Bitdefender Complete Review

Bitdefender has a powerful family of top-of-the-line packages and security suites in 2022 when it comes to antivirus. It’s one of the best providers out there and should have something for everyone thanks to its core three plans.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the first product in the consumer line. As the name suggests, it offers a slew of security and privacy features, including an extra layer of ransomware protection, Wi-Fi security scanning to detect network problems, banking protection via a secure browser, secure file deletion, a vulnerability scanner, and a password manager.

You’ll also get a free version of Bitdefender VPN with Antivirus Plus. That’s limited to 200MB of traffic per day, but it might be worse: Avira’s Phantom VPN’s unregistered version limits you to 500MB per month.

Bitdefender VPN also gets the newest features in the 2022 edition. Split tunneling allows you to choose which apps use the VPN and which use your regular connection; there’s a new Android app, and ad and tracker blocking are built-in.

The rest of Bitdefender’s new features are less obvious, but they’re still useful. An iOS Security Assessment identifies and recommends changes to risky security settings; the Android app now detects and blocks more link-based mobile attacks; ‘deep-level analysis to determine the source of a Windows attack; M1 compatibility and faster scans on Mac; and – hooray – Dark and Light modes for Mac and Windows.

Another significant change this year is the removal of Bitdefender’s free version. We hate to see any free antivirus program go away, but Bitdefender’s offering was really basic and didn’t seem to fit in with the other offerings. There isn’t much reason for the main antivirus providers to give away their product, especially with Sophos withdrawing its free Sophos Home.

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Pricing and plans

Plus Antivirus Pricing for a one-year, one-device license starts at $14.99 ($39.99 on renewal), with significant reductions available if you prolong your membership.

A three-device, one-year license, for example, costs $24.99 the first year and $59.99 the second; a five-device, two-year license costs $109.99, and a ten-device, three-year license costs $179.99, or just $6 per device per year.

Bitdefender Internet Security adds a firewall, spam filter, and parental controls to the bundle. Webcam protection prevents illegal access to your webcam, and a microphone monitor keeps track of which apps are using your microphone.

A one-year Internet Security license for one device costs $24.99 the first year and $59.99 the second year, making it 50% more expensive than Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. However, when you add more devices and years, the price premium diminishes.

A three-device, one-year license costs $29.99 in the first year and $79.99 per year after that; a five-device, two-year license costs $129.99, and a ten-device, three-year license costs only $199.99, or $6.67 per device per year.

Bitdefender Total Security, at the top of the line, adds device cleanup and optimization features, a basic anti-theft system, and apps for Mac, Android, and iOS devices, as well as Windows – a significant plus.

Total Security’s pricing isn’t as flexible as the rest of the line (just 5 and 10 device options), but it’s so good that you’re unlikely to notice. For example, a basic five-device, one-year license costs $34.99 and costs $89.99 when renewed. A ten-device, three-year license costs $160.99 for the first year (a better deal than Antivirus Plus or Internet Security), then $229.99 ($7.67 per device year) on renewal.

Some of these headline prices may appear exorbitant at first glance, especially if there is no introductory discount, but they are often good long-term value. For example, Kaspersky Anti-Virus costs $79.99 for the first two years to protect five devices, but it costs $159.98 to renew.

From the start, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus covers the identical hardware for $109.99 (covering 10 devices costs only $129.99). If you’re still not persuaded, no worries: each product comes with a 30-day trial build. No payment card information is required; simply register with your email address and test Bitdefender’s capabilities for yourself.

Bitdefender installed 13 new background processes and Windows services, as well as several filter drivers and other low-level clutter on our test machine. Although this isn’t unusual for an antivirus, it can be a concern if it slows down your PC.

However, in AV-Comparatives’ October 2021 Performance Test, Bitdefender scored a respectable 7th out of 17 for system effect (lower is best.)

Following that, we performed our self-protection tests, in which we examine security software to see if malware may stop them.

