McAfee or Norton AntiVirus [please no debates]

As the lead tech support person for Win95/98 users for a number of nonprofit groups in the Northeast, I’ve been pushing McAfee Virus Scan and Microsoft’s ScanDisk, Defrag, and RegClean utilities over Norton AntiVirus and Norton System Tools for years now. I do this because in my personal experience, computers running Norton utilities seem to have a lot more random problems – despite the number of times that Norton tells you it’s prevented a problem before it happens.

On the one hand, many IT folks I respect agree with me, but on the other hand, many other IT folks I respect swear by Norton.

I am looking for (relatively) objective reasons that people prefer or dislike one or the other. I’m hoping not to start a GD thread, but to share information. Who knows, maybe we can collectively come up with a set of things that will tell us if McAfee or Norton is a better choice for any given person.

Well, I would have to say that Norton Anti-virus is better than the Mcafee prodict. Notice I did not say Norton Utilities- I have found those to be crappy in general, and only good in certain situations. But I find that the Norton Anti-virus generally works better on 95/98 PC’s than the McAfee does. This is also not taking into account the problems that McAfee has with updating an older version of virus scan - you need to remove the program, then remove all files associated with it, to get it to work. And that’s not just conjecture- it’s from McAfee itself. The agency I work for uses 4.x McAfee exclusively- I have spent the past two weeks dealing with a problem from McAfee’s latest update, Netscape, and oddly, zip drives.

I can only go by my own experiences…

Nortons works well on my laptop, which still has Win 98. However, on my regular pc, which has Win Millenium, I run McAfee. Attempting to put McAfee on the laptop crashed the system, and I actually had to return it and get a new one. The system, according to the tech, was beyond repair.
Never really got an explanation as to what happened.

McAfee doesn’t work with ME. Since I have ME, I have to use Norton.

I liked CNet’s Norton vs. McAfee article. Pretty good, seemingly objective evaluation.

I use Norton SystemWorks 2000 on my PC and it seems to run fine, although it can be a bit of a resource hog if use enable all the apps, Crashguard is a piece of crap IMHO. Its caught the few viruses I’ve come across and the firewall seems like a solid app.

My boss installed an old version of Norton Utilities on his laptop and ended up ahving to do a complete reinstall of Windows 98. But I suspect that wasn’t all Norton;s fault personally.

My only complain about Norton is that they alerts and diagnostics aren’t informative enough for me, they do the job but they are designed for the Lowest Common Denominator. Especially the firewall, I mean I want to know what ports these apps are hitting. This info might be in there, but its not real obvious as to where to find it.

Norton Utilities is noticably faster than the Windows Error-Checking , Defrag, etc. Norton offers more options and a better display showing the current status (even if it takes as long to go from 99% complete to 100% than from 1% to 10%). IIRC the Windows Defragmentation and Error-Checking are slimmed down licensed versions of Norton (possibly an older version of the engine, too). If you have the current version of McAfee VirusScan it is easy to update and use but, as mentioned already, it tends to be more difficult to update the scan engine.

More of an IMHO than anything else, but it’s been my experience that Norton Antivirus is faster at detecting viruses. Quite often, I’ve found that McAfee will detect a virus only after it’s launched itself and begun infecting the system. For me, McAfee has destroyed too many Windows installations (usually problems with the DLLs it installs), so now I stick with Norton Antivirus.

Norton seems more stable to me than MacAfee, but it could be because we’re using McAfee on the crappy work computers that the crappy IT dpt constantly screws with while I have Norton on my home computer which is built correctly.


I must be the exception. I am using McAfee with ME and it works just fine including a recent DAT file update.

My real world experience has been:

Very sketchy on McAfee.

On a network of almost 40 machines, I have had to disable McAfee on several machines because it was taking up resources. Most all were running Win98 (at the time) but on 5-6 machines I had to completely disable it. Also, we configured all machines to update weekly and it wasn’t updating.

I ran McAfee on my home machine for about 2 days and got rid of it. My system kept hanging for no other reason than I had McAfee installed. I uninstalled it and my system was happy as a clam again.

Today I use Norton Antivirus and haven’t run into any problems with it at all.

I swear by Norton but I haven’t had 40 machines running it just my family’s machines (about 7 in total, none of which have problems.)

As for regular system maintenence (sp) I stick with MS’s utilities. They’re easy and get the job done and cause little system interferance.

So I say, stick with Norton’s Antivirus and MS’s utilities. Keep Norton Utilities around for those weird times you really need it. Install it and then uninstall it.

