Bitdefender may not be as well-known as some of the market veterans, but experts love it – and with good reason.
This Romanian tool is one of the best, most comprehensive pieces of antivirus software on the market today. Why? Well, Bitdefender often gets praised for its performance and efficient malware removal. It offers great real-time protection, includes lots of extra security features like Anti-Phishing and a spam filter, and even includes a built-in VPN. And the cherry on top? Bitdefender has a free version that does its job really well.
Yet with so many choices out there, you might still wonder whether this service is worth your time. In this Bitdefender review, I’ll go through their security features, pricing options, ease of use, apps, and customer support experience to help you decide whether this is the right antivirus for the job.
Table of Contents
Is Bitdefender safe?
Bitdefender is a safe antimalware application. Actually, it’s at the top of the world of antivirus software. It even won the AV-Comparatives’ Product of the Year award four times in total – more than any other antivirus program.
Awards aside, let’ take a look at the most recent Bitdefender virus detection rates. According to AV-Comparatives, Bitdefender blocked 100% of threats during the testing period of September-October 2020. This included both 0-day and 4-week old malware and viruses. It also scored a maximum of 6 points in terms of speed.
With results like these, you can be sure that Bitdefender will take care of anything that may cause threat to your device.
Bitdefender security features
Whether you’re using the free or paid version, Bitdefender uses the same malware database to identify potential threats. So, whichever edition you pick, you’ll get the same excellent level of malware removal. However, there are additional subscription benefits to consider. Here are some that are worth a separate mention.
Advanced Threat Defense
Bitdefender is calling their real-time monitoring Advanced Threat Defense. It uses heuristic methods to monitor all processes running on the device. Each function is evaluated according to several criteria. The basis for ranking is made possible with the collaboration of Bitdefender’s Global Protective Network – one of the world’s largest security delivery infrastructures, monitoring 500 million machines and extracting new malware models.
With the Global Protective Network, every process can be evaluated efficiently and accurately, ensuring that you have protection against very recent or poorly documented threats. Whenever a malicious process is blocked, you’ll be asked whether you want to allow it or put it in quarantine.
As you may have heard, ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts your files and asks for a ransom to decrypt them. It’s an extremely dangerous threat if it passes your antivirus security undetected. As a solution, Bitdefender created their Ransomware mitigation feature, which was previously called Safe Files.
It creates a backup of your files (like documents, images, music, and videos) so that they wouldn’t be affected in case of a ransomware attack. Bitdefender also detects when ransomware is trying to encrypt files, blocking all malicious processes.
Even though it’s not always possible to remove the ransomware encryption, the encrypted files can always be replaced with the prepared backup. That way, you don’t have to worry about potentially losing important documents or other sensitive data.
Although this feature sounds quite self-explanatory, it’s a bit more complicated than it would seem. This feature is designed to work with any mailbox, providing active protection for the whole email channel. To achieve that, it uses a Whitelist, a heuristic filter, and learning modules.
For each received email, Bitdefender performs a heuristic analysis investigating the message contents, the header, and metadata. It’s done to find particular telltale spam characteristics. You can even toggle blocks for emails encoded in Cyrillic or Asian characters.
The learning module works in conjunction with this filter, gathering statistical information about the frequency of genuine emails and spam messages. With proper adaptation, this module can detect spam messages faster than any trained cybersecurity expert.
The last of the triad is whitelister. It continually refreshes data about known spammer domains and blocks them before they get to your inbox.
Online shopping is not only a convenient way to get parcels shipped to your door. It’s also a window of opportunity for cybercriminals. For this reason, Bitdefender implemented a SafePay feature on its paid editions that aims to protect you when making online purchases.
It’s designed to work with banking and online shopping sites in mind, but any website can be opened via this browser. It creates a sandbox that acts separately from your other installed web browsers, making it unaffected by the malware that could be present on your regular browser. It also adds a virtual keyboard so that your keystrokes couldn’t be registered by malware, and checks whether your connected wifi network is secure.
