Bitdefender Review: Quick Expert Summary
Bitdefender is one of my favorite antiviruses in 2023. It has all of the cybersecurity protections most users need to stay 100% safe, it’s super easy to use across all devices and operating systems, and it’s cheaper than most competing brands.
During all of my tests, Bitdefender had excellent results against all types of malware samples, and thanks to its cloud-based antivirus engine, it didn’t slow down my computer during full system scans (unlike most antiviruses). It also has some of the best web protections on the market, detecting more dangerous sites than the built-in protections of Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
In addition, Bitdefender has more security features than almost all other brands:
- Advanced ransomware protection.
- System optimization.
- Secure web browser for safe online payments.
- Password manager.
- VPN (virtual private network).
- Parental controls.
- Webcam and microphone protection.
- Anti-theft protection for Windows and Android.
- And a lot more…
Most of Bitdefender’s features work great — the system optimization tools cleared up a lot of space on my PC and improved my device’s performance, the VPN is comparable in speed and performance to standalone VPNs, and the parental controls are highly customizable and even include location tracking and geofencing. I also think it’s amazing that Bitdefender’s anti-theft protection works on Windows devices – most competitors like Avira offer anti-theft on mobile devices only.
But as much as I like Bitdefender, I can’t say it’s without flaws. Its password manager may be too basic for some users, lacking features like emergency access and password sharing. And the VPN that comes bundled with most of Bitdefender’s plans only lets you use 200 MB of data per day, which is barely enough for web browsing.
That said, the VPN with unlimited data is available on Bitdefender’s top-tier Premium Security plan (or you can get it as an add-on to any of the other plans). And even if you upgrade to the most expensive plan with the unlimited VPN (and coverage for up to 5 devices), Bitdefender still offers excellent value (and it’s cheaper than most brands with fewer features).
Overall, Bitdefender is one of the best internet security products around. It’s got unbeatable malware protection, provides lots of really good features, is easy to use, and offers affordable plans for all budgets. And all of Bitdefender’s packages come with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no harm in trying it out.
|🏅 Overall Rank||#2 out of 74 antiviruses|
|🔍 Malware Test Results||Excellent|
|🎁 Free Plan||✅|
|💸 Pricing||Starting at $17.49/year|
|💰 Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
|📀 Operating Systems||Windows, Android, Mac, iOS|
Bitdefender Full Review
Bitdefender provides cutting-edge internet security for a great value. Its cloud-based scanner uses machine learning along with traditional signature-based scanning to provide excellent malware detection. It also provides great web protection, a fast VPN, comprehensive system tune-up tools, a secure browser, and some of the best parental controls on the market today (along with several more additional protections).
Alongside free versions for Windows and Mac, Bitdefender offers several premium plans — Antivirus Plus is a good entry-level antivirus for users looking to protect up to 3 Windows PCs, Internet Security adds parental controls and is a great mid-range option for families, Total Security is an excellent value for users looking to protect up to 5 Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, and Premium Security is the best-value package for those who want all of Bitdefender’s features, plus the VPN with no limitations. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of Bitdefender’s plans.
Bitdefender Security Features
On-Demand Virus Scanner
Bitdefender’s antivirus scanner is both thorough and lightweight. It uses a huge malware directory and machine learning to detect both known and emerging malware. And because most of the malware scanning takes place in the cloud, Bitdefender’s antivirus engine only takes up a fraction of CPU and disk space during scans.
There are 4 types of scans:
- Quick Scan. A lightweight scan to detect and remove malware in running processes.
- System Scan. An in-depth analysis and scan of the entire system for malware and vulnerabilities.
- Custom Scan. Scanning in any system location where there might be potential threats.
- Vulnerability Scan. Scanning for privacy risks in application settings as well as critical software updates.
The virus scanner caught all malware samples on my test machine. I tested the scanner by hiding nearly 1,000 malware samples throughout my virtual Windows computer, including viruses, worms, trojans, adware, spyware, rootkits, ransomware, cryptojackers, and keyloggers.
The full system scan took just under 1 hour to complete — this is comparable to top competitors such as Norton and Avira whose scans take around 45 minutes to complete. However, unlike most competitors, Bitdefender has a minimal impact on system performance. I didn’t notice any slowdown on my system throughout the entire scanning process — even other premium competitors like McAfee cause some slowdown during full system scans.
Bitdefender also lets users schedule scans — you can choose between several scheduling options, including at system startup, daily, weekly, and monthly. However, users can only schedule custom scans — Norton and TotalAV both provide easy, one-click scan scheduling for all types of scans.
Overall, Bitdefender’s malware scanner is one of the best on the market — it’s fast, it doesn’t cause slowdowns, and it has perfect malware detection rates. If you’re looking for a lightweight, powerful antivirus scanner, Bitdefender is an excellent choice.
Unsurprisingly, Bitdefender’s real-time protection (Bitdefender Shield) is excellent. It actively scans every file and email attachment the moment you access them. Bitdefender Shield’s default settings include the following scans:
- Potentially unwanted applications. Software that hides inside other applications (usually bundled freeware).
- Network shares. Issues in remote networks on your device.
- Boot sectors. Issues that may change the boot sequence.
- Only new and modified files. Threats that may hide in new and changed files.
- Keyloggers. Malware that captures keystrokes.
- And more…
These default protections are good enough for most users. However, advanced users can customize real-time settings to also include applications, scripts, and archives. Advanced users can also choose to exclude any of the options mentioned above.
Bitdefender’s real-time protection blocked every single malware file before I could download it. For my testing, I downloaded around 100 infected .exe samples, .txt files, and .rar files (compressed folders), and I also ran network-based attacks from my Android and another PC. Bitdefender Shield removed all the files the moment it detected them, placing them in my antivirus’s quarantine folder.
Overall, I’m really impressed by Bitdefender’s real-time protection. Some competitors, such as Norton, provide similar real-time malware detection rates, but Bitdefender provides the best customization options on the market for its real-time scanner.
Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection has perfect detection scores. Whenever you visit a website, Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection compares it against a regularly updated database of millions of dangerous, blacklisted sites. If there’s a match, Bitdefender blocks access to the site. I tested Bitdefender’s anti-phishing protection with a huge directory of phishing sites — Bitdefender blocked all of the dangerous website samples I tried to access. Chrome, Firefox, and even third-party anti-phishing tools from competitors like Panda and Kaspersky failed to detect as many suspicious sites as Bitdefender.
What’s more, Bitdefender features a convenient notification screen so you can see which websites it has blocked and why. This makes it easy to permanently add a false positive to Bitdefender’s exception list. Whitelisting sites can be done in one click, whereas other antiviruses such as Norton require you to dig through settings and advanced protocols to whitelist safe sites. However, keep in mind that you should only whitelist sites if you are absolutely certain that they’re legitimate and don’t contain malware.
Bitdefender’s web protection also prevents you from accessing dangerous webpages — and it checks search results for dangerous sites, scans encrypted websites, and checks sites for fraudulent content.
Overall, Bitdefender provides exceptional anti-phishing protection as well as protection against a wide range of other web-based threats. In addition to blocking more phishing sites than most competitors, Bitdefender also makes it easy to whitelist websites and adjust web protection settings.
Bitdefender offers a highly customizable firewall that monitors your in- and outbound network traffic, stopping cybercriminals from infiltrating your Wi-Fi network and spreading malware.
The firewall comes with various useful features. For example, it offers port scan protection, a passive detection mode, and a stealth mode. Most of these features work well and are excellent for advanced users. However, beginner users can simply leave Bitdefender’s firewall running out-of-the box, and it’ll still offer more protection than the default firewalls built-into Windows and Mac.
To test Bitdefender’s firewall, I ran several simulated network attacks against my system, and Bitdefender blocked the majority of them. I also used an online port scanner to scan my service ports, and the scanner couldn’t access or get information from any of them. In other words, if hackers tried probing my network for vulnerabilities, my computer would simply ignore their attempts and not show them any information.
Bitdefender’s firewall handles applications in one of 3 ways when they attempt to gain access to your network:
- Automatic — Bitdefender automatically makes a decision on whether to allow or block the application.
- Allow — Bitdefender lets any applications it detects connect to the internet.
- Block — Bitdefender blocks every application it detects from connecting to the internet.
By default, Bitdefender’s firewall is set to “Automatic” mode, which I think is the best option. If you have the Firewall set to “Allow” mode, you risk letting malicious programs connect to the internet, and “Block” mode is only helpful if you have an active malware threat that you don’t want to spread online.
There’s also a separate switch that puts Bitdefender’s firewall into “Alert” mode. In this mode, Bitdefender will issue a pop-up every time it detects a new application trying to connect to the internet. Honestly, I wasn’t super impressed with this feature. It’s helpful if you want to make your own decisions for each application, but it quickly got annoying and I often couldn’t tell which application Bitdefender was referring to.
I prefer how AVG shows an entire window when asking permission for an app to connect to the internet. This lets you see the full application path, and even the application’s icon, making it super easy to recognize. That said, Bitdefender makes it simple to create your own firewall rules for individual applications. You simply navigate to the Rules tab on the firewall, click Add Rule, and browse for the program you want to make a custom rule for before setting its permissions.
Finally, Bitdefender’s Stealth Mode makes your computer invisible to other computers and devices inside and outside your network. In short, with Stealth Mode enabled, wireless printers, phones, and internet of things (IoT) devices shouldn’t be able to communicate with your computer — however, it didn’t work very well in my tests. For example, with Stealth Mode enabled, I could still send documents to my wireless printer. I also tried watching films on my TV through Plex (while my computer hosted the Plex server), and I didn’t have any problems in doing so.
Overall, however, Bitdefender’s firewall works really well. It successfully blocked network-based malware attacks, it’s easy to use and customize, and it offers more protections than the default firewalls built into Windows and Mac.
Bitdefender’s OneClick Optimizer is a basic but useful tool for freeing up disk space on your computer. It scans your system and removes unnecessary files from your device — but it’s pretty minimal when compared to competitors like Avira.
Bitdefender basically removes a variety of junk files, including:
- Temporary system files.
- Windows junk files.
- Recycle bin files.
- Broken registry items.
- Browser history.
Bitdefender managed to free up a total of 1.3 GB from my PC, which is really good. Some competitors that have a better assortment of system tune-up tools weren’t as effective at making room on my disk!
However, Bitdefender’s tuneup tool has some annoying limitations — for example, before clicking Optimize, Bitdefender recommended that I review the issues it had flagged. But Bitdefender didn’t let me view the details about those issues. For example, it flagged one broken software location in my registry, yet it wouldn’t let me see the file name or date. This was frustrating because I wanted to know what I was deleting, not just the location of the file in question.
I’d also like to see more features included in Bitdefender’s system tuneup tool. For example, Avira offers a startup optimizer, game booster, driver updater, and battery usage manager, and TotalAV’s built-in optimizer includes a startup manager, an application uninstaller, and a duplicate file finder.
That said, after running Bitdefender’s one-click optimization, I noticed a speed increase on my PC. This simple one-click method for freeing up space does have some limitations, and it’s missing some features that competitors provide. But overall, it’s very convenient and does a good job.
Secure Web Browser (Safepay)
Bitdefender’s secure web browser, Safepay, keeps hackers from stealing your personal information when making online transactions. Here are the main benefits of using Safepay:
- Prevents hackers from remotely accessing your desktop.
- Stops you from taking snapshots of your screen.
- Utilizes Bitdefender’s password manager to protect your passwords.
- Emulates a virtual keyboard to prevent keystroke tracking.
- Turns on built-in VPN protection (200 MB daily limit).
