Editor's Choice: Top 3 Antivirus Software in 2020
In 2020, Bitdefender is a go-to antivirus if you put versatility and user-friendliness first. It is reliable, fast, and relatively reasonably priced. However, compared to some of the leaders like Kaspersky and Norton, it’s not as effective against modern-day threats. On top of that, its Mac and mobile apps are quite limited, not to mention entry-level plans only cover the Windows OS.
We’re not saying that Bitdefender is a terrible antivirus product – far from that. Still, if you’re in the market for the best possible protection, you might want to look elsewhere. If you are not really convinced – it might be useful to check the list of the best antivirus solutions and see that Bitdefender is among the best of them. Read the full review to learn the details.
Bitdefender antivirus in 2020: Pros and Cons
Before we start talking about malware protection, pricing, packages, the list of features, and more, let’s take a quick look at the strong and weak sides of this antivirus. Like all the other products, Bitdefender has its advantages and disadvantages.
Bitdefender Security Features
Protection against all potential attacks – that’s the #1 concern of any antivirus solution. With the Bitdefender antivirus, you get access to a long list of features, including webcam protection, password manager, a VPN, parental controls, and a firewall, to name a few. What’s more important, it performs decently in various third-party lab tests.
These days, you won’t be fully protected without advanced anti-malware and anti-phishing modules. Anti-tracking, safe online banking, and encrypted storage also play a key role in keeping the cybercriminals at bay. First, we’ll take a look at how Bitdefender performs against the most common threats. Then, we’ll discuss the extra features and take a look at the independent lab test results.
As a top-10 antivirus, Bitdefender implements many advanced anti-malware protection techniques. Mainly, it has a scanner that works 24/7 and looks for any known threats included in the database. This “traditional” scanner is backed up by a so-called “heuristic” monitor. This module detects behavioral signs and takes a different approach to virus detection and elimination.
Whenever a new potentially malicious file is detected, it is automatically uploaded to the company’s servers. Once an update is ready, it is sent to every single Bitdefender user around the world. Overall, 500+ million systems are running this antivirus program. A quick note: if you don’t like the idea of a third-party app collecting data from your device, you can turn that off at any time.
The same is true for almost every feature of this product. Just go to Settings, choose a features/module you don’t like, and shut it off. Plus, the users can switch to a Gamer or Movie mode, which will eliminate any pop-ups and other interruptions by the antivirus software.
Last but not least, Bitdefender includes a rescue environment feature. It uses a hidden sector on the hard drive (or SSD) to launch a full scan of the system and fight malware while being undetected. The majority of antivirus solutions recommend downloading this module on a CD or USB drive, but with 2020 Bitdefender, you can launch the full scan from the main dashboard.
Of course, it should only be used when the program can’t eliminate infection with real-time and offline modules.
When it comes to phishing protection, Bitdefender is among the leaders. With industry-leading results in third-party lab tests, you can rest assured that this antivirus will protect you from fake websites, malicious links, login-password stealers, and all the other emerging threats. In this regard, it is almost on par with Kaspersky, ESET, and McAfee, mainly thanks to real-time analysis.
Here’s how phishing works: it takes advantage of the user’s carelessness and tricks them into visiting fake copies of legit websites.In many cases, these fakes have the wrong URL, but, again, most users simply don’t pay attention to that. And, the second they enter their credentials (say, in the malicious copy of PayPal), the criminals get access to their bank accounts and steal their money (or sensitive data).
Now, these fakes are continually being blocked and blacklisted, but the hackers create new sites and continue profiting on trusting users. A solid anti-phishing module reveals phishing websites and warns the user(s) against visiting them. However, many emerging phishing attacks aren’t included in any lists, and that’s why you need a leading antivirus to protect you against new threats.
Bitdefender’s Online Threat Protection (OTP) relies not only on the blacklist database but also implements real-time analysis to detect zero-day attacks. In our in-house tests, OTP detected 99/100 fraudulent pages. Still, it lags a bit behind the leaders – Kaspersky and McAfee. It is crucial: Bitdefender Free only detected 91/100 threats, as it uses a different approach to dealing with phishing.
