Windows Defender vs McAfee

Windows Defender vs McAfee - The Ultimate Comparison

Written by Ria du Plessis - Web Developer

Updated on August 1 , 2021

Microsoft Windows Defender is a free antivirus pre-installed feature that comes with Windows 10 devices. It provides basic real-time malicious threat protection for single devices. In contrast, McAfee offers four complete antivirus software packages. In this Windows Defender vs McAfee comparison, we will see how these two solutions compare  against each other.

  • Free antivirus protection
  • On-demand scanning
  • Firewall configuration
  • Simple user interface
  • Complete Protection For All Devices With a single License
  • Configurable Firewall
  • Virus Protection Pledge Or Full Refund Guarantee

Overall Comparison

Our verdict on overall best antivirus program is McAfee Antivirus

McAfee Pros

Windows Defender Pros

  • Notifies you instantly when it finds a threat or potential threat
  • Stays up-to-date
  • Useful for mobile devices and laptops
  • User friendly
  • VPN included in all pricing tiers
  • Built into Windows 10
  • Excellent hands-on malware protection 
  • Simple ransomware protection
  • Always on if no other antivirus is present
  • Free real-time protection from viruses, malware, spyware

McAfee Cons

Windows Defender Cons

  • Random McAfee popups can be annoying
  • Scans can take a while
  • The interface can be difficult to navigate at times for non-experienced users
  • The high price tag for many of the solutions
  • Poor results in phishing protection
  • Awkward scan scheduling
  • SmartScreen Filter works only in Microsoft browsers
  • Protects only a single Windows 10 device

Related Links

McAfee Vs Avast

Windows Defender Vs Avast

Windows Defender comes as a built-in tool with the Microsoft Windows Operating System, it can't be removed but it automatically turns off when you install third-party antivirus software. Without having to do or pay anything, you'll be protected against a variety of real-time malware threats. 

If your household contains multiple devices – computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones – running multiple operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS), a subscription solution from McAfee is a wiser choice. All McAfee packages include real-time malicious threat protection, a password manager, safe web browsing technology, high-level file encryption, and McAfee Shredder to permanently delete files so they can't be recovered.

Overall winner: McAfee

Key Features 


Windows Defender


Virus Scanner



Threat Protection



Malware Removal



Phishing Detection



Spyware Protection



Ransomware Protection


Yes, McAfee Application Control offers a dual-layer defense

Cloud Backup









Browser Protection


Yes, McAfee WebAdvisor is your trusty companion that helps keep you safe from threats while you browse and search the web

Webcam Protection



Password Manager


Yes, McAfee's True Key password manager handles basic password management tasks

Identity Theft Protection


Yes, McAfee Identity Theft Protection provides a variety of personal identity and credit monitoring

Parental Control


Yes, McAfee provides strong parental controls to keep kids safe online, including website and search filtering

Safe Banking



Performance Optimization



Cleaning Tools



File Shredder


Yes, The McAfee Shredder™ tool lets you permanently delete items on your PC you no longer need

Game Mode



Mobile App



Key Features Compared 

Windows Defender is a powerful antivirus that is offered as part of Windows Security. It is deeply integrated into the Windows OS, and for this reason, it utilizes most of the Windows features. Unlike other Standalone antivirus suites, Windows Defender focuses on device security with a few online aspects. 

McAfee is one of the few consumer antivirus software providers that also provides internet security products to an array of small, midsize, and large enterprise customers. 

McAfee sells four antivirus packages, all of which include basic malware protections, a VPN, password protection, and a firewall.

Windows Defender Features;

Windows Defender Features

McAfee Features;

McAfee Features

Best for antivirus features: McAfee

Malware Protection Capabilities 

The malware protection component is the heart of any security solution. Malware is one of the most found threats on devices. 

To find out which of these two solutions provides the best protection against Malware, we looked at third-party testing done by AV-Test. The results were:

Windows Defender Results:

Windows Defender Results

McAfee Results:

McAfee Results

It is clear from our research that McAfee is better than Windows Defender in terms of malware protection, because McAfee offers more features to help with this task.

Winner: McAfee

System Performance 

Antivirus products continuously run in the background to provide real-time protection against malware threats, which means they occupy some percentage of system resources to do their job. 

Windows Defender is a built-in service, it tries its best not to use too much of your system resources.

To determine the winner in this category, we looked at third-party testing done by AV-Test, again. The results were:

Windows Defender:

Windows Defender



According to these results, it is clear that Windows Defender puts less impact on system performance than McAfee does.

Winner: Windows Defender




Windows Defender

Free (Unlimited Devices)

Total Protection 1

$79.99/year - one device

Total Protection 2

$24.99/year (2-years) - five devices

Total Protection 3

$39.99/year (2-years) - ten devices

Ease Of Use And User Friendliness 

The Windows Defender interface is simple with colors of white, light gray, and blue. The Home window is your “security at a glance.” It contains quick links to the following modules: Virus & Threat Protection, Account Protection, Firewall & Network Protection, App & Browser Control, Device Security, Device Performance & Health, and Family Options. Each module contains related features and their settings.

Windows Defender interface

McAfee’s interface is also simple and bright, in shades of white, pale blue, and dark grey. A horizontal menu at the top has the following five modules: Home, PC Security, Identity, Privacy, and Account. The Home tab, which is the default screen, displays your protection status and also has buttons to run different types of scans.

McAfee’s interface

Most user-friendly provider: Tie

Customer Support 

Microsoft Customer Service and Support is available to help you with questions at any time. They offer technical support and will provide support options to resolve technical support issues. This may include self-help support or assisted support.

McAfee offers account and technical support for your McAfee consumer products and services 24/7. You can contact them via their online chat function, via email, or by phone. 

Best customer support: McAfee


The main difference between Windows Defender and McAfee is that McAfee is a paid antivirus solution, while Windows Defender is completely free. McAfee offers a few features that Windows Defender doesn't have, and that is why in this case, McAfee takes the win.

Which antivirus do you think is for you? Choose Now!

Windows Defender ButtonMcAfee Button