We’re big fans of Bitdefender here at Cloudwards.net. It ranked first when we looked at the best antivirus software in the market. Bitdefender just edged out a big antivirus name in our Bitdefender vs. Kaspersky Anti-Virus comparison. In this article, we’re comparing it to Norton Antivirus, one of the oldest examples of antivirus software around.
We’re expecting both to do well, but we’ll see how Norton Antivirus compares to Bitdefender in five rounds. We’re going to compare the antivirus giants’ features, pricing packages, user-friendliness, protection and customer support before declaring our winner.
Setting up a Fight: Bitdefender vs. Norton Antivirus
Bitdefender’s our top antivirus, while Norton makes our most secure antivirus software shortlist. You’ll be safe with both, but this comparison is designed to help you decide for yourself. Let’s run through the ground rules first.
As mentioned, we’re looking at five categories, from features to customer support. Each round gets a winner, and the first to three points wins the comparison overall.
We suggest reading through the sections in their entirety to get a full view of our stances. In some cases, the best choice for you will be dependent on your circumstances.
The antivirus industry has changed since Norton Antivirus and Bitdefender were released. The challenge for antivirus software developers is to stay ahead of the game, with new features and methods for catching, and preventing, malware and other cybercrime.
Let’s take a look at which features Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus offer to their customers.
You’re not going to get much from Bitdefender without paying for its most expensive package. Thankfully, a 30-day trial should give you enough time to determine which package is best for you.
You’ll get the most protection with Bitdefender Total Security. It’s an all-in-one offering, with coverage for multiple devices. Bitdefender ranks highly on our best antivirus for Android list, but it protects iOS and macOS devices well, too.
We’re all too familiar with the dangers of public WiFi, which is why Bitdefender offers a limited virtual private network service with a 200MB-per-day limit. It isn’t a top-tier solution, so if a VPN is what you’re after, look at ExpressVPN instead (read our ExpressVPN review).
If you’re worried about safe browsing, Bitdefender Safepay provides a secure sandbox for your sensitive web visits, such as your online banking or shopping. You’ll be notified every time you visit a page that Bitdefender believes could put you at risk if you don’t use Safepay.
A password manager that integrates with your normal browser and Safepay is also included. It’s a good offering, but you might want to look at our password manager reviews for something with more features, such as LastPass (read our LastPass review).
You also get ransomware protection with all Bitdefender packages, except the free one, as well as a network firewall. Bitdefender Total Security offers almost too many features to mention, from secure file shredding to webcam protection.
All in all, Bitdefender offers the most features out of the choices on our antivirus reviews list. It can be tough figuring out which features are available for a certain package, but other than that, we have little to complain about.
There are four main Norton packages. Like Bitdefender, there are some core features across all of them, but fewer features end up on the list overall.
Each package comes with a full set of malware protection, with defenses against ransomware and spyware included, as well as cloud storage for backups. You also get a network firewall and password manager.
The password manager wouldn’t stand up to a full-fledged offering like Dashlane (read our Dashlane review), but it does the job for a casual user.
Norton 360 package subscribers gain access to Norton Secure VPN for secure browsing (read our Norton Secure VPN review). It’s lacking in the sort of VPN features you’d see on our best VPN for Windows shortlist, but it’s a nice extra. You also get webcam protection.
If you want more features, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the more expensive packages. For example, you gain parental control features to help protect your kids, with tools to monitor web traffic and app downloads.
The distribution of features across Norton’s packages is weighted toward the more expensive ones as you might expect, but there’s enough in the Antivirus Plus and 360 Standard subscriptions to be useful.
Round One Thoughts
There are a lot of similarities between Norton Antivirus and Bitdefender. Norton Antivirus offers a lot of add-ons for its packages, but many of them, such as the VPN and LifeLock identity protection, involve additional programs and complexity.
When it comes to security features, Norton Antivirus is more basic. Most features, such as the password manager and webcam protection, are matched by Bitdefender, which also offers additional core features.
Bitdefender wins this round, but Norton Antivirus does well to offer security extras, such as identity protection, that Bitdefender doesn’t.
We’ve talked about the subscription plans on offer. Both antivirus providers offer basic packages to hook their users before upselling them to something with more features.
Let’s look at what you get for your money with a Norton Antivirus or Bitdefender subscription.
There are four packages available from Bitdefender, but you’ll need to spend more if you’re looking for support for multiple devices. The good news is that there are big discounts for new users.
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
The cheapest package, Antivirus Plus, is around $30 per year, with support for up to three Windows PCs at the discounted rate. Any higher, or lower, number of PCs means being charged the full price. That’s unusual but acceptable if you only have a few Windows PCs.
