Bitdefender Review: How Well Does This Antivirus Program Perform in Tests?

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Bitdefender Antivirus Review: A Short Summary

Your computer is just one hack away from leaking your private info. In the wrong hands, this data can do a lot of damage. That is, unless you’re using a good antivirus to block these attacks. Bitdefender is one of the biggest names in cybersecurity and has award-winning antivirus software.

Some of its many benefits include:

  • Real-time malware blocking
  • Anti-theft protection
  • Network threat prevention
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection
  • Anti-phishing & anti-fraud systems
  • Anti-tracker
  • Password manager

You can protect up to five devices with one Bitdefender Antivirus subscription. There’s even a solid free version if you want to test it out before buying.

Visit Bitdefender

Would you like to learn more about Bitdefender Antivirus? Are you looking for an installation guide? You can find this and more in our article below.

Bitdefender is one of the most widely used antivirus programs in the world. The software first appeared in 1996 as “Antivirus Expert.” It was rebranded to “Bitdefender” in 2007.  This Romanian company claims to have around 500 million users worldwide, making it comparable to the likes of Avast and Kaspersky and clearly larger than AVG or Avira.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Bitdefender. We’ll discuss its security options, the speed of the scans, the load on your system, and many other features.

For this review, we wanted to test the most complete version of Bitdefender. That’s why we’ll primarily talk about its paid version (Total Security). However, we understand that many people use free antivirus programs. So, we have also tested the free version of Bitdefender extensively, as you’ll see later on in this review.

Bitdefender Packages and Prices

Like most antiviruses, Bitdefender offers various packages with different options. The table below lists them all:

FeaturesBitdefender Total SecurityBitdefender
Internet Security
Bitdefender
Antivirus Plus
Protection for all operating systems: i.e. Windows, macOS, Android and iOSWindows OnlyWindows Only
Device optimizer
Privacy Firewall
Parental Control
Protection against malware, spyware, and adware
Multi-layered protection against ransomware

The screenshot below shows the various options offered as part of each package and their prices, as well as the number of devices that can be protected with each package.

Bitdefender tools and subscriptions

Would you like to purchase one of the Bitdefender packages right away? Then click the button below.

Visit Bitdefender

The Features of Bitdefender Total Security

We’ve tested the most complete version of Bitdefender: Bitdefender Total Security. Below, we’ll explain the options of this antivirus package in more detail.

Bitdefender offers a huge range of options. They are conveniently divided into two “main categories”, privacy and security, and presented in separate windows within their software.

Security options

The most important options can be found under the “Antivirus” tab. Here you can:

  • configure the software
  • run and schedule scans
  • turn the real-time protection on or off (leave this on!)

In addition, Bitdefender offers a solid firewall along with a lot of configuration options. However, you’ll need quite a bit of tech knowledge to make optimal use of them. So, beginners should simply leave the firewall on its default settings. Those already offer excellent protection.

Bitdefender can also:

  • detect vulnerabilities in your system and network
  • fight spam
  • restore files hit by ransomware
  • detect advanced threats

Both advanced users and beginners alike will find what they need in this feature-rich antivirus tool.

Privacy options

We always compare antiviruses to our front doors. Some people find it enough to just lock them, while others prefer the security chain or a protective shutter. The choice is yours. With this in mind, Bitdefender offers some special privacy options. This welcome addition includes:

There are some additional nice-to-have utilities as well. These aren’t strictly necessary, but can be useful nonetheless. They might help you improve the performance of your system, for example.

In conclusion, Bitdefender offers tons of essential and useful options for any serious antivirus user. Its simple interface makes it easy to recognize and access the relevant settings quickly.

Options of Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition

Bitdefender also offers a minimalist, but decent free version called Antivirus Free Edition. This free version is available for Windows, Mac, and Android.

It supports both manual scans and real-time danger detection. It’s clear, however, that the free version offers far fewer configuration options for both security techniques. For example, you can’t schedule scans, as is possible with Bitdefender Total Security. There’s also no “quick scan” option. Instead, you can drag-and-drop files and folders to a small field in the app for a quick scan.

When it comes to real-time detection, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers far fewer options than the paid versions. You can only turn real-time detection on or off, without any extra settings. However, it is possible to add exceptions. This allows you to skip certain files, folders, and websites during scans and real-time danger detection. This way, you can make little adjustments to suit your own preferences. However, we recommend you only use this option if you know what you’re doing and are sure that the added exceptions are completely malware-free.

Furthermore, the Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition interface has a window called Quarantine, where suspicious files and events end up. You can also keep track of your performed scans here. Unfortunately, the free version is only available in English.

