05/23/2012

Norton Antivirus vs McAfee AntiVirus 2012: Head-to-Head Comparison

With a lot of the things we as consumers buy--especially things we buy rarely--we narrow the field down from a huge list of options to the two or three things we're most serious about buying.

And since most of us renew our antivirus software for somewhere between one and three years, it's no different. Easily the most common of these narrowed down head-to-head comparisons in the world of virus protection is Norton vs McAfee.

The two questions all of us ask at a time like when we're comparing two things are:

  1. What's better?
  2. If the more expensive is better, it worth it?

So, let's take a look at these two heavyweights and get this question answered!

Norton Antivirus 2012 vs.
Mcafee AntiVirus Plus 2012

Winner: Norton McAfee

Norton Antivirus 2012

$39.99

McAfee AntiVirus 2012

$49.99
Virus & Spyware Protection

Prevention / Real-time Protection
Consistently scores among the top programs in our tests at preventing new virus infections. Earned an "excellent" rating against "zero day" threats in each of our 2012 tests. Does quite well against most new viruses and earns a "very good" rating in this part of our tests; however, it comes at a huge performance cost that sometimes makes using the web painfully slow.

Manual Virus Scanning & Removal
Did nearly as well at detecting and removing viruses on our test PCs as it did at preventing them from getting there in the first place. Another "excellent" rating. Mysteriously, McAfee outright missed about 50% of the viruses we tested with, and some of those that it did find, it had a tough time removing.


Spyware Protection
Not as impressive against spyware/adware as it is against viruses, but it still earns a "Good" rating in our tests both for preventing infection and successful removal. Not good, not bad against spyware, truly "Average." It did, however, do better at stopping spyware from getting in than it did at removing it.
Verdict Category Winner: Norton
Installation, Usability & Tech Support

Installation
The best installer of 2012.

If we had a rating for "Outstanding," it would earn it. Instead, its 100% score earns it an "Excellent" rating in our scoring grid.
The complete opposite of Norton's installer. Account setup required, very large, slow installer has to be manually downloaded onto each PC you install the software onto.

Too many hoops to jump through. Really a terrible experience from start to finish. Rating: "Poor"


User Interface
Black interface takes some getting used to, but it's aesthetically pleasing and mostly easy to use. Some screens feel a bit bolted on. Overall it's fast and works well. At the risk of sounding overly harsh, this is a flawed interface by most any measure. Its tiny main window (and huge top label section) forces everything to be done in a window about 2" x 3".

Some features require multiple scroll bars to work. Needs a complete redesign.


Tech Support
While many help beyond basic installation and upgrades is a "Premium" service (i.e. they charge you for it), the Norton support (long complained about by consumers) has gotten much better. Just don't expect to talk to them for free if you need help. Like Norton, McAfee charges for most everything beyond help with basic installation and upgrades.

Overall, a "Good" experience; expect the basic techs to stick to a script, even if your needs aren't on their script.
Verdict Category Winner: Norton
Overall Value
Software
Norton Antivirus 2012

$39.99


McAfee AntiVirus 2012

$49.99

Money Back Guarantee
60 Days (The longest available.)

30 Days (Industry average.)
Verdict Overall Winner: Norton