Head to Head: McAfee VS Avast
Avast VS McAfee
Despite the abundance of sophisticated cybersecurity tools, hackers and other digital devils are having a field day. It’s estimated that cybercrime made hackers richer to the tune of around $1.5 trillion last year alone and there’s no sign of it slowing down. According to a recent study, even your personality could make you more vulnerable to a cyberattack so, rather than trying to change your character, why not use a reliable antivirus to protect you?
The problem is, there are so many antivirus solutions around, which is why we’re going to make it easy for you by throwing down the gauntlet to two cybersecurity giants to see who comes out victorious.
When it comes to McAfee vs Avast, both are reputable antivirus products that perform consistently well in lab tests. Powerful yet simple, both offer comprehensive protection against all potential cyber threats. When it comes to the crunch, however, which one is really the best?
1. User Interface
For most users, being confronted with a complex, text-heavy interface is an unpleasant experience and most of us prefer something colorful, inviting and simple to use. McAfee’s recent revamp means it now ticks all those boxes and first-time users will delight at the familiarity and simplicity of the interface. Basic tools are easily accessible, while advanced settings will satisfy the needs of more advanced users.
Avast’s interface is similarly easy to navigate, although perhaps a little less streamlined. Nevertheless, accessing features like the firewall, Wi-Fi inspector, and ransomware shield are all as easy as pie. There is also plenty of customization available via the settings menu.
McAfee’s color scheme isn’t the most engaging but it’s one step up from Avast’s dark greys and purples which make you feel slightly bruised just looking at them. McAfee’s main window also gives users instant insights into the software’s status so any issues can be picked up immediately.
Avast is easy enough to use and won’t confuse many users, but it isn’t as intuitive as McAfee which literally puts the power at the user’s fingertips and gives it the advantage in this category.
Any antivirus that offers free protection is bound to get a head start in a cost contest, which gives Avast the lead in this category, but when it comes to paid subscriptions and value for money, will it be able to hold onto that advantage?
Avast does have a nice range of plans available, starting with the free antivirus and working up to its premium Ultimate plan which gives users every imaginable cybersecurity tool, from password manager to VPN as well as ransomware and virus protection. The Ultimate plan doesn’t come cheap but is nevertheless good value for money at $99.99 per year, although this is only for one device.
McAfee is one of the few antivirus developers that doesn’t offer a free plan but, in its defense, users can get a lot out of the basic plan which costs just $39.99 per year. The only drawback is that it is only available for Windows. Users with Mac, iOS or Android will have to shell out an additional $10 per year for McAfee’s Antivirus Plus but for that extra outlay, get the benefits of a firewall and additional online protection against malicious websites.
McAfee’s Total Protection internet security suite offers comprehensive protection for up to 10 devices for $109.99 per year, making it more cost-effective than Avast. However, Avast’s free antivirus is a solid package, making it tough to call a winner in this category.
3. Customer Support
As with most leading antivirus products, Avast and McAfee have a variety of support options available to both prospective and active users, including online help sections and FAQs and telephonic assistance. Although Avast’s help section is a little more inviting than McAfee’s, both do an excellent job of providing simple answers to a range of questions regarding both account-related issues and technical problems.
Online ticketing systems are available for those with more complex issues and, in this area, it’s a close call between McAfee vs Avast, with both providing prompt and informative responses. McAfee encourages its users to use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to communicate any problems they may be having, and this proves an effective option where users can expect a response within 24 hours.
Although Avast is similarly responsive and active on social media, it doesn’t offer the same depth of information as McAfee, and neither does it have a live chat option, which McAfee does. McAfee also offers virtual technical support for those battling with a particularly tricky problem.
Avast is one of the better antivirus options available in terms of customer support, but it doesn’t go far enough to challenge McAfee’s customer support supremacy.
As far as lab tests are concerned, Avast is one of the most robust forms of malware protection that money can buy. Using a combination of signature-based and heuristic analysis, Avast is capable of defending users against zero-day attacks as well as known viruses.
McAfee isn’t far behind, however, and the latest mobile security assessments done by AV-Comparatives placed the two neck and neck in terms of both malware protection and safe browsing. When the same company tested antivirus protection for Macs, Avast came out on the top of the heap but, as McAfee wasn’t included in the test, that doesn’t really influence the score.
One thing McAfee does that few other antivirus packages do is to guarantee its virus protection. McAfee pledges that should any user’s device become infected while under McAfee’s protection, that user will receive a full refund. This is indicative of how confident McAfee is about its ability to detect and remove potential threats.
