If you’ve installed your new Windows OS and got Microsoft Defender up and running, you might’ve wondered whether this antivirus solution is enough to protect you from evolving cybersecurity threats. McAfee is a powerful and world-renowned third-party antivirus software, and you might have considered it to step up your data’s protection level. You will wonder what additional features McAfee will offer you that will change your cybersecurity game.
In this Microsoft Defender vs McAfee battle, we run each contender through our nine categories’ test to determine which antivirus agents win at the end, hence helping you make your mind up about purchasing McAfee or continuing to use Microsoft Defender.
What is Microsoft Defender? How Can It Help Your System?
Microsoft Defender started as a demo version of integrated antivirus software in Windows operating systems. Windows 8.1 contained the trial version of the integrated version, and the software became stable from the following versions, Windows 10 and further. The origin of the software, however, runs back to Windows XP when it was a downloadable file rather than an integrated software.
This integrated and subsequently free antivirus software will provide you with a good protection level for your data. In addition to a powerful firewall and parental controls, you get antivirus features. You can keep your Microsoft Defender up to date with the latest changes in the cybersecurity field by regularly updating your Windows Security settings, which automatically downloads the latest Microsoft Defender updates.
What is McAfee? How Can It Help Your System?
McAfee Antivirus is a product of McAfee Corp., a world-renowned security software corporation in the USA. The antivirus is the corporation’s most famous cybersecurity product and has been a favourite for personal use for years. The corporation’s main goal is to protect individuals rather than devices, as they stated in their company policy. They also provide cybersecurity solutions for desktop devices and smartphones.
McAfee’s plans start with the protection of one device but will allow you to protect an unlimited number of devices when you purchase its McAfee+ Advanced plan. This powerful antivirus will offer you all the tools you need to protect your data and has performed incredibly well in independent lab tests for both its desktop and smartphone versions.
Microsoft Defender vs McAfee: Is McAfee Worth Purchasing?
Since Microsoft Defender is an integrated antivirus and provides a firewall with good malware detection rates, is it worth considering another antivirus solution to protect your data? This comparison will tell.
Since Microsoft Defender is a free and pre-installed antivirus, it’s expected it will lack certain protective features, while McAfee’s features increase as you move from one paid plan to the next. How did our contenders do in this category?
The latest features of Microsoft Defender show incredible improvements from earlier versions. In addition to 5 GB on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, you will get great protection against malware and ransomware, a firewall, and advanced parental controls, which are more advanced than numerous renowned antivirus agents. A new addition is Windows Hello!, a fingerprint recognition tool to further protect your device. It’s worth noting that Microsoft Defender is exclusive to Windows operating systems.
McAfee’s numerous plans offer outstanding protection. In addition to antivirus and antimalware protection, you get parental control, system optimisation tools, a password manager, a fire shredder, WebAdvisor for safe browsing, protection against identity theft, a powerful firewall and encrypted storage. One of McAfee’s unparalleled features is its Virus Protection Pledge to protect you against malicious factors, unlike free antivirus software like Microsoft Defender, which bears no responsibility if these factors steal your data.
- Winner: Although each contender offers great protective features, McAfee offers a broader range of features, so it wins this category.
The installation process of both antivirus software is rather simple and intuitive. You will be good at using the software in no time.
Microsoft Defender is a pre-installed antivirus software; it doesn’t require any installation. When you finish setting your new OS up, you can run the antivirus software to customise your settings, and you’re ready to go.
When you settle on which plan to purchase, you can finish your shopping experience on the McAfee website, which will take you to a download page to download the software’s file and install it on your device, desktop or smartphone. The installation process doesn’t take long; when it finishes, you can launch the software to enter your product key to activate it.
- Winner: We call this round a tie, for there aren’t many differences between both contenders.
Both contenders took user feedback and worked hard over the past years to update their user interfaces. How did each software perform in this category?
Microsoft Defender’s elegant new interface is much better than its predecessor. The white and grey interface has shades of blue and displays your security status at the top with the phrase “Your device is being protected”. The left-hand side menu contains all the lists you might need, and when you click on either list, its contents are displayed in the middle of the screen.
McAfee’s interface is mainly white and red, with blue and dark grey elegantly spread across the screen. The software’s current interface is much simpler than before; you can find all you need from the top left-hand side menu while the centre of the screen displays numerous advice and features. The bottom of the screen suggests several common tasks to perform, such as scanning for viruses or speeding up applications.
- Winner: Admittedly, both contenders have excelled in this category.
Microsoft Defender and McAfee offer outstanding protection against malware, and their results are fairly close. However, there must be a winner in the end; let’s see which one that is.
Microsoft Defender will protect you from 99% of real-time threats, which is a magnificent job for free integrated antivirus software. The software allows you to create a Protected Folder, where you store all your sensitive data to shield from ransomware. Once you do that, unauthorised applications cannot access this folder, and your data is secure. It is also efficient in detecting and preventing phishing attempts; it blocks 100% of phishing websites. However, Microsoft Defender is only compatible with two browsers: Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.