It’s mid-tier package, Internet Security, is also restricted to Windows and has a similar three-device discount. You also get features such as a WiFi scanner, parental controls and a network firewall.
Mobile and macOS users will need to invest in Total Security, Bitdefender’s most expensive package. Bitdefender is still our best antivirus for Mac thanks to the protection, though. The discounted rate is only available for Total Security on its three-device subscriptions.
You can also protect your family with the Bitdefender Family Plan, which supports 15 devices. Unlike the other discounts, its 54 percent discount applies to all 15 devices on all annual plans, from $54.99 for one year to $174.99 for three.
First-time subscribers and renewers alike have something positive to look forward to from a Bitdefender subscription. To make the most of multiple device support, you’re going to need to pay for Total Security or the Family Plan, but Antivirus Plus and Internet Security are good budget options.
You can subscribe to any Bitdefender package for up to three years with heavy discounts. Whichever package you want to try, you should take advantage of Bitdefender’s 30-day Total Security trial period first.
There are discounts for initial Norton Antivirus subscribers, but they aren’t as generous as those offered by Bitdefender.
1-year plan $ 3.33 / month
$39.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 4.17 / month
$49.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 4.58 / month
$54.99 billed every year
|Deluxe w/ LifeLock|
1-year plan $ 8.33 / month
$99.99 billed every year
The most basic Norton Antivirus plan, which is also called Antivirus Plus, is around $60 per year. There’s a 20 percent discount for first-time subscribers, reducing the cost to about $50. It’s a bare-bones package, though.
You’re limited to one PC or Mac, with standard malware protection, network firewall, the password manager and 2GB of cloud storage. Almost $60 to protect a single device is poor value compared to Bitdefender or another provider, such as Avast (read our Avast Pro review).
Norton Antivirus’s next two plans, 360 Standard and 360 Deluxe, have more meat on their bones. At a discounted $49.99 and $59.99 per year, you get most of the Norton features you’d expect, with webcam protection and VPN access included.
Like Antivirus Plus, 360 Standard only protects one device, but it allows you to protect a mobile device, too. You’ll need 360 Deluxe if you want to protect multiple devices. It supports up to five, including PCs, Macs and mobile devices. It also increases your cloud storage to 50GB.
One of the most expensive plans, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, adds identity theft protection and up to 100GB of cloud backup storage, along with all the features you’d get with 360 Deluxe.
You’ll need to pay $299.99 a year for Norton 360 with LifeLock Unlimited Plus to get unlimited support and the highest level of identity theft protection. You can get similar unlimited device protection for less than half the price with Avira Prime (read our Avira review).
The promotional prices for Norton Antivirus are okay, but you’ll need to pay for one of the higher-tier packages to get the best value.
Round Two Thoughts
If value for money is the most important thing for you, you’ll choose Bitdefender over Norton Antivirus. Both companies make you pay extra for mobile devices and multiple devices, but you’ll have access to more features for less money with Bitdefender.
The best kind of antivirus is the kind that doesn’t intrude or slow your machine down and isn’t difficult to use. That’s why we look closely at whether an antivirus is user-friendly.
In this round, we’re going to assess the user-friendliness of Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus to decide which is best.
Installing Bitdefender is painless, with few steps and lots of explanation provided en route. The client is clean, simple and effective at explaining the bulk of its features to users. The dashboard offers most of the settings and features, from quick scans to opening Safepay, as “quick actions” for you to access.
If there’s a problem, Bitdefender will let you know with sidebar pop-ups and alerts. It offers information on what you need to do and one-click fixes.
Most users won’t need to move from the quick actions dashboard, but you can access your other settings and features from the side menu to micro-configure your Bitdefender protection.
All in all, Bitdefender offers simplicity for casual users and more advanced settings for the pros. It’s one of the best antivirus clients we’ve seen and rates highly for user-friendliness.
Norton doesn’t make things too difficult to use, either. Installation is about on par with Bitdefender. It’s slick, performing most actions for you, but you’ll need to register an account.
A clean-looking client gives users the choice to switch between tabs, with areas for scanning, configuration, performance and other features like your password manager and safety extensions. The extensions aren’t great — they’re slow and bulky, to put it mildly — but they’re left disabled by default.
A nice touch is Norton Antivirus’s CPU usage monitoring in the “performance” tab. Historically, Norton Antivirus has been seen as a resource hog, and this feature goes some way to dispel that reputation.
All in all, Norton is easy to use, simple to install and doesn’t have a huge affect on your system usage.
