Bitdefender Security VS McAfee Antivirus – Which is Best

The definition of the best antivirus has shifted in 2021 due to the poor performance of many top-rated companies in 2020. Many devices were breached despite being protected by some of the best companies in the market.

That is why you need to invest in the most improved antivirus package in 2021. It is also advisable to focus on features included in each package, not just the name. This review is comparing the value provided by the different packages of Bitdefender and McAfee.

Bitdefender and McAfee have stayed on top of the bad guys for decades now. Their 2020 packages both made it top in the strictest reviews in 2019. They both scored 100% in the detection of widespread threats by AV test in December 2019.

Bitdefender maintained a top score in detecting zero-day threats while McAfee dropped to 97%. They still face off on many features, including parental control, browsing safety, VPN, and real-time threat update.

Every company tries to get customers to invest in their most expensive package, but Bitdefender and McAfee still include all crucial features in their low tier packages. Each extra feature in a package may, however, not necessarily be what you need, which is why we are analyzing each essential feature and the packages they are included in to help you choose the best license for the money.

Bitdefender Antivirus 2020

Bitdefender is a household name for device protection in America and abroad, featuring the best record of threat detection almost every year since 2018. In 2020, they came up with a bunch of powerful upgrades, including an anti-tracker extension, an AI-supported parental control, and a double-layered firewall.

They retained their user simplicity and performance boost, especially for PCs that shorten scanning time without slowing the device. Bitdefender 2020 also retains their three primary packages, Antivirus Plus, Internet Security and Total Security.

All the features are concentrated in Bitdefender Total Security. Internet security doesn’t include device optimization, which means it will not diagnose some features, but it includes all the other features of Total security, including parental control.

It is still the best budget option for family PCs as it doesn’t cover MacOS. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is also a PC only package with the same powerful threat detection, browsing, and Safe Pay Protection. Each annual license code covers three devices, which is enough for personal devices.

New Features Of Bitdefender 2020

Bitdefender Parental Control 2020 

Bitdefender 2020 now has two sets of parental control. Their previous package from 2019 still allows you to monitor the sites your child visits, set screen time, track their location on GPS, and notifications of suspicious activity on their device according to age.

This feature is available on both Bitdefender Internet Security 2020 and Bitdefender Total Security 2020. It is suitable for standard protection for any parent to be installed PCs. macOS and Android are only covered in Total Security.

Their new product is the AI-supported parental control that rises to the level of a babysitter covering everything a child may need protection from, including cyberbullying. It scans all device communications across social apps, messaging apps, and browsing activity. You can also restrict access to some websites or apps flagged by the app or known to you remotely in Bitdefender Central.

The tool detects any source of bullying from social networks, meetings outside the house, inappropriate photos sent or requested, and any other suspicious behavior. It is also praised for upholding your child’s privacy since it doesn’t share all the private information from the child’s device with you. You have to pay extra for this parental control suite though.


Bitdefender improved the browsing privacy with this feature that prevents websites from tracking and storing your browsing data. The extension is installed directly into your web browsers once Bitdefender is installed on the device.

It gives you details of all tracking attempts stopped and the purpose of the tracking by each website. You can also whitelist some sites that you trust in the extension, which is important since some websites cannot be accessed with anti-tracker activated.


Threat detection has always been Bitdefender’s strongest point, but its 2020 products have been improved to prevent online threats better. The new firewall, which includes a WIFI scanner, is two-way, meaning each connection goes through double verification before interacting with your device. It makes it safe to use on public WIFI connections and in blocking network-based threats such as botnets.

Safe Files

Safe Files is Bitdefender’s tool for protecting critical files on your device from ransomware and unauthorized access. It allows you to select files and folders on your device then mark them for the extra protection.

Bitdefender prevents any links or apps from performing actions on these files, such as sudden encryption keeping them safe from ransomware attacks. This method is way cheaper than buying cloud storage for backup. Some people complain that the feature in the 2020 application is over-aggressive since it blocks some trusted apps from accessing files.

Key Features in Bitdefender 2020


This is the greatest advantage of buying Bitdefender over other antivirus options. Bitdefender comes with a feature called Bitdefender Photon that adapts to your device designed for both hardware and software resources on your device.

After activation, Bitdefender performs the first full scan, and a vulnerability test then tells you if any of the features on your device are putting you at risk. Bitdefender then activates all the important threat detection features in the background and runs them only when needed allowing your device to work normally.

