BullGuard Antivirus Review

Overview

Relying on nothing else than common sense is not the best way to protect a computer against viruses. You may know better than to download and run anything you find on the Internet, but modern threats are no longer as obvious as you might think. If you decide that it's about time to address this issue, one solution that is worth looking at is Bullguard. It brings an affordable and effective protection system for your computer and your personal data, that is quite easy to master, even if you have never seen an antivirus before.

The program comes with all the usual security features you would expect from a top-of-the-shelf antivirus. Also, the bonus features of its different packages can definitely come in useful. What's more, Bullguard's user friendly design makes it a good solution even if you intend to install it for your parents.

A relative newcomer in the security industry, Bullguard was founded in 2002 by Morten Lund and Theis S√łndergaard and headquartered in London, UK. In the first year of its existence, the antivirus managed to gather 3 million users and by 2006, that number grew to 16 million. Though it still has some stiff competition to face, Bullguard can certainly hold its own, a fact proven by numerous certifications, awards and high scores from leading independent testers.

Packages and features

Depending on what security features you want and what kind of devices you wish to protect, you can choose between three packages. You can spend a small amount of money for an effective antivirus engine, available in all packages, as well as a series of bonus features, to protect your personal information. Alternatively, you can go for a higher package or even for the maximum tier, which comes at a higher price, but brings more advantages to the table.

  • BullGuard AntiVirus

  • The simplest and most direct answer to online threats, BullGuard AntiVirus can fight against all common dangers, like viruses, malware, spyware and even ransomware, but it can also help you avoid online scams and plug unnoticeable security gaps. The baseline protection it has to offer can be used on a single Windows PC, intended for regular use or entertainment.

    • Full antivirus protection

      Online threats don't stop at viruses that render a few files unusable. BullGuard AntiVirus can prevent malicious programs from breaking your entire operating system, capturing important information as you type it and it can also stop ransomware from encrypting sensitive documents and asking for money if you want to unlock them.

    • Behavioral Engine

      Modern-day antivirus programs have to keep up with the evolution of viruses and behavioral analysis is the answer. Thanks to this advanced feature, your data won't be affected by zero-day malware if you run an unknown application, with undetected malicious code.

    • Antiphishing

      Phishing websites rely on the user's lack of knowledge, to relinquish their account passwords. While the clue is usually in the URL, it is not always obvious. Fortunately, the program's Antiphishing feature can detect and block this sort of websites, so you won't end up giving your passwords to strangers on the Internet.

    • Safe Browsing

      Simply connecting to certain websites can ultimately lead to your data being stolen. However, BullGuard's Safe Browsing module can tell you which links are safe to click, in Google, Bing, Yahoo or Facebook. If you don't see a green check mark next to a link, you will know to steer clear of it.

    • Vulnerability Scanner

      When it comes to detecting and fixing vulnerabilities, certain antivirus programs are limited to pointing out outdated applications. BullGuard AntiVirus goes beyond this limitation, by identifying more weaknesses that can be exploited, like open ports, weak Wi-Fi passwords or disabled updates. Even if you don't understand what any of these mean or how to fix them, the program can do everything for you.

    • Game Booster

      Some users, especially gamers, tend to disable their antivirus programs or avoid them altogether, so they won't be bothered while playing a video game. With BullGuard's Game Booster, you can disable only certain features, that get in the way, and give your computer a little boost, to improve your frame rate. You can have a good performance while gaming and be protected at the same time.

  • BullGuard Internet Security

  • Though it comes at a higher price, BullGuard Internet Security can be used on three, five of ten devices, which can be PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets. Also, the package adds some extra security layers on top of what BullGuard AntiVirus has to offer, which make it the primary choice for small to large families.

    • Firewall

      No longer relying on the operating system's built-in firewall, BullGuard Internet Security comes with its own rules regarding application control. It comes with default rules for commonly known applications, but it lets you name applications yourself and decide if they are allowed to connect to the Internet or not, so you can prevent unsafe applications from transmitting your personal applications over the web.