In general, we found that Bitdefender Free is much more limited and offers fewer options than Bitdefender Total Security. On the other hand, the free version feels a lot more manageable and simpler to use. This can be especially useful for novice antivirus users who aren’t that knowledgeable about computers and networks. However, for the most complete and effective Bitdefender antivirus solution, we still recommend Bitdefender Total Security.

Security: How Well Does Bitdefender Protect Your PC?

The security offered by an antivirus program is by far its most important aspect. Bitdefender offers various types of security. For example, the software uses active malware threat detection. The user can also do quick or extensive system scans. These can even be planned in advance and scheduled for a specific time. In addition, Bitdefender offers many more security features that have already been listed above.

However, the most important thing about a virus scanner is, of course, detecting and blocking viruses and other malware. In the coming sections, we’ll be taking a look at how well Bitdefender does this.

Virus and malware detection

According to tests run by AV-Comparatives (AVC), Bitdefender has consistently performed as one of the best when it comes to malware protection. It has reconfirmed its status in 2021: Bitdefender placed seventh out of the top 17 players in the antivirus world, according to AVC’s tests.

Below are Bitdefender’s 2021 test results:

  • System compromised by malware: 0.1% (0.7 in 2020)
  • User dependent: 0%
  • Blocked: 99.99% (93.30% in 2020)
  • False Positives: 5 (2 in 2020)

The test results show that Bitdefender provides a high level of security. A percentage of 0.1% for “systems compromised” means that AVC’s tests showed that malware was able to damage the system in only 0.1 out of 100 cases.

In terms of user dependence, Bitdefender scores well with 0%. This means Bitdefender didn’t give the user (i.e. the tester) the option to run the detected malware on their system. In other words, blocked malware is properly rendered harmless by Bitdefender. The amount of malware blocked during the 2021 tests was reasonably higher than last year’s 99.30%. This puts it in the “above average” column.

In terms of false positives, Bitdefender performs very well: about four times better than this year’s average. We should note that this average has more to do with ease of use than security, but it also shows the accuracy of Bitdefender’s scanning system.

Bitdefender’s additional security options

Detecting and blocking malware is the most important task of an antivirus. However, that isn’t the only way a good antivirus can make your device more secure. The very best virus scanners today are extremely similar in terms of security scores, so they try to gain a competitive edge with extra security options. On this front, Bitdefender is at the very top of this game.

Bitdefender Total Security offers a wide variety of additional security options. For example, the software offers a firewall with a large number of configuration options. It also offers so-called “vulnerability scans,” which indicate network, app, and security vulnerabilities in your system.

Bitdefender security score

  • This year, Bitdefender performed much better in AV-Comparatives’ security tests compared to previous years.
  • The software blocks 99.99% of all malware, according to AV-Comparatives’ tests.
  • Bitdefender has consistently been one of the best providers in terms of security.
  • Bitdefender offers a huge range of useful additional security options. On top of the “standard” scan and real-time security features.

Based on all these factors, we reward Bitdefender with an 8 for security.

Privacy: How Does Bitdefender Handle Your Data?

Bitdefender offers a lot of useful privacy features in addition to its security. However, there’s another important thing few ever think to consider: their privacy policy. This document tells you how an antivirus program handles your data. Bitdefender does its best to be as transparent as possible. For example, Bitdefender openly communicates how customer data is collected, used, and protected.

Bitdefender also clearly states who has access to your data, which includes Bitdefender employees and external data processors. As we understand it, these external third-party data processors are IT companies who undertake (part of) the data processing for Bitdefender on a contractual basis. Bitdefender has said that they are required to maintain the same level of customer data security as the company itself. Additionally, they aren’t allowed to share data with other third parties.

Bitdefender even shows the countries that host the servers that may be holding your data. The only exception to this otherwise perfectly fine privacy policy appears to be the following: in exceptional cases, Bitdefender may disclose customer data to “competent authorities”, if permitted and required by law. Bitdefender puts it this way: “In exceptional cases, Bitdefender may disclose personal information to competent authorities, at their legal request in accordance with applicable law or when necessary to protect the rights and interests of our customers and Bitdefender.”

For most users, the above exception won’t be a problem at all, especially if you aren’t doing crazy things online. It also makes a difference that Bitdefender obviously doesn’t have access to your entire network traffic, like a VPN does, for example. You’re only in contact with Bitdefender’s servers when you visit their own or a related website.

Based on all 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.

Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is Bitdefender?

