The Ultimate Face-Off: McAfee vs Windows Defender

Mcafee vs Windows Defender – confuse which antivirus you should use for better security? Here is a detailed head-to-head comparison of both antivirus so you can pick the right antivirus for your pc or laptop. Having the right antivirus helps you to protect your data and other sensitive information from intruders.

Microsoft defender vs mcafee

Every day millions of people are becoming victims of malware attacks. To protect your private and sensitive data, powerful security software is needed. With the increasing use of our online activity, hacking attacks are a big threat to our data.

Nowadays people are spending the most time on online activities. To make our life easy there are many online apps and websites available. Sometimes these websites become digital threats and hackers can steal your information.

A powerful antivirus is the only solution to protect your digital life from malware attacks.

Both antiviruses are giving their services in the antivirus market for a long time period. McAfee is paid while windows defender is free. McAfee and windows defender both are trusted names in the antivirus industry but the question arises which one does protection best.

Let’s check out which antivirus protects your devices from online malicious threats and hacking.

Short Summary

For those who don’t have time to read the full article, here is our opinion – McAfee is the clear winner. Windows Defender is a free antivirus that comes with Windows OS and it is good for medium-level protection but for advanced security and high-level secure data protection, McAfee is a value-for-money product.

Editor’s Pick

mcafee antivirus


Rating – 4.8/5

What is Antivirus?

mcafee vs defender comparision

Before starting the comparison here is small detail about what is antivirus.

An antivirus program is a set of instructions that are designed to prevent your computer or mobile phone from being attacked by malicious software (worms, trojans, adware) and hackers. Along with detecting viruses from computers antivirus software also removes viruses.

Antivirus software runs in the background and detects viruses and malware from your device and monitors the behavior of all the programs if found any suspicious activity it informs the owner.

Developers work continuously to update antivirus software. when your antivirus software pop-ups update the notification then update it immediately for better protection.

mcafee antivirus vs windows defender antivirus

Free antivirus is not bad if you are not using the internet so much and on your PC, you don’t have any sensitive or personal information of you then free antivirus is enough for you and you don’t need to pay for the paid version of any antivirus.

With free antivirus, you get a minimum level of protection from cyber threats. They perform a scan for malware but with limited features. Some free antivirus comes with browser add on and internet security tools.

Free antivirus is not capable of finding new viruses because free antivirus software doesn’t get updates. Free antivirus is provided to use only to make companies popular.

The main disadvantage of free antivirus is that you don’t get any customer care support. If you face any issue regarding your free antivirus you manually have to solve it without any help.

On the other hand, paid antivirus offers more comprehensive coverage and protection in comparison to free antivirus. There are many additional elements that come with paid antivirus software like anti-spyware, firewall solution, e-mail scanner, safe browsing, schedule scan, etc.

Also, in the paid version you get live support from customer care via email, calling, or chat. Paid antivirus doesn’t protect your device against the virus, or malware but also, protects your online identity and transactions.

McAfee Brief Intro

mcafee antivirus

McAfee is a well-known brand in the antivirus market that has been around for years. Due to its high-quality service and top-notch malware detection system, McAfee is giving tough competition to other antivirus brands.

McAfee’s headquarter is in California. For the past 3 decades, McAfee is providing its services. Currently, McAfee has a worldwide intelligence network. McAfee creates a shield that protects devices against any malware, hacking attack, ransomware, etc. I am using McAfee on my all devices.

McAfee comes with a huge range of security features. Its plans are available for small, medium, and large companies. Unlike other antiviruses, McAfee’s affordable plans include VPN and identity theft protection.

McAfee Antivirus Features

Here is the list of features that you get with McAfee Antivirus.


  • Starting price – $29
  • Free Trial Available – Yes (Get Free Trial)
  • Money back guarantee – yes

Scanning options

  • Real-time scanning
  • Manual scanning
  • USB and other peripherals scanning
  • Auto scanning
  • Schedule scanning
  • Registry startup scanning


McAfee antivirus is compatible with the following operating systems.

