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EDR vs. XDR: Which is best for your environment?

Meredith Kreisa headshot
Meredith Kreisa|January 31, 2024
Computer with lock over blue background
Computer with lock over blue background

The EDR vs. XDR debate emerged in the mid-2010s. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) focuses squarely on endpoints, whereas extended detection and response (XDR) takes a broader look at the IT ecosystem. While these two threat detection and response solutions share some similarities, each has distinct potential benefits and drawbacks. We’ll break down how they compare to help you determine which is best for your environment.

Is EDR or XDR better for my environment? 

If budget and bandwidth are your main concerns, EDR might be right for you. It’s cheaper and easier to operate than XDR, but that’s because it’s limited to monitoring your endpoints.
If you’ve got the budget and IT team to run a more complex — but more secure — cybersecurity solution, go with XDR. It’s the more comprehensive option, but that means it costs more and requires more IT expertise to configure and operate. 

Still not sure? We’ll break down all these pros and cons in more detail so you can choose the right cybersecurity option for your fleet. 

What is EDR? 

EDR stands for endpoint detection and response. Solutions in this category focus on endpoint security to fortify this common entry point against cyberattacks. To do this, EDR software monitors laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and servers continuously in real time. It then analyzes and correlates data to automatically detect and respond to potential threats or malicious activity.

Because of their focus on endpoints, EDR tools typically integrate seamlessly with other endpoint-specific security tools, such as antivirus and security information and event management (SIEM) software.

Common capabilities of EDR solutions include the following:

  • Real-time monitoring 

  • Reporting and analytics

  • Database of known threats 

  • Integrated threat intelligence 

  • Behavioral analysis 

  • Threat detection 

  • Automated incident response 

  • Alerting 

  • Endpoint isolation 

  • Investigation and threat hunting support 

  • Compliance monitoring 

  • Security threat containment 

While EDR solutions have a lot to offer, they require skilled management, they may generate false positives, and their scope is limited to endpoints. 

What is XDR? 

XDR means extended detection and response. This newer approach is more holistic, correlating data from across the IT ecosystem for greater visibility and context. By looking not only at endpoints but also email, applications, networks, and cloud environments, XDR security solutions frequently detect more advanced threats and sophisticated attacks earlier, thereby minimizing damage. 

Because of their broader focus, most XDR solutions integrate with much of your security stack, including endpoint, network, email, cloud, and identity solutions.

In addition to offering the standard features associated with EDR, XDR solutions should also have more advanced capabilities: 

  • Behavior-based detection with data correlation across security layers 

  • Cloud security 

  • Network detection 

  • Advanced analytics 

  • Contextual analysis to limit false positives and group related alerts

  • Complex pattern identification 

  • Predefined response playbooks 

  • Automated threat investigation

While XDR solutions typically have more robust features than EDR, managing an XDR tool is also usually more complex, requiring exceptional skill from your IT or security team. Additionally, the higher price point may be cost prohibitive for businesses on a tight budget. 

EDR vs. XDR: How do they compare? 

Long story short, endpoint detection and response and extended detection and response have a lot in common. They both collect data, detect potential threats using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and help prioritize threats for potential investigation and remediation.

The main differences between EDR and XDR are their scope and capabilities. While EDR focuses on endpoints, XDR takes a broader look at the overall IT ecosystem. Since XDR collects data from more layers, it offers greater visibility and delivers more insight into possible attacks. Plus, XDR tools automatically tie related events to reduce the number of alerts, reducing the risk of alert fatigue. However, managing an XDR is likely to be a heavier lift for the brave soul tasked with configuring it. 




Reactive and proactive cybersecurity measures 



Behavior analysis 



Threat hunting support 



Threat detection and response capability 






Integration with relevant tools 



Endpoint security 



Cloud protection 



Network protection 



Email security 



Application security 



Telemetry across security layers 



Advanced analytics 



What to consider when deciding between EDR and XDR 

Depending on your organization, either an EDR or XDR platform may be a good fit. Here are some factors to consider when determining what is best for your environment. 


Unfortunately, budget concerns constantly lurk around every corner, whispering “cost-cutting measures” into your ear.

Because of the greater scope of XDR solutions, they’re usually more expensive than EDR tools. That said, if you think your security posture might benefit from a more advanced solution, you may be able to talk your boss into spending a little more on XDR. After all, cybersecurity incidents are a huge budget buster (breaches cost an average of $4.45 million and rising), so preventing them just makes good financial sense. 


Cybersecurity needs vary between businesses. While EDR may suffice for businesses that only need targeted endpoint protection, those with more advanced cybersecurity needs often benefit from XDR’s layered approach. 

Existing resources 

Effectively managing an XDR solution is typically more complex and requires more resources, including skilled personnel capable of configuring the tool, interpreting alerts, analyzing data, and responding appropriately. The good news is that XDRs typically aggregate alerts to make them easier to sort through, but businesses with less robust IT or cybersecurity teams may still find an EDR solution a little easier to manage. 

Don’t have the bandwidth to oversee threat detection and security incident response in house? A managed detection and response (MDR) service outsources some of your security efforts to a third-party provider, allowing you to enhance your posture without increasing your head count.


Depending on your industry, compliance standards may determine your cybersecurity requirements. In highly regulated industries, such as finance, XDR’s more comprehensive approach generally wins out. However, you should look at your compliance requirements and assess any EDR or XDR solution you consider to ensure its capabilities align with your needs.


The right vendor can make a big difference. Assess the vendor’s reputation, support, and scalability to find an option you’re comfortable working with. Ultimately, choosing a good vendor can save you hours of work and frustration by providing the necessary support and knowledge base resources.

While XDR offers a more holistic approach to cyber threat detection and incident response than EDR, either type of security solution may be right for you depending on your environment and bandwidth.

However, properly configuring and managing either EDR or XDR is a significant time commitment. And unfortunately, most sysadmins have a maximum of 24 hours in a day, which is already largely booked. To free up more time for EDR or XDR management, try PDQ. Our solutions streamline patch management and software deployment, saving you hours of mind-numbing manual work. 

Meredith Kreisa headshot
Meredith Kreisa

Meredith gets her kicks diving into the depths of IT lore and checking her internet speed incessantly. When she's not spending quality time behind a computer screen, she's probably curled up under a blanket, silently contemplating the efficacy of napping.

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