Norton and McAfee are arguably the biggest names in security software. So how do they compare? We take a closer look at which software does better in five key categories: price, interface, protection, performance and features.
Price: If we are looking at standard retail price, it’s a pretty even match, although Norton has a slight edge at $79.99 for 3 PCs against McAfee’s $89.99 for 3 PCs. But, McAfee often offers substantial discounts, like the current 50% off they are offering our readers. Norton rarely offers any discounts. So McAfee wins this round.
Interface: Even if McAfee didn’t offer a somewhat confusing, all-text interface that looks like a website from the 90s, Norton has the sleekest, most user-friendly interface of any other security software. It’s organized and easy to use and understand, even for beginners. Norton wins this round hands down.
Protection: Normally, this would be a pretty even match, but McAfee had some issues this year with the quality of their protection. AV-Comparatives gave them 0 out of 3 stars in their latest Whole Product Dynamic Test, which looks at how the different components work together against viruses. Norton, on the other hand, scored 2 out of 3, and ranked highest for blocking malware. Both software suites ran into problems with the “false alarm” test, which tests how many times the software blocks clean domains, and was a big part of McAfee’s low ranking. Even without that test, Norton has a better all-around average when it comes to protection. Point Norton.
Performance: Both programs run quickly without slowing down your computer. Both programs run fairly silently in the background, only alerting you when there is an issue. The only difference here is that Norton ranked the highest of any other security software when it came to AV-Comparatives performance test, and also has two performance-specific features that can help speed up your computer’s performance: Startup Manager and Bandwidth Awareness. Those give Norton the slight edge in this category.
Features: Traditionally, Norton has more features than you can shake a stick at, and continues to add features year after year to improve their product. From a Facebook URL scanner to parental controls, Norton has it all. McAfee definitely offers many similar features, such as parental controls and a URL scanner, but it is limited compared to Norton. Norton wins again.
For those keeping score, that is Norton-4, McAfee-1. Although it was close in a couple of the categories, Norton is the definite winner based on our reviews of the two security software suites. To check out our full reviews of both Norton and McAfee, or to compare them against the rest of the security software we review, check out our security software compare page here.