Unless your PC is completely isolated from the outside world, you’re always going to face the risk of a cyber attack. It could be a rogue file you’ve downloaded, a strange email attachment you’ve opened, or an infected USB stick you’ve plugged in. The how doesn’t matter, it’s what you do to prepare yourself against the potential damage.
That’s why we have antivirus software like AVG and Bitdefender to defend us. This Bitdefender vs. AVG battle isn’t so much David vs. Goliath as it is Goliath vs. Goliath. They’re both renowned, well-respected and valued antiviruses, which is why we’re going to test them head-to-head to see which one deserves the title of best antivirus software.
Before we start comparing the two, you should take a closer look at our Bitdefender Antivirus review and AVG review. This’ll give you a better understanding of the differences, weaknesses and strengths of both to help you make your final decision.
Setting Up a Fight: Bitdefender vs AVG
Editor’s Note 1/28/2020: A report has surfaced showing that Avast and its subsidiaries collect user browsing data from more than 100 million devices. We cannot, in good faith, recommend Avast or AVG products until we look further into the issue.
When we’re comparing two big players like Bitdefender and AVG, it’s important to cover as much ground as possible. We’ll be testing the two in five rounds, looking at product features first before comparing price plans, user-friendliness, antivirus protection, and the customer support available before giving you our final verdict.
To make things easier for you, we’ll choose a winner and award a point for each round. The first antivirus to earn three points will be the winner. We’ll offer a quick roundup after each section to explain why we’ve made that decision.
Antivirus software isn’t just a barrier against viruses. It protects you from every form of cyber threat, from phishing to ransomware. The more features an antivirus provider offers, the better those defenses are — in theory.
We’re going to take a look at the features that both Bitdefender and AVG have to offer. To learn more about how to stay safe on the web, read our online privacy guide.
There’s a reason why Bitdefender hits the top of our recommendations list, time and time again. The number of features it offers makes it one of the most secure antivirus software in the market today, but they’re spread out across its product range.
Some features, like Bitdefender’s “advanced threat defense” and “complete real-time data protection,” come standard across all Bitdefender plans. This forms part of the bulk of Bitdefender’s overall protection, but it’s more than just an antivirus.
To begin with, Bitdefender users get web filtering and anti-tracking protection as standard. There’s a WiFi vulnerability scanner included, along with an insecure software scanner to check for any likely security holes.
More features are provided to improve your online safety, including a locked-down browser called Bitdefender Safepay.
This runs in an isolated environment to prevent anyone from monitoring your web use, which is perfect for online banking or shopping sessions. It comes with a virtual keyboard to stop keyloggers recording any passwords or sensitive data.
Bitdefender also offers a password manager. This works well with Safepay, giving you secure access to your passwords and secure banking data. You can also use it with Chrome or Firefox, if you’d prefer. It’s a little basic and not on the same level as Dashlane, as our Dashlane review will demonstrate.
You can protect yourself further with webcam and microphone protection (to stop prying eyes and ears), a network firewall, file encryption and anti-theft protection. Some of these features are only available on the priciest Bitdefender plans, however.
Bitdefender might be one of our favorites, but AVG isn’t far behind. It’s one of the best free antivirus software available, but its premium features aren’t too bad, either.
AVG combines basic protection against common malware with ransomware protection, as well as a few extras like email attachment protection. You also get to use AVG Secure Browser, included for free.
It’s a rebranded version of Avast Secure Browser, which isn’t surprising, given that Avast now owns AVG. It’s based around Chromium, the underlying code for Google Chrome, but includes various privacy add-ons, like an ad blocker and basic password manager (read our Chromium review and Google Chrome review).
Premium users will get further security with a firewall, webcam protection and a comprehensive file-shredding tool. You also gain anti-spam protection for your email inbox, and DNS protection to help stop phishing attacks.
You can also add anti-theft protection with the more advanced AVG Ultimate package. As an added extra, you can also take out an additional AVG Secure VPN subscription. It’s a rebadged version of Avast SecureLine VPN, so take a look at our Avast SecureLine VPN review for a full run-through.
Round One Thoughts
AVG is an impressive free antivirus, but it offers only a decent selection of premium features. Some, like AVG Secure VPN, aren’t included with your antivirus subscription at all and require an extra subscription.
Bitdefender, in contrast, includes a much wider set of features for users, with no extra costs on top of the antivirus subscription you’d pay, making it the better option here.
The price you pay for your protection could be little or large. If you’re committing to multi-year antivirus plans, you need to know whether it’s a good value for your money.
With that in mind, let’s compare the affordability of Bitdefender and AVG to see whether either antivirus is worth a premium subscription.
If you’re a new customer, you can take a Bitdefender subscription with a large discount on plans with three-device coverage. The discounts vary from between 30 to 50 percent, depending on the plan.
Bitdefender has four separate plans with different prices depending on the number of devices you need coverage for and the number of years of coverage you’re seeking. Bitdefender offers plans from one to three years in length.