A full scan with Bitdefender takes less than 1hr on a PC and an even shorter time on macOS and Android devices. The other performance advantage from Bitdefender is the optimizer offered by Bitdefender Total Security, which ensures that apps do not misuse or overwhelm your device resources. It includes a startup optimizer, a disk clean-up, and a system check-up that improves the startup time and general operating speed.

Threat Detection

Bitdefender has topped AV-Test threat detection scores for three years now, and the 2020 Bitdefender detection tested in July 2019 was no different. Bitdefender detected all widespread threats as well as over 4000 zero-day threats thrown at it scoring 99.9%, a point below Kaspersky but still exemplary.

Bitdefender 2020 threat detection involves checking for suspicious behavior by apps, links, external connections, and URLs, which is more preventive than combative. It leads to better detection and neutralization of threats before they infect your device.


Most threats to your privacy are encountered while browsing, which is why you need safety online from the minute you type your search into the browser. Bitdefender Web Security kicks into action the minute you are online.

It filters down your search results to prevent phishing websites and dangerous URLs. Bitdefender Total Security 2020 also automatically blocks out known infected websites. Bitdefender further scans all traffic between your device and a website clearing out potential threats before it is stored in your device memory.

Browsing safety is further strengthened with the Bitdefender’s powerful anti-phishing features that come in handy in blocking phishing sites that clone themselves to seem legit.

Bitdefender 2020 got a perfect score from AV-Compare for detecting phishing threats. Other browsing safety features include the anti-spam and anti-fraud tools that keep out more online threats in your browser, emails, and messaging apps.


Bitdefender has the best antitheft feature for Android and laptops. It allows you to activate an alarm remotely or track lock or wipe your device if you suspect you won’t be able to find it. The greatest advantage is that antitheft also works on laptops, which is better than other companies that limit it to Android.

Additional Features

Bitdefender has some extra features that make their packages very easy to use and worth the investment.

The Password manager

Their password manager is especially powerful as it recommends the strongest passwords, scans the website before filling in your password, and tells you if any of your passwords is compromised.

File Shredder

Some sensitive files that need to be cleared from cloud backups and your device cannot be cleared by merely putting them in the recycle bin. Bitdefender file shredder helps you clear files without a trace.

Rescue Mode

This is more of a deep cleaner that helps remove rootkits and other embedded viruses. Bitdefender’s rescue mode goes beyond the normal scanning and backs up your information, then allowing you to recover everything clean through rescue mode after restarting your device.


  • No disturbance when you activate work and movie modes
  • Bitdefender central allows you to track and perform actions on devices remotely
  • A powerful password manager makes it easy to manage passwords for multiple websites
  • Strong threat detection
  • Powerful Phishing protection
  • It doesn’t slow down your system


  • VPN is limited to 200mb traffic
  • AI-assisted parental control costs extra.

McAfee Antivirus 2020

McAfee moved from offering entry-level suites in 2019 to one full protection suite called McAfee Total Protection in 2020, which is a great advantage for buyers. Their packages are priced according to the number of devices you are covering rather than limiting vital features. They include McAfee Individual for one device, Multi-Device with five licenses and Family, which covers ten devices.

McAfee has also come with better customer support and real-time threat identification in 2020. Multi-device has come at the cost of their previous Internet Security package. Parental control has, however, been moved to the Family package only.

The biggest advantage is that McAfee doesn’t limit the type of devices you can install your license on, you can install any license on either Mac, Windows, Android, or iOS. McAfee also comes with lots of premium features at no extra charge, including an unlimited traffic VPN, A premium password manager, identity theft protection, and parental control. You also get $10 off your subscription if you decide to forego the VPN after the first year.

McAfee has long been criticized for its reactive threat combatting rather than preventive as the suite only deals with threats after they are activated on your device. Their 2020 package improved in more than four independent lab tests but still fell below Bitdefender. Av-Compare and MRG-Effitas both gave McAfee threat detection less than 10 in December 2019.

McAfee Total Protection, however, includes powerful Web protection, device optimization, parental control, and identity theft protection packages that are unrivaled by the competition. Its performance in blocking phishing threats is especially exceptional.

McAfee packages are also cheaper than the competition coming in a few bucks cheaper than matching Bitdefender packages. Multidevice, which includes identity theft protection and device optimization is $39.99 in the first year $5 cheaper than Bitdefender Internet Security. McAfee Family for ten devices is only $44.99, which is one of the cheapest in the market.

