(Last updated on January 13th, 2021)
McAfee or Avast, which antivirus software is a better pick in 2021?
Our experts have put together this comprehensive McAfee versus Avast comparison to help you make a wise decision.
The Internet is far from a safe place. It’s a virtual breeding ground for digital viruses and malware attacks that scour the world wide web for financial information and personal identification. Just by surfing casually, you can expose your computer and identity to theft or your computer to digital harm.
Related: Best Antivirus Software for 2021 (Video Review)
The need for good, quality antivirus is higher than ever. Freemium stuff that barely protects your computer won’t cut it, as it lacks advanced features and comes with a flimsy firewall.
It’s better to pay for good antivirus software now rather than replacing your computer entirely in the future. You can’t put a price on the safety of your personal information.
Editor’s Note: We have spent over 150 hours examining all the top antivirus software out there, so you can get the best antivirus product for yourself and those you love.
At the moment, we think that Norton is the best antivirus software available in the market. It offers exceptional anti-malware security with minimal impact on system performance, as evidenced by the recent independent lab tests conducted by the AV-Test Institute.
Currently, Norton is offering an exclusive 70% discount to our readers for a limited time, so grab your copy of Norton before the sale ends.
Best Antivirus Software for 2021
- Unbeatable anti-malware protection
- Minimal system impact
- Exceptional value for money
- Recommended by PC Mag, CNET & TechRadar
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day risk-free money-back guarantee
But how can you tell which antivirus to purchase? We can help with that. Check out our comprehensive guide on two of the highest-rated antivirus companies on the market: McAfee and Avast.
We will compare both antivirus suites in different categories to find out which of them is a better overall choice.
Breakdown of the Comparison
Here’s what we are going to cover in this McAfee vs Avast comparison:
- Anti-Malware Protection
- Impact on System Speed
- User Interface
- Customer Ratings
In a hurry? Take a look at the summary of our comparison below.
Comparison at a Glance
Features… McAfee offers better features in a single comprehensive antivirus suite.
Anti-Malware Protection… Independent tests show Avast is better at malware defense than its competitor.
Impact on System Speed… It’s a close call, but McAfee beat Avast in one of two independent tests, meaning that McAfee works a little more smoothly on most home computers.
Interface… Both McAfee and Avast offer a streamlined and user-friendly interface.
Pricing… McAfee comes with great pricing options for those who want to protect a large number of devices.
Popularity… McAfee is more popular and enjoys a bigger market share compared to Avast.
Customer Ratings… Both companies are regarded equally by consumers, matching each other perfectly from ratings compiled by independent organizations.
It’s a very close competition, but McAfee provides better performance and value for money than Avast. If you want to pay for good, reliable internet security, McAfee is the better choice.
2021’s Top Antivirus Picks
#1 (Best Overall)
- Extensive feature-set
- Award-winning malware protection
- Minimal system impact
- competitive pricing structure
- Intuitive user interface
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day money-back guarantee
#2 (Very Good)
- Robust Feature-set
- Excellent Anti-malware security
- Zero System Slowdowns
- Exceptional Value for Money
- Intuitive User Interface
#3 (Very Good)
- Impressive Feature-set
- Good malware protection
- Value for Money
Let’s delve into details.
Let’s start our more detailed examinations with a look at what exactly McAfee offers in its antivirus packages.
The primary offering from McAfee is Total Protection. This flagship software suite contains all of McAfee’s primary antivirus features and perks, including:
- Firewall – updated every day via the McAfee central database, ensuring that new malware is unable to fool the firewall due to outdated virus definitions.
- Virus Scanner – systematically checks your computer’s files for viruses or hibernating malware. It can eliminate these viruses once they’ve been found.
- Optimization Tools – help you get rid of junk files or data to help speed up the overall performance of your computer.
- Permanent Delete – the feature permanently erases sensitive files, eliminating any chance of them ever getting out of your hard drive and onto the wider Internet.
- Password Manager – stores all your passwords in a secure vault so that you don’t have to remember them.
- Identity Theft Protection – alerts you if your personal information like credit card details or social security number are at risk on the Dark Web.
The Total Protection suite can be purchased for one computer only or in bundles of 5 or 10 licenses.
The McAfee LiveSafe suite is an extension of the protection offered by Total Protection. It has everything we just discussed above, plus file protection for data that you store on the cloud. This is an excellent offering for anyone who uses remote or digital storage more often than physical, and it’s a great feature for families that like to share a lot of photos or videos over the cloud.
