great if you want the most basic protections. Many of Malwarebytes’s features are free, and you can simply leave it to run in the background while enjoying more protections than those offered by Windows and Mac by default.

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Norton 360 Deluxe covers 5 devices and has the following features:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Real-time protection.
  • Firewall.
  • Password manager.
  • VPN.
  • Device optimization tool.
  • Dark web monitoring.
  • Parental controls.
  • Webcam protection (Windows only).
  • 10 GB cloud storage.
  • And more…

I honestly think Norton includes the best features on the market in 2023. 

I really like Norton’s parental controls, which make monitoring your kid’s activity easy. You can pinpoint their location to a tee and block inappropriate websites by choosing various categories (such as pornography or weapons).

Norton’s VPN is also really good. It’s secure, fast, has access to many server locations, and works with most streaming services, including Netflix. However, it doesn’t allow torrenting on all servers like standalone VPNs (such as ExpressVPN) do, and it logs your IP address. That said, it’s still one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs.

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Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Ease of Use

Malwarebytes is pretty minimalistic, so it’s straightforward to set up and use. You can set Malwarebytes up in less than 5 minutes and simply leave it running in the background. The user interface is really easy to navigate and clearly laid out, making it easy to access most features.

I like Malwarebytes’s mobile app, too — the Android app shares the same features as the desktop version, but the iOS app loses scanning capabilities because of Apple App Store limitations.

Nonetheless, both mobile apps are easy to navigate, with every feature available in an easy-to-access sidebar you can quickly open.

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Norton offers a clean, simple-to-use interface. However, because Norton has a large number of features, navigating the user interface takes some getting used to. While the main screen displays the main tools, some features are hidden behind submenus, which can be a nuisance to navigate.

That said, Norton also includes an online dashboard that’s more clearly laid out and responsive than the desktop UI. I often found myself using the web dashboard more than I used the desktop interface.

Norton’s mobile apps are really good. I tested them on my iPhone 11 and Huawei P30 Lite. Despite the P30 being an older model, I didn’t experience any slowdown or bugs while using Norton, and I could enjoy each of the protections offered by the mobile apps.

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Malwarebytes vs. Norton: Customer Support

Malwarebytes’s customer support is pretty good, but it’s not the best I’ve seen. While Malwarebytes offers email support and a decent knowledge base, there’s no live chat or phone support like most competitors.

It took 24 hours for the email support team to reply when I had a query. Though they were helpful, the slow response time is pretty annoying.

You can use a chatbot 24/7, but it’s nowhere near as good as having a live chat. The chatbot is essentially a way to search Malwarebytes’s online knowledge base — and though it makes the knowledge base quick to navigate, it can get annoying if you have specific questions.

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Norton has some really good customer support options, which include phone support and live chat. I like how Norton’s customer support is accessible in multiple languages too, including English, German, Mandarin, and Turkish.

That being said, Norton’s live chat isn’t the best, and sometimes it took me a while to get responses or to even open it. However, I appreciate the fact it exists — something Malwarebytes hasn’t got going for it.

On the other hand, Norton’s phone support is pretty good. I never struggled to contact an agent, and they were really helpful every time I got in touch with them.

Most of all, however, I enjoyed Norton’s knowledge base. I found it intuitive and easy to navigate, and it always provided helpful answers to most of my questions.

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Latest Positive Review*User reviews are not verified
Sep. 28, 2022
Better than McAfee
If your a MAC user and are using the latest Tech with OS - use Norton.
Apr. 8, 2022
Satisfactory For Me
I have seven devices using this product , and find it very effective ...
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
Sep. 5, 2022
I had identity theft added this past week. I have been a Norton customer...
Jul. 30, 2022
NOT the best
When I was locked out of my own online Norton account for almost 6 months...
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
Junior Editor
Norton is easily the best antivirus in 2023. It provides perfect malware detection rates and real-time protection. I also really like Norton’s extra features, such as its excellent parental controls. They work really well and are a great addition to an already full-fledged antivirus suite. Malwarebytes, on the other hand, is pretty good, but it lacks a lot of extras (such as a PC optimizer or dark web protection). That said, it’s still a great choice if you want a minimalist, easy-to-use antivirus that you can leave silently running in the background. Whichever antivirus you decide on, they both provide a 60-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.