    • Parental Control

      BullGuard Internet Security places many possibilities at your disposal, for controlling what your children can and can not do on a computer. You can choose between three profiles, for different age ranges or manually pick what content they shouldn't be able to access. It is also possible to restrict their computer or Internet usage to a schedule, but a more interesting feature is the possibility of restricting certain chat networks and specifying what information they can't disclose. This is an excellent way to make sure your kids don't engage in conversations with strangers and give away your address or other information, even if you are not there to supervise them.

    • Cloud Integrated Backup

      Having backup copies of important data is an excellent contingency plan and BullGuard Internet Security can help you with this. You can create backup profiles for the files you can't afford to lose and schedule them to run automatically, at certain hours, every day, week or month, so you don't have to keep remembering to back up your data. What's more, the software can store your backups in the cloud, which gives you the possibility of recovering your data, even if your hard drive is completely destroyed.

    • PC Tune Up

      Though not a security-related operation per se, running a tune-up task is a good way to remove cluttered junk data from the hard drive, to gain some free disk space, or get rid of your browser's history and cache, which may contain evidence of your browsing habits. What's more, this can lead to a noticeable boost in performance, so you won't have to turn off the antivirus when you need some extra memory or processing power.

  • BullGuard-Premium-Protection

  • Although some may expect more features from this top-tier package, the price difference for BullGuard Premium Protection is not too big, which makes it an excellent deal, especially for people who rely heavily on multiple devices. Depending on how much you are ready to spend on this package, you can protect up to 15 PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

    • Home Network Scanner

      More and more devices and appliances can be connected to a network nowadays, which means more potential access points for hackers, who would like nothing more than to get to your personal data. BullGuard's Home Network Scanner monitors your entire network constantly and evaluates individual devices. Besides laptops, smartphones or tablets, the monitoring can include any other networked device, from thermostats to baby monitors. The best part is that new devices that are connected to your network will be checked automatically, so you will never have to worry about your home's security.

    • Identity protection

      Identity theft is probably the main reason to protect your personal data, because you wouldn't want to find out that someone has applied for a loan in your name. BullGuard's Identity protection module will warn you if any of your personal information is floating around the Internet. If someone manages to steal your social security number, credit card information or other private details, you will know about it the moment the information surfaces on the Internet or on the dark web, so you can act before it can escalate to full-fledged identity theft.

Installation and setup

Installing BullGuard is far from a difficult task. A wizard will guide you through the entire process, with step-by-step instructions, which doesn't involve anything significant, apart from creating an online account and agreeing to the licensing conditions. It takes about ten minutes to complete the operation, but most of the time is spent updating the program's virus signatures database and optimizing your system.

Besides Windows Defender, the operating system's basic security measure, you should not have other antivirus software installed on your computer, if you don't want to encounter any conflicts. There are also lighter security applications you will want to watch out for, like AppCheck Anti-Ransomware.

If you run into any problems while installing the program, like existing virus infections preventing the installation, BullGuard's support team will be more than happy to help out. They will even access your computer remotely, to solve any problems for you.

User Experience

Even novice users should be able to master BullGuard's controls without any difficulties. The layout of the user interface makes everything very easy to understand. The program's modules are displayed as small panels, on a main dashboard, with short descriptions, indicators for their current state, as well as quick options for regular tasks. You can tell by the green check marks, on each module, if everything is running without any problems.

If, for example, you want to run a virus or vulnerabilities scan, you can simply click a button, on the relevant module, to start immediately. Alternatively, you can choose other options, for different scan types, in a drop-down menu, located right next to the aforementioned button. There is much you can do from the main dashboard, without going through separate menus. Even when you run a virus scan, you will be able to see the progress directly on the Antivirus panel, on the main dashboard.

A configuration menu is available for each of the program's modules, from which you can make a wide range of fine tweaks, like setting the scanning module to avoid certain file types, to improve performance. What's more, BullGuard lets you switch between Basic and Advanced modes, when looking through these menus, which makes it accessible to all user categories. If you are an inexperienced user, who is intimidated by crowded menus, you can stick to the Basic mode and make only a few general settings, which involve easy-to-understand options. Alternatively, if you are an advanced user and want more control, you can go to the Advanced mode.

