Bitdefender Review: Summary
Bitdefender is ranked #2 out of 28 antivirus software.
Bitdefender’s antivirus products are very affordable, especially when you consider the wide range of security features and excellent anti-malware.
- Malware protection: 95%. Bitdefender averaged 5.95 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
- Speed impact: 100%. Bitdefender averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
- Features: 95%. Bitdefender offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
- Price: 75%. If you only want the antivirus, Bitdefender offers great value for money. But if you want an unlimited VPN, Norton provides a better deal.
Try it risk-free, thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Ranking||#2 of 28 🥈|
|Operating systems||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Discount||Save 60% on Bitdefender|
Below, we have compared Bitdefender Internet Security with the premium VPN to Norton 360 Standard. These are the most affordable products at each brand, which allow you to protect at least 1 PC with the core features:
- Anti-phishing (web protection)
- Password manager
- Unlimited VPN (no data limit)
Test score comparison
We’ve compared the 10 most recent test scores of all antivirus brands. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:
- Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
- Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
- Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.
We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:
Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.
Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. This is usually not a good sign. Because most reputable brands, except Panda, ESET, and Sophos, partake in the test.
We’ve compared the prices of the top antivirus products for Windows. To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a Windows PC with the following essential features:
- Anti-phishing (web protection)
- Password manager
- Unlimited VPN (no data limit)
A few notes:
- Some brands are missing features, lowering their value for money.
- Prices are second-year prices in the USA, without first-year discounts.
- Prices are rounded up for readability (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100).
Brands have different prices outside the USA. See those on their website.
We’ve compared the user reviews of all antivirus brands. We’ve used the scores and review count of TrustPilot, a leading user review platform. However, take these results with a grain of salt, as some brands actively attempt to increase their ratings.
Personally, we are wary of exceptionally high scores. Especially those by brands such as TotalAV, known for aggressive marketing and sales tactics.
We consider scores between 4.0 and 4.5 good and realistic. Higher scores are dubious, and lower scores indicate that the brand might have a poor product or customer service. McAfee’s scores, for instance, are worrying.
Product analysis – part 1
In the table below are the core products with their features and prices.
The prices shown are from the USA. However, most brands have different prices (and currencies) in other regions. So visit the brand’s website to see the price in our country.
Product analysis – part 2
There are a few specialized products, which we’ve kept out of the table to keep it readable. These are:
- Bitdefender Free Antivirus is a basic solution for Windows. It only includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, and real-time protection.
- Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac is the antivirus solution for macOS offering a malware scanner, web protection and VPN limited to 200 MB / day.
- Bitdefender Mobile Security for iOS is the mobile antivirus for iPhones and iPads.
- Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android is the mobile antivirus for Android phones and tablets.
- Bitdefender Family Pack offers the same features as Bitdefender Total Security but for up to 15 devices.
- Bitdefender GravityZone is for businesses and enterprises, offering endpoint security for physical and vertical workstations, and servers.
Most users choose one of the products in the table above.
Bitdefender antivirus review
Bitdefender’s virus scanner is efficient and unobtrusive, using extensive malware databases and machine learning for malware detection. Scanning occurs primarily in the cloud, minimizing CPU and disk space usage.
The scanner offers four scan types: Quick, System, Custom, and Vulnerability. In tests, it identified all malware samples hidden in a virtual Windows computer, including various threats.
The full system scan completed in under an hour, similar to competitors like Norton and Avira. Bitdefender’s minimal impact on system performance sets it apart from rivals, as there was no noticeable slowdown during scanning.
Users can schedule a custom scan, although competing products offer more scheduling options. Bitdefender’s scanner stands out for its speed, minimal impact, and perfect detection rates.
Bitdefender’s real-time protection (Bitdefender Shield) excels, scanning files and email attachments as they’re accessed. Default settings cover a range of threats, and advanced users can customize settings to suit their needs.
During testing, the real-time protection blocked all malware before downloading, placing them in quarantine. Bitdefender’s real-time scanner offers exceptional customization options and rivals the best competitors in malware detection rates.
Web protection (anti-phishing)
Bitdefender’s exceptional anti-phishing capabilities outperform Chrome, Firefox, and rival tools like Panda and Kaspersky. Its web protection scans search results, encrypted sites, and checks for fraudulent content.
