McAfee vs. Norton 360 Antivirus 2024: Two OG Antiviruses Go Head-to-Head

Norton and McAfee are both household names that offer modern security solutions with plenty of additional features to keep you secure.
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Best for PC and Mac

5.0
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On McAfee's website

McAfee
  • All-in-one protection for your personal info and privacy
  • Excellent antivirus protection
  • Additional features like a file shredder and parental controls
  • Multiple pop-ups for text notifications can be annoying

Best for Low-Cost Coverage

5.0
Learn More
On Norton 360 Antivirus's website

Norton 360 Antivirus
  • Easy-to-install antivirus protection
  • Secure VPN and password manager included
  • Parental control features
  • Multi-tab navigation may be overwhelming at first

McAfee and Norton are two quality products that come highly rated by independent third-party reviewers. McAfee has coverage for both PC and Mac as well as browser extensions that support Safari. Norton may not cover Safari, but its customer support is easier to navigate and has more options. 

Each has a user-friendly interface and anti-malware protection as well as coverage for Windows PCs, Macs, smartphones, and even tablets. And both solutions have a host of additional features that make them valuable additions to your computer or mobile device. So your choice comes down to your needs — let’s dig in and help you decide.

In this article
McAfee vs. Norton 360 at a glance
McAfee vs. Norton: prices
McAfee vs. Norton: features
McAfee vs. Norton: test results
McAfee vs. Norton: compatibility and customer support
McAfee vs. Norton FAQs
Which is better, Norton or McAfee?

McAfee vs. Norton 360 at a glance

The McAfee versus Norton question is nearly as old as the internet itself, with both having a long history of fighting for space on our computers. If you’re old enough to remember when personal computers became common in every household, both products were there to protect us against the dangers of the new thing called the World Wide Web.

As we progressed, certain manufacturers partnered with either Norton or McAfee to present these products preinstalled on your new PC. Even now, with a host of other competitors, both Norton and McAfee still have the name recognition and security chops to be key players in the fight against ransomware and other nasties you find online.

But which of these products is better for online threats? Do they protect you in the same way? And which has the most security features to eliminate the need for additional products? And is there an answer to, “What is the best antivirus out there?” Let’s look.

  • McAfee: Best for PC and Mac
  • Norton 360: Best for covering more devices at a low cost

How do McAfee and Norton compare?


McAfee

Norton 360 Antivirus
Starting price Starts at $39.99/first yr Starts at $19.99/first yr
Max number of protected devices Unlimited 5
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and more Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and more
Free version
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Get McAfee
Read Our McAfee Review
Get Norton
Read Our Norton Review

Although both antivirus programs have been around for a long time, but they’ve both continued to add extra features necessary for the modern internet.

Norton, however, has a lower starting price with more devices covered. McAfee is a little more expensive, but when you go up to the middle pricing tier, you’ll receive unlimited device coverage.

Is Safari coverage important to you? Go with McAfee. Are you looking for quality protection for the least expensive price you can find? McAfee does that, too. Do you want webcam coverage and a file shredder? Norton has that. Are you worried about false positives or if it’ll work on your operating system? AV-TEST says they’re both secure with few false positives. These are questions you’ll need to consider when deciding on an antivirus product.

McAfee vs. Norton: prices

Our Pick
Price range $39.99–$219.99/yr $14.99–$99.99/first yr
Best value plan McAfee+ Premium plan for $49.99/first yr Norton 360 Deluxe for $29.99/first yr
Money-back guarantee Yes, 30 days Yes, 14 days for monthly plans and 60 days for annual plans
Get McAfee
Read Our McAfee Review
Get Norton
Read Our Norton Review

Norton stands out when it comes to pricing and features — it also has a more-than-generous 60-day money-back guarantee for its annual plans. McAfee’s basic plan only covers one device.

When you go up to McAfee’s next tier, you’ll receive coverage for five devices plus a virtual private network (VPN), but not much more in terms of features. You’ll need to go up to the McAfee+ Premium plan to receive all the privacy features. Norton starts off at a lower price, includes privacy features like a password manager and cloud backup, and provides coverage for one or five devices in its lowest-priced tier.

When it comes to family plans, McAfee is less than half the cost of Norton for unlimited device protection and identity monitoring. Unfortunately, McAfee doesn’t offer a monthly payment for its family plans. (Although you can subscribe monthly through Amazon for three or 10 devices.)

