Bitdefender vs Malwarebytes: Head to Head in 2023
Bitdefender and Malwarebytes are two of the most recognized products on the antivirus market. Both have a wide range of features and competitive pricing, and invest in their research, which is why their products are so well regarded. They have their differences, though, especially in how well they’ll protect your PC.
In this Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes comparison, we’ll compare and contrast Bitdefender and Malwarebytes to help you decide which is the better option. Bitdefender wiped the floor with Avast in our Bitdefender vs. Avast head-to-head, so we’ll see if it can do the same to Malwarebytes.
We’re going to assess how the products match up over five rounds. If you’d like more details on either, check out our Bitdefender Antivirus review or our Malwarebytes Antivirus review.
Setting Up a Fight: Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes
We’ll compare Bitdefender and Malwarebytes over several rounds to help you judge which is better. They’ll go head-to-head on features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and support, which is the same criteria we use in our best antivirus software roundup. The provider that takes the most rounds will be the winner.
As our Bitdefender vs Kaspersky comparison shows, even when there’s a winner, it’s not always as clear a picture as that. We recommend reading through each section rather than just glancing at the winners because some rounds may be more important to you than others, such as pricing or features.
- 1$1.67 / month(All Plans)
- 2$3.75 / month(All Plans)
Speaking of features, gone are the days when your antivirus software only scanned your files for malware. Malware protection is still central to Bitdefender and Malwarebytes, but we’ll also look at the additional features they offer.
Bitdefender’s most basic plans include great features, such as ransomware protection, an anti-tracker extension and file shredding. Unfortunately, those plans also lack additional security features, such as a firewall.
If you go for the Total Security package, the list of features gets a lot longer. It includes webcam protection, file encryption, parental controls and a two-way firewall.
There’s also a VPN client included with every plan, but it’s limited to 200MB of usage per day. You can upgrade to an unlimited plan, but there are better options for your money if a VPN is what you’re looking for. We like ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Plus, there’s Safepay, which is a secure browser intended for online banking and shopping. When you open a website that supports online payments in your browser, Bitdefender will prompt you to launch Safepay. It includes a virtual keyboard designed to stop hackers from capturing your details with a keystroke logger.
There’s also a password manager included on all Bitdefender products, excluding the macOS version. It can store sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, and auto-fill when you need it. It’s a useful feature, but you’ll find better support from our best password managers, such as Dashlane (read our Dashlane review).
If you opt for the more expensive plans, Bitdefender offers a lot of great features to form an all-around security package for your PC. At the lower end, you’ll be surprised by the additional features, but there are glaring omissions, such as protection for your mobile devices.
If you’re looking for a product packed with extra features, Malwarebytes isn’t it. The service doesn’t include a lot of the features Bitdefender does.
There’s no password manager, no parental controls and no file shredder. It also doesn’t provide a VPN or webcam protection, so you won’t be protected from hidden, prying eyes. If you opt for Malwarebytes, you’ll need to read our guide on how to secure your webcam.
The settings menu is where you find additional features. With a little searching, you can find the option to turn on malware protection. Our ransomware protection tips might come in handy, there.
Malwarebytes deals with potentially unwanted programs with ease, and you can set your preferred response, such as automatic deletion, in the settings area. That’s a great way to prevent unwanted toolbars from being installed, for instance.
Malwarebytes’s protection features are what you’d expect from a high-quality antivirus package, but it’s disappointing that it lacks additional features.
Round One Thoughts
When it comes to features, there’s only one winner. Even the less expensive Bitdefender plans include more features than Malwarebytes does. If you don’t care about anything other than core protection features, Malwarebytes might suffice. For most, though, this round is a clear win for Bitdefender.
Point for Bitdefender
Comparing the prices of antivirus products is a challenge. Many offer several payment plans, as well as options for multiple devices, so it’s tough to determine whether a product is worth the cost. We’re going to look at the plans Malwarebytes and Bitdefender offer to see which comes out on top.
Bitdefender offers some great promotions but the discounts only apply to your first payment. You can choose a longer term to enjoy a lower rate per year for up to three years.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the least expensive plan, but it includes the fewest features as a consequence. Bitdefender Internet Security is the next package up, and unlike Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, it includes webcam protection and a firewall.
- Unlimited devices (Windows only)
- 3 devices
- 3 devices
- 5 devices
- 15 devices
- 10 devices
- 10 devices
- 10 devices
Higher up the list of Bitdefender packages is Bitdefender Total Security. It offers protection for up to five devices and is the only option that includes iOS and Android support alongside Windows and macOS. In fact, it won our vote as the best antivirus for Mac.
At the top of the pile is Bitdefender Premium Security, which offers all the features of Bitdefender Total Security, but includes priority support, unlimited VPN traffic and support for 10 devices.
