Do I Need McAfee or Norton with Windows 10?

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If I'm running Windows 10, do I need antivirus software? The general answer is no, you don’t need to use McAfee or Norton if you’re using Windows 10 – but you might want to, anyway. Because you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting against viruses, malware, and ransomware attacks.

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It started with three little words in an email subject line: I Love You. Known as the Love Bug or Love Letter for You attack, this infamous computer worm infected more than ten million personal computers in 2000 and cost an estimated $15 billion in damages worldwide. 

This notorious malware attack occurred nearly 22 years ago (basically a century in terms of computer technology development). Since then, the risk of malware attacks has only increased as hacker groups and malicious programmers have become more sophisticated.

More recently, a malware attack known as WannaCry spread rapidly through a corrupted Microsoft Windows program, costing billions of dollars in damages. 

With the arms race between malware and anti-malware systems accelerating every day, it has never been more critical to protect your computer from attacks. Luckily, as malware has become more sophisticated, so have anti-malware and antivirus systems. 

These days there are a number of seriously powerful antivirus software you can install to protect your computer, such as McAfee and Norton. 

However, most computers are also sold with antivirus systems already installed. This is the case if your computer uses Windows 10, which comes with an excellent built-in antivirus and anti-malware tool called Windows Defender. So, is it really necessary to install another system on top of this?

The general answer is no, you don’t need to add McAfee or Norton if you’re using Windows 10 – but you might want to, anyway

First, let’s see why you probably don’t need an added malware protection system if you’re using Windows 10. Then we’ll take a look at why you might want to add an extra system of protection, anyway. 

TL;DR

As increasing amounts of our lives and private information get stored on our computers and online, it’s never been more important to protect your PC from malware attacks. Windows 10 comes with a fantastic, built-in antimalware protection, known as Windows Defender (also called Microsoft Defender)

Windows Defender is a big upgrade to Microsoft’s security game, and it means that you don’t strictly need to install additional security software like McAfee or Norton. However, if you prefer to be extra safe when it comes to your data (like I do), then installing one of these sophisticated security systems on top of Windows Defender is a great way to add an extra layer of safety. 

If you’re looking for a middle route – that is, if you don’t want to install a second security system but still feel like Windows Defender isn’t enough on its own – then you can take alternative measures like installing a VPN, storing your data in a cloud backup storage system, or using a password manager.

Why You DON'T Need McAfee or Norton With Windows 10

windows 10 security

In the past, Windows had a slightly questionable reputation when it came to security. However, those days are gone.

Windows 10 comes with a built-in antivirus and anti-malware system, Windows Defender (also known as Microsoft Defender), which is actually better than many of the free antivirus software solutions on the market today.

In a 2020 test conducted by AV Comparative, Windows Defender successfully repelled 99.8% of attacks and earned itself a ranking of 12 out of 17 antivirus programs that were tested. 

Another benefit of Windows Defender is that it comes preinstalled on your Windows 10 program. That not only means that it’s free but also that it’s seamlessly integrated into your computers’ operating system. There’s no clunky installation process for you to deal with, and Windows Defender is already primed to work within its native system. 

This is a huge plus, particularly for the less tech-savvy among us who may not want to deal with choosing and installing additional anti-malware software

So, what does Windows Defender come with?

In addition to the core antivirus defenses and improved cloud-based malware detection, Windows Defender also includes a strong firewall protection (a barrier between your PC and the public internet that filters outgoing and incoming traffic according to its internal security protocols) and real-time threat detection.

It also comes with improved parental controls, including the ability to set limits on the amount of time kids can spend on the internet, and system performance reports that allow you to track how many threats your system has detected and blocked.

With all of these great features, Windows Defender is probably capable of providing sufficient protection for your PC on its own. However, “probably” isn’t good enough for many people. 

Why You DO Need McAfee or Norton With Windows 10

If “you can never be too careful” is your motto, you may want to look into an additional system of protection such as McAfee or Norton for your Windows 10 computer.

Windows Defender is a great security tool, but that doesn’t mean it can protect your computer from 100% of all threats.

For example, Windows Defender won’t be able to prevent you from unintentionally clicking on a link that downloads malware or malicious adware.

However, an antivirus software system that offers web protection or internet protection for your browser can protect you from attacks like this.

It stands to reason that two security systems are better than one, and you can use Windows Defender as a backup system with McAfee or Norton as your primary protection against viruses, ransomware, and other malware attacks.

Let’s take a quick look at how these two systems work and the reasons why you might want to install McAfee or Norton with Windows 10.

McAfee Total Protection Antivirus

McAfee Total Protection Antivirus

McAfee is a cybersecurity software company that offers powerful security solutions for personal computers, mobile devices, and server devices.

They sell a variety of tools, from cloud security to endpoint protection, and their security software is used by 500 million customers worldwide. 

McAfee comes with a ton of great features, including a powerful firewall, regular malware scanning and removal, performance optimization, and even a built-in VPN.

One of its best features is Total Protection, a dark web scanner that searches for your information and alerts you if it has been leaked anywhere online. 

McAfee offers four pricing plans, all of which are charged yearly (with special first-year discounts), and range from $39.99-$84.99/year. 

McAfee pricing

Visit the McAfee website now – or check out some of the best McAfee alternatives here.

Norton 360 Antivirus

norton 360 antivirus

Norton uses advanced machine learning technology and an extensive malware directory to ensure your device’s safety. It offers protection for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android devices, and comes with a variety of tools, including different virus-scanning options and real-time threat protection.

Norton 360 is proven to block up to 100% of potentially harmful files before they even begin downloading and conducts scans without slowing down your PC.