A user-friendly notification screen helps users understand why websites are blocked and enables easy whitelisting of safe sites with a single click. However, only whitelist sites when confident they’re safe and malware-free.
Bitdefender’s adaptable firewall oversees network traffic, preventing cybercriminals from breaching Wi-Fi networks and distributing malicious software. It offers numerous features, including port scan protection, passive detection, and stealth mode.
Although it’s ideal for advanced users, novices can benefit from its out-of-the-box functionality, which surpasses standard Windows and Mac firewalls.
To evaluate Bitdefender’s firewall, I simulated network attacks, which it effectively blocked. An online port scanner couldn’t access my service ports either, indicating hackers would be unable to extract information.
Bitdefender’s firewall handles new applications in three ways: Automatic, Allow, and Block. The default “Automatic” mode is recommended to balance security and functionality.
An “Alert” mode is available, but it quickly becomes irritating, as it issues a pop-up for every new application. While AVG’s firewall presents a more informative window, Bitdefender simplifies creating personalized rules for individual applications.
Stealth Mode is designed to make your computer invisible to devices within and outside your network, but its effectiveness was limited in my testing.
Despite minor issues, Bitdefender’s firewall performs admirably, blocking network-based malware, being user-friendly and customizable, and offering superior protection compared to default Windows and Mac firewalls.
Bitdefender’s VPN, powered by Hotspot Shield, offers basic features like 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. The free version included in most plans has limited server choices and 200 MB daily browsing.
Upgrading to the Premium Security plan or a separate VPN subscription provides unlimited browsing data and access to 4,000+ servers globally. Bitdefender’s premium VPN has impressive speeds, even outpacing some standalone competitors.
Despite its fast speeds, Bitdefender’s VPN falls short for streaming, as platforms like Netflix detect and block VPN usage. For reliable streaming, consider one of the best VPN, like CyberGhost or NordVPN.
However, Bitdefender excels in torrenting, with an auto-connect feature for peer-to-peer sharing apps. Overall, the premium VPN offers quick connection speeds and secure browsing for users seeking enhanced internet security, although it lacks some standalone VPN features.
Bitdefender’s OneClick Optimizer, though basic, effectively clears disk space on computers by removing junk files such as temporary system files, Windows trash, recycle bin items, broken registry entries, and browser history. It cleared 1.3 GB from my PC, outperforming competitors with more extensive system tune-up tools.
However, it has some limitations. Bitdefender didn’t allow me to review flagged issues’ details, which was frustrating. Moreover, it lacks features offered by Avira and TotalAV, like startup optimizers, game boosters, driver updaters, and battery usage managers. Despite these drawbacks, the one-click optimization improved my PC’s speed, making it a convenient tool.
Secure web browser
Bitdefender’s Safepay is an excellent web browser for protecting personal information during online transactions. It prevents remote desktop access, blocks screen snapshots, utilizes a password manager, emulates a virtual keyboard, and activates VPN protection (with a 200 MB daily limit). It worked well in testing, effectively blocking screenshots and keyloggers.
However, there are some downsides. Pages loaded slowly, and HD video streaming was not possible. Despite this, Safepay is faster than Kaspersky’s Safe Money browser and an excellent privacy tool for online transactions. Overall, it’s a great addition to Bitdefender’s web protection toolkit and a top choice for secure browsing.
Bitdefender’s password manager is a fairly decent option but not as robust as dedicated alternatives like Dashlane or 1Password. It lacks features like two-factor authentication and password sharing but offers essential functionalities, including strong encryption, multi-device sync, unlimited password storage, and auto-save/fill capabilities. The password manager comes with Bitdefender Premium Security, while lower-tier plans have a 90-day trial before requiring an additional yearly fee.
The My Wallets feature for Windows users provides a basic password vault with limited features and compatibility. The full-featured password manager is affordable and compatible with Android, iOS, and popular browser extensions.
Users can store various types of information, including personal data, financial details, email credentials, software logins, and Wi-Fi passwords. Auto-fill and auto-save functions work effectively, and a password generator can create passwords up to 32 characters long. The Security Report feature audits password security by checking for weak, old, reused, and leaked passwords.
In conclusion, Bitdefender’s password manager is user-friendly but not as comprehensive as standalone options like 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass, or Keeper. However, as part of the Premium Security plan, it’s suitable for users who don’t need advanced password management.