If you want to play a video game, enabling BullGuard's Game Booster will make things much smoother. You won't be interrupted by any notifications and you won't have to pause in the middle of the game because of scheduled scans or updates, because they will be disabled. Furthermore, BullGuard can make smart use of quad-core processors, to make your gaming experience better and prevent anything that can lead to frame rate drops

Another feature you will definitely appreciate is the possibility of creating custom profiles, for different computer usage scenarios. You may create profiles for gaming, for watching movies, working and so on. What's more, you can set these profiles to engage automatically when you run specific applications. Whenever you want to start playing your favorite game, you can just launch it right away, without bringing up BullGuard's interface to enable the Game Booster.

Scanning and detection

BullGuard comes with all the protection features you would expect from a major antivirus program. This includes active scanning, real-time protection, as well as behavioral analysis, to protect your system against all threat types, including zero-day malware. This means that you can fight off existing virus infections, but you can also prevent future attacks, so you may work or play comfortably, knowing that you won't trigger anything that may result in your data being infected or stolen.

  • Multiple scanning modes

    BullGuard lets you perform quick scans, to make sure there are no viruses hiding in commonly accessed locations, like the Documents or Pictures folders. It doesn't take long to complete a quick scan, but if you want to make absolutely sure your system is clean, then a full scan would be a better idea. It takes longer to complete, but the program will check all files on your computer. If you are sure that certain applications or folders are clean, you can add them to an exclusions list, to avoid touching them and make the scanning process faster.

    Custom scans can be set up easily, if you wish to check for viruses in specific folders. Furthermore, the software lets you save your scanning profiles, so you can verify the folders in the future, without having to select them every time. Profiles can be scheduled as well, which gives you the possibility of focusing on what is important, instead of interrupting your work, to run a routine scan.

  • Real-time protection

    Like most antivirus programs, BullGuard won't let any threats affect your system, even if you are not scanning. All the files, archives or executable you open will be scanned automatically in the background. If they hide anything malicious, the program will block the threat immediately, before it gets the chance to do anything to your files. If you download a file from the Internet, it will be checked for viruses, before the download is complete.

    The software can also check for threats when you connect a removable storage device, like a USB flash drive or an SD card. If a thumb drive contains malware, it could easily spread to your system when the device is plugged in. Fortunately, connecting an unknown device won't present any risks, because BullGuard will make sure there are no threats on it and if there are, it will prevent them from affecting your files.

  • Behavioral analysis

    Ordinarily, by the time new viruses are classified and added to a signatures database, they have enough time to infect your computer and cause all kinds of damage, from corrupted files to an inoperable system or stolen data. This is exactly the sort of issue BullGuard's behavioral analysis feature can solve. Besides comparing files to known virus definitions, the program will also keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

    An application you have downloaded may seem clean after a thorough virus scan, but it could still be coded to attack certain parts of your system or read privileged files, once you run it. Fortunately, if the application actually starts to behave like this, BullGuard will step in immediately and shut it down right before your eyes, thus saving your valuable data.

  • Vulnerability scanning

    BullGuard doesn't just display outdated applications when you run a vulnerability scan. The software can also identify faulty system settings that only a tech expect would be able to spot. If you have no idea what a port is or why a driver should be digitally signed, then running a vulnerability scan is definitely something you want to do.

    The program can detect even small and insignificant risks, which could normally be countered by its other security measures without any problems. For example, novice users probably don't know that the Autorun function of a USB drive can be considered a risk, since certain viruses can attack a system the moment such a device is plugged in. This is one of many vulnerabilities BullGuard can point out. It displays them right in front of you, in a list, along with icons that indicate their severity, and you can solve the issues and make your system secure at a moment's notice, with a single click.

System Performance

A primary concern with antivirus programs is how they affect a computer's performance. You can rest easy if you are thinking of getting BullGuard. The short answer is that it falls in the middle, between no-impact and heavy-impact programs, and it's leaning towards no-impact ones. The long answer is that BullGuard does have some impact on performance, but unless you are rendering an hour-long movie, at maximum quality settings, and you're timing everything to the last second, you won't notice much of a difference.