An additional benefit for gamers is that Norton suspends scheduled security scans and updates while you’re playing games or watching movies, meaning there’s no risk of your game being interrupted or your computer being slowed down.

Like McAfee, Norton has a scanner called Dark Web Monitoring that alerts you if any of your information has appeared in unsavory corners of the internet. It also comes with an impressive smart firewall that blocks suspicious web traffic in real-time.

There’s even identity theft protection and a credit monitoring feature that alerts you to any questionable charges made on your credit card. 

norton pricing

Like McAfee, Norton also offers four pricing tiers with generously low prices for your first year.

Its plans range from $19.99-$299.99 per year, meaning that Norton’s most basic plan is slightly cheaper than McAfee’s, but the rest of their plans are more expensive.

Visit the Norton 360 website here.

What Can I Do to Beef up Windows 10's Security?

Let’s say you don’t want to spend the time and money installing Norton or McAfee antivirus systems, but you still want to add some layers of protection to your Windows 10. Is there a middle ground?

The answer is yes, absolutely! There are several ways you can beef up Windows 10 security without using Norton or McAfee, including using a password manager, installing a VPN, or protecting your data with a cloud backup service.

1. Install and Use a Password Manager

Studies have shown that the average person has close to 100 passwords they have to memorize, and as our lives become increasingly online, this number is likely to rise. To avoid this massive headache, most people use the same password for multiple applications, which is a big security risk.

Passwords are intended to protect your online security, but often they end up doing the exact opposite. A study by NordPass, a popular internet security provider, revealed the 200 most popular passwords.

This list was shared with them by anonymous researchers who have compiled a list of 500 million leaked passwords. 

This may seem like a lot, but unfortunately, it’s only a tiny fraction of all the passwords that get leaked, hacked, or stolen every year.

So, other than avoiding passwords like ‘12345’ or ‘password’, what can you do to protect yourself? A password manager is an invaluable software tool for protecting your identity and credentials online. 

Here’s how it works: you download and install the password manager, and it generates strong passwords for your web applications. Once these passwords have been created, the password manager stores them in an encrypted vault that only you can access. 

This vault has a master password (meaning you only need to memorize one password, yay!), and this password unlocks the other encrypted passwords to be used when needed.

If you want to beef up security for your Windows 10, a password manager is a great place to start. For a look at some of the best password managers on the market today, check out reviews of the best password managers.

2. Install and Use a VPN Service

A Virtual Private Network, commonly known as a VPN, is a service that helps disguise and protect your internet connection and privacy when you’re online. It does this by hiding your IP address and creating an encrypted path for your data to travel through. 

Your computer’s IP address is like a physical address of a house. With most VPN providers, you can choose to make it appear that your IP address – and thus your physical computer – is in another country entirely. 

This feature is particularly attractive for people living in countries where internet access is censored or restricted, as a VPN can help you bypass these restrictions.

Even if you don’t need this particular feature, a VPN is an invaluable tool for protecting your internet connection when using a public WiFi connection or hotspot.

Connecting to public WiFi puts your internet traffic at risk of being intercepted by hackers, and a VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for your data that keeps it away from prying eyes.

For more information on some of the best VPN options on the market today, check out my VPN reviews

3. Install and Use a Cloud Backup Service

Cloud backup is a type of data storage that uses the internet to store your documents, files, and other important data on your computer. 

The first and most obvious benefit of cloud storage is that if something should happen to your computer or your hard drive, your files and data won’t be lost because they’re stored safely in the cloud.

For this same reason, cloud storage is preferable to other forms of data backup, such as USB storage or external hard drive storage. No matter how much hardware gets destroyed, your data will still be recoverable in the cloud.

Cloud backup storage is improving every day, and there are many impressive options on the market that cater to different needs. Some prioritize security, others focus more on user-friendliness and business collaboration, and some offer a great deal on both.

What Is the Difference Between Malware, Viruses, and Ransomware?

Malware is the general umbrella term for any system or program designed to harm or hack your computer. Viruses and ransomware are both different types of malware. 

A virus is a malicious program that – just like an organic virus – spreads from one device to another through infected files or downloads. Viruses are designed to install themselves on your computer and wreak havoc.

Although they can be programmed to do pretty much anything, most viruses steal your data, damage or delete your files, and interrupt your computer’s normal functioning. Some can even block your access to the internet or reformat your hard drive.

Ransomware is another malicious program designed to lock you out of your device. Once it has installed itself in your computer, it holds your data and files for ransom, usually demanding payment. Removing ransomware is difficult and can be very costly. 

Summary

All in all, Windows Defender is a great security system all on its own, and if you’re using Windows 10, you probably don’t need to add any extra protection for your files.

However, if you feel like it’s insufficient, or if you’re worried about potential holes in Windows Defender’s system, you might consider installing an added layer of protection.

Two of the best and most comprehensive antivirus software systems on the market today are Norton and McAfee. Each comes with a wide range of features, including malware scanning and removal, firewall protection, anti-identity theft tools, dark web monitoring, and even cloud storage. 

If you’re looking for a middle ground – a way to increase security on your Windows 10 without installing an entirely separate antivirus system – you have a few options. 

  • You can install a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic and protect it from being snatched when using public WiFi. 
  • You can use a password manager to simplify your life and protect your information online by generating strong passwords and storing them in a single, encrypted file.
  • Finally, you can use a cloud backup service to keep your files encrypted and safely out of reach if any malware does manage to breach your computer’s defenses. 

Any combination of these security measures will allow you to sleep easy, knowing that your PC’s security is top-notch.

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