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bitdefender vs mcafee

Bitdefender vs McAfee 2024: Which Antivirus Software Is Best for You? 

In the battle of Bitdefender vs McAfee, both antivirus apps bring decades of experience to the table. Although McAfee has a bigger reputation, Bitdefender’s feature list, pricing and lower impact on device resources make it the stronger choice.

Mindy BornSamuel ChapmanSimona Ivanovski

Written by Mindy Born (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Writer, Editor)

Facts checked by Simona Ivanovski (Formatter / Fact-Checker)

Last Updated: 2024-04-25T11:51:20+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

  • Stellar protection
  • Feature-packed
  • Certified banking protection
  • Strong lab results
  • Inexpensive multi-user plan
  • Included password manager
Key Takeaways: Bitdefender vs McAfee
  • The main difference between Bitdefender and McAfee is their resource impact on devices. Bitdefender has a minimal impact on system performance, while McAfee uses more device resources.
  • If you need optimized system performance, Bitdefender might be a better choice. It adapts to your system’s hardware and software configuration to perform more quickly and efficiently.
  • Bitdefender is also better than McAfee for people on a budget. It has an excellent free version and includes more features in its paid versions.

Facts & Expert Analysis: Bitdefender vs McAfee

  • Choose what you’ll use: When faced with two similar antivirus programs, like Bitdefender and McAfee, pick the one you’ll use more often — more scans equals a safer computer.
  • Some like it simple: For us, Bitdefender’s friendly interface and low system impact make it much less of a chore to use than McAfee, which comes with a lot of baggage. We predict you’ll have a similar experience.
  • The choice for businesses: However, the pendulum swings the other way if you’re looking for organization-level protection. McAfee’s Premium and Advanced plans may work better for businesses, as both plans offer protection for unlimited devices as well as a VPN.

Bitdefender vs McAfee is a tough comparison. Both stand out for their protection, features and support. Bitdefender and McAfee have each established themselves as leaders in the field. Although McAfee has been around longer and has a bigger reputation, we consistently prefer Bitdefender here at Cloudwards, putting it atop our list of the best antivirus software.

If you’re after solid security features and an easy-to-use interface, Bitdefender is a good option. On the other hand, if you value a provider with a 30-year record for catching malware, McAfee is a strong contender — although it is heavy on device resources. To learn more about each provider, check out our detailed Bitdefender review and our McAfee Antivirus review

  • 04/25/2024 Facts checked

    Updated with new information, features and formatting for 2024.

Assessing Bitdefender vs McAfee: Our Comparison Guidelines

Cloudwards Editor’s Choice
open bitdefender
Bitdefender has a few system scan options, and it allows
users to choose what happens to quarantined items.

Bitdefender’s excellent threat detection and prevention, coupled with its minimal impact on system performance, makes us choose it over McAfee. Despite McAfee’s strengths, it’s a little too heavy on system resources, and its prices are high for what it offers. Bitdefender has an excellent free version with plenty of features for most users.

We’d happily pit Bitdefender against any other antivirus on the market. It easily won our Bitdefender vs Kaspersky matchup. Although to be fair, Kaspersky isn’t the strongest opponent — see our Avira vs Bitdefender comparison for a more even contest.

To thoroughly assess both McAfee and Bitdefender, we’ll conduct a comprehensive evaluation of five key aspects. We’ll examine antivirus features and pricing, assess user-friendliness, and evaluate the quality of protection and customer support. To do this, we’ll look at lab tests, draw on user reviews and test both antivirus apps ourselves.

In each section, we’ll provide insights into our findings. For our final thoughts, we’ll summarize the overall performance of both McAfee and Bitdefender so you can choose the antivirus solution that best suits your needs.

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McAfee vs Bitdefender: Comparison at a Glance

Bitdefender and McAfee both offer excellent antivirus protection. They each provide WiFi and email protection that scans emails for malware and suspicious attachments while also checking links for potential threats. Both antivirus suites encrypt data transmission over WiFi networks and alert users to security risks. 

Both solutions offer parental controls, firewall protection that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic, and file shredders that securely delete files by overwriting their data to make it unrecoverable. While McAfee and Bitdefender both offer PC optimization, Bitdefender is lighter on system resources.

Both apps are also excellent choices for mobile protection. However, Bitdefender scores a lot higher than McAfee on our best antivirus for Android roundup.