Bitdefender has a huge number of security features. These are useful, but when you have so many features, users may get lost if the features aren’t presented in an orderly fashion. How does Bitdefender solve this? You can read all about this in the following sections of our review. We also look at the user-friendliness of Bitdefender’s website, supported operating systems and languages, and the installation process.

The Bitdefender website

In our opinion, the Bitdefender website looks a bit messy. If you move your mouse over the main menu, there’s just too much small text in the submenus to be able to easily navigate the platform. Additionally, there’s no clear guidance on the main page regarding the most suitable package for the various types of customers. This could definitely be a lot more user-friendly.

We also found the FAQ page quite messy and not especially helpful. To start with, we couldn’t navigate to the FAQs via the homepage. We could only get there via a Google search. Furthermore, it looks a bit untidy and not very clear. In general, this reflects the general feel of the website.

A definite plus, however, is the fact that the website is available in multiple languages.

How do I install Bitdefender?

The Bitdefender installation process could have been slightly simpler and more streamlined. With both the paid and the free version, we had to restart our PC several times to complete the installation process. In addition, when installing the paid version, we had a strange compatibility issue and needed an activation code that wasn’t provided in the installation email. Below, we’ll describe the installation procedure for both the free and the paid Bitdefender versions that we tested.

Installing the free version of Bitdefender

  1. Go to the free version’s download page and click the button that says “Free download.”
  2. Open the installation file and go through the installation procedure.
  3. Create a Bitdefender account by entering your name, email address, and password.
  4. Restart your PC to complete the installation.
  5. Wait for the program to download and log in with your email address and password.

Sometimes a problem arises when installing the free version. It took us quite some time and several attempts to get past step 4. We kept receiving a message that our PC had to be restarted, even though we had already done so twice. In the end, we solved this issue as follows: we went to “This PC” – “Windows (C :)” – “Program files” – “Bitdefender Agent” – “Installer”. In this folder, there’s a file called “Installer”. We ran this file and the problem was solved.

We couldn’t tell for sure whether this is what eventually made it work, or if we just had to wait a while after restarting our PC. Either way, if a problem like this arises, you could always try this solution.

Installing Bitdefender Total Security (the paid version)

  1. Subscribe to Bitdefender Total Security via the Bitdefender website.
  2. Add email addresses to send installation emails to the correct users.
  3. Open the Bitdefender installation email on the device where you wish to download the software. Note that one account allows for a maximum of five users.
  4. Click on “Download & install”.
  5. Open the installation file and run it.
  6. Create a Bitdefender account.
  7. Remove any incompatible applications.
  8. Restart your PC.
  9. Accept the subscription agreement and wait while the Bitdefender Total Security software is downloaded.
  10. You may be asked for an activation code. If you aren’t the person who took out the subscription, you’ll have to contact the person who purchased the software for this code.

Is Bitdefender’s software easy to use?

After our extensive testing, we found that Bitdefender’s software scores well in terms of ease of use. The software offers a wide variety of options. The great thing about Bitdefender’s software is that these options are displayed within the interface in such a way that it doesn’t feel too crowded or overwhelming. The many features are neatly grouped by the main function. In other words, suppose you only want to work with the scan and firewall functions of Bitdefender and ignore all other options, then you can. Each option has its own “box” with accompanying options.

Bitdefender protection features

What’s also very nice about Bitdefender, is that the program doesn’t feel intrusive or busy when you’re working with other programs. For example, you hardly notice a scan being performed (except when looking at the CPU load). This is because you can simply click away from the “scan screen” (with the minimize button). The screen will only reappear when the scan is finished or if you want to check the progress. This may seem like a small thing, but it makes the user experience a little bit nicer, neater and slicker.

Bitdefender could possibly improve by making the antivirus terms it uses more understandable to novice users. However, we understand this can be tricky, especially for an antivirus program that offers so many options. Still, this is important. We expect that many users won’t immediately know the difference between the “system scan” and the “vulnerability scan” that Bitdefender offers, to name just one example.

If you click on the various options, you frequently do get an explanation, but this is often too complicated and contains a lot of jargon. An idea to solve this might be to add extensive tutorial videos on the Bitdefender website, or something along these lines.

Finally, foreign language users will appreciate that Bitdefender is available in many different languages. Since some of the terms and options in the Bitdefender interface are quite complex, this is certainly a plus.

Customer service

Bitdefender’s customer service has pros and cons. Firstly, an advantage is that you can reach customer service in various ways. You might send an email, call customer service (9 am-6 pm, Mon-Fri), use live chat, or ask your question in one of Bitdefender’s forums. Unfortunately, not all of these options are available in all languages. In languages other than English, you can only email or call. The live chat and forums are only available in English.

