Bitdefender is one of the most widely used antivirus programs in the world. The software first appeared in 1996 under the name “Antivirus Expert” and was rebranded as “Bitdefender” in 2007. Its good reputation and multiple awards suggest that it might be one of the top contenders on the antivirus market — but is that actually the case?
We tested Bitdefender’s security options, privacy measures, the speed of its scans, and its usability to show how well their antivirus software performs.
Bitdefender Short Review
|Many extra security and privacy options||Tracks information for marketing purposes|
|Free 30-day trial||Long scanning times resulting in mild delays|
|User-friendly software||Confusing subscription information on the website|
|Good customer service with live chat and call options|
|Trustworthy malware protection|
Bitdefender is one of the biggest names in cybersecurity and has award-winning antivirus software, and for good reason. It has high protection rates against malware and goes the extra mile when it comes to features.
Its Total Security package includes vulnerability assessment, a firewall, an antispam filter, and ransomware remediation. It also offers a password manager, anti-tracker, VPN, video & audio protection, parental controls, and its own privacy browser. All of these options worked as intended during our tests.
If you’re afraid this big range of options might result in a confusing experience, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Bitdefender’s software is easy to understand and neatly organized. You can easily activate features and customize your experience. If you do end up with questions, their live chat and phone support are ready to help you out 24/7.
The only big downside we found while testing was the speeds of the scans. The full system scan took hours to complete and asked a lot of our CPU, which is a completely different experience compared to most of the other top antivirus solutions we tested. Even so, the scans happen in the background and only mildly affected our browsing.
Although the installation process could be made easier and Bitdefender does log some information for marketing purposes (which you can opt out of), we found this antivirus an overall great choice for anyone looking for proper malware protection for their device. Read our full review below for more details.
Bitdefender Specifications and Subscriptions
Bitdefender offers software for Windows, Mac, and smartphone (Android and iOS). They have three different antivirus packages that come with different features and prices. All paid packages come with basic features like real-time protection, vulnerability assessment, and ransomware protection.
For most users, we’d recommend the Bitdefender Total Security package, which can be installed on five devices and offers lots of additional features, including Anti-Theft tools, an optimizer, and protection on all kinds of devices. The latter is especially relevant, since Bitdefender Internet Security is only available for Windows.
The table below lists the specifications of these three subscriptions.
|Feature||Bitdefender Internet Security||Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Family Pack|
|Pricing||$34.99 (first year)||$39.98 (first year)||$49.99 (first year)|
|Number of devices||3||5||15|
|Compatibility||Windows||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS|
|Anti-Phishing and Anti-Fraud||✔||✔||✔|
|Protection Against Malware, Spyware, Adware||✔||✔||✔|
|Payment Protection/Private browsing (Safepay)||✔||✔||✔|
|Webcam and Microphone Protection||✔||✔||✔|
|Download Link||Get Bitdefender Internet Security||Get Bitdefender Total Security||Get Bitdefender Family Pack|
Bitdefender’s free subscriptions
Bitdefender used to offer a free version of their software for Windows. That has, however, been discontinued. Support for this free package will stop in June 2022.
Luckily for any mobile and Mac users, Bitdefender does offer free versions for other operating systems:
- Bitdefender Virus Scanner For Mac
- Bitdefender Mobile Security For iOS
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free For Android
Aside from that, this virus scanner offers two free apps for Windows:
- Bitdefender TrafficLight: a free browser extension that will filter web traffic and block malicious content
- Bitdefender Home Scanner: scans your system and offers security recommendations.
These free versions and tools might feel more manageable and simpler to use, since they don’t have as many features. This is especially useful for novice antivirus users who aren’t that knowledgeable about the technical details of antivirus programs.
If you’d rather try out the full premium experience, makes sure to use Bitdefender’s completely free 30-day trials. We’ll be discussing these later in this review.
Security: Can Bitdefender Be Trusted?