$2.50 / month(All Plans)$2.50 / month(All Plans)
Password manager
File shredder
Multi-OS support
Parental control
Disk cleanup
Ransomware protection
Webcam protection
Real-time monitoring
Secure browser
Download protection
Phishing protection
Operating System
Desktop UI
Mobile application
Browser extension
Help Center
Live Chat
24/7 Support
Video Tutorial
Free Plan

Which Offers the Best Protection: Bitdefender vs McAfee?

Bitdefender offers excellent malware detection and has a minimal impact on system performance. Its threat defense got a perfect score on AV-TEST’s February 2024 assessment. With real-time and identity theft protection that scans several online platforms for personal information leaks, Bitdefender is effective against a broad spectrum of cyber threats.

McAfee’s comprehensive security suite has antivirus protection, a firewall and identity theft protection that works just like Bitdefender’s. McAfee also provides strong malware protection, plus a password manager and encrypted storage. However, it can be resource-intensive and may affect overall system performance, particularly on slower devices.

Who Is Bitdefender For?

  • Individuals & families with cybersecurity concerns: Bitdefender is ideal if you prioritize cybersecurity and seek comprehensive protection for your devices and online presence. It’s also well suited for families looking for a reliable security solution that offers multi-device protection, reliable parental controls and privacy features.
  • Gamers: Bitdefender is easy on system resources, so it’s better than McAfee for gaming. It also has a “gaming profile” feature that can be activated to further minimize system impact and make gaming smoother.
  • Small businesses: Bitdefender can help businesses protect their sensitive data, networks and devices from cyber threats.
  • Beginners: Bitdefender’s customer support is much better than McAfee’s, and it will therefore be easier for beginners if they need technical support.

Who Is McAfee For?

  • Large enterprises: McAfee has plans like Endpoint Security that help large businesses manage users, groups, devices and policies effectively within their organization.
  • Individuals seeking all-round protection: McAfee is reliable and easy to use for individuals.
  • Families: McAfee offers Safe Family software, which lets parents ensure that their children only view age-appropriate content. Bitdefender also has parental controls, but McAfee’s Safe Family software sends alerts to parents about potential risks while also providing real-time tracking of their children’s whereabouts.

If You Want to Consider Other Services, Check Out…

Norton 360 — Norton 360 has identity theft protection, a VPN and device optimization. It’s also lighter on system resources than McAfee. For more information, read our Norton 360 review

Avast Premium Security –Avast Premium Security includes features like a password manager, WiFi inspector and ransomware shield. To learn more about Avast Premium Security, read our full Avast review.

ESET NOD32 — ESET NOD32 has lots of great features that McAfee and Bitdefender lack, like an exploit blocker, device control, a UEFI scanner that scans firmware for threats, and an advanced memory scanner that detects persistent threats in system memory. Read our full ESET NOD32 review for more details on this provider.

AVG AntiVirus –AVG AntiVirus has a good free plan, and its paid plans include AVG Secure VPN. It offers features like PC TuneUp — which optimizes system performance by removing junk files and optimizing settings — a file shredder, and an anti-theft system that includes remote lock, wipe and locate functions. We have a detailed AVG AntiVirus review too.

Bitdefender Key Features:
Bitdefender’s free version has strong security features,
and its paid plans offer a little extra.
  • Complete real-time data protection: Bitdefender’s anti-malware solutions provide real-time data protection, so it continuously monitors and scans files to detect malware threats before they can cause any harm.
  • Advanced threat defense: This behavior-based technology monitors running processes and system events for suspicious activity, enabling it to detect and block advanced threats and ransomware.
  • Web attack prevention: Web filtering technology protects users from landing on harmful websites, preventing malware infections and phishing attempts.
  • Anti-phishing and anti-fraud: Bitdefender’s features help prevent phishing attacks and online fraud when users shop, bank or browse the internet. These include email protection and an encrypted browser that protects online purchases from fraud. 
  • Bitdefender Photon technology: This technology helps Bitdefender adapt to your system in order to perform more efficiently. If Photon detects a file with a recognized configuration, it offloads responsibility for that file to the cloud, allowing the scanner to focus on monitoring unknown and potentially malicious files.
McAfee Key Features:
mcafee app
McAfee has held a strong security record for 30 years.
  • Spyware protection: McAfee got a 99.9% protection score from AV-TEST in January 2024. This is better than the industry average score of 99.8%.
  • Web and email protection: This feature includes tools to block malicious websites, prevent phishing attacks and scan email attachments for potential threats.
  • Home network security: This tool protects important files and information from loss or corruption by monitoring network traffic for suspicious activity and blocking unauthorized access attempts.
  • PC optimization: McAfee has a PC optimization feature that allows users to improve their PC performance by altering system settings and cleaning up unnecessary files. However, even with this feature, McAfee is still hard on system resources.
  • Parental controls: With tools to set screen time limits, block inappropriate content and track online activity, this feature helps parents keep their children safe online.