LiveSafe can be purchased for unlimited devices only.
No matter which McAfee product you choose, you can take advantage of the company’s 24/7 customer service through emails, phone calls or online chat from their website.
Interested in McAfee’s business products? Click right here for more information.
Let’s look at what Avast brings to the table.
Its starter software suite is Avast Free Antivirus. Although it’s as cheap as it can be, it provides a firewall against malware and viruses much like the one McAfee uses. Its database is also updated quite frequently. Free Antivirus comes with a password manager, as well, to give you greater organization if you’re always juggling passwords.
The first premium tier from Avast is Avast Internet Security. This software suite has everything that Free Antivirus does along with:
- Advanced Firewall – receives updates more frequently to its virus definition databases.
- Junk Filter – allows you to filter your email inbox better.
- Sandbox Mode – allows you to run any program you’re not sure about in a private window that doesn’t allow interaction with the files in the rest of your computer. With the Sandbox mode, you can test any program or file without running any risk to your computer’s health. The feature comes in handy if you download a lot of things from the Internet.
Next is Avast Premium, which has everything we previously discussed as well as:
- Webcam Protection – the tool prevents anyone from hacking into your webcam’s feed to secretly watch you.
- File Shredder – lets you delete sensitive files for good.
The final version from the company is Avast Ultimate, which boasts three extra premium features:
- Cleanup Premium – the tool optimizes your computer speed by removing hidden junk and freeing up disk space.
- Passwords Premium – it’s more than just a password manager. Besides storing all your passwords, the tool alerts you in case any of your passwords get leaked.
- SecureLine VPN – hides your IP address for safer, anonymous browsing.
The Winner: McAfee. Avast offers a lot of value in its different antivirus suites. Still, we think McAfee brings better defense against malware due to its more comprehensive firewall included in the Total Protection package. McAfee gives more critical features that will be used by everyone, and Total Protection can be purchased to have multiple licenses for several computers.
2. Anti-Malware Protection
When we talk about malware, we’re using a general term that stands for all harmful viruses or software that’s designed to take sensitive information from your computer and send it to the Internet. Malware defense is the single most critical part of an antivirus suite’s job, so let’s take a look at both companies’ approach to malware protection and see how they measure up.
Both companies primarily defend your computer through the use of a firewall; this is updated frequently, although it appears that Avast’s free firewall is a little less effective than McAfee’s Total Protection version.
The two firewalls appear to be equal once you start moving into Avast’s paid software. Both companies also make use of a scanner to find viruses that may have already infiltrated your computer.
Since they both defend your computer in similar ways, let’s take a look at some independent tests from known organizations that provide scoring metrics for unbiased tests.
The AV-Test Institute is an IT security consulting company that tests the effectiveness of antivirus companies against one another on clean, unused computers, which are then exposed to virus attacks. Its scoring metric is numerical on a scale from 1 to 6 in three categories: Protection, Performance and Usability.
In the latest Protection test conducted by AV-Test in July-August 2019, both McAfee and Avast scored a perfect 6 out of 6 score, indicating high protective capabilities thanks to their firewalls.
Another testing lab, AV Comparatives, tested the competing software in a Real-World Protection Test, using similar methods as AV-Test.
In the June 2019 AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test, McAfee got the lowest STANDARD award, mainly because of false alarms (meaning that it wrongly flagged clean files and URLs). In contrast, Avast received the second-highest ADVANCED rating.
Another test run by AV-Comparatives is the Malware Protection Test. While in the Real-World Protection Test the vector is the web, Malware Protection Test targets network drives, USB, etc.
In the September 2019 Malware Protection Test, McAfee once again received the STANDARD award, whereas Avast received the highest 3-star ADVANCED+ award.
The Winner: Avast. While both companies gave excellent performance in the first evaluation, McAfee was bested by Avast in the other two tests.
3. Impact on System Performance
When we talk about the impact on a system, we’re discussing how much an antivirus slows down your computer while passively running in the background or when conducting a deep scan. This is an incredibly important metric, as good antivirus is of no use at all if your computer is too slow to enjoy while it’s being shielded.
Once again, let’s turn to those unbiased testing organizations to see how both antivirus programs compare in this category.
In the latest AV-Test Performance evaluation, McAfee scored 6 out of 6 while Avast was close behind, scoring 5.5 out of 6. This indicates that Avast slows your computer slightly more noticeably than McAfee.
