Bitdefender is a top dog among antivirus software, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.
Don’t have a VPN or password manager? Bitdefender throws it in. Looking to stay protected while browsing the internet without mistakenly stumbling on fraudulent pages? Bitdefender has you covered. Do you need a bare-bones system scan to ensure your device is free of viruses or malware? Bitdefender has the package for you – but gives you access to other features anyway.
While its first system scan can take a while, and its limited VPN access isn’t incredibly useful, these are more minor annoyances than anything else. Bitdefender is easily one of the best antivirus software around.
Bitdefender is best for…
- Advanced security for multiple platforms
- Friendly UI
- Bonus security features
- Limited VPN only 200MB daily
- First full scan can take a while
Those looking to protect their devices with high-standard security and want to make the most of its plentiful features.
Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need.
Bitdefender pricing and subscriptions
Bitdefender has an array of subscription plans for virtually all levels of security and affordability. We received the Bitdefender Premium Security package, which will set you back $89.99 AUD (around $98 NZD) for the first year and $199 AUD (around $217 NZD) every year after. It comes with the software’s Total Security platform, which includes threat detection, ransomware protection, and more; an unlimited VPN; and a password manager.
Over $200 AUD a year is no small price, but considering the cost of other all-in-one antivirus packages such as Norton Premium ($124.99 NZD first year, $204.99 NZD after) and McAfee Total Protection ($100.95 NZD first year, $174.95 NZD after), Bitdefender is fairly priced. Of course, if you already have one of the best VPNs or password managers, then you can simply choose Bitdefender’s Total Security package, which only contains the antivirus software. This costs $69 AUD (around $75 NZD) for the first year, then $149 AUD (around $163) after.
For an even more affordable option, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus can cost as little as $29.99 AUD (around $32 NZD) for one Windows device and provides real-time protection against viruses and malware, prevents phishing scams while online, and a VPN with a 200MB per day limit. This option is only available for Windows devices, but you can configure the number of devices it protects to three, five, or 10 if you need it.
Bitdefender offers many subscriptions to suit individual needs, from the Internet Security package that provides a firewall and webcam protection for Windows devices to the Family Pack that secures up to 15 devices across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. These are all fairly priced, considering the high-security standard and features they offer.
How Bitdefender runs
I downloaded Bitdefender through its Bitdefender Central hub, which is a one-stop place to manage your subscription and all the features your plan comes with. From easy access to its password manager, VPN, and Digital Identity Protection to its security dashboard, giving you an overview of recent threats, the hub’s UI is easy to navigate.
Bitdefender Central is also where you can download the antivirus software itself. It’s simple to set up and even gives you an easy way to quickly uninstall other antivirus services installed on your device (most likely McAfee). These uncomplicated steps are perfect for those unfamiliar with cybersecurity software; it’s never a bad thing for an antivirus to point you in the right direction and do the legwork.
Once done, Bitdefender will start its initial device assessment. This will scan for threats and attack traces, either resolving what is found or notifying you of any unresolved threats. Interestingly, it will also look for traces of past attacks that could have compromised the device. It can take a while for Bitdefender to analyze a device, although my assessment only took 3 minutes and 2 seconds. However, you can run the scan in the background, too.
I then tried a full system scan, which Bitdefender states can take a long time – and it wasn’t kidding. The first scan took 24 minutes and 42 seconds, which is quite long. However, this was reduced to 16 minutes after a second scan. While the first scan can take a while, depending on your system, it doesn’t halt system functions, as I could still use my device as usual.
The Bitdefender Total Security app for Windows has a foolproof user interface (UI) to navigate around its various features – similar to its Central hub. The app will guide you through its functions and how to use them, from the “Sheild” icon letting you know if you’re safe at a glance to quick actions such as using Safepay or doing a system scan. There are also brief sections explaining what certain features do, such as how Advanced Threat Defence can identify suspicious behaviour and blocks daunting zero-day attacks.
Many protection tools are automatically switched on as soon as Bitdefender is installed. This includes its Anti-tracker, which blocks web trackers from collecting your data; Firewall, which monitors connections performed by apps; and Antispam. Handily, this adds another spam filter to your local email client, like Outlook. Although, you’ll need to add your own email address if you usually use Gmail or Yahoo Mail.
Bitdefender has a flurry of tools in its arsenal, but it doesn’t overwhelm you with the nitty-gritty details of cybersecurity. Options are easy to navigate and set up, and I didn’t experience an overbearing number of notifications – just the important ones like threat alerts. The dashboard will pop up at least once a day to let me know my device is still secure – as a gentle reminder of sorts.
Overall, Bitdefender has an easy setup, a clean UI, and a large selection of features that are explained in detail and simple to configure. Despite the premium price tag of its Premium Security subscription, you’re getting your money’s worth right off the bat.
What can Bitdefender protect you from?
- Zero-day exploits
- Phishing attacks
Bitdefender lab protection tests
Bitdefender’s antivirus software has received near-perfect scores across the board, including in malware protection, advanced threat protection, real-world protection, and anti-phishing. Across three independent antivirus testing labs, Bitdefender consistently scored top results.
