Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Overview

Bitdefender is widely regarded as one of the best antivirus solutions and for good reasons. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to protection and it provides a plethora of useful features. Immediate and accurate threat identification, ease of use and only a marginal impact on your system's performance are just a few advantages you can expect. It has something for everyone, so whether you're looking for some peace of mind when surfing the web or wish to make your computer a safe place for important projects, you can't go wrong with Bitdefender.

Founded in 2001, Bitdefender hit a noticeable milestone in 2011, when it came out as No.1 in an industry-wide, year-long series of tests and won AV-TEST's Best Protection 2011 Award for home users. Rather than resting on their laurels, the Romanian company continued to improve their product line, which lead to numerous awards and high scores across the board.

With over 1300 employees, more than 600 engineers and researches, in offices in the USA, Europe and the Middle East, Bitdefender serves about half a billion users, in over 150 countries. Their products are being used by government organizations, small, medium and large enterprises, as well as private individuals, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Bitdefender can be found among the top 10 Windows anti-malware application vendors, worldwide, by market share.

Packages and features

There are several Bitdefender packages available, aimed at different user categories. They offer the same base functionality, but the upgraded versions bring a few additional features to the table, to fulfill other needs. For example, if you only want to protect your system against viruses, it wouldn't make sense to purchase an expensive solution, when you could go for Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, which is the basic package. On the other hand, if you also want to protect yourself against fraud of theft, then you might want to consider Bitdefender Total Security as an option. Regardless of what package you opt for, you will benefit from the same base features.

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

  • Average users, with little or no tech experience, can turn to this basic package with confidence. It can be used on up to three computers, which makes it a bargain for single users, couples or students, who wish to safely enjoy a movie, play games or interact with people on social media.

    • Complete Data Protection

      If you are worried about all the viruses lurking on the Internet, you can rest easy, knowing that Bitdefender won't let anything bad happen to your system. It is capable of fighting against all those nasty threats you hear about, from the most basic virus to complex exploits.

    • Advanced Threat Defense

      A malicious application may seem harmless and may not trigger any virus alerts until you run it. Fortunately, Bitdefender's Behavioral Analysis capabilities won't let it bring any harm to your system. If the application's background activities are deemed unusual or suspicious, you will see it shut down and deleted right before your eyes and you will realize that an attempt on your private information has been averted.

    • Multi-Layer Ransomware Protection

      The 2017 world-wide WannaCry attack may have made you aware of the existence and dangers of ransomware, which encrypts data and holds it hostage until the attackers are paid. If you have files you can't afford to lose, you can place them under Bitdefender's multiple layers of protection, so you won't end up having to choose between parting with your sensitive data or your money.

    • Anti-Phishing

      Bitdefender's Anti-Phishing system can remove that tingling feeling of unease, at the back of your head, whenever you make an online purchase. If you access a fraudulent website, that looks legitimate on the surface, the program will block it immediately and it will let you know about it, so your financial information and credit card details won't get stolen.

    • Anti-fraud

      Online offers that seem too good to be true are, in fact, too good to be true. The program's advanced filtering system will let you know if that online casino, money lending service or Nigerian prince you are looking at is a scheme, so you won't end up making unfortunate decisions with your money.

    • Secure Browsing

      With Bitdefender's Secure Browsing feature, you can surf the web in a relaxed manner, because you will be able to tell a safe link from an infected one, even if you don't have any knowledge or experience when it comes to online threats. If you don't see a green check mark next to a Google search result, you will know to steer clear of that link.

    • Rescue Mode

      Certain virus types can only be removed through a complicated process that involves creating and using a rescue disc, because they can't be deleted through normal means, while the operating system is running. Fortunately, you don't have to concern yourself with such things. With the help of the Rescue Mode, you can remove stubborn viruses by simply restarting your computer.

    • Bitdefender Autopilot

      If you switch to Autopilot mode, you will be able to work, play or do anything else on your computer, without any distractions. You won't be bothered by pop-ups, dialog windows or other on-screen prompts, because the program will work almost autonomously, making the best security decisions for you.

    • Bitdefender Photon

      You won't feel your computer slowing down, because of Bitdefender's background activities, thanks to the Photon technology. The program adapts to individual hardware and software configurations, so even if you don't have too many resources to go around, you will still be able to protect your system and have enough memory and processing power left for other tasks and applications.

