AVG vs. McAfee 2024: Can a Free Antivirus Solution Beat an AV Titan?

In the battle between AVG vs. McAfee antivirus software, the decision lies in what features and performance aspects fit your individual needs.
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Best for Budgets

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On AVG's website

All-In-One
AVG
  • Award-winning antivirus, malware, and ransomware protection for up to 10 devices
  • Includes webcam protection, safe browsing and email, automatic updates, and 24/7 protection
  • Suite of protection benefits including a secure VPN, anti-tracking capabilities, safeguards against phishing sites, and more

Best for Families

5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On McAfee's website

All-In-One
McAfee
Save $90 on a 2-year plan
  • Premium antivirus, scam, and web protection, plus a VPN, identity monitoring, and secure password manager
  • Added peace of mind with 24/7 expert online support and McAfee’s Virus Protection Pledge
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and ChromeOS on up to 5 devices

If you’re trying to decide between AVG Antivirus Free and McAfee Total Protection, the best thing you can do is look at your personal preferences.

AVG is a freemium product that offers base protection for no cost but has upgrade options with additional features. It’s great in a pinch or if you’re operating on a tight budget. However, it does have limitations and wouldn’t be convenient for families looking to protect all household members.

McAfee, on the other hand, offers unlimited coverage for all devices and has single and family plans. It’s packed with premium features, and you can even get identity theft protection — if that add-on fits into your monthly budget.

Antivirus software is personal. If you’re wondering about performance, compatibility, and customer support, we dug into each of those areas for both antivirus programs so you can make an informed decision about what will work best for you.

In this article
AVG vs. McAfee review at a glance
AVG vs. McAfee: prices
AVG vs. McAfee: features
AVG vs. McAfee: test results
AVG vs. McAfee: compatibility and customer support
AVG vs. McAfee FAQs
AVG vs. McAfee: which is better?

AVG vs. McAfee review at a glance

Sometimes, it’s hard to know if your computer has a virus. Other times, your entire system shuts down and locks you out. Either is terrible, so you should always be using antivirus software. But with so many options on the antivirus market, which is the best?

AVG is free — well, the basic version of AVG is free. That’s what makes it good for anyone on a budget. Even if you want more features, the annual AVG subscription prices are reasonable. Anyone looking for trustworthy security for less can find a lot of merit in AVG’s offerings.

McAfee is a household name now, but that doesn’t mean this OG antivirus isn’t at the forefront of technology. Your entire family can be covered by McAfee’s AI-backed protection on unlimited devices. Whether or not you realize it, device coverage can get pricey fast. McAfee offers enough coverage for parents, kids, and even Grandma and Grandpa.

  • AVG: Best for budgets
  • McAfee: Best for families

AVG vs. McAfee compared

Starting price $46.68/yr (first year only) for 1 device $39.99/yr (first year only)
Free version
Max number of protected devices 10 Unlimited
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Android, iOS, Windows, macOS Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, ChromeOS
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Learn more Get AVG

Read AVG Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

AVG vs. McAfee: prices

Our Pick
Price range Free–$65.99/first yr $39.99–$249.99/yr
Best value plan AVG Ultimate plan for $59.88/yr (first year only) for 10 devices McAfee+ Premium plan for $49.99/yr (first year only)
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 30 days
Learn more Get AVG

Read AVG Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

AVG offers three separate subscriptions: AVG Antivirus Free, AVG Internet Security, and AVG Ultimate. The first plan is completely free. You can try the second plan free for 30 days. The premium third plan is surprisingly budget-friendly, considering it includes useful tools like a VPN, performance enhancement tools, and anti-tracking technology.

We recommend AVG Ultimate because it’s still affordable for anyone on a budget and comes with additional features. If you’re thinking you don’t need that much but still want some extra web browsing and phishing protection, the middle plan, AVG Internet Security, is definitely worth looking into for your everyday antivirus.

McAfee Total Protection might come in a little pricier for its higher tiers and family plans, but you get a lot for that price tag. McAfee offers three main plans: McAfee+ Premium, McAfee+ Advanced, and McAfee+ Ultimate.

We recommend McAfee+ Premium because you get all the protection and privacy features and even some of the identity protection features. If you purchase Premium or higher, you get unlimited device coverage. The family version of the Premium plan includes coverage for two adults and four children with unlimited devices.

Obviously, the higher tiers of either product are going to cost a little more. If you need a way to remove an existing virus or protect yourself from new ones but can’t squeeze it into your budget, AVG is the way to go. If you have room in your budget and a lot of devices to cover, the unlimited coverage offered by McAfee is a good deal, especially considering we don’t see a lot of antivirus companies offering to cover unlimited devices.