The very best virus scanners have about similar results when it comes to general security, so they try to gain a competitive edge with extra security options. Bitdefender has a great reputation on both of these fronts:
- Bitdefender performed well in AV-Comparatives’ security tests, with a 97.8% detection rate, 99.99 protection rate, and just 8 false positives.
- Bitdefender has consistently been one of the best providers in terms of security and received AV-Comparatives’ “Advanced+” malware protection award.
- Bitdefender Total Security offers a huge range of additional security options, including vulnerability assessment, a firewall, an antispam filter, and ransomware remediation.
Both advanced users and beginners will find what they need in this feature-rich antivirus tool. That’s why we awarded Bitdefender with a 9.0 in security.
Security testing: How does Bitdefender measure up?
During AV-Comparatives’s consumer product tests of March 2022, it was shown that Bitdefender provides a high level of security:
- Detection rate: 97.8%
- Protection rate: 99.99%
- False positives: 8
The detection rate means that threats were spotted by the program in 97.8% of cases. For comparison: they outshone competitors Kaspersky and Malwarebytes. However, the detection rates of Avast, AVG, and McAfee are all above 99%.
Bitdefender’s protection rate (the degree to which the program was able to defend the system against threats) is satisfyingly high at 99.99%. In other words, once Bitdefender has spotted a threat, it is able to combat it in virtually all cases. Only competitors NortonLifeLock and Panda were able to reach the full 100%.
Finally, AV-Comparatives’s tests came back with just eight false positives for Bitdefender. This refers to any case in which Bitdefender flagged a file, program, or process as harmful, when it wasn’t. This number is well below the average of 15.
Over the years, Bitdefender has consistently been one of the best when it comes to malware protection. It has reconfirmed its status in 2022: Bitdefender was awarded the “Advanced+” malware protection award along with ten other competitors.
Real-time threat protection
The most important feature of a good antivirus program is real-time protection. Bitdefender’s real-time solution is called Bitdefender Shield. It actively scans any folder you open, any file you access, and any e-mail you read. Then, it will automatically remove any malicious software it comes across, including viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, and zero-day exploits.
On top of that, Advanced Threat Defense will identify suspicious behavior and block zero-day attacks.
In Bitdefender’s software, you can alter your preferences by going to the “Protection” tab and then clicking either “Antivirus” or “Advanced Threat Defense.” Under “Settings,” you can manage exceptions and determine exactly which content you want the program to scan. We advise users to set up these options with care, so Bitdefender can continuously scan and protect your device.
Of course, you can always run a scan yourself. Bitdefender allows you to run a “Quick Scan,” a full “System Scan,” or a custom scan on a specific target. You can even schedule scans for specific times.
Among a league of extra protection options, Bitdefender offers a solid firewall. However, you’ll need quite a bit of tech knowledge to use of its configuration settings. Beginners are better off leaving the firewall on its default settings as it already offers excellent protection.
Unfortunately, the firewall isn’t available on Bitdefender Antivirus For Mac.
Bitdefender vulnerability scan
Another security option is Bitdefender’s vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability scan helps the user increase their system’s cybersecurity by reviewing and assessing the user’s current setup and making recommendations to correct any issues. Some things that the scan looks for are:
- Outdated or vulnerable software
- Missing security patches
- Potentially unsafe system settings
When we ran the scan on one of our devices, for example, the program recommended that we update several of our programs, including Windows itself, and change some of our system settings.
With ransomware gangs running rampant, a tool like Bitdefender’s ransomware remediation feature comes in handy. In case your files get taken hostage by ransomware, Bitdefender can undo the damage by restoring encrypted files.
You will have to manually activate this feature if you want to use it. To do so, simply click the slider so it turns blue. This feature is included in their Total Security package, but not in all subscriptions.
Bitdefender also has a working antispam filter, which can be used to filter the inbox of your local email client. If you read your emails on Outlook or Thunderbird, antispam can help you sort through irrelevant messages and spam more quickly.