During testing, Safepay worked really well. I wanted to show off Safepay’s protections, but I couldn’t capture any screenshots due to its built-in screenshot-blocker, which is great — if you can’t screen-capture your browser, then neither can intrusive hackers! I was also unable to copy-paste my password or 2FA codes while using Safepay! The virtual keyboard popped up the moment I was asked to enter my login details, keeping keyloggers from recording my password or personal info.
But there are some minor things I don’t like about Safepay. For example, pages loaded pretty slowly, and I couldn’t stream HD video with SafePay — it’s definitely not designed to replace your web browser. That said, Safepay is faster than Kaspersky’s Safe Money browser, and for anyone that does business or shops online, it’s a really good privacy enhancement tool.
Overall, Safepay is a really good addition to Bitdefender’s already impressive web protection toolkit. If you’re looking to protect your information as much as possible during online transactions, Safepay is probably the best option around.
Bitdefender’s password manager is good — but not as good as dedicated password managers like Dashlane or 1Password. Bitdefender doesn’t provide features like two-factor authentication (2FA) or password sharing. However, it does provide the essential functions of a password manager, such as:
- High-level encryption.
- Multi-device sync.
- Password generator.
- Unlimited password storage.
- Payment information storage.
- Auto-save and auto-fill.
- Password vault auditing.
Bitdefender’s password manager comes free with Bitdefender Premium Security, but lower-tier Bitdefender plans come with a 90-day free trial of the password manager, after which you’ll have to pay an additional yearly fee.
The full-featured password manager add-on is super cheap, so if you want a simple and secure way to manage your passwords, then Bitdefender is a pretty decent option. There’s no desktop app, but there are mobile apps for Android and iOS and browser extensions for popular browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.
The password manager lets you store passwords and other information, like identities (personal information, addresses, and phone numbers), credit cards and bank accounts, email credentials, license keys and logins for software, and Wi-Fi passwords.
The auto-fill and auto-save functions worked well during my tests. By default, Bitdefender auto-filled my details without requiring any clicks, but I also had the option to disable this and manually click to auto-fill my details. The auto-save feature offered to save my login credentials whenever I logged into new sites.
Bitdefender also has a pretty good password generator that enables users to generate passwords up to 32 characters long. This is good, but top password managers like LastPass can generate passwords that are up to 99 characters long.
But what I liked most was Bitdefender’s password vault auditing tool (named Security Report), which gives users an easy-to-understand overview of their password security. It checks for weak, old, reused, and leaked passwords. While I would like to see Bitdefender include active dark web monitoring to continuously scan for leaked login credentials like Dashlane does, I still like the simplicity of Bitdefender’s Security Report feature.
Overall, Bitdefender’s password manager is intuitive and easy to set up, but it’s not quite as good as standalone password managers like 1Password or Keeper, both of which offer a wide range of additional tools like password sharing, password auditing, dark web monitoring, 2FA, biometric logins, and much more for a similar price. That said, if you get Bitdefender’s password manager as part of the Premium Security plan, it is a decent easy-to-use option for users that don’t really need an advanced password manager app.
Bitdefender’s VPN is powered by Hotspot Shield, one of the more popular VPN providers on the market. However, Bitdefender’s VPN has fewer server locations and doesn’t provide the same level of functionality as Hotspot Shield. That said, it covers all of the basics — it uses unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption, has a no-logs policy, and comes with a kill switch.
Most of Bitdefender’s plans come with a free version of this VPN, but it’s not very good. Bitdefender’s free VPN picks a random server based on your location, so you may not be able to get good speeds, and it only includes 200 MB of browsing per day — barely enough to watch a single YouTube video.
However, users get unlimited browsing data when they upgrade to Bitdefender’s Premium Security or opt for a separate VPN subscription — plus access to 4,000 servers around the world. And Bitdefender’s premium VPN has some of the best speeds of any antivirus-bundled VPN on the market — it’s even faster than some standalone competitors.
Here’s a comparison of my internet connection before and after activating Bitdefender’s VPN on a local US server:
I was impressed with the speed test results. As you can see, there wasn’t a noticeable difference in internet speed, and I had no issues browsing the web, watching videos, or torrenting files. The speeds are especially good when compared to VPNs from companies like Panda, which can cut your download speed in half and send your ping skyrocketing!
In tests, Bitdefender Premium VPN proved really good for streaming, working with major platforms in my area like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. My US colleague also confirmed Bitdefender’s VPN works with Hulu, and a colleague in the UK confirmed it works with BBC iPlayer. However, my go-to remains ExpressVPN — it works with 100+ streaming platforms, delivers ultra-fast speeds, and offers intuitive app interfaces.
Bitdefender is also great for torrenting — you can even set the VPN to auto-connect whenever you start a peer-to-peer sharing app.
I like how Bitdefender offers the WireGuard protocol, too, which is a highly secure and very fast protocol. Similarly, I found the double-hop feature to be a nice bonus — doubling up on encryption by routing my connection through 2 servers. It did cause some slowdown, though, but this is to be expected.
Overall, I like Bitdefender’s premium VPN. While it doesn’t have a lot of the features that standalone VPNs provide, Bitdefender still provides surprisingly fast connection speeds and good encrypted browsing for users who want to increase their internet security.
Bitdefender’s parental control app is available as a separate download for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. I tested the parental control app on my PC and Android. To set it up, I navigated to the Privacy tab in the desktop app, and then I clicked on Configure under Parental Advisor. This took me to Bitdefender’s online portal, Bitdefender Central, where I first had to add a child. Next, I had to install the Bitdefender parental control app on the device “my child” would be using — I had to give the app all sorts of permissions on the mobile device, but this only took a couple of minutes.
Bitdefender’s parental control app lets you manage your child’s web and device usage. You can:
- Set daily device limits (not available on iOS).
- Set device usage schedules.
- Manage (allow and block) apps.
- Whitelist and blacklist specific sites or categories of sites (not available for iOS).
- View location and set safe and restricted areas (Android and iOS only).