    • Global Protective Network

      You don't have to leave your computer when starting a virus scan. The program's cloud-based scanning system has a minimal impact on your computer's resources, which means that you can still use your computer, while the software is hard at work. Also, you don't need to have any concerns regarding privacy, because your files won't be uploaded anywhere and their contents will be left untouched.

    • Game, Movie and Work Modes

      Your experience won't be affected if you want to play a video game, watch a movie or focus on work and the best part is that you don't have to do anything for this. Depending on what you do, Bitdefender will configure your system accordingly, which gives you the possibility of enjoying your regular activities, as well as an optimal performance.

    • Battery Mode

      You can temporarily tweak various settings, like display, cooling or updates, to save battery life on laptops or tablets. If you are on the road, you can make your device's battery last a bit longer, so you won't be left without entertainment or driving directions. Also, this feature can help you extend the battery's life, which means that expensive battery replacements will have to wait a bit longer.

    • Bitdefender VPN

      If you don't want to leave traces of your online presence, turning on the built-in VPN will give you the piece of mind you want. You will be able to visit websites, even if they have regional restrictions, and hackers or other ill-intended individuals won't be able to trace the connection back to your computer and attack your system.

    • Safe Online Banking

      The built-in Safepay browser gives you the possibility of making fast and secure online bank transactions. You can fill in billing fields at a moment's notice and you can rest assured that you won't fall victim to fraud of theft, as the result of malicious programs reaching your credit card details.

    • File Shredder

      If you intend to sell or give a hard drive away, you may want to use this feature to erase files with sensitive information. This way, the files you don't want others to see will be gone forever, as if they never existed and no one will be able to find your private notes or work-related secrets, regardless of what recovery utility they use.

    • Social Network Protection

      Thanks to this feature, you can click on links to funny cat videos or other interesting content you receive from friends on social media, without risking a virus infection. Whether you're using Facebook, Twitter or other networks, you don't have to worry that a link you click on may lead to something that can harm your computer or invade your privacy.

    • Password Manager

      Using the same password for all accounts is never a good idea, but, at the same time, committing multiple passwords to memory is not a viable solution. The Password Manager gives you the possibility of writing down your login credentials in a secure database. As a result, you can have long, complex and hard-to-crack passwords, which you can input at a moment's notice and the best part is that no one will be able to access your database and read your passwords.

    • Vulnerability Scanner

      Certain security risks, like open ports, missing updates or weak Wi-Fi passwords, are not immediately obvious, especially for inexperienced users. Even if you are a complete beginner, Bitdefender can help you identify and patch such vulnerabilities, with little to no effort. You can plug your system's security gaps yourself, with only a few clicks, without turning to a tech expert.

  • Bitdefender Internet Security

  • If you have important project files on your computer or if you have children, Bitdefender Internet Security would be a more suitable solution. It delivers the same protection system as Antivirus Plus and it can be used on up to three computers, but it comes with some extra features as well, to satisfy your particular needs.

    • Safe Files

      This feature gives you the possibility of allowing only specific applications to access and modify your files. This is a good way to avoid dire situations, like losing your job or an important contract, because your documents got corrupted or encrypted by a piece of malicious software.

    • Webcam protection

      The software can prevent unauthorized use of your webcam. It blocks everything, except for the applications you deem trustworthy, so you no longer need to keep a piece of tape over the camera's lens, if you fear that a hacker could be watching you.

    • Parental Advisor

      The Internet can be a dangerous place for children, but thanks to Bitdefender Internet Security's Parental Advisor, you can monitor and control the content they access and enforce a schedule. You can relax, knowing that your children won't be able to connect to inappropriate websites or fall victim to online scams. You can also be sure that they won't spend more time on the computer than they are allowed to, even if you are not there.

    • Privacy Firewall

      Bitdefender Internet Security's advanced firewall gives you a good degree of control over your inbound and outbound network traffic. By deciding for yourself what applications may or may not connect to the Internet, you can make sure that sensitive information, like account numbers or passwords, will not be sent out to hackers or scammers.