Firewall Web Protection
It’s hard to imagine a modern-day anti-malware program without a firewall. The one included with Bitdefender is pretty much the same as in other popular antivirus solutions. It works 24/7 in a fully automatic mode and blocks all incoming attacks when you’re online. Plus, it decides which apps are safe and can be allowed to connect to the Internet and which aren’t.
What’s more interesting is the Network Threat Prevention (NTP) module. It works alongside OTP, but, in many ways, it acts as an advanced firewall. It has only one job: to find vulnerabilities and security “holes” in the OS and the various apps installed on the user’s device.
Exploit protection is more of a nice addition to an antivirus suite, rather than an essential component. With that said, while Bitdefender blocked only 45% of our planted samples, Norton, the leader, managed to detect up to 85%.
This module does exactly what its name suggests. It filters spam, keeping any potentially malicious email and attachments away from the user. It isn’t a particularly advanced feature and only provides basic protection. Still, during our tests, we were impressed by its effectiveness: the spam filter blocked more than 90% of the planted samples.
As for the percentage of false positives, it only flagged one percent of legit emails, which is a reliable result. The good news is – you don’t have to do anything for this filter to work. It’s automatically enabled in Bitdefender and is active 24/7. You can create blacklists and whitelists, mark specific types of email, and “fine-tune” the module to your liking. While that’s not very impressive in terms of the feature set, as we just said, the detection rate is well above average.
Bitdefender Webcam Protection and Microphone Filter
In 2020, webcam hijacking is one of the biggest threats. By accessing the webcam on your notebook, tablet, or phone, criminals can watch you from the other side without you even knowing it. Bitdefender’s Webcam Protection module determines which apps on the OS can have access to the webcam. The user can choose to block specific programs, browsers, and even turn off the camera for good.
It is how it works: whenever an app that doesn’t have permission to access the webcam attempts to do that, Bitdefender instantly notifies you. As for the Microphone Filter, it works similarly but is focused on the microphone rather than the camera. Sadly, the level of control is much lower: you only get alerts and can’t set up any rules. But, since most rivals don’t have any filters for the mic, this feature deserves our praise.
These tools have only one task: to protect your kids from accessing explicit content on the Internet. Bitdefender’s Parental Control includes a reasonable line-up of features for monitoring (and controlling) what your child can see online. Restricting app use is one of the most useful features. Plus, you can block websites by content, turn off various devices (like a Smartphone), and set up daily limits of device use.
All this is done with a couple of clicks. You don’t have to be an expert to activate Parental Controls. The mobile app for Android allows parents to monitor who the children communicate with through SMS messages and calls. Blocking calls is also an option. The app leaves a lot to be desired, though: most of the time, it doesn’t work properly and sets the wrong blocks and limitations.
So, be careful with the Bitdefender antivirus Parental Controls, because during our review, it blocked a test phone, and we couldn’t even turn it back on. Premium, the higher tier, includes cyberbullying detection, address request, and other extras. But, again, it’s a faulty feature.
Bitdefender’s Wallet is good at storing passwords, logins, sensitive data, and credit card credentials. Plus, it’s capable of linking and syncing these passwords, allowing you to access your accounts through any device quickly. Over the last couple of years, the Wallet hasn’t changed. It still can’t work with 2-page login systems and isn’t as impressive as some rivaling password manager tools.
Yet, as an entry-level module, it’s quite useful and easy to use. And, when you create a new account, Wallet’s password generator can quickly generate a strong (15-character) password which includes numbers and letters. Enabling special characters will make the password even more reliable. The lack of 2-factor authentication, automatic password updates, and secure credentials sharing still makes it a below-average manager.
A Virtual Private Network is a secure server that you can connect to and turn into a digital shadow. When activated, a VPN prevents government agents, hackers, and even the ISP from monitoring your activity on the Internet. While Bitdefender’s VPN isn’t nearly as good as ExpressVPN or CyberGhost, as a part of the antivirus suite, it’s pretty decent.