New Features in McAfee Total Protection 2020

  • Safe Family

Safe Family is McAfee’s premium parental control suite that costs $50 if accessed independently. It is a near match to Bitdefender’s AI-supported package, but with McAfee, you get a free license if you buy the family license. In 2020, McAfee removed all their entry-level parental control packages, which were available in Internet security.

Safe Family is excellent in protecting children from harmful content, setting screen time, filtering apps on the device, and tracking location.

You get one license when you buy Total Protection, which you use to activate the safe family app on your iPhone, Android, or Windows device. You can set up any number of child device profiles and customize the apps they can use, screen time if you need it also choose the content they can access based on 16 different categories.

Safe Family also allows you to suspend all features except essential calling and messaging services on your child’s device. It brings all notifications of breach of specified actions, including if the child has removed the app.

  • Encrypted Storage

This is like Safe files offered by Bitdefender used for preventing ransomware. With McAfee, you are required to create a vault in your PC or Mac, set its size from 50mb to 4GB then secure it. The files are then encrypted and can only be accessed after you provide the password or answer security questions if you don’t know the password.

In case of an attempted conversion or encryption of your files, McAfee immediately backs them up, neutralizes the attack before restoring the files to your hard drive. McAfee, however, failed to detect some known ransomware attacks thrown at it. Its security question system is also weak since most of the questions require common answers that anyone who knows you could answer unless you set tough or false answers.

Identity Theft Protection

This is a major advantage with McAfee that Bitdefender hasn’t invested in. It can only be used to protect one person’s identity, but it goes a long way in helping you recover in case your identity is stolen. McAfee offers Realtime updates if your information shows up on the dark web or if it is used outside your regular areas of oeration.

It, however, only works if you activate McAfee’s automatic renewal. McAfee also promises to help you cover the expenses in case your identity is stolen and even reimburse you for any loss in the process. Identity theft protection serves Multi-Device and Family package customers. It covers a wide range of features.

One license protects:

  • 10 phone numbers
  • 10 bank accounts
  • 10 email addresses
  • 10 debit/credit cards
  • 10 retail membership cards
  • 10 Medical ID cards

It is, however, limited to only one identification document meaning it will only accept one Social Security Number, one Driver’s license, and one passport.

Key Features in McAfee Total Protection 2020

  • Cross-Device Installation

McAfee doesn’t limit the system of the device you can install your device on. If you buy the Individual License, you can use it on any PC, Mac, Android, or iOS. McAfee also allows you to reinstall the app on the same device at no extra charge, which is a great advantage in case you had to format your device.

If you buy the multi-device or the Family packages, you are given a serial number that allows you to reinstall and a license code that you will use to activate your license on all the devices.

The allowance to use your activation code on your device of choice has given McAfee the top score for friendly license terms on Reddit and PCWorld. McAfee is also easy to install on other devices. Once you get your license code, you are given a download link that you can share across devices allowing you to download and install with no hassle.

  • Threat Detection

After installing total protection on your device, you will be prompted to restart your computer, which allows McAfee to adapt to your system to initiate background monitoring and optimization. McAfee then runs quietly in the background with little interference in your normal device operations.

It performs a full vulnerability test on your system then advises you if your system or apps need updates to improve security and performance. McAfee then gives you real-time details on the state of your device security in the interface. It also scans all downloads and files from external devices every time they interact with your hard drive.

As we pointed out earlier, McAfee threat detection is, at best, average. It allowed many zero-day threats to slip past it in many tests, just like their 2019 model. The company has, however, also introduced a real-time threat database just like Bitdefender, which means your software identifies all the latest threats known to McAfee as soon as your device is online.

McAfee doesn’t scan for viruses every time your OS accesses the files; rather, it only executes key actions when it notices suspicious behavior by apps and attachments in your files. It is still effective in keeping most threats to your privacy at bay and also blocks a wide range of viruses.

McAfee also has great customer support available 24/7, whom you can reach out to for help. An agent will log into your device remotely to clean it in case the app is unable to clear a threat. It, however, doesn’t include a deep cleaning tool that eradicates rootkits effectively like Bitdefender.

  • Performance

McAfee’s Performance optimization is premium quality as it saves both device system resources and network resources. It comes in handy when browsing as it protects your device from predatory websites that automatically launch videos when you open them.

It also minimizes the bandwidth that is spent on each site by filtering web traffic to the most vital features protecting your network from overloads. Its web optimization is, however, limited to Chrome and the most modern versions of Firefox.