My computer came with McAffee, never had any problems until I tried to update. Screwed me up royal. I tried McAfee support, Dell Suport and three months of living with the slow-down problem before I deleted McAfee. The problem went away after deletion and I successfully installed Norton, no problems. McAfee has yet to refund my 30.00 and won’t even respond to my e-mails or letters.

I’ll never recommend McAfee again. Buy NORTON.

PC Magazine’s June anti-virus review. Summary: Editor’s Choice is Norton AV 2001.

I was just looking for a new anti-virus package. Notwithstanding the gripes, I went with Norton. I also read an anti-virus review (which I can’t find right now) that chose Panda Platinum because it caught a (new) virus that Norton and McAfee didn’t.

Look to that cnet link it not only gives you editors reviews but users can post their opinions as well. I think Norton is more ‘streamlined’ then McAfee. It just appears to be put together better while McAfee seems to be a bunch of modules that were thrown together - but tha’s just my humble O.

But that said I had McAfee on one machine and had to totally remove it and when I reinstalled it I needed to re-regester it. I sent an email to McAfee and the vendor where I downloaded it. McAfee basically said go to the vendor while the vendor gave me a place where I could download it but it was only a trial version.

WHAT BS - I had about 7 months left! - I then went went over to Norton and bought and DL it. Norton ran faster and better.

I will NEVER buy another product that makes license protection so hard to overcome that they will give you a hassel when you are trying to reinstall their product (unless there is no alternative :rolleyes: ). But the problem is you don’t know till you buy it - but then it’s too late.

I don’t use the utilities - they just seem to waste more system resources then they help.

I use CAI’s antivirus scanner (Innoculate). If I had to choose among the two in the OP, I’d go with Norton. McAfee is rather worthless in my experience. Out of a case of 10 or 12 viruses that I’ve seen on systems with it installed, it had a really low hit rate–ca. 1 or 2. Pathetic.

From my experience: McAffee AV has that quirk about updating the scan engines but once I wrestled past that it worked quite well. Norton AV worked smoothly and updating never gave me trouble.

The OP is wise to leave aside the McAfee System Utilities, they were a pain. Norton’s seemed better designed, the clean-up utilities mentioned just felt better in use than Windows’; still, the installation will normally incorporate the various “crashguard” modules and it then becomes a voracious resources hog (for not that GREAT a performance improvement, at the end of the day). And, anecdotically, it seems on Compaq Presarios with W98, Norton whacks some of the OEM features (such as sound and the SystemRestore function).

and k2dave, you must be dreading the coming of XP…

      • I bought McAffee VirusScan a year or so ago when there were two or three big viruses running rampant. All it did was slow the machine waaayyyyy down, and would crash it after about 5 minutes of time online. All of the scans wouldn’t turn off at all. There was a patch/update available, but it was so big that it would take about 15 minutes to download, and like I said, the PC would only go about 5 minutes online before crashing so I never could update it. -And you had to have the program installed to get the update; you couldn’t download the update and then install the program, and then run the update stored on your HD… -I looked for pointers and asked for assistance on the regular website as well as the AOL site and never got a response from either, and that decided it: no more McAffee.
        -A couple computer magazines gave it top reviews at the time, which was why I picked it originally, and it was the most expensive one in the store I was at ($70, I guessed it was more likely than cheaper ones to work well,). I returned it for a refund after about two days. I go without.
  • I have Norton Utilities but I got it free with the Office 2K I bought, so it might be a trial version but it doesn’t appear so. I use the defrag utility a lot- it’s faster than Windows and has more options. - MC

Until a few months ago our corporate antivirus software was McAfee. It’s now Norton. There was a nasty virus that was re-infecting some of our network servers every morning and driving the IT guys bonkers. After a week or so McAfee still had no solution . Norton had a fix already posted.
Our IT guys believe Norton is better.

It’s probably not a trial version. I got it with the ME I bought last October. Unfortunately, I needed a new hard drive last spring. I had the Norton on disc, but could not download it. Norton said that the old Norton anti-virus was not compatible with ME, but there is a new one that is, which I had to buy. It said that there was a patch on the initial Norton that made it compatible, but once that was lost, I needed the new one.

I’m not happy about it. I don’t know if I will uprade - it really depends on how much ‘better’ it really is and if I can get a crack for it - not that I’m looking to steal it just disable the annoying parts of software I buy.

After installing McAfee VirusScan on one computer I got the blue screen of death with a message about “fatal exception OE VXD MCSCAN”. A search at suggested it was a problem with McAfee VirusScan. I uninstalled & then re-installed VirusScan. I’m not sure I’m OK yet.

I’ve been using it on another computer with no problems at all. Go figure.

Although McAfee VirusScan is what our employer has chosen, other colleagues have also expressed dissatisfaction.