After rigorous testing, McAfee came out on top — but only by a small margin. While both antiviruses are excellent at malware protection and offer comprehensive features, McAfee excelled in a few areas. For one, it has faster scan times and detects more phishing links than Bitdefender. However, Bitdefender does well in device optimization tools, and its VPN is faster. Ultimately, both antiviruses would protect your devices, keeping your whole family safe online, but I found McAfee to be better overall. If you’d like to test the service for yourself, you can take advantage of McAfee’s 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure it’s right for you. Try McAfee risk-free

No Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary of Category Winners

McAfee and Bitdefender offer excellent protection for all devices, but I found McAfee’s security features and performance to be more comprehensive. Stay secure online with McAfee

How I Tested and Compared McAfee vs Bitdefender

1. Virus Scanner — McAfee’s Fast Scans Detect 100% of Known Malware

McAfee and Bitdefender both have accurate malware scans, detecting 100% of malware threats. However, McAfee’s scans are faster, and during my tests, McAfee flagged fewer legitimate files wrongly compared to Bitdefender. To compare the antiviruses, I looked at the scan types they offer: Bitdefender does offer 2 extra scan types, which I think is a great addition. I like the Rescue Environment Scan most as it checks your devices in “Safe Mode” and removes any threats it can’t access in a normal operating mode. I’d like to see McAfee offering something similar for devices that are deeply infected with malware. When it comes to scan times, McAfee is the faster choice by a few minutes. Its Quick Scan took less than 5 minutes to check vulnerable areas, while the Full Scan took just under an hour to examine my entire device (268GB!) Bitdefender’s Quick Scan was slightly slower, taking 7 minutes. Its Full Scan took just under an hour. McAfee’s malware protection is powered by its Advanced Threat Defense technology that uses signature-based defenses and heuristic analysis to detect sophisticated malware types. Bitdefender’s Advanced threat detection works similarly, only that it leads to more false positives (legitimate files that are flagged wrongly) than McAfee’s. In summary, both antivirus services offer top-tier virus scans, and you may find that Bitdefender works perfectly for you. However, from my own test results, I recommend McAfee for its ability to detect all types of existing malware quickly. Remove malware with McAfee

2. Real-Time Malware Protection — McAfee Defends Against 100% of New Malware Attacks

In my tests, McAfee successfully protected my devices from all real-time threats. While Bitdefender had an almost-perfect detection rate, I prefer McAfee’s excellent protection scores. To achieve a perfect score, McAfee uses Global Threat Intelligence technology. This cloud-based software analyzes the behavior of malware to accurately predict how threats will behave. When it discovers suspicious behavior in unknown items, McAfee blocks them before they can infect your device. Due to the cloud-based nature of this technology, McAfee is constantly updating to protect you from the latest threats. Bitdefender uses similar technology to protect your devices from real-time malware attacks. Using a technique called “Behavioral Detection,” it closely monitors apps, software, and network connections (including downloaded files) for any suspicious behaviors. If these are detected, the items are immediately quarantined for you to look at so you can determine whether they’re safe or malicious. One outstanding feature of McAfee is its Ransom Guard protection. It monitors your devices for suspicious changes to files and warns you if ransomware or spyware is detected, protecting you from zero-day ransomware threats. When a program tries to encrypt your files — what McAfee calls File Content Transformation, the antivirus makes secure copies of such files, and if it finds that such changes are made by ransomware, it quarantines it and restores the backup files. In the same vein, McAfee’s WebAdvisor protects you from phishing attacks, cryptojacking, and other scams. It detected 98.8% of all phishing links during my tests compared to Bitdefender’s 94%. Overall, there isn’t a huge difference between these antivirus packages — both McAfee and Bitdefender are capable of protecting you from zero-day malware attacks. However, in my tests, McAfee was slightly better than Bitdefender and achieved a perfect score. Try McAfee risk-free for 30 days