McAfee doesn’t significantly slow down startup and device speed, but it is not as adaptable as Bitdefender. Once installed, McAfee generally slows your startup time by a few seconds, especially when all its extensions are activated.

It doesn’t have a startup optimizer, although the slowdown is hard to notice since it doesn’t affect the execution of apps on the system. It, however, scans drivers and apps that need an update on your device to help you bring the device to optimum performance.

  • Unlimited VPN

McAfee took over Tunnel Bear VPN in 2018, which allowed them to introduce unlimited VPN in 2020 for all licenses. You also need to activate autorenewal to be given full access to the McAfee VPN. Unlike Bitdefender, which limits each device with a license to 200MB of web traffic a day, McAfee allows up to five devices per license to go online at a time.

Their VPN has over 2000 locations across the world, which gives you a wide range of locations to choose from. The VPN also proved faster than most VPN packages in the market, although it still slows down your speed of streaming videos.

  • Web Security

McAfee Web Security filters search results, ensuring that harmful websites are kept out of your browser. It automatically blocks your browser from accessing known phishing sites. McAfee also scans through your downloads to remove harmful attachments and quarantine suspicious files.

McAfee Total Security, however, doesn’t include special security for internet banking. It also lacks a hardened browser for banking like Safe Pay offered by Bitdefender.

Other Important Shared Features from McAfee Security 2020

  • True Key Password Manager

When you buy McAfee license, you get five True Key licenses. True Key is one of the best password managers in the market today, which ensures all the passwords you use to access different websites are securely stored in a vault. You can also use it to store sensitive details such as decryption keys, internet banking details, and scanned documents.

  • McAfee File Shredder

If you intend to delete something permanently without leaving a trace on your device, the file shredder comes in handy.


  • It allows you to use all licenses on any device
  • All packages include the premium protection features
  • No traffic limit on the VPN
  • Premium parental control without extra charge
  • Friendly pricing across packages
  • . Friendly human customer support 24/7


  • Virus detection can use an improvement
  • It doesn’t include a hardened browser for safe payments.

Direct Comparison

  • Performance

Both Bitdefender and McAfee have a small impact on your devices and hence don’t cause lots of lag time. Bitdefender is, however, the mot system friendly of the two as it adapts itself to your device to optimize resource usage. Bitdefender also includes a startup optimizer that reduces the number of apps that use your resources at startup preventing slowdowns.

  • Web Protection

With Either McAfee or Bitdefender, you are assured of strong protection from phishing sites and spammers. The two also scan your networks with a strong firewall to ensure that links and downloads are free of malicious content. The greatest advantage of McAfee is the VPN with no traffic limit, which is also faster than Bitdefender’s 200MB limit VPN.

Bitdefender, however, includes an ant tracker and Safe Pay, which offer better protection and privacy especially for online banking. Their password managers are a draw as they both provide a secure vault for your most sensitive passcodes to online services. McAfee can, however, do better by improving the quality of their Security questions.

  • Package Features and Cross-Device Coverage

You can invest in a McAfee activation code and use it on all your devices in any method you want. With Bitdefender, you are limited to PCs until you invest in their Total security protection. McAfee is also suitable for single-device owners since you get all the features of protection, although you are limited to one license.

Bitdefender sets a minimum of three devices on their licenses but denies you key features such as device optimization and iOS compatibility unless you invest in their top tier package.

  • Parental Control

Bitdefender requires you to pay extra for their premium parental control app. It has more features for protecting your child, including cyberbullying protection and better content filtering. Safe Family offered by McAfee, despite not including bullying detection and AI assistance, still offers the essential features of parental control.

It is a greater trade-off than Bitdefender. Bitdefender, however, allows you access to basic parental control features in their basic packages, unlike McAfee, which limits parental control to the family package.

  • Remote Functions

Bitdefender Central is a powerful platform that allows you to monitor the security of all your devices from the central account. You can perform almost any action on all the devices remotely, including checking and initiating scans, checking security status, and initiating antitheft. McAfee only allows you to share links for installing the app on other devices rather than perform actions remotely.

Final Note

Jointly, Bitdefender and MacAfee provide security for the biggest percentage of devices in the world, and many people find it hard to choose between the best package. Bitdefender has long been hailed for protecting with the highest vigilance, while McAfee is a fairly priced family antivirus package.

Whether you are buying your first protection suite or looking to get a change, this guide has the details to help you make a confident choice.