Delete or replace files, suspend or close critical processes, stop core services, remove or alter scheduled activities, unload filter drivers, and change key settings are all steps to do. Bitdefender, on the other hand, has always been a well-defended product, and this time was no exception: the package brushed off our attempts and went about its business as usual.

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Interface

When you first start Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, it takes you on a quick tour of the UI, emphasizing major features and explaining what they perform.

Experienced users will most likely figure it out on their own, but it’s helpful to have this information available for those who require it. Bitdefender’s well-designed dashboard allows you quick access to the features you’ll use the most, like Quick Scans and the VPN, which are only a click away.

Bitdefender’s additional tools are organized into Protection, Privacy, and Utility categories on the left-hand sidebar, and tapping any of these areas lists the numerous capabilities they feature. Most are logically named, and if you’ve ever used another antivirus, you’ll be fine, although tooltips are available if you need help.

If the basic dashboard layout does not meet your needs, you can change it by removing or adding default elements. Maybe you’re not interested in using a VPN? You could replace it with links to the full system scan, the password manager, the disk cleanup module, and a variety of other programs with only a few clicks. If only everyone was as adaptable as this.

Overall, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has a sleek and professional interface that performs admirably in nearly all areas. Beginners will find it simple and intuitive to use, but experts will appreciate the configurability and control it provides.

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Antivirus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2022 comes with a variety of scanning options. Quick Scan scans the most usually contaminated regions, while System Scan scans the entire system.

Additionally, File Explorer integration allows you to scan objects from the right-click menu in Explorer, and there’s a bootable rescue environment to help you clean up the most obstinate threats.

Create new scan types to check certain files and folders, as well as configure how the scan works and set it up to run on a schedule or on-demand only, using the Manage Scans tool. A Custom Scan is also available, which scans any system area where potential dangers may exist. In addition, a Vulnerability Scan will be performed to look for privacy issues in program settings as well as any necessary software upgrades.

Although it lacks the expert-level features that we’ve seen from vendors like Avast and Avira (you can’t choose certain file types to scan or archive types to handle, for example), most consumers will find this to be more than adequate. Unfortunately, you can’t pin your scan type to the main dashboard, thus you’ll constantly have to click three times to get it.

Bitdefender’s antivirus settings aren’t as customizable as some of the competition’s, but they’re well-balanced and focus on the features you’re most likely to use. Scanning RAR archives to a nested depth of 4 but not TARs, for example, isn’t frightening or unduly sophisticated — there’s just a simple scan archives, yes or no?’ setting.

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Timeline of the Threat

Throughout the review, Bitdefender exhibited its new ‘threat chronology,’ which appears to be a detailed explanation of how we came close to becoming infected. This all appears to be extremely good, with a flow chart with times, program names, and large icons, but in our experience, it means very little.

One timeline began with Outlook launching, followed by Chrome launching, which ran software reporter tool.exe, and Bitdefender detecting a threat. Anyone who sees this may believe they received a dangerous email, clicked a link, opened Chrome, loaded an app, and then ran harmful software.

But, in reality, Outlook was running normally, Chrome was only launched because we clicked a legitimate link, the link had nothing to do with software reporter tool.exe (which is a standard part of Chrome), and the alleged ‘threat’ (which was a false alarm) was never downloaded during that or any other internet session.

Giving consumers more information about an infection’s source is a wonderful concept, but Bitdefender’s threat timelines, at least during our testing, produced more confusion than they answered any queries.

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Performance

On our test machine, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus scans take roughly 15-30 seconds, with Quick Scans taking around 15-30 seconds.

Regular scans began at 50 minutes to ensure the integrity of our target files (209,000 of them, 50GB in total.) That’s a bit slow; Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security, for example, took 15 minutes to scan the identical data.

Bitdefender, on the other hand, only analyzes fresh and altered files in successive scans, which makes a tremendous difference. In run #2, Antivirus Plus took only 50 seconds to scan our test files, whereas Trend Micro took nine minutes.