Despite that, when it comes to proving its efficacy in a real-world scenario, McAfee struggles to compete with Avast and AV-Comparatives found McAfee’s level of false positives to be uncomfortably high compared to Avast’s.
McAfee offers robust protection against every conceivable cyberthreat but, in doing so, may disrupt the operations of legitimate apps and websites. Avast’s ability to distinguish the evil from the virtuous gives it the security advantage and makes it our winner when it comes to protection.
McAfee makes a big deal about how good its entry-level package is, presumably because it doesn’t have a free version available, and it’s got a point. While Avast’s free antivirus apps are only available for Android, Mac, PC, and iOS, McAfee’s got a few less common devices, like Android Wear and Apple Watches, covered as well.
In addition to its impressive versatility, McAfee is one of the few cybersecurity companies that includes parental controls in its entry-level protection, with most only introducing it at a premium level. Avast doesn’t include parental controls in any of its antivirus products, although it does have Avast Family Shield available as an additional app. Avast also includes a site-blocking feature in all its antivirus packages which can be used to restrict browsing but isn’t as versatile as McAfee’s parental control feature.
Moving up to the premium packages, McAfee’s flagship product, Total Protection, includes ransomware protection, device optimization, a firewall, password manager, identity theft protection, file encryption, and safe family parental controls. Avast’s Ultimate package takes a slightly different approach and gives users tools like a VPN, behavior shield, browser cleanup options, and a webcam shield.
Both Avast and McAfee pack features into their premium packages as though they were sardines in a can and whichever one you opt for; you’ll have a comprehensive cybersecurity toolbox to unpack. McAfee manages to sneak a win in this category, partly because of the practicality of the features on offer and partly because Avast’s inclusion of a sub-standard VPN simply doesn’t float our boat.
Given how much is packed into its antivirus software, it’s not surprising that McAfee is a bit of a heavyweight when it comes to both downloaded the software and running it. McAfee needs 1 GB of memory to accommodate all its bits and pieces, while Avast is a much lighter product, and, as such, tends to cause a less negative impact on overall system performance.
McAfee is more complicated to set up and the download process is tedious compared to Avast. Both products have effective installation wizards to get you started, but when it comes to customized installation, Avast is much easier to tweak and gives you the option of skipping past modules you don’t want, like the SafePrice browser extension for example, without over-complicating the rest of the process.
Although McAfee has its quirks, especially if you’re using an older operating system, it’s still pretty slick and smooth when it comes to the installation process. Avast, however, is so light, fast and simple that it manages to sneak into first place in this category.
Often confused with security, privacy is a tricky business, especially for antivirus developers who have a habit of collecting more data than most users would like. Avast vs McAfee in the privacy department is a pretty even match and both, like many other antivirus companies, allocate a unique identifier to your device and then use that in conjunction with your browsing history to establish a clear picture of your likes and interests.
While not ideal, this seems to be standard practice, making it difficult for those who want to keep their secrets private to find a suitable antivirus solution. One weapon being used in the Avast vs McAfee battle is strong security, with both using stringent measures to secure their data storage, so at least you know it won’t be hacked or compromised.
Avast has one of the longest and most difficult to read privacy policies in the cybersecurity industry and anyone that reads all 9,000 words of it deserves a medal. Although both contain much the same information, McAfee’s is shorter, clearer, and easier to read. McAfee is also a little more cautious with user data and secures itself yet another win.
Overall Winner: McAfee
Avast has an impressive stable of antivirus products, from free to premium, all of which use the same malware detection and protection methods, which prove virtually unbeatable in lab tests. While it provides some of the best safeguards against both known and zero-day attacks, Avast lacks some of the features available with McAfee, such as parental controls and identity theft protection.
Although McAfee doesn’t have a free antivirus on offer, its basic antivirus package provides excellent value for money and includes features only available in Avast’s more expensive internet security suites. McAfee’s prices are more competitive overall, and users can protect more devices for less with its cross-platform apps.
Setting up Avast is a simple process that takes less time and is more easily customized than McAfee’s and requires fewer system resources. Once set up, however, McAfee’s intuitive user interface makes it more appealing and easier to operate than Avast.
Avast and McAfee provide some of the best antivirus software, with options available to suit most budgets and security needs. Choosing between the two isn’t easy, but McAfee manages to squeeze into the lead with its cost-effective, feature-rich solutions.