- View the latest phone contacts added to the contact list (Android and iOS only).
All of the features inside Bitdefender’s parental control app worked perfectly — I tested the app with a friend who tried visiting dozens of websites that belonged to the blacklisted categories, and Bitdefender’s parental control app blocked her from accessing each of those websites.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for your child to ask for access to a specific website via the app — which is the only thing I dislike about Bitdefender’s website filtering (Norton allows children to send you access requests). However, I could see how much time my friend was spending on her mobile phone, view which apps she accessed, and accurately track her location. I was impressed that I could ask my friend to send me a notification when she arrived safely at a specified location — this isn’t something that most competing antiviruses with parental controls offer!
Overall, Bitdefender’s parental controls provide some of the best protections of any parental control app out there — parents who want to make sure that their kids are as safe as possible, both online and in the real world, will find a lot of value in Bitdefender’s parental control app.
Webcam Security & Microphone Protection
Bitdefender provides additional protection for your PC webcam and microphone. These security protections stop hackers from covertly watching you through your device’s webcam and listening to your private conversations. Norton offers similar protections, but other top competitors like McAfee lack these features, so it’s great that Bitdefender includes them.
Bitdefender monitored all of the apps that attempted to access my laptop’s webcam and microphone and notified me of any suspicious or unauthorized access attempts. A notification was displayed on my screen every time an access attempt was made, enabling me to either allow or deny access.
I like how I could customize access to my webcam and mic by enabling access for apps I consider safe, like Zoom and Slack. But I could also completely block any access attempts made by my web browser, and I was also able to block access to my webcam and mic entirely, so no apps could access these features.
Overall, I really like Bitdefender’s webcam and microphone protections. They’re very easy to set up, there are useful customization options, and the popup notifications make it easy to see which apps are making access attempts.
Bitdefender’s Ransomware Remediation is designed to automatically protect your files when it detects ransomware running on your system. This feature is supposed to prevent any file encryption attempts and enable you to restore files encrypted by ransomware attacks. However, I ran some isolated ransomware simulations, and while the Ransomware Remediation was effective in most cases, it didn’t seem to correctly restore a handful of files in other instances. That said, I prefer it to Malwarebytes’s ransomware protection, which only blocked two-thirds of ransomware attacks and didn’t restore any files.
When clicking on the Restored Files button, I could see a list of all files that had supposedly been recovered, including video clips, photos, and other files, and I was able to access almost all restored files with all of the original information intact. However, a couple of files weren’t restored correctly, which was a little concerning.
Despite a few missed files, I think this feature is very useful. While I would like to see Ransomware Remediation correctly restore all files, almost all of my files were restored correctly, which is impressive, especially considering this feature is not something that many other antiviruses offer.
Bitdefender’s Profiles feature (Windows only) allows users to customize their experience with the software and optimize their PC’s performance depending on how they’re using their PC. For instance, if you’re working, you can switch on Work Profile to reduce system slowdowns and enhance email protections. Or if you’re gaming, you can choose Game Profile, which improves system performance and reduces notifications while you’re gaming. You can also adjust the settings within each profile to suit your preferences.
Here’s the full list of profiles to choose from:
- Work Profile — Enhances email protections and reduces system slowdowns.
- Movie Profile — Stops pop-up notifications and minimizes background processes.
- Game Profile — Optimizes system performance while you’re gaming.
- Public Wi-Fi Profile — Activates protections to keep you safe on public Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Battery Mode Profile — Changes software settings to improve laptop battery life.
I really like the Profiles feature — while some antiviruses offer similar tools, like Norton’s gaming mode (which also improves system performance while gaming), I’m a huge fan of the range of profile options offered by Bitdefender and how easy it is to adjust each profile. It’s great that you can set up Bitdefender so it changes your profile depending on the apps you’re using, but you can also switch between profiles manually. During testing, this feature significantly improved my performance while using CPU-intensive programs like Adobe Illustrator for work. I also tested this feature while I watched Netflix on my laptop, and I didn’t experience any interruptions or system slowdowns.
Identity Theft Protection
I think Bitdefender has one of the most useful identity theft protection packages on the market in 2023, but it’s only available as a standalone purchase and only for US users. Bitdefender offers a multi-layered approach to digital identity protection, monitoring data breaches and dark web forums, scanning social media for impersonator accounts, and even providing live credit report monitoring.
I was really impressed that Bitdefender can track up to 100 pieces of personally identifying information (PII), including addresses, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, and more. I especially like that Bitdefender offers an option to remove your data from data broker lists such as BeenVerified, White Pages, Private, and Spokeo (data brokers collect personal information on you and sell it to advertisers and marketing teams). However, Norton also offers this option with its identity theft protections.
Bitdefender has also added a live credit report monitoring system with two tiers of protection. Like TotalAV and Norton, Bitdefender monitors the major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for any financial activity involving your information. This can include loan applications, mortgages, rental agreements, and more.
Bitdefender’s Identity Theft Protection Standard monitors 1 of the 3 credit bureaus and provides live alerts and assistance in the event of identity theft. But upgrading to the Identity Theft Protection Premium plan provides a $2M insurance policy, tracking across all 3 credit bureaus, tracking of USPS change of address filings and court proceedings, and up to $50K in ransomware and malware insurance.
Overall, Bitdefender’s identity theft protections are among the best on the market. They track as many as 100 pieces of PII, provide live monitoring and assistance, and add a comprehensive credit monitoring service.
Bitdefender’s anti-theft feature performed really well during my testing — I’d say it’s actually one of the best anti-theft features on the market. However, it’s currently only available for Windows and Android devices, and I’d like to see Bitdefender offer support for Mac and iOS too. Lookout offers good anti-theft features for iOS, but Apple’s built-in anti-theft features are currently the best option for MacBook users.