McAfee detected 100% of real-time threats thanks to its cloud-based system, Global Threat Intelligence. This system monitors different files to determine which of them is malicious and immediately blocks it. The software proved its efficiency in detecting and blocking ransomware attempts. WebAdvisor is McAfee’s browser extension that successfully detects phishing websites and blocks crypto-jacking attempts as well. The extension is compatible with Microsoft Edge, Opera, Google Chrome and Firefox.
- Winner: McAfee wins for its unmatched real-time protection and compatibility with major browsers.
Impact on System Performance
Both our contenders are on the lightweight side of antivirus software; they don’t impact the system’s performance significantly to slow your device down. However, one of them performs better than the other.
Unexpectedly, Microsoft Defender will use up 100% of your CPU’s resources during a full scan and might spike your Memory utilisation to 74%. Users expected the software to use fewer resources since it’s an integrated antivirus software. Microsoft Defender slowed the system down by 13% when opening a heavy website, 46% when copying files and 6% when launching applications.
During a full system scan, McAfee will utilise 28% of your CPU’s resources and 84% of your Memory’s resources. Generally, McAfee doesn’t slow your system down as it works in the background. However, during common tasks such as opening a heavy website, it will slow the system by 15%, by 2% when copying files and by 6% when launching applications.
- Winner: We believe the results here are fairly close; we call it a tie.
Different types of scans target different segments of your system. Both contenders scored high in their scanning scopes and capabilities.
Microsoft Defender offers a wide range of possible scans, including Full, Quick and Custom scans. An added feature here is the software’s offline scan, an effective way of detecting hidden malware by scanning the system before it starts. The software’s Full scan finishes in an hour, scanning more than 3 million files, while the Quick scan finishes in 2 minutes and scans more than 38,000 files. Microsoft Defender was able to detect 99.5% of malicious factors.
McAfee offers the regular types of scans: Full, Quick, and Custom. However, it proved its efficiency in detecting 100% of new and regular malicious factors. The software’s Full scan takes 53 minutes to check more than half a million files, and the Quick scan takes less than five minutes to check more than 10,000 files.
- Winner: McAfee wins this category due to its efficiency in detecting malicious factors.
The best antivirus software must balance its features with value for money. Protecting your data cannot come at an unbearable monetary cost. So, which antivirus software offers the best value for money?
Microsoft Defender is a free integrated antivirus for Windows operating systems. The software doesn’t even offer any premium features you can buy. Unfortunately, Microsoft Defender still lacks many important security features, such as a password manager. So, it’s the possibility of spending money to get a more featured antivirus that we’ll look into.
McAfee offers two main categories of paid plans: Total Protection and Ultimate. The Basic Plan of the Total Protection category is $29.99 after a discount; it protects one device and offers you a VPN, password manager, protection against malicious factors, a firewall and file encryption. The Essential Plan protects 5 devices with the only addition of five VPN licenses at $39.99 after a discount. The McAfee+ Premium Plan will protect unlimited devices and add a personal data cleaner at $39.99 after a discount. The last plan, the McAfee+ Advanced Plan, at $69.99 after a discount and adds lost wallet protection and $ 1 million ID theft coverage.
- Winner: McAfee smashed this category.
Compatible Operating Systems
Having an antivirus agent that works and protects all your devices that have different operating systems is vital in this age. Finishing work-related problems isn’t exclusive to desktops anymore, and using portable devices for work is increasing.
Perhaps one of Microsoft Defender’s major downfalls is its exclusivity to the Windows operating system. The software has been stable since the Windows 8.1 version and only became a stable integration since Windows 10.
On the other hand, McAfee is compatible with all major operating systems for desktops and smartphones. It works with Windows versions starting from version 8.1, macOS 10.12 and later versions, the Trellix plan of Linux, ChromeOS, Android version 7.0 and later versions and iOS 13 and later versions.
- Winner: McAfee wins this round flawlessly.
The features of good antivirus software aren’t complete without equally good customer support. It must have good, quick and satisfactory means to help its customers with any possible problems. Both our contenders offer great customer support means.
Many users don’t expect Microsoft Defender to have great customer support; because it’s free. However, its customer support options are ones to aim for. In addition to a massive online knowledge base, with FAQs and user experiences, you can watch instruction videos on the website, send your problem via live chat, which takes nearly 3 minutes to get back to you and, if necessary, telephone support.
McAfee offers great customer support options as well. You can look into your problem on its knowledge base, which is continuously updated by other users, moderators, and company technicians, and they’re all eager to help. Additionally, you can use their live chat, which might take about 10 minutes to get you connected to an agent; there’s phone support available 24/7 and will get your problem resolved as soon as possible. The last customer support means it offers the software’s social media platforms you can use if you prefer these venues.
- Winner: Both contenders offer great customer support options; we call it a tie.
As with all our previous comparisons, here’s a full summary of the categories:
|Impact on System Performance
|Compatible Operating Systems
It’s true that Microsoft Defender offers great protection levels, but it still lacks several vital features when compared with McAfee. This pushed the latter to the winning post.