Windows vs. Mac Antivirus: What's different & which is right for you

Best Windows Antivirus Software on PC
Best Windows Antivirus Software on PC (Image credit: Briana Scroggins/ Future Plc)

When buying a new laptop — whether Windows PC or macOS — getting an antivirus software package is essential. While both come with built-in protection, other security companies offer more in terms of device coverage, VPN security and internet browsing protection.

However, with each type of operating system comes different features. Some antivirus software doesn't work on macOS for example, whereas some free versions of antivirus software only include virus scanning over holistic protection.

We round up the popular brands on the market and see how they differ between Windows PC and macOS.


For over 18 years, the global cyber security firm has protected over 500 million systems both at home and in the workplace. Offering a free and paid security solution, it is available on Windows PC and macOS.

But what's the difference between the two?

The Windows PC free and paid version of the security solution have more features than the macOS version. For people who don't wish to pay, if they own a Mac they can only get the virus scanner for free, compared to the Windows package which has more to offer. Features include:

  • Protection for Windows with uncompromising speed
  • Complete real-time data protection
  • Advanced threat defense
  • Web attack prevention
  • Anti-phishing and anti-fraud prevention
  • Bitdefender Photon—adapts to hardware and software configuration to improve speed and performance
  • Global protective network, meaning heavy scanning takes place in the cloud rather than using the device itself

When looking at paid packages, the Windows PC one definitely has more features than its Mac O/S counterpart.

The Bitdefender Total Security solution does cover all devices, protecting them without slowing them down. This means that you could own a PC laptop, an Android tablet and an iPhone and still be able to use your antivirus software on all of them. However any other cheaper packages only run on Windows such as Internet Security and Antivirus Plus.

Bitdefender Total Security

<a href="" data-link-merchant="""> Bitdefender Total Security

This antivirus monitors your computer in real-time to stop malicious files before they have a chance to start downloading.


The German security company is all about privacy and protection and this is reflected in the vast amount of package tiers and features it offers. However, is there a difference between the Windows PC version and macOS?

Like Bitdefender, the Windows PC offers more in terms of features as well as pricing. For Windows, Avira offers a free solution and three paid subscriptions: Antivirus Pro, Internet Security and Avira Prime. The only version of these three that's available on a Mac is Avira Prime—the most expensive version.

Unfortunately, due to the parameters that Avira is allowed to work in when it comes to macOS, the features are lacking compared to Windows. Both include device clean up, password management, antivirus protection and VPN security. However the Windows version keeps software and drivers automatically updated and optimises privacy settings.

Both protect either up to five or 25 devices, depending on the subscription selected.

Avira Antivirus Pro

<a href="" data-link-merchant="""> Avira Antivirus Pro

Avira is one of the best paid antivirus solutions, and easily the most affordable one that you can sign up for today.


A well known brand in the cyber security space, some laptops already come with the antivirus software installed such as Lenovo PCs. However, what is the difference between the antivirus packages for Windows and macOS?

Again, Windows PC owners have more options in what they can choose in terms of packages and features. For example, McAfee Gamer Security, which delivers a faster, quieter, safer gaming experience with performance-enhancing technologies, is only available on Windows PC.

But the macOS antivirus software is well tailored to the devices. Mac devices are not indestructible when it comes to hacker threats and McAfee have decided to cater to the unique vulnerabilities the devices face—hackers find Macs a challenge and have to take different approaches to infiltrating them over Windows PCs.

The antivirus package includes virus threat detection, real-time scanning and customisable firewall protection. The McAfee Total Protection subscription is also device agnostic so you can use it across multiple devices.

But, Windows PCs do get more tiered packages in terms of features and pricing. For the Total Security package, features include:

  • Award-winning Antivirus
  • Secure VPN
  • Performance Optimization
  • Home Network Security
  • Security Experts and Online Support
  • Multi-device Compatibility
  • Password Manager
  • Safe Web Browsing
  • McAfee® Shredder
  • Encrypted Storage
  • Safe Family
McAfee Total Security

<a href="" data-link-merchant="""> McAfee Total Security

McAfee stops malware threats, but also shields your online identity and blocks adware with its powerful VPN.

Windows PCs come with more flexibility in price

While many people would love to own a Mac, when it comes to antivirus and security packages it's not often worth the money.

Windows PC devices get the lion share of features and tiered pricing, allowing people to pick which solution is best for them. In the example of McAfee, Windows PCs also come with different solutions for different purposes such as gaming and small businesses.

On the plus side, Macs do not seem to attract the attention of mass hackers unlike PCs. So for buyers who are intent on buying a Mac, free antivirus software packages might just do the job.

Jared DiPane

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.