Bitdefender vs McAfee: Similarities

Both McAfee and Bitdefender got 99.6% detection rate scores in AV-Comparatives’ testing, which is well above the industry average. However, for Bitdefender, this represents a dip from its 2023 score of 100%. Both antivirus suites have several scanning options, from quick scans to more thorough full scans. 

Web Protection

Bitdefender and McAfee both offer strong web protection features but with some differences. Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection blocked all phishing sites in lab tests by comparing them to a vast database of dangerous domains. It scans search results for risky sites, checks encrypted websites and identifies fraudulent content to ensure comprehensive online security. 

McAfee’s WebAdvisor also identifies phishing sites from a large, regularly updated database. It blocks phishing sites and exploit attacks that bypass standard browser protections, and it received AV-TEST’s award for best protection in 2022

Malware Protection

Bitdefender and McAfee each provide exceptional malware protection. Bitdefender has a lightweight but powerful malware scanner that uses machine learning and an enormous directory to detect and remove malware. Its real-time protection, Bitdefender Shield, blocks malware before it can infect your system, and it has a minimal impact on device speed.

McAfee uses traditional malware detection techniques and a real-time protection engine that blocks malware downloads. This is one reason for its larger impact on devices compared to Bitdefender, which uses a more streamlined approach that relies more heavily on machine learning.

Firewall Protection

Both antivirus solutions have firewall protection features, with Bitdefender providing a firewall that monitors network traffic, blocks unauthorized access attempts and safeguards against cyber threats.

Bitdefender’s firewall includes advanced customization settings. You can configure network rules for specific apps, define trusted networks, set up port forwarding and adjust intrusion detection settings for higher or lower levels of security. 

McAfee’s firewall is very similar. It monitors incoming and outgoing traffic, detecting suspicious activities and allowing users to control their network permissions.

File Shredder

A file shredder feature permanently deletes dangerous files so they have no chance to impact your system. Bitdefender and McAfee both have a file shredder.

Parental Controls

Parental control features help parents monitor and manage their children’s online activities. Both Bitdefender and McAfee’s parental controls let parents restrict access to inappropriate content, set screen time limits, block dangerous apps and websites, and track their children’s whereabouts. 

McAfee’s child tracker allows you to see your child’s location on a map and get notified when they arrive at or leave a location. Bitdefender also lets parents track their children’s locations. It even has a “safe check-in” feature where children can notify their parents that they’re OK without having to make a phone call.

McAfee’s parental controls are only available on the McAfee+ Family subscription and aren’t provided to individual users. Additionally, McAfee’s parental control features are offered on Windows, Android and iOS devices, but not on Mac. If you have a Mac and want parental controls, Bitdefender is the better choice.

Password Manager

A password manager securely stores and manages passwords. Both Bitdefender and McAfee have good ones. You can purchase Bitdefender’s password manager as a standalone software, whereas McAfee’s password manager comes bundled with its McAfee+ packages. 

Both password managers let users access their passwords from anywhere, and they include data encryption to protect sensitive information. Users can import their passwords from other password services, and they support multiple file formats for easy data transfer. Both managers also generate strong, randomized passwords.

Antivirus Software

Bitdefender and McAfee each provide excellent antivirus software solutions with strong protection. Bitdefender uses machine learning algorithms along with traditional malware detection techniques like signature-based detection, heuristic analysis and behavior monitoring. It also has very fast scanning speeds and detection rates, and it keeps device impact low. 

McAfee relies more heavily on traditional malware detection techniques, though it is incorporating more machine learning into its antivirus software. It uses signature-based detection — which compares files to a database of known malware — combined with heuristic analysis to identify potentially harmful code based on behavior or characteristics.