With it, you can watch your favorite shows on various streaming platforms, download torrents, and unblock access to geo-restricted websites. The highest Bitdefender tier provides unlimited VPN use. The less expensive tiers limit traffic to 200MB data per day, which is better than what most rivals offer.
Anti-Tracker is a browser extension, and it’s available not only for Chrome but also for the Internet Explorer and Firefox. Whenever you visit a website that’s filled with various trackers, Anti-Tracker warns you about them in the top right corner. You can see the exact number of ad trackers (the same is true for Avast’s Online Security).
The built-in Do-Not-Track module automatically blocks every single tracker it detects – that’s what it does by default. But, you can always change the settings and, say, prevent it from disabling specific ad categories. As mentioned, the Anti-Tracker is very similar to other browser extensions and is on par with all of them. A quick note: while some ads are known to be harmless, most of them are just annoying and increase web page load times.
Safe Files – Ransomware Protection
By encrypting essential files on your device, ransomware demands payment for decryption. Otherwise, your work will be paralyzed, and you won’t be able to access those files (or even the OS as a whole). Safe Files, Bitdefender’s ransomware protection module, blocks any unauthorized modifications of data, apps, and folders in the most vulnerable places. Those include Documents, Videos, and Pictures.
With it, you can hand-pick additional locations that should be protected. Whenever an unknown and potentially malicious program attempts to modify a file/folder under this module’s protection, Safe Files instantly alerts the user. Ransomware Remediation, a brand-new Bitdefender feature, automatically creates backups of important files at the hint of a potential attack.
Sadly, while the multi-layered anti-ransomware approach is quite effective, it’s not as good as, say, the Trend Micro module. In our extensive tests, Safe Files failed to detect Petya and other emerging threats.
Bitdefender SafePay – Online Banking Protection
SafePay is a highly secure desktop that automatically launches when you connect to a banking site. It is very similar to Bank Mode (Kaspersky) and provides an additional layer of protection. Password, login, and credit card number theft is a big threat in 2020. That is why you should always use safe environments like SafePay when logging into your accounts.
Of course, it includes a safe browser, and all operations run through it. The desktop doesn’t have any connections to your actual desktop – that provides brick-strong protection against keyloggers. On top of that, SafePay has a virtual keyboard that makes it almost impossible for keystroke-stealing malwareto interfere with your online banking.
We also recommend running the VPN whenever you activate SafePay for enhanced protection. You can never be too careful during online banking.
Bitdefender Lab Tests
If you’re looking for flawless protection against modern-day threats, go for Kaspersky, Norton, or Trend Micro. As we said earlier in this Bitdefender review, it lags behind the leaders in terms of malware protection but is still a reliable option. For example, in the most recent AV-Test evaluation, it managed to detect 100% of the widespread malware. In the zero-day attacks test, however, it only detected 98.8% of the threats.
Bitdefender also had three false positives. While this isn’t a horrible result, compared to the leaders, it’s not as good (they didn’t have one single false flag). In the AV-Comparatives test, Bitdefender successfully detected and eliminated 99.99% of the planted malicious samples. It is very close to the Kaspersky result (100%) and better than Norton and Trend Micro (99.6%).
Our team of experts also ran a series of tests and confirmed that while this is a top-10 antivirus solution, it’s not the best pick on the market.
Bitdefender Products: How Much Does Bitdefender Cost?
Along with malware protection and the feature set, the cost of an antivirus is the #1 concern for the average user. Bitdefender is not the most affordable solution on the market. At the same time, it’s more reasonably priced than many rivaling products. Let us take a look at the current price-tags for all the available Bitdefender packages:
|3 Devices||5 Devices||10 Devices|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Plus||$29.99||$69.99||$79.99|
|Bitdefender Internet Security||$39.98||$41.99||$89.99|
|Bitdefender Total Security||Not available||$44.99||$99.99|
We highly recommend checking the prices on the official website before committing to any of these packages. The reason – antivirus companies constantly change their pricing policies. Plus, you might get lucky and get a discount, like a 50% off deal for the first year of subscription.