The scanning engine is also capable of handling many scans at the same time without issue. You can still do an on-demand scan of a recent download or anything else while running a lengthy full system scan, for example. While the first scan continues to run in the background, a window appears to display the results of your second scan.

The result is a polished suite of malware-hunting tools that go well beyond the basics while being simple to use for non-technical users. Experts may want for one or two more fine-tuning options, but Bitdefender strikes a good mix between configurability and usability.

Protection

Bitdefender has a strong reputation for security, and its products have consistently ranked at the top of most major independent testing labs’ rankings. Right now, the results are a little more in the middle.

July-October 2021, according to AV-Comparatives Bitdefender, for example, was ranked eighth out of 17 in the Real-World Protection Test, with a protection rate of 99.7%. (All three companies, Trend Micro, Panda, and Norton, prevented 100 percent of malware.)

AV-Windows Test’s 10 Home tests use a different scoring system, with protection, performance, and usability all receiving a six-point grade. Bitdefender got a perfect 6/6 for security in all six tests during the past year (December 2020 to October 2021): fantastic news.

Although no single reviewer can claim to match the testing laboratories’ thoroughness, we were eager to check how Bitdefender Antivirus Plus handled a handful of ransomware threats to corroborate their findings.

The first, a real-world ransomware sample, was quickly eradicated by Bitdefender, which terminated the process before it could cause any harm.

The second was a ransomware simulator that we created ourselves. It’s about as basic a malware sample as you can get, but it’s also something Bitdefender hasn’t seen before, giving us a chance to examine how Antivirus Plus handles brand-new dangers.

We started our test software, and Bitdefender’s engine cut in and displayed an alert in a fraction of a second. Bitdefender’s Ransomware Remediation technology not only recognized and destroyed our test process but also successfully restored the 10 files our software had encrypted.

While this was an excellent performance, there were a few minor flaws. For example, the Ransomware Remediation function isn’t enabled by default. You’ll be prompted to enable it by Bitdefender Antivirus Plus, but if you don’t pay attention, you could lose at least a few files in an assault.

Despite recognizing it conducting ransomware-like actions, the program failed to quarantine our simulator. We executed it several times, and Bitdefender flagged the executable as ‘clean’ when we later scanned it. Threats are only deleted if the signature layer detects them, according to the business. Ours was picked up by the behavior layer, which will kill but not remove an offending process.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus went even farther, quarantining our test program to prevent it from starting again, which is the approach we favor on balance.

However, this isn’t a huge issue because Bitdefender’s milder approach appears to have no practical effect on system security, as we were able to run the identical attack multiple times and Bitdefender blocked it each time.

This is a significant improvement over many competitors, who either ignore the simulator totally or are unable to prevent it from deleting at least some data (Norton Antivirus Plus lost 57.) Overall, we believe Bitdefender is a capable and effective all-around ransomware prevention solution.

Blocking potentially harmful websites

Bitdefender’s web protection module keeps track of your online activity and filters harmful and fraudulent websites. Bitdefender was put to the test by AV-Comparatives for its July 2021 Anti-Phishing Certification Test.

Bitdefender came in last with an 87 percent detection rate, after Avast (96 percent), Trend Micro (96 percent), Fortinet (95 percent), Kaspersky (94 percent), and ESET (94 percent) (91 percent .)

We recently put Bitdefender to the test against 139 brand-new questionable URLs (malicious and phishing) provided by MRG Effitas, an independent security testing firm.

These were so fresh – several had only been reported hours before – that they hadn’t all been validated yet, making them extremely difficult to stop. However, Bitdefender blocked 73 percent of our test links, which was a very positive result. For instance, Avast Premium Security detected only 30% of the same set of links, while Windows Defender detected 55%.

Don’t be fooled by the low percentages: this is a measure of a vendor’s response time to new threats, not your overall protection against harmful links. The primary conclusion from this test is that Bitdefender provided substantially better protection against even the most recent dangerous websites than others.

Bitdefender’s Anti-Tracker browses extension seeks to detect and prevent the most obtrusive web trackers when you visit a genuine site and then displays a tally of these in its address bar icon.

