Bitdefender Free Review 2024: Good or Should You Upgrade?

Explore how Bitdefender Free stacks up in offering essential antivirus protection without the price tag and whether it's the right choice for your cybersecurity needs.
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On Bitdefender's website

Antivirus Software
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests

Among the various choices available, Bitdefender Antivirus Free edition has emerged as a notable contender in cybersecurity. Our hands-on testing unveiled a security suite that’s free — including the features that traditionally come with a price tag.

From real-time protection against online threats and malware to a sturdy firewall that keeps intruders at bay, Bitdefender Free delivers a level of security that makes it a worthy companion for your digital journey.

But the question of whether it lives up to the hype or how it stacks against other contenders in the free antivirus space remains. Our in-depth review aims to shed light on the costs, features, and overall efficacy of Bitdefender Free to help you make an informed decision.

In this article
Bitdefender Free review at a glance
Who is Bitdefender Free best for?
Bitdefender Free features
Bitdefender Free test results
Our Bitdefender Antivirus Free experience
Bitdefender Free compatibility
Bitdefender Free customer support
Bitdefender antivirus software costs
Bitdefender Free alternatives
Bitdefender Free FAQs
Bottom line: Is Bitdefender Antivirus Free good enough?

Bitdefender Free review at a glance

Price Free
# of devices protected 1
Compatibility Windows 7 and up, macOS 10.10 and up, Android
Malware scans Manual and scheduled
Firewall No — paid plans only
Real-time protection Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Ransomware protection Yes — file backup with paid plans only
Learn more Read Our Bitdefender Antivirus Review

Who is Bitdefender Free best for?

  • Recommended for individuals seeking cost-effective cybersecurity

Bitdefender Antivirus Free edition is a boon for individuals looking for a solid antivirus solution without burning a hole in their pocket.

While it protects a single device, its array of features, like real-time protection and phishing defense, provide a comprehensive security suite that doesn’t compromise quality. The user-friendly interface and the simplicity of setting up and scheduling scans add to its appeal, making it suitable for those who may not be tech savvy.

The addition of features like a file shredder also caters to privacy-conscious individuals who prefer an extra layer of security in managing their digital footprints.

Moreover, in a realm where cybersecurity threats are evolving, having a tool like Bitdefender Free that provides real-time protection against malware and phishing attempts is crucial. Its manual and scheduled scans allow you to tailor your security protocols. Whether you are a freelancer managing client data, a student working on a thesis, or someone who cherishes digital peace of mind, Bitdefender Free is a reliable guardian against a swath of cyber threats.

Bitdefender Free pros and cons

  • Comprehensive real-time protection
  • Cross-platform compatibility
  • User-friendly interface
  • Single device protection
  • Lacks advanced optimization tools
  • No firewall included

Bitdefender Free features

Bitdefender Free comes packed with a plethora of features aimed at providing a strong defense against a myriad of cyber threats.

Its features include real-time protection, phishing protection, and malware-scanning functionalities. However, it misses out on some advanced features like ransomware file backup and advanced optimization tools often found in premium antivirus solutions. Yet, the rich suite of features it does offer at no cost makes it an attractive option for many.

Malware and antivirus scan

Bitdefender Free offers manual scanning options, providing a flexible approach to keeping your device secure. You can opt for quick scans for a swift check or full system scans to inspect every nook and cranny of your system thoroughly.

The scanning process was smooth during our testing with no hitches encountered. The option to schedule scans adds a layer of convenience, allowing you to set up routine checks without initiating them manually each time.

Screenshot of scanning in progress.

Real-time protection

The real-time protection feature in Bitdefender Antivirus Free diligently monitors web browsing, emails, and apps for malicious activity. While it doesn’t come with an ad blocker, its protection against malware and phishing attempts while browsing is commendable.

The real-time shield works seamlessly in the background, ensuring your digital interactions remain safe without impeding your user experience. Bitdefender Free also keeps an eye out for hard-to-detect adware, Trojans, and rootkits.

Screenshot of threat detected message.

Phishing protection

Bitdefender Free excels in providing robust anti-phishing and anti-spam features, and the setup is fairly straightforward.

However, during testing the anti-phishing feature didn’t detect a phishing attempt, so it may have gaps in its protection.

The notifications within the interface are clear and intuitive, making it easy to understand the threat level. The ease with which items can be marked as spam or not adds to the user-friendly nature of this antivirus solution.

Ransomware protection

While Bitdefender Free offers a basic level of protection against ransomware, it does not provide a dedicated ransomware file backup feature, which is often a part of more advanced, paid solutions.

However, its real-time protection does offer a line of defense against ransomware attacks by detecting and blocking suspicious activity.

Screenshot of Bitdefender Antivirus Free dashboard showing your device is at risk messages.

Bitdefender Free test results

To gauge the efficacy of how the antivirus software works, it's essential to put it through rigorous testing procedures. One widely recognized method is to utilize the standards set by the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR).

