McAfee and Norton are two of the best antivirus packages on the market in 2022. They both scored 100% malware detection rates in all of my tests, they come with a wide range of really good security features, and they’re easy to use across all operating systems.
With two products of this quality, it can be hard to decide which one will be best for you. In this article, I look at the key features Norton and McAfee offer and describe the differences between the two brands so you can make a fully informed decision.
McAfee vs. Norton — Final Verdict:
McAfee vs. Norton: Malware Protection
|Antivirus||Overall Malware Detection Score||Ransomware Detection||Full System Scan Time||Quick Scan Time||Scan’s Impact On System Performance||Scans External Drives|
|Norton||100%||100%||40 minutes||5 minutes||Low||✅|
|McAfee||100%||100%||1 hour||15 minutes||Medium||✅|
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.
For my testing, I downloaded 1,000s of malware samples, including worms, trojans, keyloggers, rootkits, ransomware, cryptojackers, and more. 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 I tried downloading.
McAfee’s antivirus scanner is just as good as Norton’s. It uses heuristic analysis and a huge malware database to protect your system from known and new malware.
During testing, I downloaded the same archive containing the 1,000s of malware samples that I used to test Norton. I then ran McAfee’s full system scan, and McAfee scored a 100% malware detection rate. McAfee’s real-time scanner also blocked 100% of malware files before I could download them onto my system.
However, McAfee slowed down my computer during the 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
|Web Security||Blocks Phishing Sites?||Stops Drive-By Downloads?||Scans Downloads for Malware?||Isolated Secure Browser?||Blocks Keylogging Scripts?|
Norton has a powerful web security shield called Safe Web. I tested over 50 phishing sites, and Norton blocked every one of them. It even detected phishing sites and exploit attacks that Chrome and Firefox missed. Safe Web is available for all major browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
McAfee’s web shield (WebAdvisor) is very good, but it’s not as good as Norton’s. It didn’t flag several phishing sites that Norton blocked, but it still blocked a lot more unsafe websites than Chrome or Firefox’s built-in protections did.
McAfee vs. Norton: Features
|Additional Features||Firewall||VPN||Network Scanner||Anti-Theft Protection||Parental Controls||Password Manager|
Norton covers up to 5 devices and includes:
- Web protection.
- Performance optimization tools.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
- Dark web monitoring.
- 50 GB cloud storage.
- 60-day money-back guarantee.
- And lots more…
Norton has the best extra features I’ve seen in an antivirus. I like Norton’s device optimization tools and startup manager, which can keep your system free from junk files and speed up a computer that’s starting slowly.
I also love Norton’s dark web protection, which monitors dark web forums for leaked information. Plus, Norton’s LifeLock identity theft protection provides identity recovery assistance, credit freezing, and more (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 work with all streaming sites, and it doesn’t allow torrenting. However, it’s good for day-to-day web browsing.
McAfee covers up to 5 devices on its introductory plan and unlimited devices on its top-tier plans. It includes the following features:
- Customizable firewall.
- Web protection.
- System tune-up tools.
- Network scanner.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls (family plans only).
- Identity theft protection.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- And more…
Most of McAfee’s extra features are excellent. I particularly love the parental controls, which include some great tools like geofencing (sends you alerts if your child’s device leaves a specified area).
I also like McAfee’s performance optimization tool — it cleans up junk files and can make apps on your computer run faster.
McAfee’s identity theft protection tool is also excellent, but it’s only available in certain countries (such as the US, the UK, and Australia).
McAfee vs. Norton: VPN (Virtual Private Network)
|VPN||Encryption||No-logs policy||Works with Streaming Sites?||# of Server Locations||Kill Switch||Ad Tracker Blocking||Split Tunneling||Torrenting Support|
Norton’s VPN is one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs in 2022, but it isn’t perfect. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to hide your data behind a virtual IP address, preventing hackers from intercepting and stealing your information and keeping your internet browsing private.
Norton’s VPN also has a strict no-logs policy, meaning Norton does not log any user browsing activity or data.
However, Norton doesn’t allow torrenting, which is disappointing. The VPN also doesn’t work with all streaming websites — it works with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but not Disney+, HBO Max, or Hulu.
That said, I experienced good speeds while running Norton’s VPN. Although the VPN impacted my download speeds and ping significantly, I maintained good upload speeds and didn’t notice any slowdown while I was connected.
McAfee’s VPN is fast, has access to more server locations than Norton’s, and uses 256-bit AES encryption (the same encryption that Norton uses).
However, while McAfee’s VPN offers good speeds and is decent for browsing the web, there are no advanced features like split-tunneling. Also, like Norton, McAfee’s VPN doesn’t support torrenting.
When I tested McAfee’s VPN, I found my download speeds were very fast on nearby servers, but I also had a much higher ping and slower upload speeds compared to my local network. That said, I didn’t notice much difference when browsing the web — I could still navigate all sites without any slowdown.
As McAfee’s VPN is powered by TunnelBear, it uses the same strict no-logs policy that TunnelBear uses, which is independently audited yearly to confirm its adherence to the policy. While Norton has a strict no-logs policy, it isn’t independently audited.
