McAfee vs. Bitdefender vs. ZoneAlarm – Internet Security Software Showdown

Alex Patel

May 15 2016

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Is your PC protected? What about your other devices? Laptop, smartphone, tablet? If you are fully aware of all the threats that are lurking in the dark corners of the internet, then you probably already chose the protection software to help keep your PC safe.

If, however, you’re not so well informed about the subject of internet security, then do yourself a favor and check out this article in which three of the most used and respected providers of PC security are compared.

Even if you’re not interested in the security platforms we’re comparing in this article, it will give you a good insight into the crucial features a good security product has to offer.

Don’t fool yourself: protecting your PC is really not a choice, it is an obligation. Large parts of our lives take place online, and without the proper protection yours could be compromised in very unpleasant ways.

Many of us have fallen victim to online theft, phishing, hacking attacks, or other online criminal behavior – don’t be the next to suffer this fate. Protect your PC to protect yourself! Obviously, that includes keeping your internet security software up-to-date.

New viruses and other types of malware are created every day, and these require ongoing monitoring and regular software updates from security and antivirus software companies. Internet security software that’s still active but no longer updated because it wasn’t renewed, really doesn’t help you a lot. Without the addition of the newest virus definitions your PC is an open target.

Internet Security Software Offers Broad Protection

Why compare internet security software packages and not just antivirus software? Well, antivirus software is only a part of the security your PC needs in this day and age. We want to paint you the whole picture instead of just one part of it in extreme close up.

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Besides, purchasing the separate parts of an internet security ‘suite’ is guaranteed to be a much more costly affair than buying an all-in-one suite. Another, even more important reason to use a security suite instead of a collection of individual tools: an integrated suite more than likely executes its tasks using fewer processes and a much smaller part of your PC’s resources.

This comparison evaluates three security suite products: McAfee LiveSafe, Bitdefender Internet Security and ZoneAlarm Extreme Security (2016 version of each product).

Why These Three Products?

Obviously, there are many more security software platforms that we could have chosen for this comparison.

We chose these three products for a very simple reason: they are the highest rated products by our users.


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We will definitely take the opportunity to review other products in the future as well, but for now, this is a showdown of the most popular internet security products as decided by ‘our own’. We’ll compare all three products on several key features in order to provide you with the best possible insight.

Core Feature: Protection

The crucial feature of any security software package is, naturally, protection. It needs to offer you the highest possible level of protection. Anything less than that is basically unacceptable. All three security suites are built around a firewall and virus/spyware protection. And all three suites deliver the protection in a way you would expect it to happen. You can customize the suites to your needs, set the level of protection (low/ medium/ high) for different items, and read extensive scan reports as well as convenient summaries.

All tools offer the necessary technology to eliminate current online threats. In particular, Bitdefender Internet Security 2016 seems to be extremely thorough in blocking everything potentially dangerous, from traditional viruses, worms, and Trojans to ransomware, zero-day exploits, rootkits, and spyware right at the source.

But it has to be said that both the McAfee and the ZoneAlarm suites are also thorough, benefitting from regular automatic software updates to ensure the latest malware is covered by the offered protection. The same thing can be said about spam protection, for which a whole range of settings can be entered to customize the filtering exactly the way you want it.


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You set your preferences once and the suites do the rest – very convenient, very safe and without any hassle.

Real-Time Scanning For Viruses, Spyware and Other Threats

The real-time scan feature is pretty much standard on all security products nowadays, and the three security suites in this comparison are no exception.

As soon as you turn your PC on, scanning starts. It happens that features malfunction, which is a mild inconvenience, but as long as you are aware of the problem (of which you’re informed immediately) it is easy to fix by restarting the security software, or even restarting the PC.

McAfee is the product with most errors of this type, but it is no more than a mild inconvenience. Definitely not something that happens every week.

The vulnerability scanner does its work well in all three suites, offering a quickly generated overview of PC software that needs updating, which you have the option to do straight from the security platform.

Good Performance Overall – MacAfee LiveSafe Suffers A Bit

Basically, the security offered by all three suites is very reliable and effective. Quick scans are very fast in all three products, but in the case of a full system scan, McAfee does have a slight negative impact on PC speed. This is something that was less apparent in the other two suites. It is not an immense difference, but still noticeable.

Easy User interface; room for improvement in LiveSafe

The user interfaces of all three products are easy to work with and not very difficult to understand – even for the less tech savvy among us.

The one thing noticeable in this area, is that McAfee LiveSafe offers a set of options from the main screen, but has a whole set of additional features that are ‘hidden’ under the ‘Navigation’ menu item tucked away in a small submenu.

It’s like McAfee doesn’t want you to find this menu too easily. Too bad, because it offers an interesting set of product features. In the next LiveSafe release, McAfee should find a way to work those features into the main setup so users can access them more easily.

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It is understandable why McAfee chose the setup to be the way it is, to keep the core of the product easy to grasp and not cluttered with options that might not be useful for all users so much. However, there seems to be some room for improvement in how to disclose all the options.

The Differences Lie In the Extras

All three security suites offer a fantastic range of features, and outdo each other in some ways, while they have to take a backseat (or no seat) in other aspects. There is not one product that offers everything in the best possible way.

McAfee LiveSafe offers you the option to add an unlimited number of devices in the suite, and offers great mobile security for Android (and a very basic iOS app).

LiveSafe does not offer back up options, where the other two products do.

Bitdefender also offers cloud integration, which means that all scanning happens in the cloud, which is a big relief for the performance of your device. Only your data’s signature is scanned, no files are ever uploaded or stored.

The obvious option to execute the necessary parental control is available in all three products, as is the protected password storage option.


All in all, we are definitely dealing with three top products in the security software market. All of them deliver a strong performance when it comes to the core features of the product, Based on the extras, you should be able to decide which of these three your favorite is. While each of the three suites has its strengths and weaknesses, the overall performance is really strong.

Choosing any of these three will not bite you in the ass, that’s for sure. Prices are very reasonable too, and with a bit of luck, you can benefit from one of our great exclusive deals!

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