Privacy: How Does Bitdefender Handle Your Data?
Antivirus programs have access to a lot of data on your device. How well do they protect this data? What extra options do they give you? When it comes to Bitdefender, the company does a very decent job.
- Bitdefender Total Security offers a password manager, anti-tracker, VPN, video & audio protection, Safepay, and parental controls.
- Data gathered by Bitdefender might be used for site improvement, communication with users, statistical purposes, or marketing.
- Limited account data was leaked during a breach in 2015, but that breach was dealt with quickly and effectively.
Based on this, we conclude that Bitdefender takes a serious approach to maintaining the privacy of its users. That’s why we give Bitdefender an 8.5 for privacy.
Bitdefender’s privacy features
In its software, Bitdefender has a separate tab for its privacy options. Although these options aren’t included across all of Bitdefender’s subscriptions, they are part of the Total Security package.
- Safepay: Use this separate environment and dedicated browser to secure your online transactions and prevent fraud. Man-in-the-middle attacks, keyloggers, and fraudulent websites won’t work in this browser.
- Bitdefender VPN: Anonymize and protect your online activities with this VPN. Although Bitdefender VPN isn’t as great as other premium VPNs, our VPN tests did show that it has a decent server network with fast connections.
- Password Manager: Store your passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive data with Bitdefender’s password manager. The option “Sync across devices” will allow anyone using your subscription to see your passwords, so be careful if you share your account with others!
- Video & Audio Protection: Keep tabs on which applications have access to your webcam and microphone. This feature will notify you when apps try to access your webcam and block unauthorized access.
- Parental Advisor: Check the activity and location of your kid across their devices. For more information about parental control programs, you can read our Top 7 of the Best Parental Control Apps.
- Anti-tracker: Block browser and websites trackers that might be collecting your data. The Anti-tracker browser extension has to be installed separately and will tell you exactly how many trackers it has blocked on each page you visit, as you can see below.
With the inclusion of all of these extra features, Bitdefender shows that it’s ready to go the extra mile to protect its users not just against different kinds of malware, but also against curious eyes all across the web.
- Bitdefender gathers information directly provided by the user, including details gathered via forms, comments, and signup sheets for newsletters. Only the information gathered for the newsletter might be used for marketing purposes.
- Via the Bitdefender website, they collect your IP address, the date and time of your visit, and the website that referred you. This (mostly aggregated) data is used for website improvement, statistical purposes, or improving and ensuring web services and their security.
- Cookies might be used to track your preferences (such as your preferred language) and can be used for website optimization and marketing.
- Only Bitdefender employees and external data processors have access to your data. Any data processor Bitdefender work with, is required to maintain the same level of customer data security as Bitdefender.
- Bitdefender may disclose customer data to “competent authorities” if permitted and required by law or necessary to protect the rights and interests of Bitdefender and its users.
Bitdefender even uses its policy to advise readers never to share their password with anyone and tells them how to access, rectify, or erase data stored by Bitdefender, as determined by the GDPR.
Data breach in 2015
Bitdefender has a great track record with little to no scandals. The company did suffer a data breach in 2015, in which a limited amount of unencrypted usernames and passwords were leaked. In response to the breach, Bitdefender resolved the issue and included additional security measures in its setup. Moreover, they sent out a notice to possibly affected users, so they could reset their passwords.
Considering this is the last known Bitdefender breach and it was limited and quickly dealt with, we consider Bitdefender a very strong privacy-minded company.
Usability: How User-Friendly Is Bitdefender?
In this section, we look at the user-friendliness of Bitdefender’s website, supported operating systems and languages, and the installation process. The summary of our findings are as follows:
- Bitdefender’s installation process is slightly lengthy, but relatively easy.
- There’s an accessible, completely free, 30-day trial available on Bitdefender’s website.
- The Bitdefender software is user-friendly and clear, with all features and options neatly organized.
- Bitdefender is available in many different languages.