  • Bitdefender Total Security

  • For a small or medium-sized family, with multiple devices in their house, Bitdefender Total Security is definitely a good choice. It can be used on up to five devices and it's cross-platform. You can use it on a Windows PC, on a Mac and on iOS and Android mobile devices. It offers the same basic protection system of Antivirus Plus, along with the extra features of Bitdefender Internet Security, as well as two other functions, which you may find quite useful.

    • Anti-Theft

      Besides protecting you against viruses and online scams, Bitdefender Total Security can also protect you against physical theft. If your laptop, tablet or smartphone gets stolen, you won't have to write the device off forever and spend money on a new one, because you will be able to track its position, take screenshots and more, which should help the police find the perpetrator.

    • OneClick Optimizer

      If you feel that your computer is not working as fast as it used to, you can make use of Bitdefender Total Security's optimization tool to remove junk files, that have piled up on the hard drive over time, and make various tweaks to improve performance. The software does the heavy lifting for you, so you only need to click a few buttons to make your computer faster and more stable.

  • Bitdefender Family Pack

  • Though it doesn't bring new features to the table, Bitdefender Family Pack is an excellent choice for large families or small businesses with numerous devices. The main selling point is the fact that you can use it on an unlimited number of Windows PCs and Macs and on any number of Android or iOS mobile devices.

    Installation and setup

    The time it takes to install Bitdefender may vary, depending on the available hardware, but it should only take about five minutes to complete the operation, assuming your computer doesn't have any existing virus infections. There are no complex configurations to be made along the way, which makes the software quite easy to install, even for novice users.

    Like with most antivirus programs, you will have to go through an initial scanning process, but Bitdefender will perform this scan during the installation process, which can save you a considerable amount of time. However, you may be slowed down a bit if you have infected files on your hard drive. Another thing to consider is whether you want to give Bitdefender information about your computer and activity. If you don't want to send any information, you can choose to opt out right away, by simply clicking an easy-to-spot button, during the installation process.

    There is no need to install any prerequisite tools or drivers for Bitdefender, but you will want to watch out for conflicting software on your computer. While the program doesn't have any issues with Windows Defender, you will encounter conflicts if you have other third party antivirus software installed, so you will need to remove them.

    You will also be asked to uninstall your current parental monitoring and filtering application, if you have one. However, the good news is that you will be able to install the parental monitor back, once Bitdefender is up and running, so you don't have to worry if you've spent money on such an application.

    User Experience

    Judging by its efficient design, it is clear that Bitdefender was created with ease of use in mind. Thanks to the dark theme of the user interface, you won't feel your eyes strained if you look at it for too long. Also, the easy-to-remember layout of the controls allows you to navigate from one section to another quickly and easily. Essential options, for staring a quick scan or performing a vulnerabilities check, are placed within immediate reach, directly on the main dashboard, so you can perform regular virus scans quickly, without going through a thick layer of menus. Alternatively, you can schedule automatic scans, to run at specific intervals, if you keep forgetting or don't have time to run a scan yourself.

    The software is designed to keep you well informed. Information that requires your attention is presented on the security and privacy dashboards, while important notifications will show up either as a pop-up or dialog windows, so you don't have to do much if you want to check on the state of your security system. The Autopilot feature will make the software run on its own, without asking for any user input, but you will still be able to see how many items require your attention, by glancing over the program's system tray icon.

    Updates are made automatically, once or several times a day, but you can also download the latest virus signatures manually if you need to. Due to the way Bitdefender handles virus signatures, the updates are not large and it doesn't take long to make them, nor does it have an impact on your computer's performance. You won't notice your computer slowing down during an update, regardless of what you are doing at the time. The best part is that it doesn't have any adverse effects on the program's virus detection capabilities.

    Scanning and detection

    The threats you can encounter on the Internet don't stop at viruses. There are all sorts of dangers out there, from simple malware to advanced exploits, but you can certainly rely on Bitdefender to identify and remove them without impunity. The best part is that you have several options to choose from when it comes to fighting against viruses and malware.

    • Multiple scanning methods

      If your computer is not working as it always had and you suspect it may be because of a virus, you can run a quick scan. Through this method, the software will look in the usual places a virus may hide, like in the Library folders, so it won't take too much of your time. If the results come in clean, you can run a full scan. It takes longer, because the program will look through the entire system, but it's a good way to be certain that there are no well-hidden viruses in your computer, corrupting your files or stealing your information.

