McAfee vs. Norton: Which Is Better in 2022?
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 Norton: Which Is Right for You?
McAfee vs Norton: Which Is Right for You?
McAfee and Norton are two of the best antivirus packages out there — both scored perfect 100% malware detection rates in all of our tests, both come with a wide range of really good security features and additional tools, and both are easy to use across all operating systems.
McAfee vs. Norton: Final Verdict
McAfee vs. Norton: Malware Protection
Norton’s anti-malware engine is one of the best on the market. It uses advanced machine learning, heuristic analysis, and a massive malware database to detect and prevent malware attacks.
For my testing, I downloaded almost 1,000 malware files to my system, including worms, trojans keyloggers, rootkits, ransomware, cryptojackers, and other dangerous malware. Norton detected 100% of the infected files during a full scan, which took only 40 minutes to finish.
Norton’s real-time malware protection is just as impressive, immediately blocking any malware files I tried downloading to my computer.
McAfee’s antivirus scanner is just as good as Norton’s. It uses a combination of heuristics analysis and a huge malware database to protect your system from known and new malware.
During testing, I scanned the same sample of test malware I used on Norton, and McAfee scored a 100% detection rate. McAfee’s real-time scanner also blocked 100% of malware files before I could even download them onto my system.
However, McAfee slowed down my computer during my full-disk scan — I could still browse the web and social media, but I experienced a lot of buffering and lag while streaming videos and playing games. Plus, the full scan took 1 hour to complete, which is 20 minutes more than Norton.
McAfee vs. Norton: Web Security
Norton has a powerful web security shield — Safe Web. I tested over 50 different phishing sites, and it blocked every one of them, even detecting phishing sites and exploit attacks that Chrome and Firefox missed with their built-in protections. The Safe Web extension is available for all major browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
McAfee’s web shield (WebAdvisor) is also very good, but it’s not as good as Norton’s. It didn’t flag several phishing sites that Norton immediately blocked, and it’s only compatible with Windows — Norton’s Safe Web supports both Windows and macOS. However, McAfee still blocked a lot more unsafe websites than Chrome or Firefox’s built-in protections did.
McAfee vs. Norton: Features
Norton covers up to 5 devices and comes with a wide range of features, including:
- Smart firewall with tons of customization options.
- Web protection & browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari.
- Performance optimization & system cleanup tools.
- VPN with unlimited browsing data.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
- Dark web monitoring.
- 50 GB cloud storage.
- 60-day money-back guarantee.
- And lots more...
Norton has the best set of extra features of any antivirus in 2022. Notably, Norton has the best antivirus-bundled password manager out there, and I also really like Norton’s parental controls, which can track the location of your child’s mobile device, set emergency contacts, and block apps and inappropriate websites.
Norton’s device optimization tool is also really good at keeping your system free from junk files and saving you a lot of space. This tool also has a startup manager, which can significantly speed up a computer that is running slowly at startup.
I also love Norton’s dark web protection, which actively monitors dark web forums for any leaked information. Plus, Norton’s LifeLock identity theft protection service provides identity recovery assistance, credit freezing, and an impressive insurance payout for victims of identity theft (it’s just too bad that LifeLock is only available for US users).
The only feature I’m not super impressed with is Norton’s VPN — it doesn’t consistently work with streaming sites like Netflix and it doesn’t allow torrenting, but it’s fast, feature-rich, and good for day-to-day web browsing.
McAfee covers up to 10 devices and includes the following features:
- Customizable firewall.
- Web protection & browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
- System tuneup tools.
- Network scanner.
- VPN with unlimited data.
- Password manager (True Key).
- Parental controls.
- Identity theft protection.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- And more…
Most of McAfee’s extra features are excellent. I particularly love the parental controls that have some unique functionalities, like geofencing, which sends alerts if your child’s device leaves a specified area.
I also really like McAfee’s performance optimization tool — it cleans up junk files including trackers, cookies, unnecessary system files, and more. And McAfee’s antivirus for gamers is one of the best on the market, with advanced performance metrics, a game booster, and a streamlined cloud-based antivirus scanner.
McAfee’s identity theft protection tool is also excellent and monitors documents like social security numbers, driver licenses, and many other items. The identity theft tools are available in the US, Canada, Brazil, the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, and NZ.
However, I don’t like McAfee’s password manager. It’s decent, but it isn’t nearly as good as Norton’s password manager. Also, I wasn’t very impressed with McAfee’s VPN — it is fast, but it keeps user logs, and it doesn’t allow torrenting.
McAfee vs. Norton: Ease of Use
Norton is fairly easy to use, but it takes a little getting used to if you’re a first-time user. I like how clean and uncluttered the interface is, and I think it’s great that Norton lets users change and customize many settings and options.
Norton's main dashboard displays the core tools that come with your plan, but it hides some features, like different scan options and web shields, behind too many submenus. Also, some of the extra features, like parental controls and ID theft protection, aren’t always responsive.
That said, Norton’s online dashboard is a lot easier to navigate, and it displays most of Norton’s features in a much more intuitive way. The mobile apps are also well designed — and I didn’t experience slowdown, battery drain, or any bugs on my device while running Norton on my iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.
McAfee’s apps are very well-designed and have an intuitive interface. The main dashboard displays the types of McAfee protections available in your subscription, including PC, Web, Identity, and others, and it’s always quick and easy to initiate your preferred type of scan.
However, I wasn’t too impressed to find that some tools, like identity theft protection and parental controls, are only accessible through McAfee’s online dashboard. It would be more convenient if all McAfee features were bundled together in the main desktop app.
On the other hand, I really like the uncluttered design of McAfee’s mobile apps — it’s really easy to access and run all of McAfee’s mobile protection features, like parental controls, app scanning, and more.
McAfee vs. Norton: Customer Support
Norton has pretty good customer support. It offers support through telephone and live chat, and it supports many languages, including English, German, Dutch, Arabic, and Mandarin.
While I had a pretty good experience with telephone support, receiving detailed answers to my questions, I wasn’t impressed with the live chat — I was frequently unable to open the live chat, and when I finally succeeded, I had to wait longer than usual to receive a reply.
On the other hand, Norton also has an impressive range of product guides, FAQs, and videos on its site, so most users won’t even need to contact customer support representatives.
McAfee also offers a good range of customer support channels, including live chat, phone support, a forum, and a knowledge base. My experience with McAfee’s support reps via phone and live chat was great — I received immediate answers to all of my questions, and the reps even offered to remotely take control of my computer (great for beginner users).
I also like McAfee’s forum, which is very active and responsive (I received a reply to my questions in around 6 hours). But I’m not a fan of the knowledge base, as it includes a lot of information about previous versions of the software, and it’s also not as well-organized as Norton’s.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.