- Cancelling your Bitdefender subscription is easy and refunds can be requested through Bitdefender’s customer support.
- Bitdefender’s customer support is extensive and their live chat and call options provide adequate and fast replies.
Based on these conclusions, we give Bitdefender an 8 out of 10 for usability.
The best and most secure way to download Bitdefender is through the official Bitdefender website. Their website is pretty user-friendly and easy to navigate, with separate sections “For Home” and “For Business” on the home page.
If you want to get started with Bitdefender, you can either try out their free trial, or dive straight into a paid subscription.
How to activate your 30-day free trial of Bitdefender
Bitdefender offers a free trial of 30 days that might be interesting for new users to try out first. These free trials are available for most of their subscriptions, and you can enjoy them without adding any payment information like your credit card.
If you’d like to try Bitdefender’s trial run, follow these steps:
- Go to the Bitdefender website.
- Hover over the “For Home” section in the menu at the top, then click “Trial Downloads.”
- Click “Download Now” on the package of your choice. We recommend Bitdefender Total Security.
- Once the files have finished downloading, open them.
- Sign in with your email address to activate your 30-day trial.
- Enjoy the software!
Although this trial will run out after 30 days, it does give new users the opportunity to try out the full service completely risk-free.
How to install Bitdefender
If you want to subscribe to and install the paid version of Bitdefender on your PC, follow these steps:
- Go to Bitdefender’s website and click “See Solutions” under “For Home.”
- Choose the subscription of your choice (we recommend “Bitdefender Total Security”) and click “Learn More.”
- Click “Buy Now” on the plan you want. Choose the subscription length and number of devices (five or ten) you’d like.
- Add any extras you might like, then click “Billing and Payment Details” at the bottom.
- Fill in your email, full name, and country, as well as your payment details and click “Confirm Order.”
- Click “Download & install.”
- Open the installation file and run it.
- Create a Bitdefender account.
- Remove any incompatible applications. This will usually only be the case if you already have a different antivirus program installed on your device.
- Restart your PC to complete the process.
- Accept the subscription agreement and wait while the Bitdefender Total Security software is downloaded.
- Fill in the activation code you received with your order confirmation.
The Bitdefender installation process for PC could have been slightly simpler and more streamlined. We had to restart our computer several times to complete the installation process. Apart from that, however, the download process is smooth and easy to understand.
If you want to install the app on your smartphone, you can simply download the Bitdefender Mobile Security app on Google Play or the Apple Store.
Once you’ve downloaded Bitdefender, you’re met with a user-friendly dashboard. Bitdefender’s software offers a wide variety of options, which are all displayed in an organized way, so it doesn’t feel too crowded or overwhelming.
The interface shows different tabs on the lefthand side. The two most important ones are “Protection” and “Privacy.” Here, the many different features of Bitdefender Total Security (or whichever other subscription you’ve chosen) are neatly grouped by the main function.
Each feature is easy to activate — usually with a simple slider — and comes with a short description. These descriptions tend to use a lot of jargon, however, meaning some users might not understand what each option actually does. We expect that many won’t immediately know the difference between the “system scan” and the “vulnerability scan,” for example. Bitdefender could improve by making the antivirus terms it uses more understandable to novice users.
The software is available in twenty languages, which are easily accessible under “Settings.” Options include anything from English, German, and Portuguese, to Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese.
How easy is it to cancel Bitdefender?
Arguably one of the most convenient things about Bitdefender is their 30-day trial version. Without adding any credit card details, you’ll be able to try their software completely risk-free. Once the trial runs out, you won’t be charged and you don’t have to do anything save for delete the software from your system. They can’t make canceling any easier than that.
When you have a running subscription that you wish to cancel, the process works slightly differently. If you’re still within the first thirty days of starting it, you can get a refund:
- Go to the Bitdefender website and click “Support” in the top right corner.
- Scroll down to “Chat 24/7” and click it.
- Click “Ask live” next to “Consumer Commercial Support.”