SafePay also offers some quality of life features, like integration with Bitdefender’s password manager, bookmarks, and tab view. With it, you can be calm that you’re visiting genuine websites which won’t steal your credit card information.
It’s no secret that most websites are tracking every click you make via third-party scripts, cookies, and other adtech marvels. Bitdefender Anti-Tracker is a solution available to premium users who want to stop excessive tracking carried out by web services.
Anti-tracker is an add-on that you can set up on Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. Once enabled, it will stop malicious scripts from harvesting your data when you’re surfing the web. Also, you can manage which tracking categories you would like to allow or disable. For example, you might be OK with website analytics but against ads or social media tracking. You can customize this add-on in a way that works for you, and it quite significantly reduces the load time of all websites.
Microphone and webcam protection
Although the feature is called Webcam Filter, this is only partially accurate. This is because it makes sure that there is no unauthorized access to your camera and microphone. Even though it’s pretty easy to stick duct tape on top of your built-in webcam, it’s much harder to silence the microphone, which could be just as dangerous.
Webcam Filter will notify you each time a new app tries to access your built-in camera or microphone. There’s only a handful of apps for video calls, making every other permission a potential threat. With Webcam Filter enabled, you can be sure that your device won’t be spying on you via video or audio. Sadly, the feature is only available only for paying users.
Microphone and webcam protection
One of the key differences compared to many other antivirus service providers is that Bitdefender offers a VPN as part of the app. This is really generous because some antiviruses charge an additional fee for their VPNs or add them as additional products when buying the most expensive packages.
Bitdefender Premium VPN is quite a good tool. It offers 1,300 servers in more than 45 countries and unblocks Netflix US as well as a few other streaming services. The VPN also has a kill switch, which will disable your Internet traffic if your connection to the VPN servers is disrupted.
You can also set the app to auto-connect when you switch to a public wifi network or when you visit specific websites. Bitdefender Premium VPN also offers split tunneling, which allows you to exclude the websites of your choice from the VPN traffic.
However, the feature itself is quite restrictive. If you purchase the cheaper plans of Bitdefender antivirus, you’ll get only 200 MB of data per day. However, if you buy the VPN separately or get a pricier plan of the antivirus suite, you’ll get unlimited data.
Plans and pricing
Bitdefender comes in four editions: Free, Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, and Total Security. Although the premium packages are somewhat pricy, Bitdefender does everything to give you a taste of what you’re getting.
Not only does Bitdefender have a free version, but the paid offers also come with a 30-day trial that doesn’t require you to enter any financial details. This is quite generous on the antivirus market.
Which Bitdefender plan to choose?
If you don’t need too many extra features, Bitdefender’s free version is more than enough. In fact, it’s so good it could rival some paid-only antivirus providers. It’s available for Windows, macOS, and Android, and the malware scanning capabilities are identical to the paid editions.
However, you might consider getting the Internet Security suite if you want more features targeted toward protecting your life online. This version adds a firewall, the Parental Control feature, ransomware protection, as well as webcam and microphone protection.
Now, if you’re torn between Antivirus Plus and Total Security, here is the main difference. Total Security offers all the features of Bitdefender, while Antivirus Plus lacks a firewall, the device optimizer, and the parental controls feature.
Also, Total Security is the only version that supports all the operating systems. Internet Security and Antivirus Plus work only on Windows.
I had some questions about feature availability, so I decided to contact their customer support via live chat. I didn’t wait too long before being greeted by a support agent. They quickly answered all my questions. The best thing is that Bitdefender is not treating it as a premium feature because it isn’t. You can get help whether you’re a free or paying user.
To make their work easier, Bitdefender also has a vast collection of FAQs, guides, and other information on the support website. So, while you’re waiting in line, it might not hurt to check there. You might resolve your issue before your turn comes.
If you prefer other methods, you can call them via phone and contact them via email. Whichever way is the most convenient for you, you have options there. Customer support alone makes this service an easy recommendation.
In case reading the whole Bitdefender review seems like too much work (and I don’t blame you for that!), you can watch our video review instead. In less than 8 minutes, you’ll hear all the information you need to know before getting this security tool.