Researchers at AV-Comparatives test a number of antivirus services, giving them a score from Standard certification to Advanced+ certification. The latter is awarded to software that goes above and beyond just passing tests, and Bitdefender was one of the few that received this certification. This includes high malware detection and protection rates (both online and offline), anti-phishing security, executing different real-world attacks, and the performance impact an antivirus has on a device.
|Online Malware Protection
|Online Detection Rate
|Offline Detection Rate
|Performance Impact (lower is better)
As for the AV-Test Institute, Bitdefender scored a perfect 18 points. The researchers score a service based on their protection against malware, impact on a device’s performance, and overall usability. Interestingly, it protected against 100% of zero-day malware attacks, including websites and email threats, and detected 100% of malware discovered in November and December 2022.
MRG-Effitas also had high praise for Bitdefender. Researchers use a banking Trojan test and throw different types of malware at it. To pass the first test, the antivirus software needs a perfect score, while the malware test offers two scores: Level 1 for blocking every malware and Level 2 for having some malware slip through but being destroyed in 24 hours. Bitdefender passed the banking Trojan test and received a Level 1.
|Banking Trojan Test
|Malware Test Certification
For the average user, there’s hardly anything that will get past Bitdefender’s, well, defences.
Bitdefender personal tests
While lab test results prove Bitdefender offers reliable antivirus protocols, I also tested the service using known malware samples on a dedicated device. I used a Windows PC for this test.
Upon opening the folder containing the malware, Bitdefender was put to work. A notification displayed stating “disinfection in progress.” It took around 5 minutes to complete, after which it showed a timeline of what it did after quarantining the malicious code. In this case, the real-time protection showed the program’s path and where Bitdefender intervened. It even showed the alternate patch the antivirus would have taken if initial protection didn’t work. It then required me to restart to finalize the “cleaning process.”
I also tested Bitdefender’s anti-phishing capabilities, which should be able to scan a malicious web page for dodgy links and signs of fraud. I launched each link using different browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Bitdefender could detect and block each site I opened, showcasing that it will protect you even when you mistakenly open a link with malicious code.
Bitdefender Password Manager
As you might expect, Bitdefender’s password manager can store, encrypt and protect all your passwords and banking details in one safe place. It’s extremely easy to set up and only requires you to set up one master password to sign in to all your accounts. It’s available on multiple platforms, including the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as a plugin for your chosen browser.
While it can sync data on all your devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it also gives you a choice to keep these passwords separate. It also keeps your personal data stored to fill those long web forms. If you’re not the best at making up a solid password, there’s also a password generator that will make a password up for you (although, I recommend making your own, as it’s easier to remember and allows you to put in characters like “!” or “?”).
It isn’t the most full-featured password manager around, but as a service that’s included in a package, Bitdefender’s password manager does the job.
As a VPN product, Bitdefender’s Premium VPN service can compete with the best VPN services, making it even better as an add-on feature to its antivirus protection. Its limited VPN isn’t as useful, as it only allows for 200MB of bandwidth daily, which won’t get you very far when surfing the web. Still, both give you access to 4,000 servers in over 53 locations and is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Focusing on the Premium package, the VPN comes with various advanced tools. This includes a Kill-Switch, which suspends traffic if the VPN connection drops; split tunnelling, which lets you select apps and websites to bypass the VPN’s protection; an App Traffic Optimizer that can prioritize internet traffic to the apps you desire; and an ad blocker and anti-tracker.
Bitdefender’s VPN also has a lot of auto-connect options, such as kicking the VPN into gear as soon as the device starts up and automatically using a VPN when on public Wi-Fi (that’s worthwhile if you don’t want to get malware through Wi-Fi).
The VPN’s user interface on Windows isn’t overly complicated and is presented as a simple small window that can quickly connect to the best server at the click of a button. No matter what location I chose (from the U.K. and the U.S. to New Zealand and Japan), connections were snappy. It didn’t severely slow down my interest speeds, either. For example, my average download speed is 90Mbps, and after connecting to the U.S., it dropped to an average of 70Mbps. Not exactly as fast as ExpressVPN, but it didn’t impact my daily tasks on the web.
I also tested to see if Bitdefender’s VPN would bypass streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus. Connecting to several servers, I had no trouble accessing Netflix and Disney Plus to binge-watch any show in their catalogue.
It may not come with as many security protocols as other VPNs do and may not be as fast, but for the average user looking for a VPN to stay protected and bypass geo-restricted content, Bitdefender Premium VPN is great.
It’s hard to fault Bitdefender. Not only does it excel in protecting you against all forms of cyberattacks, but it also does an exemplary job at stuffing each package, no matter the cost, with a list of security features.
Its all-inclusive Premium Security package can get pricey, especially after the first year, but you don’t have to opt for this option if you don’t need the added password manager and Premium VPN service – both of which are capable in their own respect. The Total Security subscription will defend your systems against malware, ransomware, malicious websites, and more, and that’s all you could want in antivirus software. What’s more, it does it all with a user-friendly interface. It easily makes a spot on our list of best antivirus software.