McAfee and Webroot are top antivirus software products, but which one is the best choice?
There are a number of things to take into consideration when choosing the best software for you and your devices. This guide will look at the most important factors to consider before you buy and give you all the information you need to make a well-informed choice.
Starting with malware protection, I will provide the results of my own tests and cross-analyze this data with studies from leading antivirus websites and experts. I will also consider additional features, as well as performance and pricing.
If you’re short on time, here is the quick answer: McAfee is the winner. With a wide range of plans and price points, and an abundance of features to protect your privacy, McAfee is the best value for money, especially with the promotional 50% discount. Are you looking for a little more? Keep reading for an in-depth comparison of McAfee and Webroot and what each can offer.
Summary: McAfee vs Webroot
- Multi-faceted privacy protection
- Comprehensive security
- McAfee Shredder
- Password manager
- Identity theft protection
|Feature||McAfee Total Protection||Webroot Antivirus|
|Antivirus and antispyware||✔||✔|
|Banking and payment protection||✖||✔|
|Network attack protection||✔||✔|
|Automatically update apps||✖||✖|
|PC cloud backup||✖||✔ (25GB)|
|Identity theft protection||✔ (Included when you are enrolled in auto renewal)||✔|
|Run suspicious apps in sandbox||✖||✖|
McAfee was established in the US in 1987. For the last 30 years, it has grown exponentially to a global entity of 7,000 employees based in 189 countries. It is one of the largest providers of antivirus software in the world. The company protects an estimated 525 million consumer devices. McAfee became a major player by creating a plethora of products designed to fight cybercrime.
Founded in 1997, Webroot provides antivirus protection for both businesses and consumers around the globe. Webroot and its parent company, Carbonite, were acquired by OpenText in 2019. Canadian company OpenText develops and sells enterprise information management software, and in 2014 it was Canada’s largest software company and one of the country’s top 100 employers.
Pricing and compatibility
Having a paid antivirus software plan in place reduces your risk online. Free, limited versions lack appropriate protection of your digital information. Though it’s appealing to use no-cost software, these typically leave you more vulnerable to cybercrime than their paid counterparts. To protect your privacy and identity online, it’s better to pay for antivirus software.
First, consider the cost of McAfee and Webroot. Choosing affordable and effective software is important, as it can make subsequent renewals much easier. The prices and packages available are outlined in the table below.
|McAfee Total Protection - 1 Device||McAfee Total Protection - 5 Devices||McAfee Total Protection - 10 Devices||McAfee Total Protection Plus VPN - 5 Devices||McAfee LiveSafe - Unlimited Devices|
|$79.99 per year||$99.99 per year||$99.99 pear year||$99.99 per year||$99.99 per year|
|Webroot Antivirus||Webroot Internet Security Plus||Webroot Internet Security Complete|
|$39.99 per year||$59.99 per year||$79.99 per year|
McAfee offers a much wider range of options than Webroot with a variety of plans designed for households with multiple devices. Its multi-device plans make McAfee better suited to modern-day living as most people have more than one device.
McAfee’s packages allow you more flexibility as you can choose how many devices you want to cover. Webroot, on the other hand, only offers three products. While the simplicity of its packaging structure requires slightly less comparison, there is a smaller chance of finding a product fully aligned to your needs. However, at $39.99 per year, Webroot’s basic plan is less than half the price of McAfee’s Total Protection for either one or five devices.
Not only is Webroot’s basic package half the price of McAfee’s more basic options, but its mid-level package is also substantially cheaper and offers protection for five devices for $59.99 per year. Arguably, McAfee’s LiveSafe package is the best value at $99.99 per year. At just $20 more, LiveSafe offers better coverage for an unlimited number of devices.
TIP: McAfee frequently runs discounts of up to 50%, making it great value for money at the promotional rate.
If you’re unsatisfied, McAfee offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can claim your money back from Webroot within 70 days.
Compatibility is also important when considering which software to invest in. Both McAfee and Webroot work with Windows, Android, and MacOS.
Effectiveness against malware
Paying for antivirus software is more likely to provide you with greater protection against online threats and cybercrime. Most importantly, you need to ensure your antivirus software can deal with these threats effectively.
I ran some tests to determine which software performed better in response to malware. My first test involved downloading malware samples from the European Institute of Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). The second used live samples of malware to see how the antivirus software works in real-time.
|Test File||EICAR Sample 1||EICAR Sample 2||EICAR Sample 3||EICAR Sample 4||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Live Sample 3 (Trojan)|
Webroot allowed all EICAR samples, but blocked and removed the live samples.
Is McAfee more effective than Webroot? In short, yes. McAfee blocked all samples, making it better at protecting your devices than Webroot on the surface.
While you can see McAfee is more effective at blocking and removing malware threats than Webroot in my own tests, let’s look at further evidence from independent lab AV-Test.
According to AV-Test’s experiments, McAfee is effective at protecting devices against zero-day malware attacks, including web and email threats. These studies were conducted over May and June 2020 and gave McAfee a score of 98.8 percent and 100 percent respectively. Webroot was not tested by AV-Test.
Moving on to AV-Comparatives’ real-world protection test summary for February to May 2020, McAfee scored 98.9 percent, placing it among the top-performing antivirus software products in the test. AV-Comparatives didn’t test Webroot.
While comparing antivirus products, it’s important to consider false alarms. These can give insight into how accurately antivirus software identifies threats from files or apps. McAfee picked up 25 false alarms across March 2020, putting it way above the average of nine.
Even with external data indicating some potential issues with McAfee and false alarms, it is arguably much more effective at protecting devices against malware than Webroot.
