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McAfee Vs. Norton (2023 Comparison)

Your internet-connected devices remain threatened constantly by malware designed to steal your data, damage your files or otherwise wreak havoc, steal your data or otherwise make your life difficult. Although most operating systems include built-in antivirus software, it’s generally a good idea—especially for those who operate businesses—to secure devices using third-party antivirus software. Any device, regardless of manufacturer, is at risk of malware infection.

McAfee and Norton are two of the top antivirus software options on the market. In this comparison, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each software to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Featured Partners

Price per year

INR 1,199 per year

Money back guarantee

30 days

Additional Features

Firewall, email security, ransomware & malware protection, real-time protection. Also includes 24/7 IT support

No. of devices with antivirus protection

5 devices

Money back guarantee

30 daysBuy Now

On Surfshark’s secure website

Price Per Year

INR 1,199 per year


Protection for PC gaming, Device & Online SecurityMcAfee vs. Norton: At a Glance

McAfee and Norton both offer antivirus software packages starting at a low, affordable price to cover one user and device. Both also offer higher-cost business software packages to cover unlimited devices.

The basic Norton antivirus covers one device but includes a firewall, password manager and cloud backup. It also offers a multilayered security suite designed to protect against viruses, spyware, ransomware and other malware. With more expensive plans, you’ll receive additional features and more cloud storage.

The introductory McAfee antivirus protects up to 10 devices and covers “basic device security.” Upgrades add more security features, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls. With McAfee, you can choose from a wide range of upgrades with different features, and each plan includes 24/7 technical assistance and a money-back guarantee.


INR 2,074.11 ($24.99) for the first year for one device; INR 7,468.95 ($89.99) per year upon renewalUnlimited devices

INR 4149.05 ($49.99); INR 7,468.95 ($89.99) per year upon renewalStarting price

INR 2,074.11 ($24.99) for the first year for one device; INR 7,468.95 ($89.99) per year upon renewalUnlimited devices

INR 4149.05 ($49.99); INR 7,468.95 ($89.99) per year upon renewal

Why We Picked It

For an affordable antivirus software to detect malware in real time for all your devices, McAfee is a great choice. In addition to features, such as firewalls, Wi-Fi security, password managers and PC optimization, McAfee also offers file shredders, PC cleaners, identity protection and VPNs.

In the three decades since its first product was launched, McAfee has won numerous awards and recognitions—proof of the trust its customers continue to place in it. Many McAfee products suit most budgets and types of requirements, including McAfee Security Scan Plus, which scans your PC for possible vulnerabilities and recommends the best antivirus, firewall and online protection for your PC.

Learn more about what it has to offer by reading our McAfee review.

Pros & ConsIdentity protection service is included with all plansReal-time malware detectionWorks with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devicesFewer features on Apple products, both Mac and iOSNo email security offeredToo many different pricing plans


INR 1659.12 ($19.99) for the first year for one device; INR 4,979.02 ($59.99) per year upon renewalUnlimited devices

INR 8,298.92 ($99.99) per year for the first year for up to 10 devices; INR 14,856.55 ($179) per year upon renewalStarting price

INR 1659.12 ($19.99) for the first year for one device; INR 4,979.02 ($59.99) per year upon renewalUnlimited devices

INR 8,298.92 ($99.99) per year for the first year for up to 10 devices; INR 14,856.55 ($179) per year upon renewal

Why We Picked It

The Norton 360 antivirus lineup offers some of the most complete security (and privacy) suites available, including a password manager, backup software, online storage, parental controls, unlimited VPN connections and three levels of identity protection.

Norton’s Windows antivirus packages are for those who prefer everything in one place, who don’t want to mix and match applications and services and who can afford Norton’s prices. As you add features, all this integration becomes quite expensive. Likely the most feature-rich antivirus solution on the market, Norton still does the basic job, and it offers malware detection in real time.

Pros & ConsReal-time malware detection and live dark web monitoringSecure VPN and smart customizable firewall50gb cloud storageWebcam protection for Windows onlyDesktop app is not as user-friendlyIdentity theft protection in the United States only

How Antivirus Software Stacks Up

While Norton 360 is a generally more affordable software and offers monthly payment options on some of its plans, we found McAfee was the better overall software due in part to what we found to be an easier-to-operate user interface. Norton 360 has a significantly faster scan speed and also offers 24/7 live chat customer service—a huge benefit to some customers.