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
Most features are concentrated in the main Bitdefender Internet Security and Total Security plans. However, a cheaper plan, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, offers more basic protection. It lacks a few premium features, like parental controls or file encryption, and it’s limited to Windows PCs.
The first plan that includes most of Bitdefender’s premium feature list is Internet Security, another Windows-only option. It’s $79.99 per year without a discount, but for new customers, it’s $44.99 per year to cover three devices.
We’ve rated Bitdefender as one of the best antivirus for Mac, but at a minimum, you’ll need a Bitdefender Total Security subscription to use Bitdefender on Mac. It also provides support for Android. With discounts applied, it costs $49.99 per year, which is about $5 per year more expensive than Internet Security.
You’ll also see anti-theft protection, with plans covering five or 10 devices. If that isn’t enough, the Bitdefender Family Pack (heavily discounted at $59.99 per year for the first year) offers coverage for 15 devices.
We’ve seen some strange price plans from antivirus providers, but AVG doesn’t fall into that category. It has two premium plans, using its free antivirus as a stepping stone.
A warning to Mac users, however. AVG offers a free Mac antivirus with basic protection, but no premium coverage, except for access to AVG TuneUp or AVG Secure VPN. Their premium antivirus protection is largely focused around coverage for Windows PCs.
1-year plan $ 5.83/ month
$69.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Unlike Bitdefender, you don’t need to pay extra to cover more devices. You’ll receive unlimited device coverage, no matter your subscription. AVG Antivirus Free is great for protecting you from most serious cyber threats, but the first premium package is AVG Internet Security.
At $79.99 per year, you’ll top up your free AVG coverage with browser protection, webcam security, a network firewall, spam protection and free access to AVG’s Android Antivirus Pro app. There’s also folder encryption to protect your most sensitive files and boost your ransomware defenses.
AVG Ultimate is the second and most expensive AVG package. It’s $20 per year more than AVG Internet Security, but it’s technically two packages rolled into one.
Alongside the features you’d expect from AVG Internet Security, you’ll also gain access to AVG TuneUp — AVG’s $49.99 per year premium optimization tool — for free. It’ll optimize your PC, removing files and updating software.
AVG TuneUp is much like Avira’s System Speedup Pro, which is included as part of Avira Prime, its most premium subscription (see our Avira review).
The only downside is that some of the other security extras, like Secure VPN, require their own subscription. Given that antivirus providers don’t generally offer the best VPN coverage, take a look at ExpressVPN or an alternative from our VPN reviews.
Round Two Thoughts
It’s refreshing to see simple plans from AVG, with just two premium plans and unlimited device coverages. Bitdefender’s plans, in comparison, are a little more confusing, and you’ll have to pay extra if you have more devices to cover.
That said, with no premium AVG antivirus plans for Mac and no discounted packages, it’s much cheaper to take out a Bitdefender subscription, especially in the first year.
Antivirus software should be fast, simple and easy to install and use. We’ll be evaluating whether Bitdefender and AVG are user-friendly or not in this round, starting with the installation before looking in-depth at both antivirus clients.
If you have a fast internet connection, you can download, install and have Bitdefender up-and-running in around 10 minutes. The installation file is big (around 500MB), but doesn’t need much interaction beyond a reboot once installation begins.
This isn’t the quickest installer we’ve seen. Webroot, with its 5MB installer size, is much quicker to install (see our Webroot SecureAnywhere review).
Bitdefender’s main client is centered around the dashboard, with common actions to scan your PC or access premium features, like Safepay. You can customize the dashboard with your favorite features for easier access.
Bitdefender does like to be helpful — you’ll have taskbar pop-ups alerting you when Bitdefender thinks you need to do something, like switch to Safepay when you’re accessing a shopping checkout. You can disable these in the settings area if it proves to be irritating.
You can also mute these with customized profiles, which are listed under settings. These will switch Bitdefender settings under certain conditions, like when you connect to an open WiFi network or if you’re playing a PC game.
We’ve already mentioned Webroot’s small installer, but unlike Bitdefender, AVG is able to challenge it. It comes with an installer that’s less than 1MB in size, and installation took around two minutes to complete.
You have two options: You can just click “install” and let AVG handle things, or you can customize your AVG installation, configuring what features you’d like to have enabled before it’s even installed.
The main client for AVG is clean, tidy and incredibly simple. You’re not overloaded with features or buttons. Your features are laid out in five categories, from “computer” for your general protection to “payments” for your anti-spam protection.
Clicking on a section will bring up the individual “shields,” which you can customize by clicking the settings icon in the top right. The most prominent option for users on the main client screen is “scan computer,” which will begin a comprehensive scan of your PC for malware.
If you’d prefer, you can customize your scan with six preset options by clicking the settings button next to the “scan computer” icon. You can perform quick scans, boot-level scans or specialist scans for removable devices or individual folders.
The settings area allows you to further customize your installation. Each setting includes a description explaining what it does to help you navigate the settings area with ease.
