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Home » Best Free Antivirus Software for 2024 » Webroot vs McAfee

Webroot vs McAfee

I. Introduction

A. Antivirus software is critical for protecting computers and devices from malicious software, including viruses, spyware, ransomware and more. With cyberattacks on the rise globally, having a robust antivirus solution in place has become more important than ever for both individuals and businesses.

B. In this article, we compare two popular antivirus software providers – Webroot and McAfee. Webroot focuses on advanced real-time anti-malware protection powered by sophisticated machine learning. McAfee is a veteran antivirus company with a broad product portfolio spanning consumer and enterprise security. We analyze their backgrounds, malware protection capabilities, features, performance impact, pricing, user experience and overall value proposition.

II. Company Background

A. McAfee is one of the oldest and most established cybersecurity companies, founded by John McAfee in 1987. Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 in one of the largest software security acquisitions. Currently, McAfee is owned by Symphony Technology Group and operates as an independent company focused primarily on enterprise and consumer security products.

B. Webroot was founded in 1997 and is now owned by Carbonite after its acquisition in 2017 for $618 million. It is headquartered in Colorado and specializes in advanced real-time protection against malware and phishing attacks. Webroot combines predictive machine learning with comprehensive threat intelligence to detect emerging zero-day threats rapidly.

C. Both companies have undergone acquisitions by larger IT security focused companies – McAfee is currently held by private equity firm STG, while Webroot is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carbonite. These acquisitions have expanded their technology capabilities and resources available for research and development of new security offerings.

III. Malware Protection

A. McAfee primarily relies on signature-based detection to identify malware and viruses by matching against previously known threats. This can be effective against known threats but vulnerable to new zero-day malware and polymorphic viruses designed to evade signatures.

McAfee also offers real-time cloud-based threat detection via McAfee Global Threat Intelligence and machine learning through McAfee Real Protect. However, some independent tests have found a higher false positive rate and resource usage compared to competitors.

B. Webroot takes a fundamentally different approach that does not require signatures, definitions or updates. Instead, it uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms to detect malicious behavior, anomalies and patterns almost instantly.

By analyzing over 500 million endpoints and using advanced real-time threat intelligence, Webroot claims to offer the fastest protection against emerging zero-day threats – often in under 20 seconds of new threats being identified or scripts executed.

C. Recent tests demonstrate Webroot’s superiority in malware protection:

  • AV Comparatives 2018: Webroot received the highest possible Advanced+ rating in malware protection, outperforming McAfee which only received an Advanced rating.
  • SE Labs 2018 Home Anti-Malware Protection Report: Webroot received AAA certification for 100% protection and zero false positives, compared to McAfee which had weaker protection rates.

Webroot has consistently shown superior malware prevention capabilities and a lighter impact on system performance compared to McAfee in independent testing.

IV. Features and Performance

A. McAfee AntiVirus Plus includes core features like real-time scanning, behavior monitoring, quarantine for suspicious files, script scanning and advanced web defense tools like browser sandboxing.

The anti-ransomware capabilities block suspicious behavior to prevent encryption of files. Other utilities like vulnerability scanner, file shredder and True Key password manager add value.

The main downside is McAfee’s significant drag on system performance even after disabling real-time scanning. Most independent tests confirm McAfee as one of the heaviest antivirus solutions for system performance degradation.

B. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is focused on unobtrusive real-time prevention powered by machine learning analytics on the backend cloud platform.

It monitors all unknown processes intelligently, analyzing behavior patterns and distinguishing between harmless and malicious code without definitions or signatures. Suspicious files get automatically contained to prevent infections.

The lightweight client has minimal impact on PC performance – independent testing found Webroot to be among the lowest for system slowdowns. Webroot also causes less disruption overall with rapid scans that take under two minutes.

C. Comparative testing clearly highlights Webroot’s advantages in minimizing the performance impact compared to McAfee:

  • Passmark Software: Webroot only had a 2.1% impact on baseline system performance, improving on McAfee’s 14% slowdown.
  • AV-Test: Webroot scored top-marks on both protection and performance, while McAfee failed the performance certification test due to slowing.

Webroot is optimized to co-exist with other applications without high resource utilization or latency issues. In contrast, McAfee can struggle to stay performant under pressure while handling demanding security workloads.

V. Pricing and Plans

A. McAfee AntiVirus starts at $30 per year covering a single Windows device. Protection extends across Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices for $80 per year. For a limited time, multi-device suite subscriptions are discounted to $60 per year.

McAfee Total Protection bundles in more security tools like password manager and file encryption for $100 per year. Overall McAfee offers cost-effective antivirus software with the option for adding extra utilities.

B. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus retail pricing is set higher at $80 per year for a single device. Expanding to fully cover 3 devices costs $120 annually. Additional devices are not too expensive at $20 more for every 2 covered.

Compared to entry-level pricing, Webroot is more expensive at equivalent or higher tiers versus McAfee. Webroot tries to justify premium pricing based on higher detection rates confirmed in independent tests.

C. Based purely on numerical value, McAfee plans are cheaper pound-for-pound versus Webroot. However, when you consider superior malware prevention and the lighter system impact, Webroot justifies its premium price based on quality of protection.

For budget-conscious buyers, McAfee is more affordable to cover multiple device access. Webroot appeals more to quality-focused users who want zero performance degradation with airtight security.

VI. User Experience

A. McAfee AntiVirus has an outdated interface, with menus and options cluttered across various panels. The workflow involves toggling between different screens to monitor security status, access settings or analyze virus scanning reports.

Newer centralized dashboards surface key insights more prominently like at-risk devices needing attention. Streamlined guidance and wizards assist novice users in navigating the varied configuration choices during setup.

B. As a lightweight solution built on machine learning, the Webroot client app focuses heavily on automation over manual control. Status and notifications are presented minimalistically without overlapping data views to parse.

The Webroot console area cleanly highlights protection status, detected threats and single-click triggers for quick scans. Overall, the modern Webroot interface and experience is cleaner for accessing core security capabilities.

C. Based on customer satisfaction survey data from ConsumerAffairs and G2 crowd, Webroot scores higher for usability and user experience. Out of 5 stars, Webroot averages 4+ stars compared to McAfee’s 3.5 star rating. Users specifically praise Webroot for simple installs, intuitive controls and low footprint.

VII. Conclusion

A. To summarize – both Webroot and McAfee offer capable antivirus software with core real-time monitoring to block malware infections. However, Webroot pulls ahead decisively based on:

  • Superior malware prevention and highest protection ratings from all reputable independent testing labs
  • Lightweight performance without slowing down PCs noticeably during scans or resource-intense tasks
  • More polished and user-friendly interface for simplified security management

B. Ultimately for reliability against widening threat landscape and usability, Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus is the recommended choice for most home users. The machine learning driven approach causes no latency even under load while maximizing detection of emerging unknown threats.

While McAfee provides affordable multi-device licensing, the protection quality and performance impact results are subpar relatively. Webroot justifies the premium pricing through consistent top results certified across leading testing benchmarks.