Winner: AVG. Even though McAfee is great, as far as price is concerned, you can’t beat free, which is why AVG wins this category.

AVG vs. McAfee: features

Feature
Our Pick
Manual and scheduled scans
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Firewall
Parental controls Yes — as a separate purchase
Password manager
VPN
Ad blocker
Device optimization tools Yes — as a separate purchase
Learn more Get AVG

Read AVG Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

For a free antivirus tool, AVG offers a lot. Not that all of the features listed above are included with the free version, but the basic antivirus protection does have a nice smattering of security offerings. If you want all of the features available, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans. People on a budget looking for basic coverage that will keep them safe online, however, can use only the free version and feel confident knowing they’re safe.

McAfee antivirus programs have been in the game for a long time. To keep things fresh, McAfee added a variety of additional security features to its basic protection that works well for families, individuals, and businesses.

In addition to antivirus tools, there are identity theft protection and privacy features to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft. These tools also help reduce spam emails, texts, and phone calls by reducing your online footprint.

There are a few key features that vary from product to product and some that are featured in both. An advanced firewall, protection from phishing attacks and phishing sites, real-time protection from malicious websites, and a guard against various malware threats are all similar features that both McAfee and AVG provide.

AVG offers performance enhancement tools wrapped into the Ultimate plan, while McAfee requires you to purchase an additional product. McAfee, on the other hand, offers password protection via a password manager with all of its tiers. The parental controls are a separate feature you’ll need to purchase separately. AVG doesn’t offer parental controls in any form.

The main interface for AVG AntiVirus on a mac.

The McAfee desktop application notifying you that your Mac is secure.

Winner: McAfee. Even though some of the features require additional purchases, they’re still offered, whereas AVG doesn’t have those capabilities.

AVG vs. McAfee: test results

Third-party testing is important because it’s an independent look into the efficacy of antivirus software. AV-TEST is one of the most respected third-party evaluation tools on the market. Companies have to pay to submit their products for third-party testing at sites like AV-TEST, but they don’t have any say in how the results are reported.

If you can’t find information on third-party testing sites about the product you’re using, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. It’s more likely they haven’t paid to submit their product. You find this more with newer or independent software companies than established ones.

But there are other ways to test these products. If you decide to test on your own, make sure you have the correct sandboxes set up so you don’t accidentally get a virus or piece of malware.

AVG vs. McAfee malware protection scores

Our Pick
AV-TEST Windows score 17.5/18 18/18
AV-TEST macOS score 18/18 N/A
AV-TEST Android score 8/18 18/18
Learn more Get AVG

Read AVG Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

*AV-TEST results as of the most recent Sept/Oct 2023 testing period.

Each of these products has positives and negatives when it comes to the third-party testing results. They’re both rated as Top Products by AV-TEST, even though AVG got dinged half a point. The half-point deduction was in the performance category, so rest assured that there were no issues with protection.

We were disappointed that McAfee didn’t submit for testing in regards to the Mac product. Mac users know that antivirus software can be notoriously buggy if it hasn’t specifically been built for macOS. We played with McAfee on our own Macbook that uses Mac’s proprietary M2 chip, and we did find it a little buggy. Maybe that’s why they didn’t submit it, but we can’t be sure.

As far as safety and security are concerned, these products are both excellent choices for protecting against and removing viruses. Since they both offer such strong protection, the decision between the two will come down to what you personally need from them.

Winner: AVG. Even though it received a half-point reduction in system performance, it still submitted its macOS product for testing. McAfee only had scores for Windows and Android.

AVG vs. McAfee: compatibility and customer support

Our Pick
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Browser extensions Yes — Chrome Yes — Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome
24/7 customer support
Customer support options Forums, online guides, ticket submission Forums, online guides, virtual assistant, phone
Learn more Get AVG

Read AVG Review

Get McAfee

Read McAfee Review

AVG offers far fewer options when it comes to browser compatibility and support. We aren’t surprised, given it has a lower price point. That’s kind of a hallmark trait of free and lower-priced products. However, there are robust self-serve portals and forums. If you really need to talk to a person, there’s a ticketing system where you can submit a ticket. AVG also offers Premium Tech Support for an additional fee.

McAfee definitely includes more browser extensions and forms of support with its product. The virtual assistant is McAfee’s name for its chatbot. This can help you narrow down support requests to find your support answers sooner. McAfee does have a phone number you can call for direct support if you’re really stuck and can’t find an answer anywhere else. This is included, so you won’t have to pay extra.

No matter what kind of support a product offers, make sure you’re ONLY using support from the product’s verified website. Support scams are rampant online. It’s never a good idea to do an internet search for a product’s support. You’re more likely to run into a scam than to find actual help. And don’t disable your antivirus software unless you know how to turn it back on. Real-time protection can be a lifesaver.