- Fill in your first name and enter the email that’s connected to your account. Then write in the “Request” section that you’d like to get a refund.
- Click “Start the chat” and wait for the chat to be opened. The support agent will guide you through the rest of the process.
Keep in mind that it can take up to five business days for the money to be returned to your account. Aside from that, this refund process only works if you’ve ordered your Bitdefender subscription via the official website. If you’ve subscribed through a different seller, you’ll need to contact them.
When you’ve had your subscription for longer than 30 days, you can log in to your Bitdefender Central account to change your auto-renewal status, cancel your subscription, or delete your account altogether.
Bitdefender’s customer support
If you run into any issues while using Bitdefender, you can contact their support team through their website or via the dashboard. On the website, simply click the “Support” button in the top right corner. When using the dashboard, you can click on the menu button in the top right corner and then choose one of the options. Free online support is offered on all subscriptions.
One strange inconsistency we noticed was that the links in the dashboard lead to different pages than those on the website. The website appears to offer more diverse and complete suggestions, so we recommend using that.
Bitdefender support consists of many different options:
- User guide: This lengthy manual contains information about different features, settings, and more.
- FAQ page: The Bitdefender Support Center works as a knowledge base with various articles and “How-to” videos to show you the ropes. For basic questions, this section might already help.
- Expert Community: Bitdefender’s forums are actively monitored and feature actual issues that other users ran into, including the solutions provided by Bitdefender experts. If you have a query, it might be worth searching for an answer here.
- Live chat: To use this chat, click “Chat 24/7” on the support page and fill in your first name and email, along with your request. The live chat is always active, so you’ll be able to get direct help from a support agent at all times.
- Phone: Bitdefender has a worldwide phone number for any questions. There are also specific numbers to call for customers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Except for the French Canadian customer support (which is available Monday through Friday from nine to five), all of these lines have 24/7 service and are in English.
- Email: You can to send in an email ticket by clicking “Send us an email!” on the Bitdefender support site. Fill in your email (so they can send you a reply) and choose the product and category that fit your query.
Although support via email took one to several hours to get back to us, the live chat and call options especially were very fast. When we contacted them, Bitdefender’s live chat offered us clear answers to all our questions within two minutes. During the phone call, we didn’t have to go through long and complicated selection menus. Our question was answered within five minutes and the customer service representative even sent us a useful tutorial video.
The only drawback of the Bitdefender customer service is that not all options are available in all languages. The live chat and forum are only available in English, while phone support is only available in English and French. Apart from that, Bitdefender’s customer service is excellent.
Speed and Performance: Will Bitdefender Slow Down My System?
Although the Bitdefender software is very user-friendly in general, its scans aren’t very fast. The program will defend your system well, but unfortunately this does have consequences for your computer’s performance.
After extensive tests using Bitdefender, we conclude that:
- Bitdefender’s quick scan took just five minutes, while the long scan took hours. These results are remarkably long compared to competitors.
- The CPU load during a fast scan increases considerably, in our case between 30 and 40%.
- The software sometimes suffers a “CPU glitch” that drastically increases the system load.
Based on these findings, we give Bitdefender a 6 for speed and system usage.
How long does a scan take?
Bitdefender offers both a quick scan (which checks the most important files on your device) and a more comprehensive scan (which goes through your entire system). We ran both types of scans multiple times on our system to see how long they took. All of the tests in this section were performed on an Intel Core i5 CPU system with 8GB RAM, running on Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.
On average, the quick scan took just a little over five minutes. Although this is not a lot of time, it is on the long side compared to other antiviruses like Sophos and Avira, both of which only took one minute. The quick scan might take longer or shorter for you, depending on the size of your system.
The full system scans took a very long time. During our own tests, we had the scan running for over four and a half hours. Bitdefender scanned over a million items in this time, but even so, this is remarkably slow compared to earlier results (25 minutes for a full scan) and results from other antivirus scanners.