With Bitdefender Anti-Theft, you can locate your device, make it sound an alert, lock it, or wipe all data from it. The protections are surprisingly easy to set up. All you have to do is sign into your account and activate the anti-theft features by pressing TURN ON when prompted.
The location tracking feature was able to locate my device with pinpoint accuracy via the anti-theft dashboard — a dot appeared on the map showing that my phone was located at my exact location on my street. I was able to do the same via the Android app, as well as adjust all other anti-theft settings.
The alert feature sounded an incredibly loud and distressing scream noise, and the remote lock function locked my device, requiring me to input the lock code created during setup to access my device. However, while the lock code was useful on my HP laptop (which doesn’t have a passcode), when I tested the lock feature on my Android, it only required me to input my device’s PIN code. If you do have a passcode, you can also lock your device behind your Windows account.
Overall, I’m very impressed by Bitdefender’s anti-theft tools. They’re very easy to set up, they can accurately detect lost devices, and the added extras such as remote device locking and data wiping help to improve user security. Plus, competitors such as McAfee don’t offer any anti-theft tools at all, so Bitdefender is a better choice if you’re concerned about your device being stolen. I would like to see Bitdefender extend its anti-theft features beyond Windows and Android devices (support for Mac and iOS would be great), but I think most users would find the anti-theft features incredibly useful.
Bitdefender is one of the most feature-rich internet security suites on the market in 2023, and the features I previously described are just a small part of its entire offering. Bitdefender also has:
- Wi-Fi protection — Analyzes Wi-Fi networks and routers for potential threats.
- Anti-tracking protection — Prevents web trackers from collecting your data for advertising and other purposes.
- File shredder — Permanently deletes files or folders.
- AntiSpam — Checks and filters emails.
The most useful extra feature is the file shredder. I have thousands of files on my system that I no longer need, but some of them contain sensitive information. Using Bitdefender’s file shredder, I’m able to permanently delete them, making it impossible for hackers to recover them using file recovery software (deleting them normally would make sensitive files easy to recover with the right technology). Not every antivirus includes this feature either. McAfee does — but a lot of McAfee’s other features aren’t as good as Bitdefender’s.
Bitdefender’s antispam feature acts as a shield against unwanted and potentially dangerous emails. By employing web-filtering technologies, it checks and filters your emails to ensure spam and phishing attempts are caught early. Additionally, it’s equipped to detect behavioral threats, which means it can identify and block emails from dubious sources (even if the content seems harmless).
Furthermore, Bitdefender helps organize your inbox by moving spam into a junk folder. You have the option to manually add addresses to the spam list via Bitdefender’s antispam toolbar in Outlook, too — but honestly, you can just do this in Outlook without the toolbar so I wasn’t super impressed by this. That said, I appreciate having the extra checks on my inbox, so I think Bitdefender’s antispam is a decent addition.
Overall, Bitdefender has a truly impressive range of features — if you’re looking for an antivirus that has almost all of the internet security tools you can think of, Bitdefender won’t disappoint you!
Bitdefender Plans and Pricing
Bitdefender offers several payment plans that cover 1–100 devices, but only Total Security and Premium Security work across all operating systems (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS). However, Bitdefender’s business package, GravityZone Premium, also supports Linux systems.
Most of the plans include a limited VPN (Premium Security is the only plan that comes with the unlimited-data VPN), but Bitdefender’s premium VPN is also available at checkout, and it costs less than most competing standalone VPNs.
Bitdefender offers a free Windows plan and a free Mac plan, though both are very limited compared to the premium versions. That said, all of Bitdefender’s plans are affordable and include a risk-free money-back guarantee for 30 days.
Here’s a quick overview of all of Bitdefender’s plans:
|Antivirus Free for Windows||Virus Scanner for Mac||Antivirus Plus||Internet Security||Total Security||Premium Security||GravityZone Premium|
|Platforms||Windows||Mac||Windows||Windows||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Linux, Mac|
||Free||Free||$29.99 / year||$42.49 / year||$49.99 / year||$79.99 / year||$286.99 / year|
|Number of device licenses||1||1||3||3||5||10||100+|
|Malware scanning & removal||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|VPN (200 MB/day)||❌||❌||✅||✅||✅||✅||❌|
|VPN (unlimited data)||❌||❌||❌||❌||❌||✅||❌|
|Webcam & microphone protection||❌||❌||❌||✅||✅||✅||❌|
|System tune-up tools||❌||❌||❌||❌||✅||✅||❌|
Bitdefender Free Antivirus for Windows — Basic Free Plan for Windows
Bitdefender offers a free Windows-only antivirus plan, but it’s very limited compared to the premium version. It still includes Bitdefender’s advanced anti-malware engine and online threat protection, but not much else.
The anti-malware engine and online protections run exactly the same as the premium versions of Bitdefender, but it doesn’t include Rescue Environment, which enables you to remove advanced malware like rootkits. To access all extra security features, such as network threat prevention, Ransomware Remediation (restore files corrupted by ransomware), Safepay, and the VPN, you’ll need to upgrade to one of Bitdefender’s premium plans.
Bitdefender Virus Scanner for Mac — Basic Free Plan for Mac
Bitdefender offers a free version of its software for macOS, but it’s very basic — it’s only an on-demand virus scanner that lets you scan your Mac for viruses and malware.
Bitdefender’s free Mac version uses the same advanced anti-malware engine as the premium version — which earned Bitdefender a spot on our best free Mac antiviruses of 2023. But it doesn’t have real-time protection, meaning it’s only good for removing existing malware, and not for protecting against future infections.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus — Basic Paid Plan (Windows Only)
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus includes real-time malware defense and web protection, as well as:
- Multi-layer ransomware protection.
- Secure browser for online finances.
- Password manager.
- Wi-Fi protection.
- VPN (200 MB daily data).
- Anti-tracking protection.
- User profiles (including gaming mode).
- File shredder.