Bitdefender Free Version
With the free edition of the Bitdefender antivirus, you get core protection against malware and automatic updates. That makes it one of the most modest free antivirus products on the market. For example, Kaspersky free also includes Secure Connection (the company’s VPN), password management, security alerts, and account check.
It’s important to say that Bitdefender free is only available for the Windows OS. The Mac users can only expect a virus scanner that scans hand-picked files/folders as well as the entire OS. The Android app is a bit more advanced and, along with malware protection, also provides cloud scanning. Still, compared to the Win edition, it’s not nearly as effective.
On the bright side, Bitdefender offers free trials of every single paid package. Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, Total Security, and Premium Security are available with a 30-day free trial. It is more than enough time to test the product(s) on your device and see whether you want to upgrade or not. Overall, Bitdefender free is a good starting point before you upgrade, but it lags behind Kaspersky, Avast, and other leading products.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
It is the entry-level paid Bitdefender package, and with it, the company offers a rather limited list of essential features. The biggest downside of this package – it’s only available for the Windows OS, just like the free edition. It’s relatively affordable, but, compared to similarly-priced products, is a bit less feature-packed.
Here is what Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is good for:
- Real-time protection – prevents malware of all kinds from infecting your device. The antivirus engine works 24/7, offers decent protection against ransomware.
- SOB (Safe Online Banking) – a safe environment that prevents cybercriminals from stealing your credentials. We’re talking about banking information (like login-password for your bank account) that hackers steal and get access to your money/sensitive data. SOB works effectively against keyloggers and, well, allows for safe banking online.
- Password Manager – safe storage for all your passwords and logins. Apart from linking and syncing all your credentials, it also helps to come up with hard-to-crack passwords.
- VPN (limited) – a Virtual Private Network for hiding your online activity. With Antivirus Plus, VPN usage is limited to 200MB per day. Yes, this isn’t enough for torrenting or watching shows on streaming platforms (like Netflix). However, for online transactions, the 200MB limit will be more than enough. We highly recommend activating the VPN when using a public network, as it’s good for Wi-Fi security.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2020
The second tier is more feature-packed, and, according to official statistics, is one of the most popular Bitdefender packages. Still, even though it’s a paid package, Internet Security is not available on Mac, iOS, or Android (just like Antivirus Plus). The only supported platform is Microsoft’s Windows, which puts Bitdefender well behind competitors like Kaspersky, Norton, Avast, and others.
As for the extra features, here’s the full list:
- Parental Controls – as mentioned earlier, these tools are used to control and limit the content that’s available on your kids’ devices. For keeping tabs on their activity online, limiting their device use, and blocking certain websites and programs (apps), the Bitdefender parental controls are a good pick.
- Firewall – network traffic filtration. The firewall controls which apps get access to the network and looks for any holes in the operating system (or the network) that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
- Webcam + Microphone Protection – no modern-day user wants third parties to watch him/her through the webcam or to eavesdrop on private conversations. That’s why this webcam-mic protection module is so important. It allows you to hand-pick which apps can access the webcam and the mic and even turn off these devices completely.
- File Encryption – an extra layer of security for the most critical files and folders.
- File Shredder – perfect for getting rid of unwanted files for good.
Bitdefender Total Security 2020
Moving up the “package ladder,” we have Bitdefender Total Security, a product that can cover every single device you own. Compared to Antivirus Plus and Internet Security, TS has one big advantage – it’s fully compatible not only with Win, but also Mac, Android, and iOS. It includes all the features from the previous packages and adds four extras.
The Total Security users get access to the following modules:
- BTD (Behavioral Threat Detection) – real-time monitoring of all active programs on the OS. Whenever something unusual/suspicious starts to happen, BTD takes immediate action.
- Anti-Theft – allows you to lock a stolen/lost device remotely. It also helps to trace the device and to find it before the thieves manage to steal anything important.
- One-Click Optimizer – Bitdefender’s tune-up tool. It boosts overall system performance and gets rid of unnecessary junk.
- Photon – an advanced optimization tool that further improves performance and frees up RAM and CPU power.