McAfee also monitors program activities in real time. It flags any suspicious behavior it observes, like programs attempting to modify files or access sensitive system areas.

Identity Theft Monitoring

Both apps offer identity theft monitoring services. Bitdefender and McAfee’s identity theft protection actively scans the surface web, social media networks, blogs, forums and the dark web for any signs of compromised personal information.

Each service also provides advanced monitoring for banking, credit cards, investments, addresses and court records. Bitdefender includes instant alerts for data breaches or fraudulent login attempts, plus assistance in identity restoration with US-based certified protection experts.

McAfee’s Advanced Total Protection package includes similar instant alerts, but it adds court records monitoring, sex offender registry monitoring, cyberattack reimbursement of up to $25,000 and insurance coverage for some expenses in case of identity theft.

McAfee vs Bitdefender: Differences

Both antivirus solutions offer similar features in their paid plans, but Bitdefender has a free plan that offers reliable protection with basic features. Both services have several support options including 24/7 live chat, but McAfee’s chat representative directed us to its paid TechMaster service when it couldn’t answer our questions.


Bitdefender’s free plan uses real-time scanning for malicious software while offering protection from ransomware and phishing attacks. Its free plan is enough to keep most users well protected. Paid plans include a VPN, parental controls, anti-spam and a gaming mode that optimizes system performance to maintain speeds while gaming. 

McAfee’s cheapest plan is McAfee Total Protection Basic, which is $35.99 annually for the first year for one device. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the same price but includes three devices. The Bitdefender Total Security plan includes five devices and is $69.99 annually for the first year. McAfee’s Total Protection Plus plan covers five devices for $35.99 annually for the first year.


Both Bitdefender and McAfee have VPN options, but there are some notable differences. The no-logs policy for Bitdefender Premium VPN has been independently audited by Pango Group, but we couldn’t confirm whether McAfee’s policy has been externally audited.

In terms of VPN features, they both secure your internet connection. Bitdefender lets you connect up to 10 devices, while McAfee only allows for five. Bitdefender’s VPN has unlimited data, while McAfee Secure VPN has a very low data cap of 250MB monthly — unless you remove data limits by subscribing to the premium version.

Both companies do state that they collect user data in their respective privacy policies, so you may be better off with a more privacy-focused app. Check out our ExpressVPN review or NordVPN review for some options.

Mobile Apps

Bitdefender’s mobile app offers an “app lock” feature and system optimization tools that aren’t included in McAfee’s app. Both apps provide anti-malware, parental controls, anti-phishing, web security, account privacy checks and webcam protection.

Customer Support
Community Forum
Phone Support
24/7 Chat Support

When we contacted Bitdefender through live chat, we got a bot that couldn’t answer simple questions about the service and only spewed sales jargon. It did forward our questions to a different department that replied with comprehensive answers in just under 24 hours. Bitdefender also has phone and email support as well as a knowledgebase.

Unlike Bitdefender, McAfee’s chat option requires a phone number to access, but McAfee did connect us directly to a human. Unfortunately, that human was unable to answer most of our questions and directed us to McAfee’s paid TechMaster service for comprehensive support. McAfee also has 24/7 customer support by phone and email, plus a knowledgebase. 

after bd scan
Bitdefender is well designed and easy to use.

The Verdict: Why We Think Bitdefender Wins Overall

Customer Support
User InterfaceTied
PC Performance

Bitdefender and McAfee are evenly matched in features, protection and user interface, but Bitdefender came out on top in all other categories. Bitdefender has excellent malware protection with a minimal impact on system performance, while McAfee is heavier on device resources.

McAfee also directed us to paid customer support, which could make it difficult for beginners to use. Considering that fact along with their price differences, Bitdefender wins hands down.

We would love to hear from you. Have you used either of these antivirus software suites? What was your experience? What are the main features you look for in antivirus software? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading!

FAQ: Mcafee Antivirus vs Bitdefender

  • No, McAfee and Bitdefender are not the same thing. They are two separate antivirus software solutions developed by different companies. Each has a unique set of features as well as different pricing, protection levels and impact on device performance.

  • Bitdefender offers excellent threat detection and prevention while minimizing its impact on system performance. Even Bitdefender’s free version provides excellent features and performs strongly, so we still consider it to be the best antivirus.

  • Yes, we recommend that you uninstall McAfee before installing Bitdefender to avoid any potential conflicts between the two programs.

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