EICAR provides a safe and legal framework to test the protection capabilities of antivirus software by simulating malware behavior without causing real harm to the computer. Through this method, we can evaluate how well antivirus software detects, blocks, and handles potential threats.

In our case, Bitdefender Free was tested to assess its malware detection, potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) detection, and phishing detection capabilities. The tests provided an insight into how well Bitdefender Free can safeguard a user's digital environment from various common cyber threats.

Bitdefender Free showcased strong performance in detecting malware and potentially unwanted apps (PUAs), passing both tests with flying colors.

However, it stumbled in the phishing detection test, which is a concern as cybercriminals commonly employ phishing to steal sensitive information. The failure in phishing detection indicates a potential area for improvement by Bitdefender Free to ensure well-rounded protection against all types of cyber threats.

Bitdefender Free EICAR test results

Test Bitdefender Free score
Malware detection Pass
Potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) detection Pass
Phishing detection Fail

Test results as of 10/11/2023.

Bitdefender third-party test results

In the antivirus community, third-party testing sites are revered for their unbiased, rigorous evaluation of the worst and best antivirus software. They provide an objective lens through which we can assess the efficacy of antivirus solutions.

One such reputable testing site is AV-TEST, which conducts comprehensive evaluations based on protection, performance, and usability. Although the following test results pertain to a paid version of Bitdefender (namely Bitdefender Internet Security), they can provide a general idea of the quality and reliability we might expect from Bitdefender Free.

Bitdefender Free AV-TEST results

Test type Windows 10 Professional score macOS Ventura 13.5.1 Android 11
Protection 6 6 6
Performance 6 6 6
Usability 6 6 6

It's worth noting that the test results may vary over different periods and platforms; thus, it's advisable to refer to the latest test results for the most accurate assessment.

The scores from AV-TEST reflect an impeccable performance by Bitdefender Internet Security across all testing categories on Windows, Mac, and Android. The maximum score of 6 in protection, performance, and usability indicates top-tier capabilities in defending against malware, maintaining system performance, and having a user-friendly interface, respectively.

Our Bitdefender Antivirus Free experience

During our extensive testing, Bitdefender Free was trialed on a Windows computer, offering firsthand insight into its capabilities and performance across various fronts. The antivirus was subjected to various tests to evaluate its ease of use, feature robustness, and overall user experience.

Download, installation, and setup

Downloading and installing Bitdefender Free was straightforward with no hiccups. However, it required creating an account, which was a small hurdle but a one-time event.

No additional security settings adjustments were needed on the device to complete the setup, making it a smooth experience right from the get-go. The absence of issues during this phase set a positive tone for the user experience.

Usability and feature testing

Primary features like computer virus scanning and real-time protection are intuitive and user friendly in Bitdefender Free. The clean interface enhances user experience, providing clear notifications for scan progress and detected threats.

Additional features like system optimization and file shredder are easy to use too. The web protection (excluding malware protection) is automatically activated with a clear status indicator. A helpful browser extension highlights risky search results, and whitelisting websites is simple, contributing to a tailored user experience.

The anti-phishing and spam filtering features worked as expected. When an email, site, or ad was flagged as a phishing attempt or marked as spam, the notification within the interface was clear and easy to understand. There's also the flexibility to manually mark items as not spam if the antivirus makes a mistake, which is a user-friendly feature.

Screenshot of Bitdefender Antivirus Free dashboard showing malware protection is disabled.

Screenshot of Bitdefender Antivirus Free dashboard showing Protection Features.

Bitdefender Free compatibility

A comprehensive antivirus solution should seamlessly integrate with different operating systems while providing consistent protection. Here's a breakdown of the devices and platforms that Bitdefender Free is compatible with.

  • Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, 8.1, 10, and 11
  • macOS 10.10 and later
  • Android

Unfortunately for Apple iPhone users, Bitdefender doesn’t offer free antivirus software to scan and protect your device. Instead, we recommend checking out our guide to the best antivirus programs for iOS, including Norton, Avira, and McAfee.

Bitdefender Free customer support

Bitdefender provides a range of customer support options to assist users in navigating through its features or resolving any issues they might encounter. Online tutorials and guides are available that are clear and easy to follow, making it simpler for users to find solutions to common problems independently.

Customers can reach out to Bitdefender's customer service for more personalized assistance via phone, online chat, or email. However, there seems to be room for improvement in the response time, as we waited over two days for a response after submitting an email form.

There doesn’t appear to be a tiered customer service access based on your plan type, which is good as it implies equal support access for all users regardless of whether they are using a free or paid version. Despite the lag in email response, the availability of multiple channels of support and self-help resources provides a decent level of support for users of Bitdefender Free.

Bitdefender antivirus software costs

Bitdefender's range caters to varied needs and budgets, from free basic protection to comprehensive paid plans.