Bitdefender Premium Security 2020
The most expensive tier in Bitdefender’s line-up covers ten simultaneous connections and includes every single feature available with the previous packages. However, unless you own this many devices and need every unique extra feature, Premium Security might not be the best pick for you. Regardless, it’s a good deal, and, with it, you’ll get:
Priority Support – self-explanatory: whenever you contact customer service, your request will be prioritized over the regular users. It is true not only for phone support but also for the ticket system. User prioritization based on the packages isn’t exclusive to Bitdefender, by the way.
Unlimited VPN Usage – Premium Security doesn’t have a daily limit on VPN traffic usage. That means you can freely download as many torrents as you want and stream movies and TV series on your favorite device.
Bitdefender for Mac
For the Mac users, Bitdefender offers three packages to choose from (as opposed to four packaged with Windows). Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, the entry-level plan, costs the same as Bitdefender Antivirus Plus for Windows. And, it’s only available for macOS. With it, you’ll get comprehensive protection against Mac-unique malware, adware, and spyware.
Add protection for online banking, protection of backed-up sensitive files, and a low system impact, and you’ll get a decent product. Internet Security is not available for Macs. A for Total Security and Premium Security, while they are priced the same, they’re not as feature-packed for Mac as they are for Windows.
The following list includes every single feature available for the macOS:
- Malware protection
- Phishing protection
- Network security
- Safe Files – Bitdefender’s ransomware protection module
- Traffic Light (browser extension that filters out potentially dangerous content. Implements AI that scans all links before the user follows them)
- Ad-blocking (self-explanatory: keeps ad pop-ups at bay. This module also battles hijackers and toolbars, thus optimizing browser performance)
- Parental controls
- VPN (data cap depending on the package)
- Time Machine Protection (prevents malicious files from encrypting sensitive data)
- Advanced file encryption
- Password manager
- Bitdefender Internet Shield (takes care of all the security processes without the user’s involvement. Automatic detection and elimination of potential threats)
- Autopilot (a smart security advisor, a module that consults the user on security measures, helping them to stay safe while surfing the web)
As mentioned, even if you pick the most advanced Bitdefender tier – Premium Security – you won’t get as many features as with Windows. Those extras include webcam/mic protection, Photon, OneClick Optimizer, social network protection, and more.
Bitdefender for Business
Bitdefender is available not only for home users but also for businesses, both small and medium-sized. The business solution is called GravityZone, and it can be hosted by Bitdefender, as well as installed locally. No matter which package you choose, multi-layered protection, anti-ransomware, and machine learning will be a part of the deal.
Heuristics, anti-exploit modules, device control features, and a powerful firewall are even more GravityZone standout features. Overall, there are six plans to choose from. Those include:
- Business Security.The entry-level package is perfect for small businesses that are looking for a simple, yet affordable solution for their companies.
- Advanced Business Security.Owners of mid-sized businesses should pick Advanced Business Security over the regular package. It provides more security features and is, overall, more reliable.
- Elite Security.If you’re dealing with high-level threats and want to protect your enterprise, Elite’s aggressive (and highly effective) approach may earn your trust.
- Ultra Security.It is an integrated endpoint protection and EDR platform designed for modern-day businesses. Much like Elite, this package aims at detecting and eliminating sophisticated threats.
- Enterprise Security.Larger organizations should pick Enterprise Security over the other plans. It’s a flexible product, meaning you can add new features whenever you want.
- Cloud Security for MSPs.Remote protection of multiple devices (customers) from one single console – that’s what MSP specializes in.
Ease of Use
Below-average system impact, relatively fast scans, and a user-friendly interface – that’s Bitdefender in a nutshell for you. Every single important feature is within reach, and it takes one-two clicks to activate/deactivate an option. There’s a green shield with a white mark in the middle of the Bitdefender central dashboard, which means the system is secure.
Quick scans, the VPN, and SafePay are always on the main screen. All the other important settings are located on the left side in Protection, Privacy, and Utility. In our passive-performance loss test, Bitdefender slowed down the CPU by 15%, which is a better result than, say, Kaspersky’s 18%. During a full scan, we registered an 18% drop in performance, which, again, is a very good result.