Norton advertises the best anti-malware engine features on the market. Malware attacks are detected and prevented using advanced machine learning (ML), heuristic analysis and a massive malware database. In our preliminary tests, McAfee’s antivirus software functions significantly slower than Norton’s. Many users report McAfee slowing down video streaming and gaming. This makes Norton a better choice for those who need fast buffering and no lag.Web Security

Norton 360 takes the lead when it comes to web security—especially dark web monitoring and smart firewalls. Norton’s Safe Web security shield blocks thousands of phishing sites and has a built-in extension for Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari. McAfee’s web shield is only compatible with Windows—not macOS—where Norton’s is. Norton’s dark web protection automatically monitors dark web forums for leaked identities and information and Norton includes a bundled password manager.Ease of Use

One of our biggest issues with Norton 360 is it is harder to use out of the box. Although Norton lets users change and customize a huge number of settings from the desktop app, it can be hard to navigate the settings for the less technically confident. Norton 360’s online dashboard and mobile app are both much more highly reviewed and, customers agree, are easier to use.

McAfee’s apps appear intuitive with the main dashboard laying out the different protections and features. Some of McAfee’s features are only accessible from its web app, which can be inconvenient, and not every control is in the same place.Customer Support

Both Norton and McAfee offer strong customer support with multiple contact options. Norton 360 offers support through both telephone and live chat with a variety of language options including English, German, Dutch, Arabic and Mandarin. Norton’s live chat is 24/7 but many customers report support received from the live chat lacked luster. Norton has an impressive range of FAQs, videos and guides on its website so many users may not even need to contact customer support.

McAfee also offers telephone support, FAQs and a large forum and knowledge base. Most user reviewers report receiving good customer service from phone representatives but complain the website is poorly organized and often doesn’t have updated articles matching the current versions of the software.

Featured Partners

Price per year

INR 1,199 per year

Money back guarantee

30 days

Additional Features

Firewall, email security, ransomware & malware protection, real-time protection. Also includes 24/7 IT support

No. of devices with antivirus protection

5 devices

Money back guarantee

30 daysBuy Now

On Surfshark’s secure website

Price Per Year

INR 1,199 per year


Protection for PC gaming, Device & Online SecurityBottom Line

Norton and McAfee each offer strong options for antivirus software and feature much of the same functionality. Norton is especially popular with gamers and streamers willing to trade some ease of use for a more affordable and significantly faster antivirus platform with better internet and software speeds. McAfee is still the best option for businesses due to its reputable name. McAfee is also a better option for those who may not be as technologically adept.Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Which is better: McAfee or Norton?

Both McAfee and Norton offer excellent antivirus software with comparable success rates when it comes to blocking malware and protecting users from dangerous websites. Norton advertises better scan speeds and features a strong dark web monitoring system while McAfee appears more user-friendly and better designed for businesses.What devices does Norton Antivirus support?

All Norton 360 plans cover devices such as PCs, Macs, iPhones and Android smartphones, as opposed to Norton Antivirus Plus, which can only be installed on one PC or Mac.Do I really need antivirus software?

Even though Windows PCs and Macs have a basic level of protection built in, online threats exist everywhere. Many websites contain malicious code and some scammers target you directly through your email. It’s never a bad idea to invest in extra protection for the assets you care about—no matter how tech-savvy you are. Check out the best antivirus software.Will antivirus software slow down my computer?

While antivirus software is scanning your computer actively, it may cause a slowdown and some users report slower internet speeds. Most antivirus software allows you to schedule scans so that you can time them for times you’re not using your computer. Norton’s software is reportedly faster when it comes to scans than McAfee.What makes antivirus software secure?

Antivirus software detects, flags and removes viruses and malware. Additionally, it offers real-time protection against all threats. Whether you browse the web, download software, shop online or open emails, a good antivirus software should keep your activity secure.

Cyber threats can be mitigated further by combining several layers of security including VPNs, password managers and secure storage.


Operating systems software

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Best Windows backup software 2023: Don’t risk it!

Our PC storage drives won’t last forever and that’s why it’s always a good idea to use backup software to keep your data safe. The best Windows backup software can cover our butts when our primary drive finally up and dies.

While Apple’s Time Machine provides users with an effective, set-it-and-forget-it recovery system, Microsoft users aren’t so lucky. Instead, users are stuck deciding the best way to keep their data safe with a patchwork system of restore points, recovery discs, and file backups. Thankfully, a number of excellent third-party backup options have cropped up in recent years to help solve the woes of Windows users.

Below you’ll find a list of our favorites, which come with easy-to-use and attractive designs as well as a full range of file and image backup capabilities. We’ve even included a couple free options that are more than worthwhile. Scroll to the bottom of this article for more info about what to look for in a Windows backup program.

