Bitdefender Antivirus Review
Bitdefender Antivirus gets a lot right, though making sense of its product range can be a headache. Take a few tylenol, however, and you'll quickly see that you get a good suite of protection software for a decent price. Check out our full Bitdefender Antivirus review for the details.
Bitdefender is an obvious contender for our best antivirus software. It has a robust feature set, intuitive interface and impressive protection numbers, to boot. We have issues with how Bitdefender breaks up its product line, but, outside of that, few complaints.
In this Bitdefender Antivirus review, we’ll take the program for a test run, using hands-on experience and lab results to gauge its performance. We’ll discuss features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and support before giving our verdict.
For a short answer, we like Bitdefender a lot. It passed all our performance tests with honors and comes with an impressive feature set. If you’d rather test it yourself, you can sign up for a 30-day trial without a credit card.
- Strong hands-on & lab results
- Thorough support system
- Ransomware protection
- Included password manager
- Secure browser
- PC only on inexpensive plans
- No firewall on base plan
Bitdefender has a decent feature set on its inexpensive products, but the inclusions on premium-tier offerings are more attractive. We like Bitdefender’s features overall, though, just not the way in which it distributes them.
For example, Antivirus Plus comes with a password manager, ransomware protection and a file shredder, but it’s missing a basic firewall. We appreciate the goodies, but we’d rather have a full security package.
There are features we like a lot, though. All plans include Safepay, a secure browser meant for online transactions and bank monitoring. It’s slower than Chrome, so we wouldn’t recommend it for casual browsing. Thankfully, Bitdefender will send you a notification when you land on a bank website to open Safepay.
Safepay is a separate version of your desktop. You can’t switch between applications or pull in other windows while using its interface. Likewise, you can’t perform a screenshot function, so head here to get a feel for how it functions.
You’ll also get a password manager called Bitdefender Wallet. It can store identities, bank info and passwords, importing them from Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. It does the job, but lacks the features of the best password managers. For a few extra bones, we recommend Dashlane (read our Dashlane review).
Like McAfee (read our McAfee Total Protection review), Bitdefender includes a file shredder. Once a file is deleted from your machine, the remnants remain on the drive until overwritten. This shredder will take care of them, so no crafty hackers can piece your data back together.
All plans come with a limited form of Bitdefender VPN. You get 200MB per day to browse, a small amount that we’d recommend you reserve for public WiFi. You should be using one of our best VPN providers, though, such as ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Those are just a few of the many features offered across Bitdefender’s plans. The additions of a password manager, VPN and file shredder are welcome, but we’d prefer a firewall and parental controls on lower-end plans.
Bitdefender Features Overview
1-year plan $ 2.92 / month
$34.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.33 / month
$39.98 billed every year
1-year plan $ 3.75 / month
$44.99 billed every year
Bitdefender is cheap, as long as you sign a multi-year contract. Prices for a single year are comparable to Norton, with Antivirus Plus and Norton Basic both running $29.99 annually (read our Norton Antivirus review).
Antivirus Plus and Internet Security are PC-only subscriptions. Even if you purchase a subscription for multiple devices, you can only use it on Windows. Bitdefender has similar programs available for macOS, iOS and Android, but that presents a problem.
If an individual user has a couple of Windows machines, say a laptop and desktop, and an iPhone, then Antivirus Plus and Internet Security won’t cover everything. You’ll need to upgrade to Total Security.
Assuming you only have three devices — a desktop, laptop and phone — you’ll have to pay for at least two licenses you won’t be using. We wish the inexpensive offerings would allow different operating systems to cohabitate.
Total Security does have features that make an upgrade worthwhile, though. You get additional security features such as file encryption and webcam protection, along with performance enhancements in the form of disk cleanup and start-up optimization.
We normally recommend a plan that falls in our “sweet spot,” where there’s a good price to feature ratio. That’s difficult with Bitdefender because the plan you should go with depends on the devices you own. You could secure a PC and Android phone with Antivirus Plus and Bitdefender Free on Android or use Total Security if your devices are more diverse.
Bitdefender offers a free antivirus, as well, that gives you the essentials of the program. You get the excellent antivirus and real-time protection, but that’s it. We recommend you try Antivirus Plus for 30 days before going with the free plan.
Bitdefender has a lengthy install process. The application is half a gigabyte in size and took over 10 minutes to install and configure, a far cry from Webroot’s efficient executable (read our Webroot Antivirus review). Outside of that, Bitdefender gets a win for this section.
It has one of the most well-thought-out interfaces of the antivirus software we’ve reviewed. The main screen shows your current status and recommendations about vulnerabilities on your machine. Below that are icons you can customize.
They’re called “quick actions” and the inclusion of them separates Bitdefender from other antiviruses. You can customize the interface with widget-like tiles, granting you quick access to the features you use the most. There are only five slots, though, so expanding the UI is out of the question.
The menu on the left side gives you more control over Bitdefender. “Protection” handles real-time scanning, online threat prevention, vulnerabilities and the antivirus. It has a similar tile interface with settings for each section.
“Privacy” doesn’t deal with threat removal, but threat avoidance. You’ll find controls for the password manager, file shredder, VPN and Safepay. Total Security users will also have file encryption, webcam protection and parental control settings.