AV-Comparatives, on the other hand, gave both McAfee and Avast the 3-star ADVANCED+ rating in its April 2019 Performance test, indicating great performance.
The Winner: McAfee. This is a close call, but since McAfee barely surpassed Avast in one of the tests, we’re going to give this category to it.
4. User Interface
User-friendliness is less important than malware protection or performance, but it matters a great deal when you might be interacting with the software every day.
A good antivirus software package will have an interface that’s intuitive and easy to use. No one wants to struggle while they’re trying to figure out how to work their new software.
McAfee uses a centralized hub, which then splits into other windows and slides when you select the specific function you want to access or investigate. A left-side rail allows you to pick your operation, meaning you’ll need to move from screen to screen to effectively utilize everything that McAfee has to offer.
Avast has a similar central hub for controlling all of its functions, but you don’t have to switch to new windows as frequently. The buttons and options are large and simple, meaning that it might be a good choice for those who aren’t very familiar with antivirus software.
However, the free version of Avast does tend to solicit you with advertisements for an upgrade rather frequently. This can quickly become annoying and is a definite drawback.
The Winner: Both. Overall, we think that both companies are fairly equal in this regard. Both of their control panels are usable and intuitive enough, although McAfee could do with fewer screen switches and Avast’s advertisements can be irritating.
Let’s look at the relative costs of both companies to see which gives you more bang for your buck.
McAfee’s Total Protection costs $24.99 per year for 1 device (Windows, Mac or mobile). McAfee LiveSafe costs $99.99 per year for 1 device. McAfee’s Total Protection costs $39.99 per year for 5 devices and $44.99 per year for 10 devices.
|McAfee Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|McAfee Total Protection (1 Device)||$79.99/year||Check here|
|McAfee Total Protection (5 Device)||$99.99/year||Check here|
|McAfee Total Protection (10 Device)||$119.99/year||Check here|
Avast Internet Security costs $39.99 per year for 1 PC, $52.99 for 3 PCs, $69.99 for 5 PCs and $120.99 for 10 PCs. Avast Ultimate costs $99.99 per year for 1 PC. Avast Premier costs $46.99 per year for 1 PC, $66.99 for 3 PCs, $89.99 for 5 PCs and $146.99 for 10 PCs.
|Avast Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Avast Internet Security||$47.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Premium Security (1 Device)||$69.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Premium Security (Multi-Device)||$89.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Ultimate||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Avast Business Antivirus||Varies||Check here|
The Winner: McAfee. McAfee’s prices are much more reasonable than Avast, especially when you want to cover multiple devices.
Now, let’s see which among McAfee and Avast has a higher market share. For this purpose, we are going to use survey reports from two famous companies: OPSWAT and Statista.
As per OPSWAT’s recent estimates, McAfee holds a market share of 12.66%, only second to ESET (13.1%). On the other hand, Avast has a market share of 8.37%.
Similarly, according to latest data released by Statista, McAfee holds a market share of 11.9% compared to Avast’s share of 10.09%.
The Winner. McAfee. Numbers are clearly on the McAfee’s side, as it holds a larger market share than Avast, according to both statistics portals.
7. Customer Ratings
Both McAfee and Avast are well-known across the Internet. Let’s see how consumers who’ve actually used these products rate them, according to independent review websites.
The Better Business Bureau is an independent company that measures businesses against one another by converting their average customer reviews into a single-letter grade, designed to boil down consumer opinion into a general attitude. Both McAfee and Avast receive a fantastic A+ rating from the BBB, indicating high customer satisfaction.
Consumeraffairs.org is another company that performs a similar service, checking the frequency of customer complaints against organizations and businesses. Both companies, again, match each other, although not in a good way; they both have only 3 out of 5 stars from Consumeraffairs.org, indicating that customers tend to complain somewhat frequently.
The Winner: Both. We’re going to give this category a tie since it appears that both companies are regarded equally by their customers.
This was an incredibly close battle. Avast brings a lot of great features to the table, such as the Sandbox Mode, and offers free security that’s a good option for someone who needs protection right away.
However, McAfee is a better choice altogether if you can afford its Total Protection or its extensions. It includes better features, such as a more comprehensive firewall, cloud protection, and a detailed scanner and file optimizer that helps your computer run smoothly.
Plus, McAfee performs better on most machines than Avast, even if it’s only by a small margin. McAfee is also a better deal as far as the price is concerned.