3. System Performance — McAfee Operates With Almost Zero Impact on Your Devices

It can be difficult to measure how much an antivirus affects system performance, especially with low-impact packages like McAfee and Bitdefender. After careful testing, McAfee beats Bitdefender. With McAfee running in the background, my system slowdown was negligible. I could work, check my emails, stream HD-quality video, and install software without lagging or interruptions. It was as though McAfee wasn’t busy protecting my device! Bitdefender is also low-impact, and it’s unlikely you’ll notice a noticeable difference when it’s protecting you from online threats. To see precisely how much system resources each antivirus consumes, I recorded my CPU, Disk, and Memory utilization before and during a scan. I compared the values, which helped me determine the antivirus that consumed more system resources. During my tests, I found that McAfee increased my CPU utilization from 7% to 28% and my memory utilization from 80% to 84%. In contrast, Bitdefender increased my CPU usage from 10% to 41%. Even then, I didn’t notice any significant impact on the speed of my PC. Here’s an idea of how well McAfee minimized the impact on system performance compared to Bitdefender:

Slowing down when launching a popular website: 12% slowdown (versus Bitdefender 21%). Copying files, both locally and in a network: 1% slowdown (versus Bitdefender 1%) Launching standard software apps: 10% (versus Bitdefender 20%)

Overall, both antiviruses won’t noticeably slow down your system, but when the numbers are put down, McAfee consumes fewer system resources than Bitdefender. Try McAfee risk-free

4. VPN — Bitdefender Has Faster Download Speeds and Unblocks Streaming Services

Bitdefender’s VPN is better for streaming and has more server locations than McAfee. A VPN is a private tunnel your computer uses to connect to the internet. When you’re connected, it encrypts your entire internet traffic, preventing hackers from hijacking your online activity. To gain access to the VPN, McAfee requires you to be signed up for auto-renewal, and Bitdefender only includes its VPN with its Premium plan. Between the 2 VPNs, I much prefer Bitdefender’s. Not only does Bitdefender’s VPN secure your online activities, but you can even watch Netflix and other streaming platforms. Unfortunately, McAfee’s VPN couldn’t access Netflix at all. McAfee also has fewer server locations (only 23 versus Bitdefender’s 27 server locations) and slower speeds. When I ran speed tests, Bitdefender’s VPN was fast enough to stream shows with only a couple of seconds of buffering. In terms of security, both VPNs have high encryption levels that hide your online activity and prevent data leaks. I felt secure when accessing my banking app and shopping online, knowing that no one (not even my Internet Service Provider) could see what I was doing. Browse securely with Bitdefender

5. Parental Controls — McAfee Provides More Comprehensive Control for Children’s Devices

McAfee and Bitdefender both offer parental controls with their antivirus plans, but McAfee is better due to its advanced options and easy setup. It took less than 3 minutes to download and set up McAfee’s Safe Family feature, and I like that I could easily see all the controls from the main dashboard. From there, you can accurately track your child’s location, schedule downtime away from screens, and filter harmful or inappropriate web content. I also like that Safe Family alerts me if any changes are made to the app on my child’s device or if rules are breached. Kids are increasingly tech-savvy these days, so it’s a relief to know they can’t change any of McAfee’s settings without you being notified. Bitdefender has a geo-fencing feature and solid web filtering, but the apps are difficult to set up. I spent more than 10 minutes downloading and configuring the apps to my child’s iPad because the settings were difficult to navigate. McAfee’s Safe Family is available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS with similar features on all apps. Bitdefender’s Parental Advisor is supported on the same operating systems but is significantly less functional on iOS. For ease of use and level of coverage, I prefer McAfee’s Safe Family option. Protect your kids online with McAfee