The current discounted offers will protect up to three devices. There’s an option to cover just one, but there’s no discount on that price plan. For the first year, you’ll be paying more to protect a single device than you would to protect up to five on the Bitdefender Total Security plan.
In short, the more devices you cover, the more you’ll pay for the privilege.
If you take advantage of the promotional rates, the prices for Bitdefender are good, ranging from $29.99 per year for Bitdefender Antivirus Plus to $89.99 per year for Bitdefender Premium Security.
The step up in features between each level makes a Bitdefender subscription worth it if you can afford the difference. If you want to give Bitdefender Total Security or Bitdefender Premium Security a try, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial, too.
For personal use, there are two main options for potential Malwarebytes users. Malwarebytes Premium covers just one device, while Malwarebytes Premium for Home allows you to cover up to 10 devices. The price increases with each device that you add, much like with ESET NOD32 (read our ESET NOD32 review).
Both plans work with Windows, macOS, Android and Chrome OS. If you want to cover an iOS device you’ll need to download the Malwarebytes app and pay an additional $1.49 per month.
- Full package (1 device)
- Full package (5 devices)
- Full package + VPN protection (5 devices)
Malwarebytes for Teams can cover up to 20 devices with standalone installations, making it a good option for small businesses. For larger organizations, Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection for Business is a managed, cloud-based solution that’ll protect as many devices as you can afford.
The business plans include advanced options such as exploit mitigation to protect you from unpatched software, payload analysis to test for unrecognized malware and ransomware mitigation to prevent your files from being encrypted without your permission. You can also add premium customer support thanks to Malwarebytes Endpoint Protection and Response.
If you only want to cover one device, Malwarebytes Premium starts at an attractive price point of $39.99 per year. Adding devices raises the cost $10 per year per device, but it’s still a competitive plan. There’s also a free 14-day trial that gives you the chance to try the features before you buy.
Round Two Thoughts
Malwarebytes Premium and Bitdefender Internet Security are similar in price. The key difference is that Malwarebytes Premium only covers one device. Bitdefender Internet Security covers up to three devices for the same price. Bitdefender Premium Security supports up to 10.
If you only have one device that you want to cover, there’s little to differentiate the two options in terms of price. For that reason, we’re going to call this round a draw.
No clear winner, points for both
3. User Friendliness
You shouldn’t notice your antivirus after it’s installed and set up, except when there’s a problem. How simple the installation process is can vary enormously from product to product, with some providers, such as Norton, asking for your full attention (read our Norton Security review).
We’re going to take a closer look at the kind of experiences you’ll have when installing and using Bitdefender and Malwarebytes.
Installing Bitdefender isn’t a quick job. The download weighs in at close to half a gigabyte and took us more than 10 minutes to install. Once that was out of the way, the rest of the experience was excellent.
The interface is among the best we’ve seen. Most of the main screen is taken up with customizable tiles known as “quick actions.” You get five slots that offer shortcuts to the features you use the most. You can choose almost any feature from the dashboard, including things such as the VPN, file shredder, system scan and disk cleanup tools.
To the left of the screen are the menus. You can access options under the headings of “protection,” “utilities” and “privacy.” There are also smaller menus towards the bottom of the interface, including “settings.”
In the “Settings” menu, you can set different profiles based on how you’re using your computer. The “movie” profile, for example, stops interruptions while you’re watching media content. The “work” profile disables pop-ups and pauses scheduled scans.
Despite the lengthy install process, Bitdefender is one of the most user-friendly antivirus products we’ve used. The clever dashboard means, with tweaking, all your favorite features are just a click away.
Installing Malwarebytes is quick and simple. It walks you through the process, so you’ll be up and running in little time.
The dashboard isn’t quite as clean as Bitdefender’s, though. Sidebar menus are split into separate tabs, so finding the setting you want can take a bit of hunting. There’s also no way to pin the most used settings to the dashboard.
It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of menus and find yourself facing granular settings that even technical users might find confusing. The level of control is impressive, though, and will appeal to power users.
Running the scans is easy and lightning fast. The initial scan in our tests took less than four minutes, although it was operating at 100 percent CPU utilization. The good news is that if you have other processes running, Malwarebytes willing to share.
The sheer number of options you can tweak with Malwarebytes might be overwhelming for some. It also makes finding the features you want a challenge. If you know what you’re doing, though, there’s a lot to be said for the high level of control.
Round Three Thoughts
Malwarebytes has a solid interface and installs easily. Against another antivirus product, it might take this round.
That said, Bitdefender has one of the most user-friendly interfaces we’ve seen, and we can only mark it down for the rather lengthy installation process. Rack this one up as another win for Bitdefender.
Point for Bitdefender
Your antivirus can have a wealth of great features, but it’ll live or die by its protection. In this round, we’ll compare results from three independent laboratories to see how Malwarebytes and Bitdefender keep you protected.