Round Three Thoughts
This is a tough call to make, as AVG and Bitdefender both have the best interfaces for antivirus software that we’ve seen. AVG snags the win, however, with simpler options and clearer customization in the settings area, and a much faster installation.
Protection is the most important section of our comparison. Antivirus software might look great, but if it doesn’t protect you from dangerous threats, it’s not worth installing.
We’ll be using the in-depth reports from three independent security labs to examine the quality of protection that Bitdefender and AVG offer.
AV-TEST’s May-June 2019 real world testing showed a slight drop in Bitdefender’s performance from their last test, with a protection score of 5.5 out of 6. Although no threats were missed in May, June saw a drop to 98.8 percent.
There was also a drop in performance (looking at percentage scores), but Bitdefender kept a 6 out of 6 score overall. AV Comparatives recorded similarly high scores in their February-May 2019 protection tests, with 751 out of 752 dangers detected and a 99.9 percent success rate overall.
They also rated Bitdefender highly in their April 2019 performance tests, earning Bitdefender AV Comparatives’ Advanced+ award — the highest awarded — for both performance and protection. This put it in the same league as Kaspersky (take a look at our Bitdefender vs. Kaspersky comparison and our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review).
MRG-Effitas gave Bitdefender another high score in their Q1 2019 “In the Wild 360” full spectrum test. It had a 100-percent success rate from a test sample size of 339, and it received MRG-Effitas’ level 1 “certified” award, alongside other providers like F-Secure (see our F-Secure Antivirus review).
AVG earned similar, although not perfect, scores from AV during their May-June 2019 performance test. It scored 5.5 out of 6, with a perfect 100-percentage rate of protection in May, but that dropped to 97 percent in June. Performance scores were better, at 6 out of 6.
AV-Comparatives’ February-May 2019 test showed a success rate of 99.2 percent for AVG, matching McAfee (see our McAfee Total Protection review). Out of 752 malware samples, 746 were detected, with six missed.
Technically, MRG-Effitas didn’t test AVG in their Q1 2019 test. However, they did test Avast. AVG is a subsidiary company of the larger Avast, and as Avast confirmed themselves in 2018, AVG now uses the same underlying engine for antivirus testing as Avast.
With that in mind, a look at Avast’s score from MRG-Effitas’ full-spectrum test showed a 99.71-percent success rate, with 0.29 percent missed. Not the perfect score that Bitdefender achieved, but still enough to gain the same level 1 “certified” award.
Round Four Thoughts
As you’d expect from two of the best antivirus providers, protection scores for both AVG and Bitdefender were near perfect. Bitdefender has slightly better scores, but not enough to be conclusive. The differences between the two were extremely small, making this round a draw.
If you face a problem with your antivirus software, you may need to turn to customer support. In this final round, we’re going to compare the customer support that Bitdefender and AVG offer.
Bitdefender is a global company with various support methods available for customers. If you’d like customer support over the phone, for instance, there are 16 regional phone lines available for you to choose from.
If you’d rather deal with the issue at your PC, you can speak to Bitdefender support agents over live chat or send a support ticket via email, with 24/7 support available.
There’s also a knowledgebase for customers, with simple guides exploring how to install the software or deal with common issues. Some of these guides come with videos, but you’ll otherwise see a set of instructions with supportive images.
There’s also a community support forum, where customers can ask questions and support queries. Other helpful customers respond to these, but Bitdefender staff monitor the forum and will respond to questions themselves.
AVG also offers a wide selection of methods for support. You can speak to AVG over live chat or by phone. There are three 24/7 support lines based in the U.S., UK and Australia. There’s also an email ticketing system available through the website.
There’s a FAQ explaining each product feature, along with some guides to help you install or uninstall AVG or to change subscription. Overall, the FAQ is pretty limited, and you’d probably find yourself searching through the community forum for extra information.
The forum is a little unusual, with posts sorted by the most recent activity. There are separate sections for different topics, like “AVG Protection.” Similar to Bitdefender, customers and staff alike respond to queries in a timely manner.
If you’re really stuck, you can pay for premium tech support, where AVG staff can use remote desktop connections to set things up or remove any detected malware. It’s a pricey option, however, costing between $79 to $119 per call, or $199 for unlimited help across a year.
Round Five Thoughts
You’d expect 24/7 support from top-tier providers like Bitdefender and AVG. Bitdefender’s knowledgebase and community forum are easier to navigate than AVG, and there are a greater number of regional phone lines for customers. It’s close, but Bitdefender wins this round.
Bitdefender and AVG are two of the biggest antiviruses, and there’s not much difference between them. Both had impressive protection scores from three independent labs, and both have a wide range of support options for users.
AVG has a nice interface, but Bitdefender offers more premium features, which are included as part of your antivirus subscription costs, rather than as an added extra. AVG is our favourite free antivirus, but Bitdefender remains our top choice for premium customers.
Winner: Bitdefender Antivirus
If you’re not keen on either AVG or Bitdefender, our antivirus articles should give you some alternative options to consider. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.