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android
  • iOS

Threat Detection

  • Detect spam attacks
  • Detect worm
  • Detect trojan
  • Detect rootkit
  • Detect spyware
  • Detect phishing
  • Email protection

Customer Care Support

  • Live chat
  • Email support
  • Call support

How Does McAfee Antivirus Work?

best paid antivirus mcafee

McAfee is one of the oldest antivirus software for computers. Apart from an antivirus, it also offers firewalls and antispyware programs to protect your computer. McAfee antivirus regularly updates its database.

Web crawlers of McAfee antivirus scan the internet the whole day and identify new malicious software by its name, type, and destructive capability. By finding new viruses they also find new ways to delete this malicious software.

Like all other anti-virus software, McAfee scans your computer system and creates a list of malicious software so you can delete them at the end of the scan. McAfee antivirus database has large collections of virus removal techniques so with McAfee antivirus 99% chance that your computer never gets affected by any virus.

Check this amazing deal on McAfee –

Windows Defender Brief Intro

windows defender

Windows Defender is Microsoft’s own antivirus tool. With time there is much improvement in its performance. Still, there are lots of filed where improvement is needed.

The best thing about Windows Defender is that it is free and for medium-level security, it is a good option. It has good malware protection features with some other extra features. Windows defender does a decent job to detect and eliminate cyber threats.

Windows Defender Features


  • Price – Free

Scanning Features

  • Real-time scanning
  • Manual scanning
  • Peripherals (USB) Scanning
  • Registry scanning
  • Auto scanning
  • Schedule scanning


  • Only compatible with the windows operating system.

Threat Detection

  • Detect trojan
  • Detect spyware
  • Detect rootkit
  • Detect worm
  • Detect spam
  • Detect phishing
  • Email protection

Customer Care Support

  • Its customer care support is not good, you can only raise a ticket if you need any help from their staff.

How Does Windows Defender work?

Windows defender free antivirus

Now Windows defender is known as Microsoft defender after May 2020 updater. Windows Defender comes with a Windows operating system free of cost. Until you don’t install any other antivirus, windows defender gives you a decent level of protection.

It comes pre-installed in windows 8 and windows 10 operating systems. It works silently in the background and continuously scans your device. There are rumors that Windows 11 may come with Windows Defender.

With time Microsoft’s defender has improved so much. Whenever it detects any malware or any sign of suspicious activity, it deletes that malware and uploads the report to the Microsoft cloud server for further analysis.

Windows defender developers regularly try to update it with new features but they are not updated. With its new update, it prevents ransomware to rewrite data from any key folder.

Windows defender get updates from Microsoft but not at regular time interval so it is not fully able to fight the latest malware. Good thing is that it uses a heightened network protection feature to keep your data safe from hackers.

Windows defender is not the safest but it is useful if your device doesn’t have any confidential data. Windows defender works on an exploit guard which protects computers and laptops from various attacks.

It protects your device memory with safeguards, so your device’s built-in memory is safe from attackers. For business solutions, it uses an application guard that protects computers from various malware and spyware making your business networks safe.

McAfee vs Windows Defender Head to Head Comparision

1) Security – McAfee vs Windows Defender

antivirus security

To see windows defender vs McAfee, which protects better your computers I have checked the latest test conducted by AV-Test firm which is a well-known company that regularly provides comparison data for various antivirus software.

There are two types of malware known and unknown. Known malware are those which are known by every malware detection engine. This malware is spread worldwide and almost all antivirus can detect them. Unknown malware is that malware that is new or recent in 2-3 days they are developed.

McAfee: Unknown malware is hard to find and those antiviruses which don’t regularly update their malware database can’t find this unknown malware. Due to the McAfee regular database update process, it becomes easy for McAfee to find unknown malware easily.

To check the protection level of any antivirus, the first, step is to check the EICAR antivirus test file. These files contain malicious scripts that are similar to malware. McAfee detected all the files when I tried to run these files on the PC.

McAfee detects all zero-day malware attacks. nowadays zero-day attacks are common threats. These threats target known vulnerabilities in your devices but thanks to McAfee’s advanced global threat detection system, McAfee is able to detect this type of threat.