Performing a full scan is what affects your system the most. A performance drop of about 20% can be expected, and a marginally lower impact when doing a quick scan, but, realistically speaking, this is barely noticeable on a modern-day system, with better hardware than the recommended minimum. Though it would be a good idea to avoid CPU-intensive tasks, you will be able to use your computer normally during a full system scan.

When you perform a full scan for the first time, you will have to wait about an hour to complete the operation. However, once the program has indexed your files, the full scan time will drop to well below 20 minutes, which makes it significantly faster than other antivirus programs, considering that the average time is approximately 45 minutes. A slightly noticeable performance drop is definitely a good trade-off for such a fast scanning speed.

Support and Customer Service

If the program is not running as it should or you are not sure what a certain option does, you can contact BullGuard's customer support service and get it all cleared out. Although there is no phone number to call, you can request help by email or over live web chat, at any hour, on any day of the week. The service is available mainly in English, Spanish and Chinese. You can also get help in French, German, Danish, Dutch and Swedish, but only between 9 AM and 5 PM, London's time.

You won't have to wait for too long before someone can help you with a problem. Even if you request help by email, you can expect a response within 24 hours. Also, users report a positive and effective service. Customer service representatives are quite helpful, providing assistance in a timely manner and they will even connect to your machine to solve your problems remotely if necessary.

BullGuard has a standard money-back guarantee policy, so if you are not satisfied with any of its packages, you can request a refund. Also, if you have a look over the payment FAQs on their website, you will notice that the company does everything to ensure a good customer experience. If a discount code didn't work correctly or if you have made a mistake when purchasing a product, you can get in touch with a representative, who will help you remedy the situation and get your money back, if that is the case.

Value for the Money

There is no denying that BullGuard is a good investment. The program has everything you need to ensure that your computer won't be affected by viruses and that hackers won't reach your private data. The lowest-tier package comes with enough features to satisfy more than your basic protection needs, while the highest package can protect all devices in your home, at a price that is difficult to ignore.

Test results from certified testing companies show that BullGuard is improving constantly. In the AV Comparatives Real-World Protection Tests, the program cam quite close to 100% in terms of threat detection, earnings itself several "Advanced+" badges, as well as a Gold Malware Protection award. While it has some catching up to do, if you look at a few other programs, BullGuard also surpasses other well-known antivirus solutions. This upward trend is confirmed by other testing companies, like AV-TEST or VirusBulletin, where the product line achieved similar results.

BullGuard AntiVirus

Even if you opt for the basic package, you still get an effective virus detection and prevention system, as well as protection for your personal information, game boosting options and a system vulnerabilities assessment feature. Also, everything comes at a relative low price. This makes it more than suitable for that one computer you may have in your house, used by yourself or a family member, for entertainment, keeping in touch with friends or online shopping.

BullGuard Internet Security

Coming with cross-platform support, for up to ten devices, BullGuard Internet Security is a good choice for both professional and family use. Its enhanced firewall can protect your system against hackers, while its parental controls can protect your children from harmful online content and dubious individuals. Also, thanks to the built-in backup software, your important documents or family pictures will be safe, even if your hard drive is broken beyond repair.

BullGuard-Premium-Protection

While the top-tier package in other security suits come at seemingly forbidding prices, at least for regular users, BullGuard Premium Protection is accessible to everyone. If you are already aiming towards Internet Security, then the difference you would have to pay for this package is quite small. You could get protection for up to 15 computers, Macs, smartphones or tablets, an advanced scanner, for any device on your network, including smart appliances, as well as identity protection, to prevent frauds committed in your name. This package is certainly a no-brainer if you live in a "smart home", with everything, from TVs to light switches, connected to a network.

Final Verdict

Antivirus protection is a critical component of any operating system nowadays and it would make sense to look for something reputable. BullGuard is certainly a well-known antivirus solution, especially if you look at its high scores and increasing user base. It offers affordable security measures, which you can rely on, it does everything to make your experience as comfortable and care-free as possible, as well as an excellent customer support service. These are just a few advantages that make this product line difficult to ignore.

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