A screenshot of the AVG Home Support main page with product navigation prompts.

A screenshot of the McAfee Customer Service home page with help prompts.

Winner: McAfee. There are more compatibility and support options available.

AVG vs. McAfee FAQs


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Can I use both AVG and McAfee?

No, you can’t use AVG and McAfee together. AVG and McAfee are both antivirus solutions. If you use them at the same time, they can cancel out key components of each other’s security, which can render them less effective.


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What are AVG’s disadvantages?

AVG’s disadvantages include the lack of parental controls, basic support options, and a limit of 10 devices maximum. Without parental controls, we don’t feel like AVG is as good an option for families. The limited device maximum might be difficult for larger families too.

Self-service support can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know where to start looking for an answer. We wish AVG had something like a chatbot or a phone number for people who need immediate help.


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What are McAfee’s disadvantages?

McAfee’s disadvantages are mostly tied to price. It offers a lot of different feature options, but some of them have to be purchased separately from the protection product. Additionally, the plans that cover families can get a little pricey, especially on renewal. We don’t understand why internet security would penalize customers for renewing by increasing the price.


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Is AVG free worth it?

AVG Antivirus Free is definitely worth it if you’re looking for security without a lot of extra features. AV-TEST, an independent testing company, rated AVG as a Top Product in its most recent round of testing. This, coupled with our own evaluation of the product, means it’s definitely worth your consideration.


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Does McAfee have a free version?

No, McAfee doesn’t have a free version, but McAfee Total Protection does offer a 7-day free trial. The trial includes a VPN, phishing protection, identity monitoring, and more features offered on the paid McAfee products. If you’re trying to decide which of the two would be better for you, checking out the trial is a great way to test for yourself. You could also opt for the premium coverage and take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.


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Which antivirus is better than McAfee?

If you’re looking for which antivirus is better than McAfee, that’s going to depend on what your individual needs are and what features you require. Since most top-quality named products provide similarly stellar protection, the right product is going to come down to additional features and price.

Do you need robust identity theft protection? Better go with Norton 360.

Want security software with a robust VPN? Try Surfshark One+.

On a tight budget and need a low-cost or free top-rated antivirus solution? AVG has your back.

As long as you’re using antivirus protection every time you go online, the rest is really up to your needs.

AVG vs. McAfee: which is better?

In our eyes, AVG antivirus and McAfee antivirus are tied. They each took two wins in our comparison, offer safety and security, and have downsides that might mean they don’t work for you. If you’re a single person or on a budget, we think AVG is the winner for you. If you have a family or need additional features, McAfee is going to win.

When trying to decide between antivirus software, you’ll need to look more at the disadvantages of each. If you’re kind of tech-savvy or at least know how to look up fixes, AVG’s lackluster support options probably won’t be an issue. If your budget is pretty set, McAfee might not fit into it. It’ll all come down to your preferences.


AVG vs. McAfee alternatives

AVG or McAfee might not be the right choice for you, so we’ve rounded up some of the best antivirus software as alternatives. Whether you’re looking for a fully rounded security suite like what you can find in Norton 360, a protection-forward product like TotalAV, or free antivirus software you can trust like Avast, we’re confident that you’ll find a program that fits your needs.

  • Norton 360: It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for in security software; Norton 360 likely has a plan that will work for you. We like the options that range from simple security all the way up to comprehensive family coverage with parental controls and identity theft protection services.

    Get Norton 360 | Read Our Norton 360 Review
  • TotalAV: Real-time protection, ad blockers, and web protection are only some of the features TotalAV values. We like all the features that come with it, especially with such a low starting annual price. TotalAV has great third-party testing scores, which make it as safe as it is useful.

    Get TotalAV | Read Our TotalAV Review
  • Avast: Free software can come with a lot of potential dangers and pitfalls, but Avast’s free antivirus can protect you against those. We like that such a robust free product offers so much. If you want more, there are additional features available for a subscription fee, including a VPN and even credit monitoring.

    Get Avast | Read Our Avast Review
Trusted Protection by 435 Million Users Worldwide
4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On AVG's website
All-In-One
AVG
  • Award-winning antivirus, malware, and ransomware protection for up to 10 devices
  • Includes webcam protection, safe browsing and email, automatic updates, and 24/7 protection
  • Suite of protection benefits including a secure VPN, anti-tracking capabilities, safeguards against phishing sites, and more
Author Details
Mary is a seasoned cybersecurity writer with over seven years of experience. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University, she educates audiences on scams, antivirus software, and more. Her passion lies in educating audiences on helpful ways to protect their data.