This is cloud base software, so it makes less load on the PC. It continuously examines known malware and by examining their behavior it predicts the characteristics of global cyber threats.

McAfee’s real-time scanning feature scans all those files that you access. Sometimes people forgot to scan files, in that condition real-time scanning does it works perfectly.

I also performed other tests on McAfee like registry scanners, clipboard recorders, and keyloggers and the result was impressive. McAfee did its job perfectly and block all suspicious activity while testing.

Phishing attacks are increasing day by day. McAfee does a good job to detect phishing attacks. It blocks all suspicious links in the mail. Before downloading any attachment from the mail, McAfee scans the attachment and tells you whether it is safe or not to use.

defender vs mcafee
McAfee Performance

Windows Defender: Earlier version of Windows defender was not much effective but Microsoft updated its security features and now Windows defender is much more effective against malware.

Windows Defender is one of the best free antivirus software at the current time. Although, it is not as good as paid antiviruses like McAfee, Avast, and Norton. In the free antivirus category, the AV-test website has given 6/6 to Windows Defender.

It comes with Windows operating system pre-installed so if you don’t install any other antivirus still you are able to get basic level protection from trojans, ransomware, viruses, and malware.

windows defender performance vs mcafee performance
Windows Defender

Verdict – McAfee is more powerful than Windows Defender to give better security to devices against malware, viruses, etc. McAfee is the clear winner in this section.

2) Impact of Antivirus on PC Performance – Windows Defender vs McAfee

mcafee performance

Antivirus scans files and most of its work is done in the background. Scanning is the main work of any antivirus and if an antivirus does scanning without slowing down PC performance then that antivirus is a good choice.

For this test, I am sharing my own data and also AV-Test data to see the antivirus impact on the PC performance.

AV-Test website conducts several tests on low configuration and high configuration computers. From making several tests they conclude average and make reliable values for all products.

First, they run a computer without any antivirus and after taking all values they install antivirus and again collect all values. Now they calculate the difference in values and give a rating according to the table.

A process that is running in the background always slows down the computer. How much it slows down totally depends on the performance of any antivirus.

To check the Impact of both antiviruses on PC performance, I scanned the same number of files with both antiviruses and collect data. The below table is showing data of results after the scan. From the below table, you can see that McAfee makes less impact on the PC performance and also takes less time.

McAfeeWindows Defender
Files Scanned170000170000
Time Taken85 Minutes200 Minutes
CPU Usage65%84%

When antiviruses were scanning the PC I was also using my OC to check whether there is any lag in the system performance or not.

While McAfee scanning, I opened chrome and other apps on the PC and didn’t face any lag. Only Android studio took little time to open otherwise PC was performing well.

On the other side, Windows Defender slows down the performance a little bit. If it is running in the background and you open multiple apps, you might feel a drop in the performance of the PC. This drop is not much and sometimes, you even won’t feel it.

While doing a quick scan, both antivirus performs well and don’t make any impact on the PC performance. McAfee took 180 seconds to do a quick scan and Windows Defender took 250 seconds.

AV-Test website conducted a test in April 2021 which shows that McAfee scores the highest marks and in all tests, it got ratings of very fast. On the other side, surprisingly Windows Defender performed well and got a very fast rating for six categories, and for 2 categories it got an average score.

Verdict – McAfee performs better than Windows defender in this section. McAfee doesn’t slow down the performance of the PC. It will do its work in the background and you can easily access your PC at full speed.

3) Design and UI – McAfee Vs Windows Defender

McAfee’s user interface is simple, brighter, and sharper. Everything you need in an antivirus is at your finger’s touch. With a few clicks, you can manage the whole antivirus easily. The green checkmark in the upper left corner tells you that your computer is virus-free.

Mcafee vs windows defender

There are various tabs on the home screen of McAfee from where you can set the password manager, add another computer for McAfee protection, automatic antivirus update, and more. From pc security tab includes scan setting, scan scheduling, and a firewall. On the other side from pc performance tool, you can optimize McAfee tools.