      Custom scans can be set up as well, to look for viruses in one or more folders of your choice, which is a good way to make sure that the files you receive from someone don't hide something that can potentially harm you. What's more, custom scans can be scheduled to run automatically, according to a schedule, so you can have your important files checked periodically, while you can focus on other tasks, instead of going through the paces of setting up a new custom scan.

    • Vulnerability scanner

      If you are not a tech-savvy person, you probably won't be able to spot certain security gaps, like open ports or missing updates. Fortunately, Bitdefender can identify these issues for you and it provides useful options and instructions, to help you solve them. The best part is that you don't need advanced knowledge or skills. You can fix problems that would normally require a tech expert, with only a few clicks.

      A Wi-Fi scanner is available as well, which is ideal for when you need to connect your laptop to a public Wi-Fi, in a hotel, mall or casino. Because they are not administered efficiently and responsibly, some public wireless networks could make it easy for a hacker to access the information on your device or the network itself could be set to collect personal data. With Bitdefender's Wi-Fi scanner, you can identify such risks, as well as other vulnerabilities, before connecting your device to a potentially dangerous network.

    • Real-time protection

      The software has a lot to offer in terms of threat prevention, which means that you don't have to waste valuable time with constant system scans. If you are about to download an infected file, Bitdefender will actually interrupt the file download, before the potential threat has any chance of causing harm to your system or personal information. This is more than it can be said about competing antivirus programs, which react to the threat only after you download and run the infected file.

      The software's Real-time protection doesn't stop at files. While this feature is enabled, you will be able to open images, play music, read emails and more, without having to worry that one of them might damage your system or steal your data.

    • Behavioral Analysis

      Thanks to Bitdefender's Advanced Threat Defense, you will be safe even if you manage to run an infected application, that didn't trigger any virus alerts. Essentially, the program monitors the behavior of applications and if it detects unusual or suspicious activity, it will block it immediately.

      If you notice an application suddenly shutting down and its executable disappearing without a trace, it means that the application was about to look into sensitive information or make certain settings that may leave you open to an attack. Although you may feel frustrated that the new app you are trying out stops working all of a sudden, you will also feel relieved that you have avoided something that could lead to a broken system or your personal information sent out to strangers.

    System Performance

    Minimum system requirements:

    CPU: Dual Core 1.6 GHz
    RAM: 1 GB
    Disk space: 1.5 GB

    Recommended:

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo (2 GHz) or equivalent processor
    RAM: 2 GB
    Disk space: 2 GB

    Due to its low system requirements, Bitdefender can be used even on older machines, but you must be aware of the fact that your performance will be affected if you barely meet the minimum requirements. Fortunately, the recommended configuration shouldn't prove to be too much for a modern-day computer.

    If your system is at the recommended level or higher, you will be able to enjoy the program's full defensive capabilities, without noticing any significant impact on your day-to-day operations. While other antivirus solutions can slow down a computer, even while they are passive, Bitdefender lets you use your computer normally, for work or entertainment, even while the program is scanning for viruses.

    Obviously, your hardware will be solicited the most when you perform a virus scan, but the impact is barely noticeable. Quick scans will only take a few seconds of your time and your processor's usage will stay well below 1%, so you will have enough resources left to render a movie, if you want to.

    The full scan is a different story. While the average scanning time for most antivirus programs is about 45 minutes, Bitdefender needs about an hour to complete its first full scan. However, because the program uses the first scan to make certain optimizations, you will notice a significant improvement in future scan times. The time it takes to complete the second scan may drop to about 40 minutes, or 5 minutes faster than competing programs, and you will see even further improvements in the subsequent scans. What's more, while the program uses more resources when performing a full scan, this barely amounts to a CPU usage of 3%, so you will still be able to render that movie or continue your work on that 3D model, while the program is busy securing your system.

    Bitdefender works without any issues on Windows 7 (SP1) and all later editions, up to Windows 10. If you are still using Windows Vista or XP, you can still protect your computer with Bitdefender Security for XP and Vista.