- 24/7 customer support.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a good entry-level antivirus plan, but it’s lacking a couple of essential security features like a firewall. I’m also pretty disappointed that this plan is only available for Windows computers, especially when competitors like Norton and TotalAV include coverage for all operating systems in all of their plans.
Priced at $29.99 / year, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is cheaper than most competitors’ entry-level plans, and it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender Internet Security — Advanced Paid Plan (Windows Only)
Bitdefender Internet Security comes with all of the features included in Antivirus Plus and adds extra features like:
- Anti-spam filter.
- Webcam and microphone protection.
- Parental controls.
At $42.49 / year, Bitdefender Internet Security is a really good value, but it’s only for PC users. The biggest downside of this plan is that it doesn’t offer multi-platform support — if you use an Android, Mac, or iOS device, you’ll have to upgrade to Bitdefender’s most expensive plans.
However, for Windows users, Bitdefender Internet Security is one of the best options on the market — it covers up to 3 PCs, includes a ton of features, and is pretty affordable.
Bitdefender Total Security — Premium Paid Plan (All Operating Systems)
Bitdefender Total Security has all of the features included in Internet Security, plus:
- Coverage for Mac.
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android.
- System tune-up tools.
- Anti-theft protection.
Bitdefender Total Security doesn’t offer a lot of improvement for PC users(besides the one-click system tune-up tool), but mobile users will want to upgrade to Total Security so they can get access to Bitdefender’s excellent mobile apps.
Total Security doesn’t have a VPN with unlimited data like many premium antiviruses do (such as Norton), but it provides comprehensive security for up to 5 devices for only $49.99 / year — even if you buy the separate VPN subscription, Bitdefender’s premium package is still cheaper than most competitors.
Bitdefender Premium Security — All of Bitdefender’s Features + Unlimited VPN
Bitdefender Premium Security adds the VPN with no data or server limitations, the full-featured password manager, and coverage for up to 5 devices — it’s a great option for users who want to get all of Bitdefender’s features and protect multiple Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Priced at $79.99 / year, Bitdefender Premium Security is somewhat expensive compared to other Bitdefender plans, but considering that it includes a really good VPN, I think it’s worth it. Like all of Bitdefender’s packages, Premium Security is also covered by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out.
Bitdefender GravityZone Premium — Enterprise-Grade Security
Bitdefender’s GravityZone Premium plan has a more advanced range of features specifically designed for businesses and enterprises. Its features include:
- Network threat protection.
- Risk analysis.
- Ransomware prevention and mitigation.
- Email security.
- Sandbox analysis.
- Linux support.
- And more…
GravityZone Premium covers Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems, including support for both Windows and Linux-based servers.
I wouldn’t recommend this package to most home users, but home Linux users may find that Bitdefender GravityZone is a good option for securing their system.
Starting at $17.49 / year, Bitdefender GravityZone Premium offers a decent value considering the number of security features it provides. While you can purchase between 5–100 GravityZone Premium licenses, you can also contact Bitdefender for a custom quote if you need more coverage.
You can try GravityZone Premium free for 30 days, and Bitdefender’s policy states that users can claim a refund within 30 days of purchasing.
Bitdefender Mobile App
Bitdefender’s iOS and Android apps come with the Total Security and Premium Security packages, but they’re also available as standalone subscriptions.
The Android app is secure, feature-rich, and easy to use. It’s actually one of the best Android antiviruses on the market, and it comes with:
- Antivirus scanner.
- Web protection (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave, and others).
- Autopilot (automatic security recommendations).
- App lock.
- App anomaly detection.
- Anti-theft protection.
- Data breach monitoring (email only).
- VPN (200 MB/daily with unlimited VPN available).
- Smartwatch compatibility.
While Bitdefender’s Android app is very good, its iOS app is more limited. However, that’s pretty standard for iOS antivirus apps, since iOS devices are less susceptible to malware. The iOS app includes web protection, data breach monitoring, a scam alert feature, and a free VPN. Admittedly, I had difficulty getting the web protection to work on my iOS device, but everything else worked well in my tests. I like how the vulnerability scanner alerted me to data breaches and checked whether I was running the latest version of iOS.
The scam alert feature for iOS is pretty cool, too. It automatically scans your phone’s calendar and text messages for malicious links and alerts you to anything suspicious. It’s a pretty helpful way to stop you from accessing dangerous links.
However, as said, the Android app is the more comprehensive antivirus here, and it comes with an excellent malware scanner. For my tests, I downloaded several malware samples to my Samsung Galaxy, and then I installed Bitdefender’s mobile antivirus on my phone. When I set up Bitdefender Mobile Security, the app immediately recommended I perform a scan. The scan took only a minute, and it found all of the malicious files I placed on my phone.
I was particularly impressed by the App Anomaly Detection feature. It continuously monitors all the apps on your device and notifies you of any suspicious behavior. Most antiviruses only scan apps when you first download them, but this leaves your phone vulnerable to changes in apps that have already been downloaded onto your device. Bitdefender’s mobile app constantly monitors apps — including those already running on your device. Annoyingly, this feature is only available for Android due restrictions on iOS devices, but I still think it’s pretty cool.
I’m also impressed with the web protection. I tested this feature by visiting dozens of malicious sites with Chrome’s security filter turned off, and Bitdefender’s web protection blocked every single phishing site I tried opening, including sites that Chrome’s built-in protections failed to catch during my tests.
I’m also a fan of the app lock feature, which allows you to lock important apps with a 4-8 digit PIN or your device’s biometric scanner. Bitdefender even takes an automatic selfie when somebody tries and fails to unlock your phone or locked apps — I locked my Facebook app, deliberately entered the wrong PIN code 3 times, and then I received a notification in Bitdefender’s online portal that someone tried to unlock Facebook on my mobile (and yes, Bitdefender did take my selfie as well!). Another cool thing about Bitdefender’s app lock feature is that you can enable Bitdefender to randomize number positions on the keyboard so that no one is able to read your PIN code.
