May 8, 2024 by Paul G. | Plugins, Security

Wordfence or MalCare: Which Should You Use?

Have you ever faced a security breach or noticed a dip in website performance caused by overzealous security measures? Or have you ever found yourself drowning in false positives while navigating complex interfaces? Perhaps you’ve struggled to find a security plugin with customer support that really wants to help you.

With so many security plugins to choose from, separating effective solutions from the not-so-effective ones can be frustrating and time consuming. However, discovering a powerful security plugin that gives you peace of mind with a safe and secure website, makes it worth the effort.

This article highlights the major differences between two popular security plugins, MalCare and Wordfence, while also introducing you to another great alternative: Shield Security PRO. With a better understanding of all their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be far better equipped to choose the best plugin for your particular website.

Comparing WordPress security: Wordfence and MalCare

WordPress website security can feel complicated with such a wide variety of potential dangers to defend against. These include sensitive data breaches, loss of customer trust, lost of business & revenue, and possible financial losses (through theft, fines, or legal damages). Given such risks, selecting a reliable security plugin is a critical decision for all WordPress site owners. Two popular solutions that try to address these concerns are Wordfence and MalCare, as they’re designed to safeguard WordPress sites against many types of threat. However, their approaches and features differ greatly.

MalCare originally began with a focus on ensuring WordPress users had regular, reliable site backups for restoring sites after crashes. It has since evolved to offer a comprehensive security solution through a single interface to over 400,000 websites, enabling site owners to manage security across multiple sites efficiently.

MalCare homepage, reads “WordPress Security for High Performance Websites.” 

MalCare’s features include a web application firewall (WAF), malware scanning, vulnerability scanning and alerts, along with uptime and performance monitoring. Despite its comprehensive approach, some users have reported that the plugin’s frequent notifications can feel overwhelming.

Wordfence boasts over 5 million installations, making it one of the most popular WordPress security plugins. It also includes a web-application firewall and utilises signature-based detection to scan for hackers, vulnerabilities, and malware. 

Alt text: Wordfence homepage, reads, “The global leader in WordPress security.” 

This approach relies on a database of known threats, which means it might not catch newer, never-before-seen attacks. Additionally, some users have reported that Wordfence can be resource-intensive, potentially impacting site performance.

Key features showdown: MalCare vs Wordfence

Both of these plugins have free versions with limited features, but the comparison listed here is based on the lowest-priced paid tier. When comparing the lowest-priced paid tiers of each plugin, the feature set varies considerably.

The table below provides a comparison summary between the two.

Web-Application FirewallYesYes
Malware scanningYesYes
Vulnerability scanningYesYes
Automatic site backupsNoYes
Brute force protectionYesYes
Two-factor authenticationYesNo
Automatic Bot Detection and BlockingNoYes
Percent of 5-star reviews on WordPress.org89%74%
Price for premium versionStarts at $119/yearStarts at $149/year

Summing up MalCare vs Wordfence

While Wordfence may have slightly fewer features than MalCare, its lower cost and higher satisfaction rate make it an attractive option. Moreover, it’s worth considering that some of MalCare’s features – such as automatic site backups – may be redundant for users who receive these services through their hosting provider, or a dedicated WordPress backup service.

MalCare’s claim of automatic malware removal is also worth some scrutiny. To clean a file of malware, the simplest solution is to replace the infected file with a clean version of the file. This isn’t technically complicated.  However, it’s not practically possible to surgically remove malware code from an infected file in a completely automated way. There are many reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this article.

Both plugins presented have mostly positive reviews, with Wordfence winning outright in terms of overall satisfaction. Yet, it must be said, neither MalCare nor Wordfence match the high 5-star review percentage of Shield Security, which boasts a 94% satisfaction rate. This positions Shield Security PRO as a potentially superior option for WordPress security, offering a more effective approach to website security.

Shield Security PRO: The comprehensive alternative

Shield Security PRO is one of the most feature-rich WordPress security plugins on the market. It offers comprehensive protection that effectively shields your site against a wide array of threats. Its key feature – the ability to detect and block bad bots – guards against hackers before they can do any damage, and significantly reduces spam, enhancing your site’s performance and user experience.

Essential features that set Shield Security PRO apart:

  • Shield Security PRO’s core capabilities are founded on their bad-bot detection and blocking engine. By detecting malicious bots early, they can be blocked from accessing your site as quickly as possible before they can do any damage. 
  • Shield is the only WordPress security in partnership with CrowdSec to bring crowd-sourced IP bot blocking protection. Sites secured with Shield will have knowledge of malicious IP addresses before they ever access your site.
  • User login protection is given high priority in Shield, with Limit Login Attempts protection, User Session Locking features, and a wide range of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) options, including Passkeys and Google Authenticator.
  • Shield comes with a vulnerability scanner with automatic upgrades for vulnerable plugins, and an AI Malware Scanner that goes beyond signature-based scanning, that will even detect malicious malware code that has never been seen before.
  • Shield’s exclusive FileLocker system will protect your core WordPress wp-config.php files to detect tampering and allow you to revert any changes without a full site restoration.
  • A crucial feature of Shield is its Security Admin Layer – a simple PIN mechanism that protects your Shield security settings and critical WordPress site configuration from tampering, or accidental damage from other WP admins.

Paul, from Shield Security PRO, emphasises the plugin’s user-friendly approach, stating, 

Shield Security PRO’s interface is designed to be as easy to use as possible. We want to make sure that experts and non-experts alike can fully utilise Shield to maximise their site security: By making the most of its features, they’ll build a more secure site and gain some well-deserved peace of mind.” 

This highlights the plugin’s commitment to accessibility and effectiveness for all users, regardless of their technical expertise.