6. Firewall — McAfee’s Firewall Is Available on All Plans

Both firewalls from McAfee and Bitdefender provide top-tier network security, but McAfee provides this feature with all of its antivirus plans. Bitdefender doesn’t offer a firewall on its Antivirus Plus package. Having a strong firewall is essential to maintaining security. Even the Windows operating system comes with its own built-in Windows Defender Firewall (despite its limitations), so to find that Bitdefender excludes it from a plan means McAfee comes out on top in this category. McAfee’s firewall offers a huge range of customizable options so you can configure network security precisely to your liking. If you find all the options overwhelming, you don’t have to touch them at all — the firewall is automatically configured to provide top-tier protection. I particularly like the Intrusion Detection and Net Guard features, which are unique to McAfee. Intrusion Detection alerts you to potential hackers trying to gain access to your device, while Net Guard flags unwanted or suspicious network connections. Bitdefender’s firewall cleverly configures itself depending on the network you connect to, whether you’re at home, at work, or in public. For an extra layer of protection, you can enable its Stealth Mode, which will effectively make you invisible — especially useful if you’re on public WiFi. Unfortunately, the fact that Bitdefender doesn’t include its firewall from its lowest-priced plans means you won’t get coverage unless you purchase a more expensive package. Stay protected using McAfee

7. Password Manager — Bitdefender Offers Unlimited Password Storage

While McAfee’s True Key is a decent feature, Bitdefender’s password manager is one of the best I’ve tested from an antivirus package. You can generate secure passwords, store them in an encrypted vault, and auto-fill easily on both password managers. Both Bitdefender and McAfee have unlimited storage for personal details like credit card numbers, social security information, and sensitive documents. All information you enter into either password manager is heavily encrypted, using the same AES-256-bit standard that militaries and government agents employ. However, McAfee’s True Key lacks some features found in top password managers. Its free version limits you to just 15 passwords, whereas Bitdefender offers unlimited password storage across all plans. Also, True Key doesn’t support password sharing, password auditing, or dark web monitoring, all crucial features for any standard password manager. It was very easy to transfer my passwords from my existing password manager to Bitdefender. I also didn’t experience any delays when Bitdefender automatically filled in my login credentials. Many password managers take a while to autofill the details, but Bitdefender entered my information in less than a second. If you don’t have many passwords, McAfee’s True Key is a secure option. However, most people have far more than 15 passwords, so Bitdefender’s password manager is the superior choice overall. Keep passwords safe with Bitdefender

8. Gaming Mode — Bitdefender Optimizes Gameplay With In-Built Game Mode

I was surprised that Bitdefender beat McAfee in this category as McAfee has a dedicated Gamer Security antivirus package. Unfortunately, to make it low-impact, McAfee compromised on some essential security features to make it low-impact, meaning Bitdefender is the better choice for a gaming antivirus. Bitdefender has a specific Game Mode designed to optimize your system’s performance when you’re gaming. It diverts CPU power away from background processes towards your game, making them run more smoothly. Best of all, Game Mode starts automatically when it detects you’re playing, so you don’t have to set it up manually. I tested it while playing Call of Duty: Warzone, and I didn’t experience interruptions throughout the time I was gaming. Bitdefender also has Autopilot Mode that learns how you use your device and suggests optimizations. If you game regularly, you’ll find Bitdefender adjusts settings automatically for optimal gameplay. McAfee’s antivirus plans don’t have a dedicated Game Mode unless you opt for the Gamer Security package. However, I found that McAfee’s Gamer Security was ineffective in blocking malicious websites and phishing scams. So while it performs well for playing games, you’re compromising on overall security. It’s better to stick with the comprehensive coverage Bitdefender offers, even though the antivirus isn’t specifically tailored toward gamers. Try Bitdefender for 30 days risk-free