Also, check out PCWorld’s roundup of best external drives for recommendations on reliable storage options—an important component in a comprehensive backup strategy. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to keep your data on the cloud or need the flexibility of data storage for different operating systems, then check out our list of best online backup services.

R-Drive Image 7 – Best Windows backup overall

ProsSuper-reliable, fast disk and partition imagingFile and folder backupPartition managerLean-and-mean Linux and WinPE boot mediaSupports Microsoft’s nearly ubiquitous VHD format

ConsWould like to see multiple destinations per job

Price When Reviewed: $44.95

R-Drive Image has always been a favorite of ours—a low-resource-consuming product that was ultra-reliable in creating backup images of partitions and disks. But it didn’t have as much polish as Acronis’s backup program (below) and wasn’t as feature-rich. That has changed with this latest version, which now has a more modern, user-friendly interface and more versatility in the types of backups you can perform.

The latest 7.1 version adds WinPE boot-disc support and VHD compatibility to an already impressive arsenal of features. VHD compatibility, in particular, is a great new feature as R-Drive no longer entirely relies on its own proprietary images, but now allows users the option to keep backups in VHD (Virtual Hard Disk) format—which addresses one of the only previous complaints we had about the service.Read our full R-Drive Image 7 review

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office – Best Windows backup runner-up

ProsExcellent imaging and file backup capabilitiesActively protects against ransomwareCloud storage included

ConsHeavy installation footprintAll-or-nothing install doesn’t let you choose modules

Price When Reviewed: $49.99

There’s a reason Acronis is renowned in the world of backup software. Cyber Protect Home Office (previously named Acronis True Image) is capable, flexible, and rock-solid reliable. Indeed, it’s easily the most comprehensive data safety package on the planet.

Besides offering unparalleled backup functionality that’s both robust and easy to navigate, it integrates security apps as well, which protect against malware, malicious websites, and other threats using real-time monitoring. Read our full Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office review

Retrospect Solo – Best for added ransomware protection

ProsEasy to use (once learned)Copious feature setGood performanceNew anti-ransomware backup protection

ConsSomewhat steep learning curve

The latest version (18.5) of this stalwart Windows backup program is every bit as feature-packed as we’d expect. It even adds an interesting pre-backup file scanning to root out anomalies before overwriting your previous backup—a nod to the emergence of ransomware as a concern. It’s got a bit of a learning curve, but once familiar, Retrospect Solo delivers the goods.Read our full Retrospect Solo review

Perfect Backup – Best free Windows backup

ProsFamiliar and easy interfaceFriendlier data selection than Windows File HistoryBacks up to local media, network locations, and online servicesLogging, notifications, FTP support, and lots of other options

ConsNo image backupsMust be loaded for scheduled backups

Price When Reviewed: Free

Perfect Backup provides you with excellent backup options at no cost, and there’s no better price than free. Perfect Backup is both more stable and easier to use than many of the premium options for Window’s backup software. It lacks image backups for disaster recovery, which is admittedly disappointing, but also to be expected in a free service. Fortunately, it allows just about every other type of backup you’d need, such as backing up to local media, the company’s online service, and other network locations. Most users looking for an easy and free way to securely store their important data need look no further.Read our full Perfect Backup review

Windows File History backup – Best free Windows backup runner-up

ProsExcellent continuous data protection with versioningEasy, timeline browsing of backed-up filesIntegrated into WindowsBacks up user-created libraries

ConsEasy “Add folder” function removed from Windows 11

Price When Reviewed: Free with Windows

Among the free programs we tested, Windows File History backup is one of the easiest continuous data protection software for Windows. It’s unfortunate that the latest version removed the “add folder” function from File History, but otherwise it continues to improve upon an already solid backup program. Also, it provides many of the features and functions of other third-party paid backup programs, all for free. And you can’t argue with free. It would’ve taken the top spot for free options if not for the fact that Perfect Backup has easier-to-use data selection tools.Read our full Windows File History backup review

Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX – Best Windows backup for SMBs

ProsFast and reliable continuous data protectionSuper easy restores to real or virtual hard drivesHandy timeline overviewExcellent disaster recovery

ConsSlightly daunting login dialogImage-based backup onlyPricey for end users

Price When Reviewed: $99.95

If you are looking for something more robust than just file and folder backup for your business, then Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX has you covered. It comes loaded with a full feature-set that allows you to quickly and easily restore your data and it has support for third-party virtual hard drives. It is also an excellent choice not just for Windows users, but also Linux users or those in mixed Windows/Linux environments. ShadowProtect is a bit pricey, but it is an extremely reliable backup software with foolproof continuous data protection.Read our full Arcserve ShadowProtect SPX Desktop review How we test

We run each program through the various types of backups it’s capable of. This is largely to test reliability and hardware compatibility, but we time two: an approximately 115GB system image (two partitions), and a roughly 50GB image created from a set of smaller files and folders. We then mount the images and test their integrity via the program’s restore functions. We also test the USB boot drives created by the programs.How to pick a backup software

As with most things—don’t over-buy. Features you don’t need add complexity and may slow down your system. Additionally, if you intend to back up to a newly purchased external hard drive, check out the software that ships with it. Seagate, WD, and others provide backup utilities that are adequate for the average user.