User reviews and testimonials

WordPress user Emily (@wilkinsone) shares her positive experience with Shield Security, highlighting its efficiency and minimal impact on site performance. Emily’s testimony begins with her transition from a combination of Wordfence and Sucuri to Shield Security PRO upon a friend’s recommendation. The immediate improvements prompted her to switch all her sites to Shield, expressing satisfaction with its bot-blocking capabilities and performance.

“I was so pleased with Shield, both for blocking bots and in having minimal impact on my site’s performance, that I’ve now changed all my sites over to use Shield and am very happy I have.”

Emily’s critical comparison between Wordfence and Shield Security PRO on a previously hacked site is worth noting. Despite Wordfence’s detection of a single backdoor, it was Shield Security PRO that uncovered an additional seven compromised files, showcasing its superior scanning and detection capabilities.

“[Shield] picked up a further 7 files with alterations that I was then able to repair…I am so grateful to be able to use and recommend this plugin.”

Furthermore, the Shield Security plugin boasts a remarkable standing on With a stellar 94% of its reviews being 5-star, it far surpasses its competitors. 

Shield Security PRO offers a blend of user-friendliness and advanced security features, making it the ultimate choice for WordPress users seeking reliable protection for their websites.

Features showdown, part 2

Comparing Shield Security PRO directly with Wordfence and MalCare highlights its superior feature set:

FeatureWordfenceMalCareShield Security PRO
Web-Application FirewallYesYesYes
Malware scanningYesYesYes
Vulnerability scanningYesYesYes
Automatic site backupsNoYesNo
Brute force protectionYesYesYes
WP Config Tamper ProtectionNoNoYes
AI-Powered Malware ScanningNoNoYes
Two-factor authentication (2FA)YesNoYes
2FA with Passkeys & YubikeysNoYesYes
Automatic Bot Detection and BlockingNoYesYes
Crowd-Sourced IP Blocking & Bot DetectionNoNoYes
Percent of 5-star reviews on WordPress.org89%74%94%
Price for premium version Starts at $119/yearStarts at $149/yearStarts at $129/year

More security measures you can take to protect your site

Protecting your WordPress site begins with adopting good habits and implementing robust security measures beyond just installing plugins. Here are several non-plugin-related security practices you can adopt to enhance your site’s security:

Contingency planning

No system is impervious to attacks. Prepare for potential breaches by drafting public statements in advance and compiling a list of essential contacts, such as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or hosting provider, to quickly respond to security incidents.

Regular updates

Maintaining the latest updates for your WordPress core, themes, and plugins is a simple but profoundly effective security practice. Updates often patch security vulnerabilities, but caution is advised. Immediate installation of updates upon release can expose your site to unpatched bugs. To mitigate this, Shield Security PRO offers a feature that delays automatic updates for a fixed number of days, allowing time for any vulnerabilities to be identified and resolved.

Site backups

Regular, comprehensive site backups are your safety net in the event of a security breach. Ensure that you have a reliable system in place for creating backups and safeguarding your data against loss or corruption. Many hosting providers include some level of automated backups, if not, you can look into dedicated website backup plugins

Login credentials

The strength of your login credentials significantly impacts your site’s security. Implement strong username and password policies, encouraging the use of long, complex passwords and avoiding common usernames like “admin” – or pwned credentials – to deter unauthorised access.

User education

Educating users with access to your site is a critical security measure. Tailor the level of access and control to each user’s role and experience to reduce the risk of security breaches from within. Train users to recognise and avoid phishing scams and other social engineering tactics that could compromise your site’s security.

By integrating these practices with your overall security strategy, you can achieve a higher level of protection for your WordPress site. Remember, effective security is about layering different measures to create a comprehensive defence against potential threats.

Make the smart choice for WordPress security

With numerous options available for WordPress security plugins, it’s more than a challenge to identify the differences among them. While Wordfence and MalCare have proven themselves to be popular choices, Shield Security PRO clearly emerges as the superior option. 

With its comprehensive security features, including bad-bot detection, a user-friendly interface, and a high satisfaction among users, Shield Security PRO ensures your WordPress site remains safe and secure. 

Ready to secure your WordPress site with our top-rated plugin? Try Shield Security PRO today and experience unparalleled security and support for your website!

Hello dear reader!

If you want to level-up your WordPress security with ShieldPRO, click to get started today. (risk-free, with our no-quibble 14-day satisfaction promise!)

You'll get all PRO features, including AI Malware Scanning, WP Config File Protection, Plugin and Theme File Guard, import/export, exclusive customer support, and much, much more.

We'd be honoured to have you as a member, and look forward to serving you during your journey towards powerful, WordPress security.

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ShieldPRO Testimonials
@garymgordon's Gravatar @garymgordon

Truly a 'must have' plugin for all websites. Helps a lot!!

WordPress Simple Firewall is truly a ‘must have’ plugin for all websites. Helps a lot!! WP Simple Firewall, which might be simple to use, but is actually very comprehensive and includes many useful options. WP Simple Firewall has a great way to block bots from posting spam and also requires…

@italianfox's Gravatar @italianfox

Shield is a wonderful plugin

I use this plugin on many websites for many years. It fully protectes me, no intruders managed to manipulate the website. I love the very easy way to program the settings. After trying many major securiy plugins, I think this is the best one!

@olganunez's Gravatar @olganunez

Strong security easy to costumize

I am not an expert in online security and my knowledge of coding is very limited (close to non-existent) but I have been blogging for five years and am fully aware of the risks of running a blog or website, and how easily our security can be breached. After some…

@darrell-ulm's Gravatar @darrell-ulm

Good security plug-in

Shield security is solid and def. worth a look. Nice interface also.

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