9. Optimization Tools — McAfee Significantly Boosts Device Performance

McAfee excels in this category, offering a range of tools designed to optimize the performance of your devices. Bitdefender does have some features that improve overall performance, but I found they weren’t as impactful as McAfee’s extras. McAfee has 3 great optimization tools: QuickClean, App Boost, and Web Boost. The QuickClean tool gets rid of cookies, junk files, and browsing history to free up space on your device. In my tests, it took less than 20 seconds to run, and it found over 4,000 unnecessary items that could be safely deleted. This freed up almost 400MB of space on my Windows laptop. The App and Web Boost features work similarly to improve performance while you’re using your device. The App Boost determines which apps are open and diverts CPU power towards them, keeping speeds high and performance smooth. It also learns which apps you use the most to help them open and load more quickly. Web Boost noticeably improved my browsing by stopping auto-play videos and ads, which also boosted my battery life. Unfortunately, this feature is only available as a Chrome browser extension for Windows. Bitdefender’s optimization tools work behind the scenes to improve performance. It has a Battery Mode that saves battery life for laptops and tablets. The OneClick Optimizer has 3 optimization tools that clear junk from your system — Disk Cleanup, Registry Cleanup, and Privacy Cleanup. During my tests, Bitdefender removed over 3.89GB of junk files from my PC. However, I couldn’t view the details of all the files being removed. Having placed the optimization tools of both antiviruses side-by-side, I concluded that McAfee is a better antivirus for device optimization. Optimize your device with McAfee

10. Other Features — Wide Range of Useful Tools on Both McAfee and Bitdefender

This category resulted in a tie because both McAfee and Bitdefender have features that work well to improve your security. Bitdefender has a bigger number of extra features, while McAfee’s offerings worked more effectively. I’ve assembled the features of both antiviruses in this table. Some features have limitations — McAfee’s WebAdvisor browser extension is only available on Windows, while Bitdefender’s Anti-Spam only works with a couple of email platforms. I was especially impressed by McAfee’s ransomware protection (built into the anti-malware engine). It monitors and blocks any suspicious changes to apps or software and alerts you when ransomware or spyware is found so you can take steps to prevent it. You can also take advantage of McAfee’s ransomware coverage that offers up to $25,000 insurance on the McAfee+ Ultimate plan. Bitdefender’s most impressive feature is its SafePay tool, designed to secure your online banking and shopping. It opens a new desktop environment that blocks screenshots, keylogging, and any kind of data interception. I recommend using it whenever you need to access sensitive information. I was pleased to find the features offered by both antiviruses are high-quality tools you’re likely to use. If you want features that will secure your device, McAfee has some better options. For protecting personal information online, Bitdefender’s features are more appropriate. Try McAfee for 30 days risk-free

11. Device Compatibility — Bitdefender Is Easier to Use on Multiple Devices

McAfee and Bitdefender have apps available for popular operating systems. They’re both quick to download and set up, but Bitdefender comes out on top because of its easy-to-navigate apps for all devices. Bitdefender works on the following operating systems:

Windows (7 SP1, 8/8.1, 10, and 11) macOS 10.10 or later Android 5.0 or later iOS 12 or later Linux (popular distros supported on GravityZone plan)

McAfee is compatible with the following operating systems:

Windows (8.1, 10, and 11) macOS 10.12 or later Android 7.0 or later ChromeOS iOS 13 or later Linux (popular distros supported on Trellix plan)

I found Bitdefender’s desktop apps are intuitively designed, so it’s easy to navigate between settings, make changes, and run scans. I like that the apps are suitable for beginners, while more advanced users can make specific configuration changes quickly. Bitdefender’s Android and iOS apps are equally intuitive. You’ll find many features on the desktop app available on the Android app, like Threat Scanning, Account Privacy, Web Protection, Anti-theft, VPN, and more. However, you only get access to the Web Protection, VPN, and Account Privacy features. McAfee is trickier to figure out, despite having a bright and inviting interface. Its apps for Windows and Mac are confusingly labeled, making it difficult to find the settings you’re looking for. For example, the QuickClean feature is a button labeled “Remove cookies and trackers.” It takes some time to learn where features and settings are with McAfee. In contrast, McAfee’s iOS and Android apps are intuitive, but the Android app offers more features. For example, the optimization tools and anti-theft features aren’t available on the iOS app, but you’ll find them on the Android app. This is the case for most iOS antiviruses except for the iOS-focused antivirus apps. While McAfee’s mobile apps are much easier to navigate, Bitdefender is the better choice if you’re looking for a user-friendly antivirus app. Protect all your devices with Bitdefender