Impact on PC Performance
Antivirus software can have a big impact on how your PC functions, either as you use it for simple tasks or while a scan is taking place. I tested how my PC performance was affected while I ran a scan.
|Test Type||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan Items Scanned||Quick Scan CPU Utilization|
|Quick Scan Memory Utilization |
|Quick Scan Disk Utilization|
|Quick Scan Time (seconds)|
As you can see from the table above, McAfee’s scan took over twice the time of Webroot’s. McAfee did scan over 70 times the items Webroot managed to check and therefore delivers a more in-depth result. While McAfee’s quick scan took far longer than Webroot’s, it does give a more thorough picture of what is on my device.
The data below indicates how each antivirus software impacts PC performance when no scan was running and when a scan was active.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization |
|Control Memory Utilization|
|Control Disk Utilization|
|Full Scan CPU Utilization|
|Full Scan Memory Utilization|
|Full Scan Disk Utilization|
Both services have a relatively low impact on PC performance while no scan was being performed. McAfee’s 12 percent CPU utilization is less than half of Webroot’s. However, it’s disk utilization is six times higher at 66MB/s compared to Webroot’s 10MB/s.
These tests indicate that Webroot has a lighter impact than McAfee on a PC’s performance. While Webroot might have less impact on a day-to-day basis, McAfee is more effective at protecting your device from threats because its scans go much deeper.
Looking at results from AV-Comparatives’ performance tests in April 2020 reveals yet more data. This gives a more accurate picture of how McAfee and Webroot impact PC performance. The test looks at eight common tasks:
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
- File copying: first and subsequent run
- Installing and uninstalling applications
- Archiving and unarchiving
- Launching applications: first and subsequent run
McAfee scored well in terms of speed, indicating again that it has minimal impact on PC performance considering how in-depth its scans are. Webroot again was not tested by AV-Comparatives.
The additional features of an antivirus scanner are just as important as the scanner itself. These features provide you with the best protection for your devices. Below are some of the standout features of McAfee and Webroot, which should clarify which system is the best value for money and offers better protection.
- Performance optimization
- Home network security
- Security experts and online support
- Multi-device compatibility
- Password manager
- Safe web browsing
- File shredder
- Encrypted storage
- Identity theft protection
- Advanced threat protection
- Protection that stops ransomware
- Lightning-fast scans
- Protects account logins and passwords (LastPass)
- Eliminates traces of online activity
- 25GB of secure online storage
Password Manager: Securely store all of your online passwords in one place and ensure all of your personal and private information is protected.
McAfee Shredder: This handy shredder is pretty unique to McAfee as many competitors lack this feature. The McAfee shredder enables you to delete files and ensures no traces are left behind.
Encrypted Storage: Encrypted storage allows you to securely store your most private files. McAfee stores them on your PC using 256-bit AES encryption.
Lightning-fast scans: Webroot scans your device within 20 seconds, which is much faster than many of its competitors.
LastPass: Protect your passwords and personal information with the LastPass password manager.
25GB of secure online storage: Safely store your important files and photos with Webroot’s secure online storage.
McAfee and Webroot boast similar features that would be useful day to day. McAfee’s offerings are superior with its data shredder and encryption features being more useful for the average user.
See also: Best password managers
Signup and installation
If you’re new to installing antivirus software, there’s no need to worry as the signup processes for both Webroot and McAfee are straightforward.
Webroot’s one-page layout allows users to input payment and customer information in one place. It also allows you to choose how many devices are covered by your plan. A software CD is included at an additional cost. Nowadays most people don’t require a CD, so if this is the case for you, make sure you remove this before proceeding to payment.
McAfee will take you to a separate page when you choose your package, but it outlines any savings you make and shows the price of your product before you pay. It also provides you with a 30-day notice before auto-renewal, so you don’t accidentally pay your annual subscription fee when it’s not required.
How easy is the interface to use?
Any program you install should be easy to use. From the images below, it is clear each interface is simple and straightforward.
McAfee maintains its recognizable branding with the red and grey color scheme. It also shows you how many apps and files it’s protecting, so you can see how effectively it’s working. The left-hand panel shows you what is enabled, giving you a clear indication of the level of protection you are receiving. It’s very easy to read and understand, making it especially suitable for beginners.
Webroot’s interface is relatively easy to use with its simple navigation structure. The design is a little lacking, but it does the job. You’ll find easy access to your identity protection, backups, and passwords in the right-hand panel of the interface. You can also stay up to date with the Webroot community by clicking on the bottom panel.
If you’re new to dealing with antivirus software, you may not be familiar with how to solve any problems you may encounter. Therefore, it’s important to choose a service that provides solid customer support.
McAfee offers 24/7 support via web chat and phone, meaning you can get the help you need whatever the time of day. The company also provides a knowledge base, forum, and support hub, as well as additional advice on social media. McAfee also guarantees your system remains malware-free by providing technicians who can connect to your devices remotely to fix infections. This is a feature many of its competitors do not offer.
Unfortunately, Webroot only provides support over the phone during business hours, which may be a problem if you encounter an issue at another time. They do also provide an online support section, and if you’re really stuck, you can ask Webroot’s online user community.
Now that we have looked at all of the features, advantages, and disadvantages of McAfee and Webroot, it’s clear that McAfee is the superior antivirus provider. McAfee’s system is designed to keep your devices safe while being easy to use. The company provides a robust customer support system and its interface is straightforward and designed for beginners. McAfee has a wide variety of packages making it easy to choose one specifically suited to your needs.