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus ($29.99/yr (first year only)) covers three devices and adds the Bitdefender VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your Wi-Fi connection.
  • Bitdefender Total Security ($49.99/yr (first year only)) expands to five mobile devices, adding features like a password manager and parental controls.
  • Premium Security ($39.99/yr (first year only)) covers ten devices with all Total Security features plus priority support.

Upgrading from Bitdefender Free is advisable for advanced features and multi-device coverage. Total Security offers a balanced price-feature-device coverage ratio, suiting a broad user base and providing a robust security foundation for modern digital households.

Bitdefender antivirus plans and prices

Bitdefender Free Bitdefender Antivirus Plus Bitdefender Total Security Bitdefender Premium Security
Price for first year Free $29.99/yr (first year only) $49.99/yr (first year only) $39.99/yr (first year only)
Number of devices supported 1 1, 3, 5, or 10 5 or 10 10
Compatibility Windows, macOS, and Android Windows PC Windows, macOS, iOS and Android Windows, macOS, iOS and Android
Manual and auto scan Manual
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
File shredder
VPN Yes — 200 MB/day data cap Yes — 200 MB/day data cap Yes — Unlimited
Password manager
Parental controls
Webcam and microphone protection
Details View Plan View Plan View Plan View Plan

Bitdefender offers a free 30-day trial for its paid plans, allowing you to test the waters before committing.

Bitdefender Free vs. Bitdefender Total Security

When comparing Bitdefender Free and Bitdefender Total Security, the difference in protection and features is pronounced. While Bitdefender Free provides basic protection for a single device, Bitdefender Total Security expands this protection for up to five devices.

The price point of $49.99/yr (first year only) is reasonable considering the broadened device coverage and the suite of additional features like real-time protection, ransomware protection, phishing protection, file shredder, password manager, parental controls, and webcam and microphone protection.

Regarding overall value, Bitdefender Total Security is a robust antivirus solution beyond essential malware protection. The upgrade from Bitdefender Free to Bitdefender Total Security is a prudent investment that comes with essential extra features. The plan encapsulates a holistic approach to digital safety without breaking the bank, making it a superior choice for those seeking enhanced protection and added features.

Read Our Bitdefender Total Security Review

Bitdefender Free alternatives

While Bitdefender Free offers a solid set of features for basic protection, there are other reputable antivirus services available that could serve as alternatives. These alternatives also provide free or low-cost plans, allowing users to choose one based on their specific needs and preferences. Here are a few notable alternatives to Bitdefender Free.

  • Avast: Avast offers a robust free antivirus plan known as Avast Free Antivirus, which provides core protection against malware with additional features like a password manager and home network security. For those looking for more advanced features, Avast also has low-cost plans that provide extra protections such as a firewall and anti-spam.

    Get Avast | Read Avast Review
  • Norton 360: Norton Antivirus Plus is a low-cost plan that provides a comprehensive security suite, including real-time threat protection and a password manager. This plan covers one device, but other plans like Norton 360 Standard extend coverage to more devices and include additional features like the VPN, dark web monitoring, and parental controls.

    Get Norton | Read Norton Review
  • McAfee: McAfee Total Protection is a low-cost plan that provides a range of features, including antivirus protection, safe browsing, a password manager, and encrypted storage. McAfee also offers a free plan known as McAfee Free Antivirus which gives basic protection against malware and phishing threats.

    Get McAfee | Read McAfee Review

Bitdefender Free FAQs


Is Bitdefender Free better than Windows Defender?

Bitdefender Free offers a few additional features and often scores higher in independent antivirus testing than Windows Defender. However, Windows Defender is a strong, built-in option for basic protection.


Is the Bitdefender Free version as good as the paid version?

No, the paid versions of Bitdefender offer more advanced features, such as a VPN, password manager, and multi-device support, which are not available in the free version.


Is Bitdefender Free good for gaming?

Yes, Bitdefender Free is lightweight and offers a game mode to ensure an uninterrupted gaming experience while providing essential protection.

Bottom line: Is Bitdefender Antivirus Free good enough?

Bitdefender Free offers a strong foundation of award-winning antivirus protection with essential features like malware and phishing protection, real-time shielding, and a user-friendly interface. However, it lacks advanced features like a VPN, password manager, and multi-device support, which are available in its paid counterparts.

Bitdefender’s free edition is a solid choice for individuals seeking basic protection for a single device without any financial commitment. It is suitable for budget-conscious users or those who require minimal protection with the option to upgrade as needed.

But if you require more comprehensive protection and additional cybersecurity features including a VPN, password manager, or parental controls, upgrading to a paid Bitdefender plan like Total Security is well worth the cost.

Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website
Antivirus Software
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
Author Details
Ryan Clancy is a freelance writer and blogger. With 5+ years of mechanical engineering experience, he's passionate about all things engineering and tech. He loves bringing engineering (especially mechanical) down to a level that everyone can understand.