McAfee+ Ultimate vs. Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus software bundles

McAfee+ Ultimate is considerably more expensive than Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, even at the renewal price. This Norton plan comes with 250 GB of cloud backup, while McAfee doesn’t have a cloud storage option built into any of its products. This is the key difference between the two products’ most expensive plans.

In fact, cloud storage is the biggest difference between any of the paid tiers. All Norton products come with some form of cloud storage. If you want a safe place to store specific digital documents, you can do that with Norton. On the other hand, if you don’t need cloud storage, McAfee may be the product for you.

McAfee+ Ultimate and Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus features

  • Norton only: 250 GB cloud backup
  • McAfee only: Personal data cleanup service
  • Antivirus and web protection
  • Credit monitoring
  • Credit lock and credit freeze
  • Identity theft coverage
  • Ransomware coverage
  • Transaction monitoring
  • Parental controls
  • Password manager
  • VPN

Finally, McAfee requires a yearly subscription which needs to be paid all at once (unless you subscribe through Amazon). Norton products, except for the Basic plan, have monthly payment options. Sometimes it isn’t financially feasible to purchase the plan you need at the annual cost, so having a monthly option is nice.

Winner: Norton has the lowest prices for its basic plans and its higher-tiered bundles.

McAfee vs. Norton: features

Feature
Manual and scheduled scans
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Firewall
Parental controls
Password manager
VPN
Device optimization tools
Get McAfee
Read Our McAfee Review
Get Norton
Read Our Norton Review

Considering these two antiviruses both offer additional features such as a VPN and phishing protection, it’ll depend on preference to decide which one you find to be the better antivirus.

Most of the features here are straightforward, but the ransomware protection feature might feel like it’s difficult to find. Ransomware is another form of malware, or malicious software created with the intention of doing harm. All antivirus products that protect against viruses and malware protect against ransomware. As far as the other features, they’re all value-adds that enhance your antivirus program and overall protection.

The McAfee firewall settings page.

McAfee antivirus firewall settings

Firewalls are built into products such as Mac, so having one on your security software may require you to disable the feature. A firewall is good for a PC, however, and augmenting your Windows Defender protection with a firewall can increase your security. No matter what, you’ll want a product with a good adware cleaner.

Phishing and other social engineering hacks are rampant on social media, through email, and even through text messaging, so having an alert system in your antivirus software may help keep you from becoming a victim.

We tried out Norton Secure VPN and found it was easy to use.

Norton offers a VPN to encrypt your Wi-Fi connection

Other features, such as the VPN, password manager, and device optimization tools are great additions that aren’t necessarily included in all antivirus products. If you’re looking to round out your security suite, having these included can save you some money.

McAfee Total Protection includes network monitoring and a password manager.

We really liked Norton antivirus's clean interface.

Norton includes multiple extra features including dark web monitoring, cloud backup, and a password manager.

Winner: Tied. Norton and McAfee both offer similar features and protections for your devices.

McAfee vs. Norton: test results

When comparing antivirus products, third-party testing is a must. Not only do these tests have the resources and capabilities to really throw every malicious thing they have at the software, but they also know software vulnerabilities.

This means the third-party testers are doing whatever they can to break the product to make sure hackers can’t break it once you’ve installed it. It also means you get an objective look at a product outside of its marketing claims. If you really want to know whether a product is worth your money, third-party testing can tell you.

Here’s what third-party testing site AV-TEST said about McAfee and Norton.

McAfee vs. Norton AV-TEST scores

Windows score 6.0/6.0 5.5/6.0
macOS score N/A 6.0/6.0
Android score 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0
Get McAfee
Read Our McAfee Review
Get Norton
Read Our Norton Review
*McAfee was tested most recently in October 2023 for Windows and in November 2023 for Android. Norton was tested in October 2023 for Windows, in December 2023 for Mac, and in November 2023 for Android.

AV-TEST gives numerical scores from zero to six in three separate categories for computers and two categories for Android. McAfee received a perfect score for Windows, while Norton had some points deducted for performance. Norton was founded to have slowed down when launching popular websites and when installing frequently-used applications more than the industry average. This isn't a huge deal, but could be something worth considering if you value speed. 