Bitdefender’s anti-theft feature is also great — enabling users to send alerts, lock the device, take a picture of the thief, and wipe the device directly from Bitdefender’s online portal. I tested this feature both on my Windows PC and on my Android phone, and it worked perfectly on both devices.
Overall, Bitdefender’s mobile apps are among the best mobile security apps on the market, providing excellent antivirus protection, a unique app anomaly detection feature on Android, and a couple of very useful extras including app locking and anti-theft protection.
Bitdefender Ease of Use and Setup
I’ve tested many antiviruses, and Bitdefender is one of the easiest antivirus programs to set up and use. It took me less than 5 minutes to get it up and running on my PC. As soon as I launched the application, Bitdefender gave me a quick tour of the software and suggested I run an initial scan.
Bitdefender’s desktop dashboard is really well laid-out, with large, simple buttons, a comprehensive toolbar, and every feature accessible with just a few clicks. I love that there’s a customizable Quick Action button on the main screen, so users can easily add more buttons to the dashboard. You can only have 5 “Quick Actions” on your home screen at any one time, but these can always be edited and changed.
All of Bitdefender’s essential and extra features are located in 3 tabs:
- In the Protection tab, you can enable/disable web protection, vulnerability scanning, firewall, ransomware remediation, and antispam. Each of these features can also be customized — although Bitdefender’s default settings are good enough for most users.
- In the Privacy tab, you can launch the Safepay browser, open the VPN, access the password manager, customize webcam and microphone protection, integrate the anti-tracker with your browser, and access parental controls.
- The Utilities tab includes the one-click optimizer, user profiles, file shredder, and anti-theft protection.
When you click on parental controls or anti-theft protection in the desktop app, you will be taken to Bitdefender’s online portal — Bitdefender Central. Users can also remotely scan any of the devices in their plan via Bitdefender Central. Other online dashboards, such as TotalAV, don’t provide remote device scanning — so I really appreciated having access to this feature.
Also, Bitdefender’s Autopilot feature makes securing your device a lot easier, as it scans your system for potential threats, vulnerabilities, and more, and it will automatically address any issues without alerting you. When Autopilot is turned on, Bitdefender will fix any malware or network threats, automatically update the software, address privacy issues, and make suggestions on how to improve your system’s security. This is one of the key reasons why I consider Bitdefender to be one of the easiest antiviruses to use.
Overall, the Bitdefender interface is simple to navigate — even with the huge number of features included in the Total Security and Premium Security plans.
Bitdefender System Performance and Impact
While Bitdefender was running, I didn’t notice any impact on my computer’s performance. As mentioned previously, Bitdefender is cloud-based, so CPU-intensive activities are offloaded from your computer and processed in the cloud. This is great for low-end users, but it also allows users on high-end machines to run intensive applications alongside Bitdefender (including video editing software, streaming services, and video games).
I tested Bitdefender on my computer with 16GB RAM and a 2.1 GHz processor. I measured the system performance and impact while Bitdefender was running idle and while running different types of malware scans. Here are my results:
|Bitdefender usage when running silently in the background||Average usage during full system scans||Max usage during full system scans||Average usage during quick scans||Max usage during quick scans|
|RAM Impact||1.25%||548 MB (3.4%)||755 MB (4.58%)||678 MB (3.8%)||500MB (5%)|
As you can see, Bitdefender never had a huge impact on my computer’s RAM — it only used about 5% at the height of running a quick and full system scan, which is excellent. Likewise, the impact on my processor very rarely went above 10%. While there were a couple of CPU spikes, they never lasted very long and weren’t super noticeable. That said, I never had any CPU spikes while testing Norton. Nonetheless, overall I was impressed with Bitdefender’s system performance and impact.
Bitdefender Customer Support
Bitdefender’s customer support center is really good. It offers:
I truly appreciate the 24/7 live chat assistance Bitdefender offers. I reached out to the customer service representatives on a few occasions and could get through to them in just minutes, regardless of the hour. This is a significant improvement over Norton’s support, where I was made to wait for as long as 20 minutes to establish a connection with a live chat representative.
I had a positive experience with the live chat agents who demonstrated impressive knowledge. They provided thorough answers to inquiries about plans, pricing, and technical details, avoiding the common practice of using generic responses and showing genuine expertise, unlike many other live support agents.
Bitdefender’s live chat is only offered for English speakers, but I was informed that they use Google Translate to provide support for non-English speakers.
In terms of customer support, Bitdefender’s email support falls a bit short compared to its live chat support. During my testing, it took more than 24 hours to receive an email response from their support team, which is relatively slow. Norton’s email support team, in contrast, typically responds to inquiries within a few hours. However, I was impressed that Bitdefender’s support team responded to my question regarding their security features with comprehensive and useful information. Unlike other competitors that provide scripted responses to customer support emails, Bitdefender’s reply was informative and personalized.
Like the live chat support, Bitdefender’s phone support is impressive. There are 28 different phone numbers across 18 countries, including a worldwide phone number with 24-hour service. When I tested phone support, Bitdefender connected me with an agent almost instantly — which was a big surprise! I’m used to being put on hold for at least a few minutes with most tech companies. I found the agent to be knowledgeable and courteous, and they gave me helpful answers to my questions about Bitdefender’s user interface and subscription options.
Bitdefender’s knowledge base has a vast collection of articles and how-to guides as well as video tutorials. These articles (and especially the videos) are more in-depth than the decent knowledge bases provided by most premium competitors, including Avira and McAfee. I really like how the knowledge base is laid out — it’s easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re just getting started, there’s a complete guide to setting up Bitdefender, and if you want to disinfect your device, there’s a section specifically on threat prevention and removal.
Bitdefender has a community forum known as the Bitdefender Expert Community. It advertises itself as a place to connect with experts around the world and get your questions answered, and it offers various categories to explore including product features, enterprise security, and general topics. The forum is pretty active, and most questions are answered within a few hours, which is great.