File backup: If you want to back up only your data (operating systems and programs can be reinstalled, though it’s mildly time- and effort-consuming), a program that backs up just the files you select is a major time-saver. Some programs automatically select the appropriate files if you use the Windows library folders (Documents, Photos, Videos, etc.).

Image backup/imaging: Images are byte-for-byte snapshots of your entire hard drive (normally without the empty sectors) or partition, and can be used to restore both the operating system and data. Imaging is the most convenient to restore in case of a system crash, and also ensures you don’t miss anything important.

Boot media:  Should your system crash completely, you need an alternate way to boot and run the recovery software. Any backup program should be able to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive. Some will also create a restore partition on your hard drive, which can be used instead if the hard drive is still operational.

Scheduling: If you’re going to back up effectively, you need to do it on a regular basis. Any backup program worth its salt allows you to schedule backups.

Versioning: If you’re overwriting previous files, that’s not backup, it’s one-way syncing or mirroring. Any backup program you use should allow you to retain several previous backups, or with file backup, previous versions of the file. The better software will retain and cull older backups according to criteria you establish.

Optical support: Every backup program supports hard drives, but as obsolete as they may seem, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are great archive media. If you’re worried about optical media’s reliability, M-Disc claims its discs are reliable for a thousand years, claims that are backed up by Department of Defense testing.

Online support: An offsite copy of your data is a hedge against physical disasters such as flood, fire, and power surges. Online storage services are a great way to maintain an offsite copy of your data. Backup to Dropbox and the like is a nice feature to have.

FTP and SMB/AFP: Backing up to other computers or NAS boxes on your network or in remote locations (say, your parent’s house) is another way of physically safeguarding your data with an offsite, or at least physically discrete copy. FTP can be used for offsite, while SMB (Windows and most OS’s) and AFP (Apple) are good for other PCs or NAS on your local network.

Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.

Continuous backup: In this case, ‘continuous’ simply means backing up on a tight schedule, generally every 5 to 15 minutes, instead of every day or weekly. Use continuous backup for rapidly changing data sets where transfer rates are too slow, or computing power is too precious for real-time backup.

Performance: Most backups proceed in the background or during dead time, so performance isn’t a huge issue in the consumer space. However, if you’re backing up multiple machines or to multiple destinations, or dealing with very large data sets, speed is a consideration.FAQ 1. How often should backups be scheduled?

Ideally, you should schedule backups of your data as often as possible. This is especially true if you are working on an important project or have data that you absolutely cannot afford to lose. It is a good idea to automate the backup process and have the Windows software back up your data every hour or so.2. What is the difference between Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Windows backup services?

Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are considered to be cloud storage services. This means that a user must place their files or data onto the service’s cloud manually. It’s almost like having a physical storage drive in the internet’s virtual cloud.

Windows backup software, meanwhile, provides continuous versioning and backup of all the file history on your device. It will continuously and automatically backup every specified file on a device. Windows backup software also offers additional data security measures such as file encryption. Furthermore, these backup services allow you to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive for recovery after a system crash.

There are cloud backup services (distinct from those mentioned above) that offer much, though not all, of the benefits of a Windows backup program, such as continuous backups and versioning for multiple devices. You can learn more about them in our roundup of best cloud backup services.3. Will Windows backup software slow down my computer?

In most situations Windows backup software won’t noticeably slow down your computer. If you are backing up to more than one device or multiple different destinations, or if you are backing up very large data sets, then you may notice your system slow down as it performs the backup. Otherwise, Windows backup software typically runs in the background or during dead time so you shouldn’t notice a decrease in performance.

Also, it’s a good idea, if the option is available with your software, to run a continuous backup. This will cause the software to perform backups of only the files you change in real time and it requires less bandwidth and processor resources to maintain.4. Does Windows Backup save everything?

Yes, by default Windows Backup and Restore saves all data files including those in your library, on your desktop, and in Windows’ default folders. It will also create a system image if you need to restore Windows in the case of an emergency or system failure.

A system image is a great way to save all the data on your system including installed applications. But be careful as this system image can potentially take up hundreds of gigabytes of storage on your computer’s hard drive.

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