Bitdefender offers a standalone parental control app for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. The setup process is simple and quick. The app allows parents to manage their child’s online and device usage by setting daily limits, scheduling usage, managing apps, and whitelisting or blacklisting websites. The app also offers location tracking and contact list monitoring on Android and iOS devices.
Although Bitdefender’s parental control app does not have a feature to request website access like Norton, it excels in other aspects. Parents can monitor their child’s device usage, app access, and location, making it one of the best parental control apps available.
Webcam and microphone protection
Bitdefender offers protection for PC webcam and microphone, preventing hackers from spying or eavesdropping. While Norton also provides these features, competitors like McAfee do not. Bitdefender monitors app access to your webcam and microphone, and alerts you of any suspicious activity.
Customization options allow you to grant access to trusted apps and block others. Popup notifications make it easy to monitor access attempts. Overall, Bitdefender’s webcam and microphone protections are user-friendly and effective.
Ransomware Remediation by Bitdefender aims to automatically protect files from ransomware attacks. Although it successfully restored most files during testing, a few files were not accurately recovered. Despite these issues, the feature remains valuable, as not many antivirus programs offer it.
Bitdefender’s Profiles feature (Windows only) allows users to customize their experience and optimize PC performance based on usage. Profiles include Work, Movie, Game, Public Wi-Fi, and Battery Mode. Each profile is adjustable, and the feature greatly improves performance in various scenarios.
Identity theft protection
Bitdefender’s Identity Theft Protection package, available only to US users, is among the most useful in 2023. It provides multi-layered digital identity protection, monitoring data breaches, dark web forums, and social media impersonation.
Bitdefender tracks up to 100 pieces of personally identifying information and offers options to remove data from broker lists. Credit report monitoring is also available with two tiers of protection, covering 1 or all 3 major credit bureaus, with additional benefits in the premium plan. Overall, Bitdefender’s identity theft protection is comprehensive and effective.
Bitdefender’s anti-theft functionality excels in my tests, making it a top option in the market. Regrettably, it only supports Windows and Android devices, with iOS users better served by Lookout or Apple’s built-in protections, and MacBook users reliant on Apple’s features. Bitdefender’s anti-theft capabilities include locating, alerting, locking, or wiping data from devices. Setting up is as simple as signing in and turning on the feature.
Its location tracking pinpointed my device with impressive accuracy, while the alert produced a loud, distressing noise. The remote lock function secured my device, but the lock code was only helpful on my HP laptop, whereas my Android device relied on its PIN. Bitdefender’s anti-theft tools outperform competitors like McAfee, which lack such features. However, extending support to Mac and iOS would be a welcome improvement.
Bitdefender is a feature-rich internet security suite in 2023. Its additional features include system optimization tools, Wi-Fi protection, anti-tracking, and a file shredder. The file shredder stood out as particularly useful for securely erasing sensitive files, rendering them unrecoverable. Bitdefender’s comprehensive range of features makes it an excellent choice for users seeking a robust antivirus solution.
Installation and user experience
Bitdefender is among the simplest antivirus software to set up and use, taking under 5 minutes to install. Its intuitive desktop dashboard has large buttons, a comprehensive toolbar, and allows customization of up to 5 Quick Actions.
The software divides essential and extra features into three tabs: Protection, Privacy, and Utilities. Some features, like parental controls and anti-theft protection, redirect to Bitdefender’s online portal, Bitdefender Central, which also enables remote device scanning.
The Autopilot feature streamlines device security by automatically scanning and addressing threats, vulnerabilities, and updating the software without user intervention. Bitdefender’s interface is user-friendly, even for non-tech-savvy users, despite its numerous features in the Total Security and Premium Security plans.
Offered with Total Security and Premium Security packages, Bitdefender’s mobile apps for iOS and Android can also be purchased separately. The Android app is highly secure, feature-packed, and user-friendly, making it a top choice among Android antivirus apps.
It includes an antivirus scanner, web protection for various browsers, Autopilot for automatic security suggestions, app lock, anti-theft features, data breach monitoring (email only), VPN (with an unlimited option), and smartwatch compatibility.
Although the Android app excels, the iOS app is more limited, offering web protection, data breach monitoring, and a free VPN. While iOS devices don’t need virus scanning, it would be beneficial for Bitdefender to enhance its iOS app’s functionality to better address users’ internet security needs.
The Android app boasts an outstanding malware scanner that quickly detects malicious files. Its web protection successfully blocks phishing sites, even those that bypass Chrome’s built-in defenses.