    Mac users can run Bitdefender on OS X Mavericks (10.9.5) or any later edition, up to Mac OS X High Sierra (10.13). What's more, the hardware requirements are slightly lower than those of Bitdefender's Windows version. You will need only 1 GB of RAM, instead of 2 GB, and you will sacrifice only 400 MB of free disk space, instead of 1.5 GB.

    Support and Customer Service

    There are always issues to encounter with any programs on the market, which is why Bitdefender has a comprehensive support service you can rely on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For non-urgent issues, you can contact the support team by email. In the meantime, you could look over the program's rich online documentation, or its troubleshooting guide, or leave a question on the forums, where millions of users are ready and willing to assist.

    If you encounter a problem that can't wait, you may contact Bitdefender's Customer Service directly over the phone. If you live in the USA, UK, in Australia or New Zealand, you can benefit from support from your own country. If you live outside of these countries, you can find a world-wide number to call. Alternatively, if you don't want to add to your phone bill, you could get in contact with the support team via live web chat.

    Bitdefender offers a series of premium services as well. If you don't mind spending some extra money, you can get a professional to install the antivirus for you, to update and configure the product, remove previous security software, create your Bitdefender online account and get useful tips on how to take full advantage of what the program has to offer. This can be particularly useful if you want to set up a security solution for your parents, but you don't have time to go through all the motions. Rather than wasting time on the phone, trying to explain how to click a Next button, or asking what the current message is saying, you can get an expert to connect directly to their computer and set everything up much faster and you won't have to spend the rest of the day explaining what buttons to click when a message pops up.

    If, for some reason, you are not satisfied with Bitdefender, you can get your money back within 30 days from the moment you have purchased (not installed) the product. However, you should be aware that this is available only if you have purchased the product directly from Bitdefender. If you have bought a boxed copy from a third party retailer, you will want to check their own refund policy.

    Value for the Money

    You certainly get a lot in return for how much Bitdefender is asking for. The most basic version has a surprisingly large number of features to offer. With other antivirus programs, these sort of features are only available if you upgrade to a higher and more expensive version. In other words, you can have a premium-level security solution, for the price of a basic one.

    The near-perfect scores from independent testers prove that Bitdefender definitely plays in the big leagues. Its AV-Test certification, PCMag Editor's Choice award or the SE Labs AAA rating are just a few examples. Add the fact that it comes at a relatively low price, and that it comes with a free VPN, and you've got a security solution that is definitely worth the investment.

    Bitdefender addresses various user categories and their particular needs. Regardless of what you do with your computer, you can find something that will meet your expectations.

    Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

    The most basic and cheapest package comes with powerful scanning capabilities, Real-time protection, secure browsing for online bank transactions and much more. It offers more than enough for single users, couples or students, who only need to protect their computers against the latest threats on the Internet.
    Pro Tip: Because the base version can protect up to three computers, students may consider pooling their money for one license. Each person can pay a third of the price, to protect their own computer.

    Bitdefender Internet Security

    If you have to take your work home with you and you also have children to worry about, Bitdefender Internet Security is an excellent choice for you. Though a bit more expensive than the base version, its Parental Advisor can help you prevent your children from accessing inappropriate content or falling victim to online fraud. Also, thanks to the extra security layer of the Safe Files feature, you can make sure your files won't get encrypted by ransomware or affected by other threats.

    Bitdefender Total Security

    Small and medium-sized families can look towards Bitdefender Total Security for a complete antivirus protection system. The higher price is justified by the fact that it can be used on up to five devices, which can be Windows PCs, Macs and even Android or iOS mobile devices. Regardless if your children prefer iPhones or Android phones, the Anti-Theft feature that comes in this package can help you find those devices, in case they get lost or stolen.

    Bitdefender Family Pack

    This package offers the same features you can find in Bitdefender Total Security, but it can be used on any number of devices. If you have a large family or if you are running a small company, this solution will keep all your devices safe, regardless if they are PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

    Final Verdict

    Bitdefender certainly earns its high scores and awards. It's an all-round solution for protecting a computer from numerous threats that lurk on the Internet. While there are other viable choices in terms of privacy and security, Bitdefender is a cost-effective, low-impact alternative that outperforms its competition in many ways.

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