McAfee Vs Avast: Step by Step Antivirus Comparison


With so many types of antivirus software available in the market, it can be difficult for consumers to choose one. How do you know which antivirus software is the best at keeping you protected from viruses, but also meets additional needs you may have? For example, which antivirus software offers excellent VPN service, email phishing protection, and password encryption, aside from just virus protection?

Comparing every antivirus software out there side by side is a tremendous effort, as is trying them all individually. That’s why we’re going to compare two of the most well-known antivirus products available on the market. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at all the features and offerings to consider when you compare McAfee versus Avast, so you can make a better informed decision on which antivirus product is right for you.

McAfee vs Avast: Quick Comparison
Basic protection: Avast. Avast Free Antivirus is an excellent choice for the most basic protection, and it is entirely free. McAfee does not offer any free products.

Advanced protection: Tied. At the higher tiers and subscription plans, both products are pretty much equal in threat protection and features.

System performance: Tied. Both products earned perfect scores from AV-Test.

Overall: A light-user who really only surfs social media and watches YouTube, would be perfectly fine using Avast’s most basic, free antivirus product. Users who need more advanced features can begin to compare the higher tiers from both companies, and at that point, the deciding factor could simply be McAfee’s lighter impact on your system resources.


Avast Free 2019

Avast has been around for a long time in the computer security industry. Founded in 1988, one of the co-founders wrote the first antivirus programs to remove the Vienna virus from DOS systems in the 80s, and Avast Antivirus was also the first antivirus software for Windows 95 OS. This does not mean Avast was the first antivirus for computers, rather only that its creators have a strong reputation in computer security history.

That’s all fine and well, but what does Avast bring to the table in 2019? The tech security industry has certainly changed immensely in the past 30 years, and thousands of new threats are released every day. Let’s take a look at Avast’s various offerings and features to start.

Avast Products List

Avast currently offers a different lineup of products for Windows, Mac, and Android operating systems.

  • Avast Free Antivirus (Windows)
  • Avast Pro Antivirus (Windows)
  • Avast Internet Security (Windows)
  • Avast Premier (Windows)
  • Avast Ultimate (Windows)
  • Avast Security (Mac)
  • Avast Security Pro (Mac)
  • Avast Antivirus – Mobile Security & Virus Cleaner (Android)
  • Avast Passwords (Android)
  • VPN SecureLine by Avast – Security & Privacy Proxy (Android)


Avast Windows Products

Avast Basic Protection

To start, Avast offers a free security solution in Avast Free Antivirus – McAfee only offers free trials of their products, but not an entirely free security solution. Avast Free Antivirus operates fast, has low impact on system resources, and offers powerful protection from common malware types. It not only protects the user from threats like spyware, ransomware, viruses, and Trojan horses, but offers a lot of security tools that consumers will find useful.

In Avast’s free antivirus, you’ll find a WiFi Inspector which can scan your network for vulnerable settings and intrusion points. It also has a software updater, and a password manager. For even less system impact, you can set it to Gaming mode, and it features a rescue disk utility for worst case scenarios.

For a very basic but still powerful form of protection, without spending a single dollar, you could hardly go wrong with Avast’s free offering. It can also be set to ran alongside other AV software by setting it to passive mode.

Avast Antivirus Pro

For users who need even more features and protection, the next tier is Avast Antivirus Pro. This comes with Sandbox technology for running programs which may be dangerous in an isolated and controlled environment.

The Real Site feature can prevent hackers from attacking your DNS and sending you redirects to fake websites which can steal your data, and you’ll also get premium customer support from Avast. A single-machine license costs $40 per year, $55 for 3 computers, and five computers for $85. This discount continues up to $14 per license when you purchase in packs of 10 licenses at a time.

Avast Internet Security

Next up is Avast Internet Security, which is slightly more expensive than Avast Antivirus Pro. At $59.99 per year for a single license, Avast Internet Security offers all of the features of Avast Antivirus Pro, but additional features such as an advanced firewall, anti-spam filter, and an extra layer of protection from ransomware attacks.

Avast Premier + Avast Ultimate

Going up in tiers brings us to Avast Premier, at $69.99 per year for a single machine. This adds a data shredder, automatic updates to the software, and anti-webcam spying protection.

The penultimate offering is Avast Ultimate, their highest tier available. This has every feature in all of the other tiers, but also a system cleanup utility for removing junk and optimizing your system performance. It also includes a VPN and a premium password storage vault.