The most glaring difference was the lack of testing for macOS on McAfee. This doesn’t mean that Mac users aren’t covered. There is a fee for third-party testing and sometimes a company isn’t interested in paying this to test their product. A lack of test results doesn’t mean the product is bad, it just means it hasn’t been tested.

Winner: Tied. McAfee doesn’t have testing for macOS, but Norton had a lower score for Windows. Both products lack something with either product, which resulted in a tie.

McAfee vs. Norton: compatibility and customer support

Our Pick
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Browser extensions Yes, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge Yes, Firefox, Chrome, Edge
24/7 customer support
Customer support options Live chat, phone, online guides, support forums Live chat, phone, online guides, support forums
View Plans
Read Our McAfee Review
View Plans
Read Our Norton Review

We had similarly positive experiences with both McAfee and Norton as far as usability, speed, and detection. Neither program had a lengthy initial scan, nor did either security product have a lengthy quick scan process. Both Norton and McAfee were easy to use even for novices or beginners.

One of the most important considerations in choosing an antivirus is if it slows down your computer while it’s running. We were pleased to see that both Norton and McAfee performed well with little-to-no performance degradation. McAfee had a slight advantage by including a browser extension for Safari, but that wasn’t enough to have us favor it over Norton.

Getting started with McAfee requires you to enable each security feature individually.

McAfee has you enable each feature individually.

Norton 360 Antivirus has you enable each of its security features individually.
Norton 360 security features

Norton also requires setting up features individually.

However, there’s a definite difference between the support options available between McAfee and Norton. McAfee’s website focuses more on self-help through forums and guides and makes finding options such as chat, email, and phone difficult. We had to search for a support number. You should never have to do a separate internet search for a support number. That can lead to fake support numbers that scam you.

Norton, on the other hand, has links and clearly labeled support sections. We were able to chat, call, or search the guides and forums. We could quickly and easily find everything we needed within Norton’s site, eliminating the chance we may get scammed. A security product should make sure you’re secure rather than hiding support options.

Winner: Norton. Although both products have a wide range of compatibility, Norton's support is easy to find and gives plenty of options depending on how you prefer to communicate.

McAfee vs. Norton FAQs


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Do I need McAfee if I already have Norton?

The short answer is no. Running separate antivirus programs against one another on the same device can create problems. These aren’t compatible and might lessen the effectiveness of the protection you receive.


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What’s the No. 1 antivirus for PC?

According to AV-TEST, the top antivirus software for PCs was a five-way tie based on 2022 testing results. The top five were Avast, AVG, Avira, McAfee, and Norton earning AV-TEST’s Best Protection 2022 award.


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Does McAfee slow your computer down?

Yes, McAfee has been reported to slow down computers and third-party applications running on your computer. McAfee does have a fix for third-party applications, but the nature of antivirus means you have something using memory on your computer to keep you protected.

In our testing, the slow-down was not noticeable enough to cause issues. If you do find it’s slowing down your computer too much, you can disable McAfee to make sure that’s the problem before switching to a faster security product.


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Can hackers get past Norton?

Yes, but no antivirus program is infallible. Using highly rated, third-party-tested antivirus software along with internet hygiene best practices gives you the best chance of staying secure.

Which is better, Norton or McAfee?

Because both McAfee and Norton have been in the game so long, they’ve had time to mold and adapt to the ever-changing internet. Both have solid, third-party-tested protection and a plethora of features wrapped into the security product offering. Both have an easy user interface and pleasant user experience.

In our opinion, Norton takes the lead on price and customer service. However, either of these products is a solid choice. The downside to these antivirus programs is that they’re both still priced fairly high even though competitors are lower (and sometimes free) with similar or more features.

Even so, you know you’re getting a trusted security product when using either of these antivirus solutions. It’s going to be up to you to decide whether the history behind these products makes them worth the price, or if you’re interested in something more economical. Either way, you should always have security software installed, so having McAfee or Norton will go a long way in keeping you safe online.

5.0
Save up to 66% on your first year
Learn More
On Norton 360 Antivirus's website

Norton 360 Antivirus
  • Easy-to-install antivirus protection
  • Secure VPN and password manager included
  • Parental control features
  • Multi-tab navigation may be overwhelming at first
Author Details
Mary lives in Los Angeles and has been a cybersecurity writer for over five years. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, her career in online security began in sales and content creation for a private cybersecurity firm.