Advanced settings are bundled in their respective sections, so the settings menu itself mainly deals with your account and preferences. The last tab, labeled “profiles,” is unique, though.
You can setup profiles for whatever activity you’re performing. For example, a work profile will automatically boost email protection and throttle system slowdowns, while a public WiFi profile will boost protection on an unsafe network.
You can configure the profiles and tie applications to them, but you’re limited to the list Bitdefender has established. Each profile has its own settings, which can’t be shared between them. The profiles are optional, so you don’t need to change any settings if you want a constant level of security.
Performance was good during our test scan. We didn’t notice a slowdown on our machine while running a full scan of five stuffed drives. It took just shy of three hours to complete, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering we went through over 3TB of data. A quick scan only took 14 seconds.
Bitdefender will automatically install its Wallet extension in your browser for auto-fill. It doesn’t need it to operate online, though. You’ll still see verification marks next to search results and blocked pages without it installed.
Bitdefender Central is also in your browser. It’s a hub that shows you all your devices and their current statuses. You’ll find parental controls and premiums services such as adware removal, as well.
We’re can’t decide between the quick actions and profiles as our favorite feature for this section. Bitdefender has clearly optimized the interface for ease of use, while providing enough options for techies to fuss with.
It doesn’t have the efficiency in scanning that Webroot does, though. As we’ll see in the next section, Bitdefender will slow down some machines running it.
We use hands-on testing in conjunction with lab results to gauge how well an antivirus performs its job. Bitdefender scores well in both of these areas, shoring up a place as one of the most secure antiviruses on the market.
Bitdefender blocked 90 percent of the malware we threw at it during testing. Labs show better results for malware blockage, though, and our sample size wasn’t very large. Still, this is excellent performance.
We moved on to Amtso’s feature settings check for desktop antivirus. It tests manual download of malware, drive-by downloads, compressed downloads, potentially unwanted applications, phishing and cloud protection. Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of the tests, never loading the web page.
Rounding out our hands-on tests, we used Wicar, testing 13 pieces of malware. Bitdefender blocked each of the URLs on Internet Explorer and Firefox. It works on Chrome, as well, but the built-in protection got to it first.
Lab results mirror our numbers. Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of zero-day malware attacks and widespread malware in AV-Test’s April analysis. It’s above the industry average of 99.5 percent for these categories.
AV-Test found it had an impact on performance, though. Bitdefender slowed down website launching by 24 percent in its tests, double the industry average. We didn’t have any issues in our hands-on testing, but it’s best to rely on lab results for this sort of thing.
AV-Comparatives had similar protection numbers, but better scores for performance. Bitdefender ranked Advanced+, the highest possible tier, in performance, file detection and malware removal. Bitdefender blocked 99.8 percent of real-world malware in the June tests.
MRG Effitas was more harsh, as it often is. Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of real-world financial malware, but failed the malware simulation. Only a third of the 12 antivirus programs tested passed this simulation, one of them being Kaspersky Internet Security (read our Kaspersky Antivirus review).
Bitdefender is among the most secure antiviruses on the market, scoring high marks in our hands-on tests and lab results. Some labs note a performance impact on low-end hardware, but it’s inconsistent from lab to lab and we couldn’t replicate it in our hands-on testing.
Bitdefender has every avenue of support we could ask for. You get direct contact over live chat, email and phone, along with a knowledgebase, how-to videos and a community forum. All these support options are split across home and business products, as well, so you don’t have to worry about the two mingling.
We reached out to Bitdefender’s tech support department to gauge email response. We received a response in less than six hours, though the email came in the early hours of the morning in the United States.
The knowledgebase is broken up by product. Articles are detailed and filled with screenshots, so following tutorials and understanding complex topics is simple. Bitdefender maintains articles from 2015, so dated versions of the software can still find support.
Some articles have an accompanying video tutorial, too, but the topics are rudimentary, such as installing the antivirus and using Bitdefender Central. Still, it’s a nice inclusion for those scared of a keyboard and mouse.
There are three forums: home protection, business protection and malware submission. Most discussion takes place in the home protection forum, talking over updates and new product releases. The forums are available in English, German, French, Romanian and Spanish.
Bitdefender has around-the-clock phone support for 16 countries. If you fall outside of those locations, there’s a worldwide support line in English that runs 24/7.
Live chat is different. You’re first sent to an AI that will point you towards articles in the knowledgebase. At any point, Bitdefender can transfer you to a live agent should you want it to.
Few other antivirus providers have the support system that Bitdefender has. The knowledgebase is clean and helpful, forums are active and direct support routes are robust. If you have any problem, you shouldn’t have concerns that Bitdefender won’t be able to help.
Bitdefender puts up impressive numbers for protection through our hands-on testing and lab results. Its interface is easy to use, as well, allowing you to customize it with quick actions. There are concerns about performance, but Bitdefender has many options to mitigate the slow down.
We like the feature list a lot, too, just not how it’s distributed. Between that and PC-only support, we recommend Total Security. You’ll get all the features you need along with multi-device support.
If you can’t foot the bill or want to shop around more, make sure to read our antivirus reviews. Let us know what you think of Bitdefender in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.