Generally, the scans happen in the background of your device in an unobtrusive way, so you won’t be bothered by them. Although long scanning times won’t be an issue for most users, it can be annoying when they affect your computer performance. That’s why we also studied the impact of the scans on our CPU.
How does Bitdefender impact my CPU?
While performing the scans, we noticed that Bitdefender asked quite a bit of CPU power and memory. During the full system scan, which took hours, we even had to deal with some minor delays while browsing. We wouldn’t advise running a scan while online gaming, for example, as that might result in some serious lag. On top of that, our hardware heated up during the scans.
For both the quick and the full system scans, Bitdefender’s impact on our CPU was about 30 to 40%. It also asked about 400 MB of our system’s memory. These numbers are relatively high, especially compared to some competitors like Malwarebytes.
On the plus side, Bitdefender barely impacts your CPU when it’s running in the background. We ran the scanner in the background while visiting a website without a security certificate, resulting in many “suspicious connection blocked” notifications. Nonetheless, we noticed only a limited impact on CPU usage, namely an average of only about 2%.
Bitdefender’s “CPU Glitch”
Some Bitdefender users have reported noticing a dramatic increase in processor usage (up to 100%) during scans or even while running the program in the background. We haven’t experienced this issue ourselves lately, but it has been reported online several times, including on Reddit and the Bitdefender help forums.
Bitdefender’s task “Bitdefender virus shield” appears to be the cause of the sudden increase. This task is responsible for the real-time protection of your device, so turning it off isn’t an option. Luckily, the problem is resolved by rebooting your system. The fact that this issue occurs from time to time is of course a big drawback.
Final Verdict: Is Bitdefender a Good Virus Scanner?
Bitdefender is a virus scanner with a lot to offer. It will protect you against nearly all online threats, including viruses, worms, keyloggers, and other malware. Its most complete version (Bitdefender Total Security) includes a huge range of security and privacy features.
This antivirus is a great option for both beginning and more experienced antivirus users. Its easy interface is a breath of fresh air and will allow even novice users to enjoy its many features. Any serious antivirus veteran will find the league of options a great expansion of a standard antivirus package.
Aside from that, Bitdefender is currently one of our top picks for privacy-minded users. Its many privacy features will be a welcome addition for many. As long as you opt out of certain kinds of data collection, you’ll be well-protected on all fronts.
To summarize, here are our final scores for Bitdefender:
- Security: 9.0 (weight 0.4)
- Privacy: 8.5 (weight 0.3)
- Ease of use: 8 (weight 0.2)
- Speed and system load: 6 (weight 0.1)
Based on these numbers, our final score for Bitdefender is a solid 8.4. Suffice it to say, Bitdefender ends up high in our top five and is used on the daily by part of the VPNOverview team, so it’s definitely among our personal favorites!
If you’d like more information on Bitdefender or want to take out a subscription right away, visit their website by clicking the orange button below.
If you’re looking for a different antivirus solution, or want to compare your options, have a look at our overall antivirus review page.
How was your experience with Bitdefender? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you have a question about Bitdefender? Have a quick look at our FAQ below and click on a question to see the answer.
Bitdefender offers three different premium packages:
- Bitdefender Internet Security: $34.99 for the first year (three devices, only available for Windows)
- Bitdefender Total Security: $39.98 for the first year (five devices)
- Bitdefender Family Pack: $49.99 for the first year (15 devices)
They also offer free antivirus software for macOS, Android, and iOS. Read our in-depth Bitdefender review for more information.
Yes, absolutely. Bitdefender will protect your device against almost all types of malware, including viruses, ransomware, and even phishing attacks. It also offers many extra options to enhance your online privacy and has very user-friendly software. Read our full Bitdefender review to learn more about how this antivirus solution performed in our tests.
Yes, Bitdefender does have a free version, but only for macOS, Android, and iOS. Windows users can get a free 30-day trial to see if they’d like to use Bitdefender’s paid version in the long run.