Avast Mac Products

Avast only offers two plans for macOS users: Avast Security and Security Pro.

Avast Security for Mac

Avast Security is a freeware which provides a basic level of malware protection, a WiFi scanner for finding vulnerabilities in your network, and web / email shields. Upgrading to Avast Security Pro gives you ransomware protection, and a WiFi intruder alert.

There are of course various tools and utilities available for Mac that come as separate downloads for Mac users. These are Avast Passwords, Cleanup Pro, and SecureLine VPN. All of these tools have their own prices, but users can avail of free trials to get a feel for them.

Avast Android Products

It’s been said that Android antivirus products are largely a waste of space, as Android isn’t really susceptible to the traditional virus types that plague computers. However, there’s still some useful security features found in the Avast products for Android.

Most antivirus companies are aware of this, and so for Android-based antivirus products, the focus isn’t necessarily on actual virus protection, but on the additional security tools found in the apps. With Avast’s mobile security app, you get an app locker, call blocker, a private photo vault, a VPN, a firewall for rooted devices, a junk cleaner, web shield, Wi-Fi security, and others.

You’ll also get a handful of anti-theft features, such as audio and photo capture of the phone thief, a GPS-based last known location of your device, automatically registering your device as lost after the SIM is changed, and others.

The free version of the app includes video advertisements, but users can upgrade to Pro to remove ads. Aside from that, all of the features are unlocked and included in the free version, so if you don’t mind ads, the free version is perfectly fine to use on your Android device.

For Avast’s other Android products, they are basically just individual app versions of the features found in the mobile security app.



McAfee was founded in 1987, named for its founder John McAfee. However, for a long time, McAfee was pretty much known as “that antivirus software that comes pre-installed on computers and laptops and should be uninstalled asap”. John McAfee also made a lot of headlines for some pretty wild antics and legal issues in his personal life, though that’s not exactly relevant here.

McAfee was actually purchased by Intel in 2010, and after Intel said they would be changing the product’s name to Intel Security, John McAfee said he was grateful to no longer be associated with “the worst software on the planet”. However, the name change never actually happened, as McAfee products still go under the McAfee name. But Intel’s ownership has seemed to make a big difference in McAfee’s product reputation.

McAfee Products List

  • McAfee Antivirus (Windows)
  • McAfee Antivirus Plus (Windows + Mac)
  • McAfee Internet Security (Windows + Mac)
  • McAfee Total Protection (Windows + Mac)
  • McAfee LiveSafe (Windows + Mac)
  • McAfee Mobile Security: Antivirus, Wi-Fi VPN & Anti-Theft (Android)
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN (Android)
  • McAfee True Key (Android)
  • McAfee Safe Family – Screen Time & Parental Control (Android)


McAfee Windows & Mac Products

Because McAfee offers the same software products for both Windows and Mac, except for the most basic product. Thus, we won’t separate them into different headers like for Avast.

Unlike Avast, McAfee does not offer any completely free software. They do offer free trials, but even their most basic product, McAfee Antivirus, starts at $39.99 per year. This is only for Windows computers.

McAfee Basic Protection

McAfee Antivirus offers basic virus protection, along with some additional features related to security and tools. You’ll get a two-way firewall which monitors network traffic and can prevent web-based attacks. A file shredding tool which can “permanently” delete files, but be aware there’s debate around this. There are tools available that can recover “shredded” file, there’s really no such thing as a file being “permanently” deleted. Using a file shredder alone is no guarantee. That’s for a different article, however. Moving on.

With the basic Mcafee Antivirus, you’ll also get a QuickClean tool for removing junk files and improving PC performance, a vulnerability scanner which checks outdated applications that can cause security issues (like Java, etc), and a Gaming mode to disable notifications while you’re doing full-screen activities. Finally, McAfee Antivirus offers social media monitoring technology, which basically blocks malicious links and inappropriate content on social media websites.

McAfee Antivirus Plus

The next tier is McAfee Antivirus Plus. If you need to protect a lot of devices on a budget, this is actually a good choice. Unlike Avast which offers its products in a per-license subscription format, McAfee Antivirus Plus can protect up to 10 devices, no matter their platform. So with a single subscription of $59.99 per year, you can protect all the computers (Windows + Mac) and mobile devices in your home.

With McAfee Antivirus Plus, you get a Security Management Console, and a Network Manager. These allow you to manage all of the devices under your subscription in one place, as well as locate or lock missing devices. The Network Manager also provides intrusion protection on your local network.