Bitdefender is one of the most highly-rated antivirus products on the market. Year after year it has received close to perfect scores from the testing labs we check. It has sometimes lost marks for performance, though, particularly on less powerful hardware.
In the March to April 2019 AV-Test report, Bitdefender received a protection score of 6 out of 6. It offered 100 percent protection against zero-day malware attacks, which was ahead of the average industry score of 99.3 percent. It also detected 100 percent of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the four weeks leading to the test.
Running Bitdefender had an impact on computer speed, according to AV-Test. There was a 19 percent slow down launching websites compared to an average industry score of 14 percent. Launching software was only a fraction slower than the average industry score, though.
In AV-Comparatives’ tests from February to March 2019, Bitdefender had a 100 percent protection rate and returned just one false positive. For comparison, F-Secure Antivirus had 14 false positives (read our F-Secure Antivirus review for a full rundown).
MRG Effitas awarded Bitdefender Level 1 certification in its Q1 2019 full spectrum analysis. That means 100 percent of malware threats were detected on first exposure or from known behavior patterns. That was superior to some of the well-known antivirus brands, including McAfee and Avast (read our Avast Pro review). Bitdefender also returned zero false positives.
In the March to April 2019 AV-Test report, Malwarebytes scored 5.5 out of 6 for protection. In April, it offered protection against 100 percent of zero-day malware attacks, but in March, it only managed 99.2 percent. That’s below the average of 99.3 percent across the industry.
In both March and April, Malwarebytes only detected 99.5 percent of widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the four weeks prior to the test. With the average in the industry being virtually 100 percent, that isn’t a great result.
It fared better in the performance scores, with a 10 percent slow-down when launching websites, which is above the industry average. Launching software wasn’t great, though, at 22 percent slower, which was more than twice the industry average.
Neither AV-Comparatives nor MRG Effitas has recent results for Malwarebytes. That said, MRG Effitas failed Malwarebytes in its Q1 2018 full spectrum analysis.
Round Four Thoughts
Bitdefender once again proved to be one of the most effective options when it comes to protection and was certified as a “top product” by AV-Test. Its performance scores were below the industry average, but not by much.
Malwarebytes didn’t do badly, but it doesn’t offer complete protection against malware attacks and isn’t as thoroughly tested by researchers as Bitdefender. In our head-to-head, Bitdefender is the clear winner.
Point for Bitdefender
If antivirus software goes wrong, you could be left unprotected, so fast and effective support is vital. In our final round, we’ll compare the levels of support that Bitdefender and Malwarebytes offer to customers.
When it comes to customer support, Bitdefender has it all. You can contact Bitdefender customer support via live chat, phone support and email. There’s also a knowledgebase, community forum and helpful how-to video content. The help articles are sorted by topic to assist you in getting through common tasks and features.
The forum is thriving and active. A quick browse showed that new questions were usually answered by a member of technical support within a day or two. It’s also segregated well, showing you only posts relating to your specific products. Forums are available in multiple languages, too.
Live chat and phone support are available around the clock, with dedicated phone lines in 16 countries in various languages. For everyone else, there’s worldwide 24/7 support in English.
Malwarebytes offers live chat, but only operates from 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. When we tried to contact an agent on live chat, there was a waiting time of more than 10 minutes. We couldn’t find an option for phone support, either. Instead, we were asked to fill out a support ticket.
New forum posts receive a generic automated bot response, which isn’t helpful. Community responses are useful and answer most questions, but usually take a couple of days.
There are also how-to videos and walkthroughs for the most common tasks, such as installation and activation. They’re well-made and easy to follow, but there’s a limited number of them, so they won’t be much help if you have a more complex problem.
Round Five Thoughts
Bitdefender has excellent support, with many contact options that operate 24/7 in several languages. The community is ran well and packed with useful information.
Malwarebytes, as a company, is much harder to get hold of. Live chat is only available during set hours, and if you want to speak to a human being, you’re going to struggle. The forum is good and the walkthroughs are a nice touch, but once again, Bitdefender walks away as the clear winner.
Point for Bitdefender
6. Final Thoughts
Bitdefender blew Malwarebytes out of the water on every category except price. Even in that category, Bitdefender covered more devices at similar price points.
Malwarebytes was let down by the fact that it doesn’t offer the same level of protection as Bitdefender and is lacking features, but it’s a breeze to install and easy to use. It isn’t awful, but in this instance, it was up against a much stronger opponent.
Bitdefender has been the clear winner in our other comparisons, too. It’s our top recommendation for antivirus software because it offers great protection and the best interface we’ve seen in an antivirus product.
If you want to look at Malwarebytes’ and Bitdefender’s competitors, read our other antivirus reviews.
Do you agree with our winner? Which is your antivirus of choice? Leave us a comment below. Thanks for reading.