Bitdefender’s live chat response time is very fast – much faster than sending an email. We received clear answers to all our questions within two minutes. If your question is a bit more complicated, this may take a little longer. Nevertheless, we were very pleased with Bitdefender’s live chat feature.

Note: the Bitdefender live chat function isn’t available from foreign language websites. You need to access this function via the English site. Simply follow this link to get there quickly.

Calling is another good option to contact Bitdefender. The call doesn’t have long and complicated selection menus and you’ll be helped quickly. Our question was answered within five minutes and the customer service representative also sent us a useful tutorial video.

The forums can be very helpful as well. They’re actively monitored and any responses can come from the Bitdefender “expert community”.

In conclusion, it would be better if all contact options were also available in all languages, but in general, Bitdefender still has good customer service. The email option is the only option we don’t recommend, as it often takes a long time (from one to several hours) for a response. As a result, we reward Bitdefender’s customer service with an 8.0.

Ease of use score

  • The Bitdefender interface is user-friendly and clear.
  • Many terms and functions used in the interface are quite complex. Some good tutorial videos might be able to provide better explanations.
  • The website looks a bit messy and isn’t very easy to navigate.
  • We didn’t find the Bitdefender installation process very user-friendly and streamlined. There’s still room for improvement.
  • Customer service is very good. Although some contact methods aren’t suitable for foreign language speakers, Bitdefender offers multiple quick and easy ways to get answers to questions in both English and other languages. The only thing that could be improved, is if they also offered their live chat in languages other than English.

Based on the above, we reward Bitdefender with a 7.0 for ease of use.

Speed and System Load

Bitdefender is a quick virus scanner. The program starts up quickly: you’ll hardly notice it during daily use. For the most part, the software does its job in the background through real-time scans. If you need to do something in the software itself, this can be done quickly on a well-maintained system, without any lag.

Performing periodic scans goes in a nice and fast way as well. Bitdefender offers both a quick scan, that checks the most important files on your device and a more comprehensive scan, that goes through your entire system. We ran both types of scans multiple times on our system, and on average, the quick scan took just a little over three minutes. Take note, the quick scan can take longer, depending on the size of your system, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Bitdefender Quick Scan results

The full system scans are also relatively fast. During our tests, we arrived at an average of about 25 minutes for a full scan. Bitdefender scanned over a million items in this time, so this is certainly an excellent achievement.

For most people, Bitdefender’s scan times won’t be an issue. To begin with, the software performs its scans in the background and in a very unobtrusive way. You don’t even have to leave a separate window or tab open while it runs.

In short, for most people, both the short scan and the “long scan” will be acceptable in terms of duration. Keep in mind, however, that scan times depend on your system. If you have many files on your computer, the scan times will likely increase accordingly.

Bitdefender’s processor usage

It’s of course important that the virus scanner you use doesn’t demand too much from your system. An antivirus program that handles your CPU as efficiently as possible is therefore preferred. This means your system won’t slow down, or only barely so. Bitdefender scores pretty well in this area, but it isn’t perfect.

When Bitdefender runs real-time scans in the background, you’ll barely notice the impact on your CPU. We ran the scanner in the background while visiting a website without a security certificate that resulted in many “suspicious connection blocked” notifications. Nonetheless, we noticed only a very limited impact on CPU usage, namely an average of only about 2 percent.

However, if you run a scan, it’s a completely different story. During a quick scan, we noticed that Bitdefender’s CPU usage approached 50%.

Bitdefender usage quick scan

High percentages of this kind occasionally also occurred in full system scans, although this mainly happened at the start of the scan and a few times in between. In general, the CPU impact appears to be lower with the long scan, with average percentages between 10 and 20 percent.

Bitdefender’s “CPU Glitch”

Bitdefender seems to have some sort of defect, which causes the processor usage to increase drastically, sometimes even up to 100%. However, this is easily resolved by rebooting your system. Even so, this can be a bit annoying. We experienced this issue ourselves, both during a scan and while running the program in the background. We also noticed that this issue has been reported online several times, including on Reddit and the Bitdefender help forums.

A closer inspection of the task manager revealed that Bitdefender’s task called “Bitdefender virus shield” is the cause of the sudden increase in CPU usage. This is the part of the software that’s responsible for the real-time protection of your device, so turning this off isn’t really an option. Only do this if you’re doing something with a minimal chance of malware infection. This includes, for example, working on documents or gaming without being connected to the internet. The fact that this problem does happen from time to time, and that there doesn’t seem to be a good solution for it except to reboot your system, is of course a big drawback.