McAfee Internet Security

Going up in tier, we have McAfee Internet Security. This provides you with an anti-spam filter to block junk and phishing emails. It also offers parental control features for internet surfing, so your children don’t “accidentally” stumble on anything they shouldn’t. Did you know 30% of all internet data is porn?

In any case, McAfee Internet Security also offers a single license of the True Key manager. This is a credential storage vault for keeping all of your usernames and passwords in an encrypted locker, and gives you a safer method of automatically signing into websites. You’ll also get facial recognition and two-factor authentication included.

McAfee Total Protection + McAfee LiveSafe

As the highest tier, we have McAfee Total Protection and McAfee LiveSafe. The Total Protection gives you a file locker on top of all the features found in previous plans, and LiveSafe gives you 1GB of secure cloud storage. You also get 5 True Key licenses with both of these plans. One thing to note is that Total Protection and LiveSafe have different prices depending on Windows or Mac.

With any plan, even the basic, you’ll get 24/7 premium customer support from McAfee, as well as a virus protection guarantee. What this means is that if your computer somehow becomes infected, a McAfee expert will either remove the malware for you, or give you a refund on the software, if you signed up for automatic subscription renewal.

Individual McAfee Tools

Some final products from McAfee worth mentioning are the WebAdvisor add-on for browsers, which blocks malicious websites, scans downloads for malicious activity, and has a typo protection feature which really just prevents you from mistyping web addresses. There’s also a rescue disk utility, VPN, and anti-webcam spying, which don’t belong to any of the McAfee suites, but can be downloaded individually from McAfee.

McAfee Android Products

As we said for Avast’s Android-based products, antivirus apps aren’t so much intended as actually preventing phone viruses, but are useful for the additional features offered. McAfee offers the McAfee Mobile Security, which has a built-in virus scanner, Wi-Fi vulnerability scanner, a VPN, and anti-theft measures such as device locking and tracking.

You can also download the features as individual apps, with McAfee Safe Connect VPN, McAfee True Key (a password and user credential storage vault), and McAfee Safe Family, which is for controlling and monitoring phone usage in younger hands.

Malware Protection

AV-Test had McAfee scoring a perfect 100% in detecting 185 zero-day malware samples, and 10684 widespread malware samples. It raised only one false positive flag.


AV-Test McAfee 2019


AV-Test Avast results April 2019

Avast scored a slightly lower in the same tests, with a 99.9% detection rate for widespread malware samples. 99.9% sounds like nearly exactly the same as 100%, but in a large sample pool of 10684 malwares, that .1% means 10 malware samples made it past Avast. Avast also gave up 4 false flags.

Another independent lab, AV-Comparatives, uses two major tests to gauge protection levels. A real-world protection test, and a malware protection test. The former will test an antivirus software’s protection abilities based on the product’s default settings, whereas the malware protection test will determine the protection offered against infections before or after app execution.

The results were very slightly favorable to Avast over McAfee, although both products received the highest award from the lab. Avast’s real-world protection test gave a score of 100% protection, while McAfee came in at 98.9%. However, Avast returned 3 false positives, and McAfee only gave one.

Thus, both products are pretty much equal in threat prevention capabilities, and you’ll have to decide which to use based on other factors, such as the additional features offered in each product, and subscription fees.


System Performance Impact

One important factor is how demanding the antivirus software is on your system resources. Some antivirus products are notorious for high CPU usage, especially during system scannings.


AV-Test McAfee performance


AV-Test Avast performance

McAfee and Avast both scored perfect 6/6 scores from AV-Test. The performance impact from either of these antivirus products is pretty negligible, with Avast having slightly less impact in the area of installing new programs.

Final Verdict

It’s clear here that no matter which software you use, McAfee and Avast both offer great protection, and tons of features. Choosing one should ultimately boil down to the level of protection you really need, and what you’re willing to pay for it.

A light-user who really only surfs social media, watches YouTube, and downloads software from (trusted) websites would be perfectly fine using Avast’s most basic, free antivirus product.

Users who need more advanced features can begin to compare the higher tiers from both companies, and at that point, the deciding factor could simply be McAfee’s lighter impact on your system resources. Ignoring that small factor, both companies are really equal in nearly everything offered. Flipping a coin might be your best option.

If you’ve enjoyed this Avast vs McAfee comparison, please do leave your comments and feedback. You might want to read our McAfee versus Norton antivirus comparison next here:

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