McAfee vs. Norton: Password Manager
|Password Manager||Secure 256-Bit AES Encryption||Unlimited Password Storage||Password Vault Auditing||Account Recovery||2FA Options|
Norton has one of the best antivirus-bundled password managers on the market in 2022. It includes all the essential features in a password manager, such as secure 256-bit AES encryption, unlimited password storage, and auto-save and auto-fill functionalities.
However, it also comes with unique features you don’t often see outside of standalone password managers, such as password vault auditing and a password auto-changer for compatible websites.
Norton’s password vault auditing is really good too. It can alert you to weak, duplicate, or old passwords that you should change. As said, on some websites, you can quickly auto-change these passwords from within Norton, but for others, Norton provides clear instructions on changing your password.
My only complaint is that Norton doesn’t provide any account recovery options. In contrast, McAfee lets you reset your master password over email — which is a bit insecure — but at least you can get back into your account if you’ve lost your master password.
The password manager includes essential features, like unlimited password storage, synchronization across devices, a password generator, and auto-filling — all of which work as intended. However, it lacks some key features Norton includes, like password vault auditing.
I’m also not a huge fan of McAfee’s account recovery options. While Norton doesn’t feature any account recovery options, McAfee’s option is a bit too lax. If you forget your master password, all you have to do is reset it via email. So, if hackers manage to compromise your email, they can easily access every password you’ve stored with McAfee.
That said, I found McAfee’s password manager easy to use. I never struggled to generate passwords, and I like how you can set up True Key to automatically enter your login information when you visit a stored website.
McAfee vs. Norton: Identity Theft Protection
|Antivirus||Live Agents||Social Media Monitoring||Restoration Support||Historical Alerts||No. of Supported Items (Driver’s License, Passport, etc.)|
Norton features excellent dark web monitoring. Unlike many competitors that use a free online database, Norton employs real-life agents who infiltrate the dark web and look for your information.
Norton also monitors your social media accounts, which is pretty cool. This includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Norton alerts you if it spots suspicious activity on these accounts, such as hate speech or your account settings suddenly changing.
To test Norton’s ID theft protection, I added a sample email I knew hackers had compromised. Norton immediately sent me an email saying they’d found suspicious activity and provided me with a link to their web dashboard where I could have a closer look.
Norton provided information on what I should do to protect myself. It even included a chatbot to help answer any questions I had about the data breach.
McAfee’s identity theft protection works well, but it isn’t as good as Norton’s.
McAfee can monitor your:
- Social Security number.
- Driver’s license.
- International bank account.
- Email addresses.
- Medical IDs.
- Phone numbers.
- And more…
When I tested McAfee with a compromised email address, McAfee immediately emailed to alert me that it had found my information on the dark web. When I clicked the link in the email, McAfee showed me a list of breaches and how to fix them. However, it doesn’t include a chatbot like Norton does in its identity theft protection, which is quite disappointing. I also like how Norton can monitor social media accounts — something McAfee can’t do.
Overall, however, McAfee’s identity theft protection works well and is a good way to keep your data protected from identity theft.
McAfee vs. Norton: Parental Controls
|Parental Controls||Web Filtering||Geofencing||App Blocking||Usage Scheduling||Emergency Contact Support|
Norton offers some of the best parental controls on the market in 2022. They come with various ways to monitor your kids’ activity online, including content filtering, YouTube and Hulu activity monitoring, geofencing, usage limiting, and more.
Overall, the parental controls performed well in my tests. They successfully blocked multiple website categories, including pornography, violence, weapons, and drugs. I also like how you can choose presets for a particular age group — which is ideal if you don’t want to add websites to a blocklist manually.
Norton’s parental controls also include location tracking and an app blocker. Again, these all worked well in my tests. The child profile I made couldn’t access any of the apps I added to the app blocker, and I could track my “kid’s” phone to within 20 meters, which is really accurate.
McAfee’s parental controls — McAfee Safe Family — are really good. They offer multiple ways to protect your kids online, such as device usage scheduling, geofencing, web content filtering, and app blocking.
However, you have to download McAfee’s parental controls separately from McAfee’s main antivirus suite, and I sometimes found the parental controls took quite a while to load up.
That said, McAfee’s parental controls worked well in my tests. They successfully blocked every app and website I didn’t want my “kids” visiting.
I also really like McAfee’s location tracking. It could pinpoint my test devices to 10 meters, which is excellent. I also like how kids can send you a quick update from the mobile app when they arrive safely at a location.
McAfee vs. Norton: Plans & Pricing
|Antivirus||Price Range||Most Popular Plan||Free Trial||Money-Back Guarantee||Deals, Discounts & Coupons|
|Norton||$19.99 / year – $299.88 / year||360 Deluxe
($49.99 / year)
|✅||60 days||Check the latest Norton deals|
|McAfee||$39.99 / year – $89.99 / year||Total Protection Premium ($54.99 / year)||✅||30 days||Check the latest McAfee deals|
Norton offers a wide range of well-priced plans. For example, Norton’s cheapest plan, Norton AntiVirus Plus, costs $19.99 / year and protects one PC or Mac. It lacks features like the VPN, parental controls, webcam protection, or dark web monitoring, but it’s a good choice if all you need is a decent malware scanner.