12. Customer Service — Bitdefender Has Speedy 24/7 Support

Bitdefender excels in this category, having multiple support options available through 24/7 live chat, email ticketing, and phone support. McAfee, on the other hand, while offering similar customer support channels, doesn’t offer email ticketing. Take a look at all the support channels offered by both antiviruses: I tested all of Bitdefender’s customer service options and found that live chat was the most effective way to get help. I was connected to a representative in less than a minute and got detailed responses to my questions. If your queries aren’t time-sensitive, Bitdefender’s community forum is a good option. Email ticketing was equally as impressive. I had an answer in just over an hour! If you contact Bitdefender by phone, you’ll probably spend a little time on hold, but it’s a great option if you have more complex questions. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with McAfee’s live chat service as it took more than an hour to resolve my issue. In contrast, McAfee’s phone support and community forums were easy ways to get answers. I like that I didn’t have to wait on hold with McAfee as an agent called me back so I could go about my day — I got a call back in 10 minutes. Phone support operatives are knowledgeable and helpful, but McAfee’s live chat was quite the opposite. It took 40 minutes to answer a relatively simple question, which I had to rephrase several times as the agent didn’t understand what I was asking. Live chat is usually the best way to get immediate support, but McAfee’s service was a disappointing experience. Try Bitdefender risk-free for 30-days

13. Price — McAfee Total Protection Is Better Value for Money

While Bitdefender is cheaper overall, McAfee includes its premium features on all plans (except its Safe Family feature, which is only available on the Family plan). Bitdefender restricts some features for more expensive plans. This makes McAfee Total Protection a great value for money. Bitdefender’s most affordable plans (Free and Antivirus Plus) only work on Windows — and don’t come with a firewall, device optimization tools, or parental controls. You won’t get these features unless you upgrade to the Premium package. McAfee’s higher prices are reasonable for multiple device compatibility and comprehensive coverage. Both McAfee and Bitdefender accept credit/debit cards and PayPal. Try McAfee for 30 days risk-free

14. Free Version — Only Bitdefender Has a Free Plan

Bitdefender comes out on top in this category, as McAfee does not offer a free plan. The free version offers Bitdefender’s advanced threat detection and real-time malware protection. I’m also pleased to see that you get web protection that filters harmful sites and optimization tools that improve device performance. You’ll find that Bitdefender’s free plan is very low-impact due to its cloud-based scanning. If you’re using a Windows device, you’ll also have anti-phishing and anti-fraud protection. This free plan is missing advanced ransomware protection, so you’re not getting full-coverage security — but it’s standard practice for antivirus packages to reserve advanced features for premium users. If you’re looking for basic coverage on a device that isn’t used for sensitive information (like online banking or important documents), Bitdefender Free is a solid choice. Try Bitdefender for free

15. Money-Back Guarantee — McAfee Offers 60 Days to Test the Service and Get a Full Refund

Both antiviruses offer a money-back guarantee, but McAfee’s policy is the longest at 60 days. You can get a refund from McAfee:

Within 30 days of purchasing a new plan. Within 60 days of auto-renewing a plan. At any point, if McAfee fails to remove malware from your system.