When we visited the newspaper site dailymail.co.uk, the extension indicated that it had blocked 35 trackers in two categories: advertising (29) and site analytics (21). (6). (Other categories include ‘Essential,’ ‘Social Media,’ and ‘Customer Interaction.’)

We went back to the same site with the outstanding uBlock Origin active to compare Anti-performance Tracker’s to the ad-blocking competitors, and this time Anti-Tracker only stopped five trackers.

You can get essentially the same features for free, but Bitdefender Anti-Tracker appears to provide some additional privacy benefits. (Of course, you may use Anti-Tracker in conjunction with your existing ad-blocker to get the best of both worlds, as we did in our tests.)

Password manager

Bitdefender’s password organizer is called Wallet. It can save credit card information, wireless network passwords, application logins and license keys, email server credentials and details, and various personal information (name, date of birth, address, email, phone number(s), and more) in addition to standard internet logins.

The wallet can store numerous password databases and sync them across all of your Bitdefender devices.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus loaded the Wallet extension for us automatically in Internet Explorer and Firefox, and provided us the choice to install it in Chrome, but ignored Edge and Opera completely.

We discovered that Wallet was not as user-friendly as top competitors such as Dashlane: it didn’t add icons to text fields, didn’t always capture username and password fields as we typed them, occasionally failed to fill in forms correctly, and couldn’t immediately submit forms. It did, however, cover the essentials and is a welcome addition to the package.

Online banking security

Safepay is a safe and isolated browser that protects online banking and other transactions from prying eyes – or even malware that has infiltrated your machine in some way.

Many other security companies claim to provide secure browsers, however, Bitdefender goes a step farther than the others. Safepay goes to great lengths to keep itself independent from other processes on your computer, running on its desktop and preventing screen grabbers and keyloggers from capturing your activities.

We tested this by creating our custom keylogger and utilizing a commercial screen capture application to record 15-second snapshots of our actions.

Safepay worked flawlessly, with no keystrokes logged and only plain white screenshots. Bitdefender has also taken into account long-term storage. Safepay deletes all temporary files and leaves no record of our activities once the session is finished.

Safepay, like the safe browsing competition, does not recommend installing third-party extensions since they expose you to even more privacy risks.

It does, however, come with a few essential built-in extras, such as a virtual keyboard to protect you from keyloggers and a pop-up blocker to keep you safe online. Safepay isn’t a gimmick, though; it’s a standout feature of the suite, and using it for your most private online transactions could help keep you safe.

More features

A Vulnerability Scan examines your system for missing program updates and important Windows patches, as well as weak Windows account passwords, basic Wi-Fi network issues, and now includes additional tests for changed and poorly configured system settings.

When we enabled Autorun, a potentially dangerous feature that allows the software to run automatically when you put in a portable disk or media, the Vulnerability Scan alerted us and offered to address the problem.

It also identified some considerably more obscure options – for example, our system wasn’t allowing access to site management policies for security zones – as well as missing Java and Firefox upgrades, which was important.

This is a simple tool with a couple of usability concerns. Because there isn’t a ‘Fix All’ button, you must take an action for each item individually.

You can’t tell the Vulnerability Scan to overlook a particular issue; even if you’re perfectly fine with having unrestricted access to site management policies, it will always notify you about the ‘fault.’ Still, there’s value here, especially with the checks for missing updates, and the Vulnerability Scan is a great addition to the suite as a whole.

VPN

Last but not least, there’s the virtual private network (VPN). With only 200MB of data per day, the free plan is only ideal for the most basic of tasks, such as checking email or conducting sensitive web transactions over public Wi-Fi.

However, it’s simple to use, with servers in 51 countries and great speeds thanks to supporting for Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra protocol.

Final verdict

This is a great all-around antivirus solution that performs a decent job of defending against even brand new, undiscovered threats and includes several handy features. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2022 is a must-have for your computer’s protection.

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