The app lock feature allows users to secure apps with a PIN or biometric scanner and takes an automatic selfie when incorrect codes are entered. Bitdefender’s anti-theft feature is also noteworthy, enabling users to send alerts, lock their device, take a photo of the thief, and wipe the device remotely.
In summary, Bitdefender’s mobile app ranks among the best, providing top-notch antivirus protection and valuable extras like app locking and anti-theft protection. It’s a solid choice to protect your mobile devices.
Bitdefender provides exceptional customer support, including a 24-hour live chat, email, phone assistance, a comprehensive knowledge base, and an active community forum. Although based in Romania, live chat agents respond promptly and knowledgeably.
However, non-English speakers receive support via Google Translate. Email support, though slower than competitors like Norton, offers thorough and helpful responses. Phone support is outstanding, with 28 numbers across 18 countries and almost instant connections to skilled agents.
The knowledge base contains a wealth of articles, how-to guides, and video tutorials, surpassing competitors such as Avira and McAfee. It’s easy to navigate, with guides for various topics like setup and threat prevention.
The Bitdefender Expert Community forum connects users with experts worldwide, and queries are typically addressed within hours. While live chat, phone support, and knowledge base excel, email support could improve in responsiveness.
Bitdefender is a top contender for the best antivirus in 2023, detecting all malware, including advanced threats, in tests. It outperforms competitors and popular browsers in catching phishing sites.
With a comprehensive range of cybersecurity protections, it remains easy to use and customizable. Some minor drawbacks include the need for additional security in the password manager, iOS app improvements, and Mac/iOS anti-theft support. Also, the unlimited-data VPN is not included in all plans.
Nonetheless, Bitdefender is more affordable than many premium antiviruses and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it a worthwhile option to try risk-free.
How do we test antivirus software?
The best antivirus software offer virus protection, identity theft protection, and privacy protection for Windows, macOS, and Android. Some also offer security features for iOS and Linus.
To evaluate which providers are worth your money, we run 11 tests:
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
We analyze antivirus software’s capability to detect and eliminate known and unknown malware, using heuristic analysis for behavior monitoring.
We conduct in-house tests and analyze those from labs like AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives to determine the best malware protection.
Malware includes adware, keyloggers, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Other cyber threats, usually not classified as malware, are (zero-day) exploits, hacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, scams, and social engineering.
> Test 2: False positives test
False positives occur when antivirus software misidentifies legitimate software, files, or websites as malicious. We rely on AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in its usability test to guide our evaluations.
> Test 3: System performance test
We measure the CPU load during antivirus software system scans and consider AV-Test’s performance results on the slowdown caused by antivirus software when opening websites and handling software.
> Test 4: Firewall test
We evaluate two-way firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing data and allow users to set rules to regulate data streams. We use the ShieldsUP! test to determine if the antivirus software blocks all ports.
> Test 5: Password manager test
We assess password managers’ ability to create, store, and autofill secure passwords, as well as additional features like two-factor authentication and biometric login.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
We evaluate built-in VPNs on their security, privacy, speed, compatibility with streaming services, unlimited data access, and support for peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.
> Test 7: Parental control test
We examine parental control features, such as screen time rules, website/app blocking, and real-world location tracking. We test these features on a device and attempt to circumvent them, checking if the activity is accurately reported in the parental control admin.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
We evaluate antivirus browser extensions that block phishing sites by installing them and attempting to visit dangerous URLs.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
We assess security suites’ ability to prevent data encryption through exploit prevention and behavioral detection during ransomware attacks.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
We test any additional cybersecurity tools such as:
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Operating system and multiple devices: We test antivirus software on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices and award bonus points for unlimited device protection.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
We analyze the trustworthiness of antivirus companies, especially concerning customer data. We read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies to determine their reputation.
Sources and tools
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:
- Apple Platform Security
- AV-Comparatives Consumer
- AV-Test Android
- AV-Test macOS
- AV-Test Windows
- GRC Firewall Test
- Microsoft Defender
- SpeedTest VPN
- Trustpilot Security Software
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions.
Is Bitdefender a good antivirus program?
How do we test antivirus software?
We analyze the protection from malware, the performance impact on a PC, and the number of false positives. On top of that, we test various security features such as the firewall, password manager, VPN, and more.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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