On the other hand, Norton’s most expensive plan, Norton 360 Deluxe, includes all of Norton’s features for 5 devices for $49.99 / year. This is the plan that I recommend for most users. It includes:
- Real-time malware scanning.
- Password manager.
- 10 GB cloud storage.
- Dark web monitoring.
- Webcam protection.
- Parental controls.
- Privacy monitor.
- And more…
Each feature works well and offers comprehensive coverage in 2022. However, if you’re in the US, you can also choose one of Norton’s LifeLock plans, which add identity theft protection and $1 million coverage if your identity is stolen.
All Norton packages come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.
McAfee includes 3 different subscription plans. They’re all well-priced and have a good range of features.
Note: Depending on your location, McAfee’s plans may include different names, features, and subscription durations.
McAfee Total Protection Plus is a good option for individuals or small households. It costs $39.99 / year, covers 5 devices, and includes all of the essential features, such as the antivirus scanner, VPN, identity protection, password manager, and more.
However, McAfee’s best value plan is the Total Protection Premium plan. Total Protection Premium includes everything in Total Protection Plus, but you also get coverage on an unlimited number of devices. Costing only $54.99 / year, it’s a great deal, and you can try it on a 30-day money-back guarantee to see for yourself.
If you have a big family, I recommend upgrading to the Total Protection Premium Family plan, which includes parental controls and allows you to monitor your kids too.
McAfee vs. Norton: Apps & Ease of Use
|Norton||✅||✅||❌||✅||✅||Android app only||❌|
|McAfee||✅||✅||Enterprise only||✅||✅||Android app only||Kindle Fire, Blackberry 7.0|
McAfee vs. Norton: Desktop Apps
Norton features a straightforward, easy-to-navigate user interface with all its primary features available on the right side of the screen.
Since Norton is so feature-rich, there’s a learning curve to knowing exactly where everything is, but once you get past that learning curve, Norton is easy to navigate.
You can choose between a modern or classic view in the settings menu. Honestly, I prefer the classic view because it offers large, easy-to-access buttons for Norton’s main features. You also don’t have half the UI taken up by a picture of a mountain climber like you do in the modern view.
Finally, Norton offers a web dashboard. This is my favorite way of navigating Norton. Norton’s web dashboard shows all of Norton’s features in one place and also provides clear security alerts if Norton detects vulnerabilities.
McAfee’s desktop app is straightforward. Its main features are located in the center of the main user interface alongside a large alert box that warns you of any vulnerabilities (such as disabled protections). You can access additional features like McAfee’s firewall through a sidebar on the left.
McAfee also provides a web-based dashboard where you can access the parental controls and identity theft protection. However, there’s no remote access to the malware scanner and VPN from the web dashboard. This is annoying when you consider that Norton provides remote access to its malware scanner.
I also don’t like how you can only access McAfee’s identity theft protection and parental controls online. If your connection drops, you lose out on these features.
However, I never struggled to use McAfee’s desktop app or web-based dashboard.
McAfee vs. Norton: Mobile Apps
Norton’s mobile app for Android and iOS is really good. It’s laid out nicely, and you can access most features with one tap.
It took me less than 5 minutes to install and initiate a malware scan on my Android device. Honestly, my only complaint with Norton’s mobile app is that not everything is bundled in one app. For example, if you tap Identity, you’re just given a button to install Norton’s LifeLock Identity App — I wish they’d included Norton’s Identity App in Norton 360 for Mobile.
That said, I liked how intuitive Norton’s VPN is. You can turn it on with one tap from the Privacy menu.
Overall, I found Norton’s mobile app easy to use. As said, having to install multiple apps to access all of Norton’s features gets annoying, but other than that, I had a really good experience with Norton.
McAfee’s mobile app for Android and iOS features a simple-to-navigate user interface. Most of McAfee’s features can be accessed with just a few taps and scanning your device is easy.
That said, I didn’t find McAfee’s mobile app as good as Norton’s mobile app. Since McAfee uses a lot of decorative images in its mobile app, I often had to scroll down my screen to find particular features, which quickly got annoying.
However, when I got used to where everything on McAfee was located, it never took me long to find the features I needed.
There are two tabs on the bottom of the screen alongside the Home tab: the Features tab and the Settings tab. If you tap Features, you can scroll through and access all of the features included in McAfee’s mobile app. The Settings tab lets you change notification rules, access your account details, or customize different services — such as the secure VPN or identity protection.
McAfee vs. Norton: Customer Support
|Antivirus||Email Support||Live Chat||Phone Support||Active Community Forum||Social Media Support||FAQs & Setup Guides|
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 and received detailed answers to my questions, I wasn’t impressed with the live chat — I was frequently unable to open it. When I finally succeeded, I had to wait longer than usual to receive a reply.
On the other hand, Norton has an impressive range of product guides, FAQs, and videos on its site, so most users won’t even need to contact customer support.
McAfee 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 McAfee, and it’s also not as well-organized as Norton’s knowledge base.