Windows defender user interface is not as impactful as McAfee but somehow, they managed to keep it simple. In another antivirus program, we can start the scan in both antiviruses quickly without wasting much time clicking.

In Windows Defender user interface tabs are arranged in 7 parts. When everything is ok, they are marked with a green check while windows defender found any suspicious activity in the computer then a green check is converted into yellow in front of a particular tab.

At the bottom of the windows defender, there is a setting tab from where you can set the most useful and important options.

Verdict – There is a tie between Windows Defender and McAfee antivirus. Both have a good easy-to-use user interface so you won’t find any issues while using them.

4) Pricing – McAfee vs Windows Defender

antivirus price

Windows Defender comes as an inbuilt part of windows 8 and above. You don’t have to pay a penny to use windows defender. You can use it freely and also all updates are totally free.

While another side to use McAfee antivirus you have to buy its subscription pack which is different according to your requirement you can choose any pack. The free version is also available of McAfee antivirus but that has limited features you don’t get any updates in the free version and it doesn’t remove all viruses.

McAfeeWindows Defender
Free TrialYesYes
Money-Back Guarantee30 DaysFree
Check PlansGet DiscountsFree

Verdict – Windows defender is a clear winner when it comes to price. It is free so you don’t need to pay anything.

5) Compatibility – Windows Defender vs McAfee

Compability - Windows Defender vs McAfee

McAfee antivirus is more compatible than windows defender. McAfee is compatible with Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac devices. On the other side windows defender is only compatible with Windows operating systems.

Compatibility is a major point when you pay for any antivirus. McAfee is a cross-platform antivirus that protects all types of devices. From phone to laptop, it protects all devices with full advanced security features.

Verdict – McAfee is again a winner. It is compatible with all operating systems.

6) Features – McAfee vs Windows Defender

McAfee vs Windows Defender
McAfeeWindows Defender
Price:Check Special Discount
For Our Readers
Platforms:Windows, AndroidWindows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Real-Time Scanning:YesYes
Registry Startup Scan:YesYes
Auto Scanning:YesYes
Email Protection:YesNo
Gaming Protection:YesNo
Safe Browsing:YesNo

How To Choose The Best Antivirus For You?

Everyone wants the best antivirus for them. To get the right antivirus, first, you think that what level of security you needed. All antiviruses are built with different security features.

For basic security (low-level security) a free antivirus like windows defender is enough. You only need to pay for an antivirus, if you need high-level security. McAfee is one of the best-paid antivirus available in the market.

Check Also –

FAQ About McAfree Vs Windows Defender

Can I Run Windows Defender and McAfee at The Same Time?

Unfortunately, this is not possible, at the same time both antiviruses can’t be run. You need to turn off anyone. McAfee has an inbuilt feature that when it is installed, will turn off windows defender.

Is Windows Defender Enough To Remove Malware?

Windows defenders can remove malware but not all. An antivirus should be updated at regular interval but unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t update windows defender at a regular time period so for latest malware are not detectable by windows defender.

Can I Replace Windows Defender With Other Antiviruses?

Yes, you can. whichever antivirus you want to install, you can install it in your windows operating system. Turn off windows defender and use any other antivirus software.

Is McAfee Better Than Windows Defender?

McAfee is definitely a better choice. McAfee comes with lots of extra features that are not available in windows defender. You get extra security layers in McAfee.

Does McAfee Slow Computer?

Not only McAfee, but all antivirus also slow down the computer speed. If you ever feel computer speed is slow. Open McAfee and close its background running process. It will speed up your computer speed.

Final Verdict

Overall Winner – McAfee

After using both antiviruses, I can say that McAfee is more powerful and reliable than windows defender. McAfee has lots of advanced features that are not available in windows defender.

Windows Defender is free but it is not a powerful antivirus. It does a decent job against the latest malware and viruses. On the other side, McAfee is paid but it is worth investing money in McAfee to protect your data. Overall McAfee gives full protection to your data with advanced security features.

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