For example, the Kaspersky full scans have an over 50% negative effect on the CPU. McAfee’s Total Protection, in turn, has the lowest overall system impact and slowed down performance by +/-10%. With Bitdefender, a quick scan takes 2-3 minutes to complete. Full scans are also impressively fast: the initial scan takes 15-20 minutes. Consecutive checks take even less time.
Bitdefender for Mobile Protection (for Android and iOS)
Owners of Android phones/tablets will be pleased to learn that Bitdefender Mobile Security for Android will cost them only 15 dollars a year. To run it, you’ll need a device compatible with Android 4.1 or higher. Here’s what it has to offer:
- Remote location/lock/wipe of an Android device.It is very useful in the case of a lost or stolen gadget. By locking it, you’ll protect sensitive data on the OS and prevent the thieves from stealing your passwords/logins.
- Secure VPN.It comes with the same 200MB/day limit. It’s possible to upgrade to Premium VPN – that’ll cost $39.99 a year.
- Account Privacy.Checks your email address (account) for breaches and sends alerts whenever suspicious activity is detected.
- Low Battery Impact.Self-explanatory: optimizes battery performance.
- Web Protection.
As for the iOS edition, it costs the same ($15 per year) but is a bit different. The list of available features includes:
- Web protection
- Secure VPN(only 200 megabytes per day)
- Account breach check
- Full iPad support
- To run it, you’ll need iOS 11.2or higher
Regardless of the Bitdefender package, the company provides free access to 24/7 support. Customer service is available through phone calls, emails, and, most importantly, an online chat form. It doesn’t take the technical agents for more than 24 hours to send a response. During our test, the average time it took them to hit us back was 15 hours, which is quite impressive.
And if you want to cut the standby time to one-two hours, upgrade to Premium Security – the most expensive tier. As mentioned earlier, it grants priority support. On the official website, Bitdefender includes an extensive FAQ section, full guides on installation and product use, as well as a forum. There are even how-to videos that explain all the important functions/procedures in a friendly manner. Overall, Bitdefender’s customer support is well above average.
Guide: Bitdefender Installation and Setup
The installation process is very user-friendly and straightforward. Here’s what you have to do:
- First of all, pick a package that you like from the official website.
- Next, choose a payment method (Credit Card, PayPal, or 7-Eleven/ACE).
- Once you’re through with payment, you can download the installation file.
- We recommend downloading the free trial and only paying for a package once the trial is over.
- Installation doesn’t take long. We tested it on several different devices and operating systems. On average, Bitdefender takes less than 10 minutes to install.
- The company requires its clients to create an account, but it only takes one minute to go through with that.
- To activate the product, all you have to do is enter the code that you received on your email – that’s it.
- After the software is installed, you’ll be welcomed by the main dashboard.
- The antivirus starts to work automatically, meaning you won’t have to set anything up manually for it to be effective against malware.
Bitdefender Antivirus Alternatives & Competitors
This is it for our Bitdefender review! Last but not least, we recommend comparing it to other antivirus products to see whether Bitdefender is the best option for you or not:
Bitdefender is a top-10 antivirus product that’s fully compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. It offers a free edition, as well as four paid packages (each available with a free 30-day trial). Bitdefender is user-friendly, strong against malware, ransomware, and phishing, and has a decent list of features. It’s not as reliable as the leaders, but still good enough.
Yes, it constantly achieves high ratings and earns prestigious awards in various third-party lab tests. The most respected testers, including AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, always include it in their thorough tests. Bitdefender isn’t as safe as Kaspersky or Norton but is more reliable than most rivaling products.
Yes, it is available as a free product, but the free edition is heavily limited. It only provides basic anti-malware protection and doesn’t include any additional features. Compared to Avast free, it is not nearly as feature-packed or effective against modern-day threats.
It depends on the package. You can get Antivirus Plus, the entry-level tier, for as low as $19.99. That will cover one single Windows-run device for 12 months. As for the most expensive package, Premium Security, it can be yours for $89.99 and will protect up to ten devices. That’s the price for the first year; the second year is almost twice as expensive ($149.99).