Round Three Thoughts
Norton Antivirus and Bitdefender are two of the most recognizable brands in the market. They’ve been around too long not to know that their target market expects simplicity and efficiency.
Both offer that, but Bitdefender makes it much easier to micromanage individual features. It’s a draw in this round. There’s not enough between them to call it either way.
There’s no point in installing antivirus software if it can’t protect you. To be sure that you’re getting the best protection, we’ll look at how well Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus perform against the worst threats from three testing labs.
At AV-Test, Bitdefender scored 99.3 percent in March and April 2019 in a test of its malware defenses, which was a slight dip from previous scores but still enough for it to earn a perfect 6 out of 6.
Performance-wise, Bitdefender scored better, with only a 14 percent slowdown compared to the average 19 percent. Overall, AV-Test gave Bitdefender another perfect score, which fits well with our expectations. Bitdefender isn’t a resource hog.
There were similar results in the AV-Comparatives testing. Though there were two false positives recorded between February and May 2019, Bitdefender blocked 751 threats for a 99.9 percent protection rate. AV-Comparatives also awarded Bitdefender its highest Advanced+ rating for performance during its April 2019 testing.
The third lab to test Bitdefender, MRG Effitas, gave the antivirus software a Level 1 Certified rating in its Q1 2019 testing. It had a 100 percent pass rate in full spectrum tests from a sample size of 339, meaning it caught every threat with no false positives.
AV-Test’s March and April 2019 tests showed an identical 99.3 percent protection score against malware threats for Norton Antivirus. It also matched Bitdefender’s performance score, but it proved slower in testing. Though the performance score dropped, the malware protection was close to perfect.
The same picture can’t be seen from AV-Comparatives’ protection testing from February to May 2019. It reported a significant 21 false positives, but it blocked 99.6 percent of threats automatically. The amount of false positives resulted in an Advanced rating for Norton Antivirus overall.
At MRG Effitas, Norton Antivirus (rated as Symantec) received a matching Level 1 certification in Q1 2019 tests. Its full spectrum tests were better than Bitdefender’s, with 100 percent of threats automatically detected and blocked. In every testing category, Norton Antivirus scored 100 percent.
Round Four Thoughts
There’s not much between these two antivirus powerhouses. The number of false positives recorded by AV-Comparatives for Norton Antivirus is a concern, but that seems to be an outlier rather than the norm.
With matching or slightly lower scores across the board for Norton Antivirus, though, it’s Bitdefender that pips it to the post. That said, it’s a close shave. Whichever antivirus you choose, you’ll be protected well.
If you’re faced with a malware threat you can’t solve, you’ll expect to fall back on the expert advice provided to you. To that end, we’ll test the support you’ll receive from Bitdefender or Norton Antivirus in this round.
Bitdefender has every contact route we like to see. If you prefer talking through your problems, you can speak to customer support on the phone in 16 countries.
There’s also live chat, email, a forum and a knowledgebase that contains how-to guides and questions. The forum is active and staffed by Bitdefender tech support agents and participating customers.
You can expect responses quickly, often within a few hours. Forum posts are separated by product and available in different languages. Bitdefender’s support is available 24/7 for customers, too.
Symantec, which owns Norton Antivirus, offers phone and live chat support for customers, and like Bitdefender, it also provides a support forum, video how-to guides and a knowledgebase.
The Norton Antivirus knowledgebase is well-organized and split into categories for different products. You can search for specific issues or questions, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can move to other avenues of help from the bottom of each page.
The articles are detailed, with easy-to-follow steps to fix problems or perform actions, such as backing up your files or changing your subscription.
The forum isn’t the easiest to navigate, but it’s well-stocked with a long archive of posts you can search through if the knowledgebase doesn’t offer you much. Failing that, Norton’s 24/7 phone and live chat support should be your first port of call.
Round Five Thoughts
Customer support from Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus is excellent. Both offer many support options.
Bitdefender has a much cleaner and simpler website, though, and for that reason, it wins. The forum is more modern and easier to search, and the knowledgebase is thorough and clear.
There are a lot of similarities between Bitdefender and Norton Antivirus, but it’s clear from our comparison that Bitdefender is the best choice for consumers.
That’s not to say that there’s anything specifically wrong with Norton Antivirus. It has a long pedigree in the antivirus world, and as our protection scores show, it does a good job of protecting your kit.
In terms of value, though, Bitdefender offers more bang for your buck. You get more features for a cheaper price. If you want to look at some of our other comparisons, visit our antivirus archive.
Would you pick Bitdefender over Norton Antivirus or make another choice? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.