In comparison, Bitdefender only has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Both McAfee and Bitdefender make it easy to get a refund, but I was more satisfied with McAfee’s quick response time. I requested a refund using McAfee’s support site and chose “Other” when asked for a reason — I wasn’t asked to explain any further. I was then asked to enter some contact details and waited less than 10 minutes for an agent to call me. I wasn’t asked to reconsider canceling — McAfee’s agent quickly processed my request, and I had my money back in 7 business days. Bitdefender’s process is more straightforward but longer. I just had to email customer support asking for a refund. However, it took 5 days to get an email response which isn’t as quick as I’d like — I suggest sending a cancellation email a few days before the guarantee period runs out, just to be sure you don’t miss the refund window. I had my money back from Bitdefender in another 5 days. Try McAfee for 60 days risk-free

And the Winner Is… McAfee

Based on rigorous head-to-head tests, McAfee came out on top in 8 categories, while Bitdefender won 6 categories. Only 1 category resulted in a tie. As such, McAfee wins by a small margin.

Virus Scanner — McAfee Real-Time Malware Protection — McAfee System Performance — McAfee VPN — Bitdefender Parental Controls — McAfee Firewall — McAfee Password Manager — Bitdefender Gaming Mode — Bitdefender Optimization Tools — McAfee Other Features — Tie Device Compatibility — Bitdefender Customer Service — Bitdefender Price — McAfee Free Version — Bitdefender Money-Back Guarantee — McAfee

Both McAfee and Bitdefender are excellent antivirus packages that provide top-tier protection from malware and help secure your devices. McAfee is the better choice if your focus is more on device security. It provides consistently high-level protection with 100% malware detection rates for both new and known threats. It’s surprisingly low-impact on your system, considering the intensity and thoroughness of its scans. While it’s slightly more expensive, McAfee provides better value since you can access all of its features no matter which plan you choose. Plus, you can try McAfee for yourself risk-free using its money-back guarantee. If you’re subscribed to auto-renewal, you get a full 60 days to test the service and get a refund. Bitdefender is more configurable, making it a solid option for more advanced users. That’s not to say it isn’t good for beginners also — it has a clear interface and easy-to-use features that make choosing the right settings simple. If you do have issues, Bitdefender has excellent customer service available 24/7. You don’t have to take my word for it — Bitdefender gives you 30 days to test the service with its money-back guarantee, so you can make sure it’s right for you. If you change your mind, getting a refund is easy. Protect your devices with McAfee

How To Download McAfee on Your Device

Try McAfee risk-free for 60 days

What makes an antivirus good and secure?

A good and secure antivirus, like the top antivirus brands on the market should have key features. Firstly, it must offer perfect malware detection scores. Secondly, it must be able to detect 100% of threats in real time. Next, it should come with a lot of extra features (security and performance) such as VPN, password manager, web protection, parental controls, device optimizer, and more.

What do I need to look for when searching for an antivirus?

You should look for an antivirus that perfectly detects and removes malware. McAfee and Bitdefender are good examples of robust antivirus programs that can remove 100% of malware threats. In addition, you should ensure that the antivirus offers comprehensive extra features within the security suite. It should have a password manager, VPN, parental controls, firewall, and PC optimizer.

Is Bitdefender or McAfee better?

McAfee is better. Here’s why. Even though both antiviruses are almost identical in features, I found that McAfee offers better performance across the board. Its virus scanner is faster, has fewer false positives, and you get more value for money with McAfee.

Which is better: Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender?

Norton is better. While McAfee and Bitdefender are great antivirus options, they’re not nearly as robust as Norton. Firstly, Norton is richer in features, offering an extensive range of security features, perfect malware-detection scores, and optimization tools. Secondly, Norton provides better performance than McAfee and Bitdefender. For instance, while they both have near-perfect anti-phishing protection scores (98% and 94%), Norton achieved 100% scores during my tests. Without any argument, Norton’s comprehensive security suite and robust performance put it easily ahead of McAfee and Norton.

Does McAfee slow down your computer?

Not at all. McAfee doesn’t slow down your computer because its lightweight application has no impact on your computer. I tested this while running a full scan and carrying out several activities. To my surprise, McAfee didn’t affect the speed of my laptop when checking my emails, streaming HD-quality video, and installing more than 3 different programs.

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