Keep in mind that our tests were conducted on our system and that your system may differ greatly from ours. In most cases, these differences will be positive, as our tests were conducted on an Intel NUC. This is a kind of small mobile “computer box” that isn’t much bigger than a cigarette box. As a result, components such as our CPU are very light. For example, our NUC has an i3 processor with only two cores. It’s therefore logical that, with such a light processor, we’d notice a much greater impact on our system.

Bitdefender’s Speed and System Load Score

  • The software has a nice and smooth feel, and scans don’t take too long.
  • The CPU load during a fast scan increases considerably, in our case sometimes up to 50%.
  • The software sometimes shows a “CPU glitch”, which can drastically increase the system load. The only solution for this seems to be rebooting your PC.
  • The increase in the system load depends a lot on your device. Keep in mind that we used a very light PC for our tests.

Based on these findings, we give Bitdefender a 7.5 for speed and system usage.

Final Verdict

Time for our final review of Bitdefender. First, we’ve detailed Bitdefender’s advantages and disadvantages in the table below.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Wide range of additional security and privacy options.The safety score has deteriorated somewhat compared to recent years.
The free version offers both a scanning function and real-time protection.The installation process could have been more streamlined and easier to complete.
A good and transparent privacy policy.Occasionally, a “glitch” can occur that causes Bitdefender to consume considerably more CPU resources than usual.
User-friendly software.
Good customer service with many ways to contact Bitdefender.
Fast scan times.

Bitdefender is a virus scanner with a lot to offer. Its most complete version (i.e. Bitdefender Total Security) includes a huge range of security and privacy options. You can easily navigate through these options, despite the fact that there are so many of them, thanks to the software’s clear design. If you do have a problem, Bitdefender’s excellent customer service can help. On top of everything, Bitdefender’s AV-Comparative scores are consistently good and have even improved since last year.

The main downside to Bitdefender is their somewhat tricky installation process. Yet the software consistently blocks most viruses and malware.

Below is our final score. We arrived at the final score using the following values and the weighting factors provided in brackets:

  • Security Score: 8 (x 0.5)
  • Speed and System Load Score: 7.5 (x 0.2)
  • Privacy Score: 8.5 (x 0.1)
  • Ease of Use Score: 7.0 (x 0.1)
  • Customer Service Score: 8.0 (x 0.1)

Based on these numbers, our final score for Bitdefender is a solid 7.9. In other words, we can certainly recommend this provider for most users. Would you like more information on Bitdefender or take out a Bitdefender subscription right away? Then click on the button below.

Visit Bitdefender
Bitdefender: FAQs

Do you have a question about Bitdefender? Have a quick look at our FAQ below to see whether your question is answered here.

Bitdefender offers three different paid packages as well as a free package. The paid versions are currently priced between $30 to $40 for a one-year subscription (for the first year). If you want to know exactly what each package costs and what options the packages offer, read our in-depth Bitdefender review.

To remove Bitdefender, type Bitdefender in the search menu of your PC, right-click on the Bitdefender program you want to remove and choose “Uninstall”. You’ll see a list of programs from which you can uninstall Bitdefender.

However, removing Bitdefender isn’t always that easy. Sometimes you get a message stating that you can’t uninstall a certain Bitdefender program because you first need to uninstall another Bitdefender program. This usually resolves itself if you restart your PC once or twice.

Yes, Bitdefender does have a free version, namely Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. Read our in-depth Bitdefender review to find out what this free virus scanner has to offer.

Author
IT communication specialist
Sandra has many years of experience in the IT and tech sector as a communication specialist. She's also been co-director of a company specializing in IT, editorial services and communications project management. For VPNoverview.com she follows relevant cybercrime and online privacy developments. She rigorously tests the quality of VPN services using VPNOverview.com's dedicated VPN testing protocol that has been finetuned and optimized over the years.
Author
Tech journalist
Djordje is a cybersecurity copywriter with an extensive background in law and marketing. He was a team leader in a company specializing in content creation in the field of technology. His main interests include legal frameworks for censorship on all levels and the place of VPNs and other cybersecurity software on that spectrum.
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  1. You state above: You’re only in contact with Bitdefender’s servers when you visit their own or a related website. Doesn’t Bitdefender run scans on files by uploading to their processing in the cloud? I read this somewhere and I might be in error but if so how does this make sense: “Bitdefender even shows the countries that host the servers that may be holding your data”?

  2. This review seems to line up pretty closely with what I’ve experienced regarding BD Free and BD TS. However, one real shortcoming in BD TS is the lack of configuration options with scans. Virtually any competitor allows greater control over the behavior of scans. BD not only has fewer options but doesn’t even allow you to set different options by type of scan.

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