Overall, I was really impressed with Bitdefender’s customer support — the live chat, phone support, and knowledge base are all excellent. That said, the email support team could be more responsive.
Is Bitdefender the Top Protection for Windows/Mac?
Bitdefender is a strong contender for the best antivirus in 2023. Its advanced malware engine detected all the malware in my tests — including newer and advanced threats like cryptojackers, rootkits, and ransomware. Its web protection also caught most of the phishing sites I tried visiting — outperforming both the majority of competitors and the most popular browsers, including Chrome and Firefox.
Bitdefender has almost every cybersecurity protection you can think of — from basic things like Wi-Fi protection, a secure browser, and a VPN to more advanced things like parental controls, ransomware remediation, and webcam and microphone protection.
And even though Bitdefender has more features than almost any other brand, it’s still very easy to use — even non-tech-savvy users will find it easy to adjust all of the settings and customize protection levels to meet their needs.
While I like most of Bitdefender’s features, I do have a couple of complaints. I wish that Bitdefender would add a few more security features to its password manager, improve its iOS app, provide anti-theft support for Mac and iOS, and include the unlimited-data VPN with all plans.
However, Bitdefender is more affordable than most other premium antiviruses (including top competitors like Norton and TotalAV), and all of its plans are available with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free and decide if it’s the right antivirus for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a free version of Bitdefender?
Bitdefender offers a free Windows antivirus with web protections and a basic free malware scanner for Mac users. While Bitdefender’s free Windows antivirus uses the same advanced scanning engine as the paid version, the Mac version doesn’t include real-time protection. Also, neither of these free plans include any of Bitdefender’s useful extras, like the unlimited-data VPN or advanced ransomware tools.
This is why I recommend purchasing an affordable internet security suite — if you’re willing to spend a little on premium internet security protection, Bitdefender’s paid plans offer multiple layers of security and a wide range of features at a really low cost. Plus, all of Bitdefender’s plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Will Bitdefender’s mobile app slow down my device?
No, the Bitdefender mobile app won’t slow down your device. It’s designed to be lightweight, and it only functions when necessary (for example, after you install a new app or when you scan your device). The app does not run in the background while you’re using your device.
Is Bitdefender compatible with my system?
Most likely, yes. To use Bitdefender in 2023, Windows users will need to have Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or higher installed on their PC. Mac users will need to have OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher installed.
For the mobile app, Android users will need to have Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher. iOS users will need to have iOS 12 or higher. Note that your device must be connected to the internet for the mobile app to work on both Android and iOS devices.
Is Bitdefender better than Windows Defender?
Bitdefender is better than Windows Defender in almost every single way. Bitdefender has better malware detection rates, better real-time protection, better phishing protection, better ransomware protection, and better parental controls.
Bitdefender also has a whole host of other internet security features like system optimization, a VPN, and a password manager. It’s also way easier to use than Windows Defender.
Is Bitdefender safe?
Yes, Bitdefender is a safe antivirus program to use. Bitdefender is a legitimate company and its software isn’t linked to any malicious activities or bad practices (like spying on your activity or stealing your data to sell to third parties).
Bitdefender offers regular updates to ensure its software is fully secure and any vulnerabilities are fixed — so hackers can’t exploit vulnerabilities and bypass Bitdefender’s protections. The software updates also keep Bitdefender’s virus database ready to detect both well-known viruses and newer variants, which are often created in an attempt to bypass antivirus protection.
Bitdefender also has one of the best malware detection rates, performing incredibly well in all of my tests.
Does Bitdefender have a VPN?
Yes, Bitdefender has a VPN, and it’s one of my favorite antivirus-bundled VPNs in 2023. Bitdefender’s VPN is as fast as some of the top VPNs on the market. It’s powered by Hotspot Shield, which is one of the fastest VPNs available.
However, Bitdefender’s VPN doesn’t offer the same functionality as Hotspot Shield, and users are limited to 200 MB of browsing data per day (unless they upgrade to the Premium Security plan).
How good is Bitdefender according to Reddit users?
A significant number of Redditors recognize Bitdefender as a top-tier antivirus solution. They appreciate its efficiency in detecting and removing threats. Many users also appreciate the VPN and password manager that come with Bitdefender and its user-friendly interface.
However, a few users feel that Bitdefender can be overly restrictive, making it challenging to set exceptions for trusted applications. That said, I didn’t really notice this in my own tests.
Which is the best Bitdefender plan to choose?
Bitdefender Premium Security is a great option if you need complete protection from all malware and internet security threats. This plan includes all of Bitdefender’s security features mentioned in this review, including the VPN with unlimited data usage.
However, all of Bitdefender’s plans offer excellent protections, starting at just $17.49 / year. Bitdefender Total Security offers just as much protection as Premium Security, but it doesn’t include the VPN with unlimited data or the full-featured password manager. Bitdefender Internet Security is also a good option, but it’s only available for Windows users, and it doesn’t include the PC optimization tools that are included with Bitdefender’s Total Security and Premium Security plans.
Is Bitdefender a Chinese company?
No, Bitdefender is a Romanian company with headquarters in Romania (Bucharest) and the United States (California). It also has offices in Denmark, Italy, and Germany.
Bitdefender is one of the safest antiviruses on the market, with 500 million users worldwide.
Does Bitdefender steal data?
Is Bitdefender going out of business?
No, Bitdefender is not going out of business. It’s one of the most popular antiviruses in the world, with some of the best malware detection rates out there.
Is Norton better than Bitdefender?
Norton is the best antivirus in 2023. It has perfect malware detection rates and includes a lot of useful features like an unlimited-data VPN and excellent web protection. In my tests, I really appreciated Norton’s parental controls and dark web monitoring, and I also like how it offers identity theft protection for users in the US. That said, Bitdefender is also an excellent antivirus and a great choice — catching as many malware samples in my tests as Norton did. It’s also user-friendly like Norton, and as it’s cloud-based, it’s very light on the system, too.