Bitdefender Free vs. Bitdefender Premium 2024: Should You Upgrade?

Bitdefender antivirus free is one of the more robust free antivirus products on the market, so are the increased security tools and features worth upgrading for?
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Bitdefender antivirus is a popular option for anyone looking for protection from cyberthreats. If you’re wondering what the differences are between Bitdefender Free and Bitdefender’s paid plans, we’ve got a breakdown that can help you decide which is best for you.

The Bitdefender free edition does come with ransomware and phishing protection, but it includes ads that some users don’t like. Bitdefender paid plans don’t have ads, but they can get pricey, depending on how many computers and users you want to register. Whatever you choose, you’ll need to keep protected from viruses, Trojans, and malware.

In this article
Bitdefender Free vs. Bitdefender Premium review at a glance
Bitdefender Free vs. Premium: main differences
Which Bitdefender plan should I get?
Bitdefender alternatives
Bitdefender Free vs. Premium FAQs
Bitdefender Free vs. Premium: which is better?

Bitdefender Free vs. Bitdefender Premium review at a glance

Not all free antivirus products are made the same. That’s why we recommend Bitdefender free antivirus for web protection because it’s reliable and secure. But what if you need more from your antivirus? Which Bitdefender antivirus product is the best for you? We’ve compared the free and paid versions of Bitdefender to help you decide.

  • Bitdefender Free: Best for a budget
  • Bitdefender Premium: Best for additional features

Bitdefender Free vs. Bitdefender Premium compared

Bitdefender Free Bitdefender Paid
Starting price Free Starts at $29.99/first yr
Number of devices 1 Up to 10
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Windows, macOS, Android Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Learn more Get Bitdefender Free

Read Bitdefender Free Review

Get Bitdefender Paid

Read Bitdefender Paid Review

Bitdefender Free vs. Premium: main differences

While Bitdefender offers great protection with all of its products, the paid plans have more features and services. Advanced threat protection, anti-tracker technology, a vulnerability scan, web attack prevention, webcam protection, and more essential features are available with Bitdefender’s comprehensive protection.

Antivirus tools are personal, so it’s important to know what you need before signing up for any antivirus. Take a look at each of these categories to see which product fits your needs.

Prices

Obviously, the free Bitdefender antivirus product has pricing everyone will like, but Bitdefender Total Security and Antivirus Plus both offer various tiers, so you can find one that works for your budget.

Pricing will vary depending on how many devices you need to cover and how long of a subscription you purchase up front, but mostly you’ll find each tier to be reasonably priced. We think the Antivirus Plus tier is a great compromise between the budget-friendly free plan and the more robust Total Security plan.

Number of devices

This is one of the biggest differences between the free and paid plans. The free plan allows you one device, while the paid plans can accommodate up to 10. If you’re a family with several computers or need to register more than one user, then you’ll need one of the paid Bitdefender antivirus plans.

“Why not just have everyone sign up for the free version?” you might say. You could, but most people have more than one device, and there would be no synchronization between any of the antivirus software on them. It seems manageable, but trying to keep up with individual devices for your family can get really old, really fast.

Additional features

We were impressed that the free plan protects against ransomware and phishing attacks. That’s not something you find on every free antivirus.

But if you want more features like Bitdefender’s virtual private network (VPN), gaming mode, parental controls, anti-spam anti-phishing, or a myriad of other features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. Considering the paid plans come with 30-day free trials, you get a chance to try out all these features without making a commitment.

Screenshot of Bitdefender VPN traffic page.

Ad-free experience

The Bitdefender free edition does have ads, and Bitdefender promises they aren’t annoying or intrusive. They’re more like “personalized recommendations” than true ads, but they’re still advertisements and suggestions to upgrade. The paid plans don’t have any of these.

Screenshot of Bitdefender Antivirus Free dashboard showing Protection Features.

Compatibility and customer support

Even the free version of Bitdefender offers 24/7 live chat support. There’s really no upgrade needed here because you’ll have fantastic Bitdefender support no matter which product you choose. The largest difference is compatibility. Bitdefender Free is missing an iOS app while the paid version covers iOS devices.

Which Bitdefender plan should I get?

Depending on your needs, one Bitdefender plan may be better than the others, but bouncing between all the different product pages can be exhausting and confusing.

If you’re in need of solid but simple security, you’d probably find the free plan to be acceptable. If you want more features, need parental controls, have a variety of devices to cover, or want advanced features, then Bitdefender Total Security is likely more your speed. Finally, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a nice compromise between both of these plans for people who want more features without a higher price tag.

Bitdefender Free vs. Premium plans pros and cons

Bitdefender plan Free Antivirus Plus Total Security
Pros
  • Protects against ransomware
  • Alerts when there’s a suspicious file
  • Live support options
  • Includes essential privacy features
  • Affordable pricing
  • More robust protection than the free plan
  • Uses advanced protection features
  • Offers protection from hackers
  • Includes a VPN, remote device access, and performance optimization tools
Cons
  • More advanced protection is available with paid plans
  • No additional features, like Bitdefender VPN
  • No device optimization
  • No spam protection
  • Price increases after the first year
  • No identity theft protection
Best for Security on a budget Compromise between budget and performance Additional features and advanced security
Learn more View Plan View Plan View Plan

Bitdefender alternatives

If Bitdefender antivirus isn’t for you, that’s ok. We’ve reviewed all of the best antivirus solutions available and have recommendations for other services you can use. Antivirus can come down to personal preference, so finding one with the right features and protections can feel like a hassle. Check out our recommendations below, then decide what works for you and your family.

  • Norton: Norton offers all the bells and whistles in their antivirus plans. If you want a simple plan, they have that, but what Norton really excels in is robust protection. The all-in-one plans offer the most security features and protection and can be customized based on the protection level and number of people you want covered.

    Get Norton | Read Our Norton Review
  • McAfee: McAfee uses AI to help protect against previously unseen online threats. It offers a variety of features, from identity theft protection to a VPN. McAfee even offers a protection score, so you’re always aware of how well you’re being guarded against malware threats (including ransomware) and other malicious things on the internet.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Review
  • Avast: Avast is a reliable, free antivirus service with upgrade options so you can get protection fast or improve security with additional features. All versions of Avast come with a firewall and email protection in addition to antivirus. For even more features like a VPN, performance enhancement tools, and identity theft insurance (to name a few), you can upgrade to one of Avast’s paid plans.

    Get Avast | Read Our Avast Review

Bitdefender Free vs. Premium FAQs


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What is the difference between free and paid Bitdefender?

The biggest differences between Bitdefender’s free and paid plans are the amount and quality of features you receive. Bitdefender offers basic protection in its free product that protects against ransomware, viruses, Trojans, zero-day exploits, crypto-jacking, and more. 

It’s incredibly robust, but the paid versions offer even more protection in the form of advanced tools. The additional features include webcam and microphone protection, remote device access, performance enhancement tools, and more.


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Is the Bitdefender free version good enough?

Depending on what you want from an antivirus provider, you could be very happy with the free version of Bitdefender. It’s good if you need protection but are on a budget. For individuals, this is probably a great option. 

If you want your family to have coordinated protection, more advanced features, and ways to organize everyone’s security from a central location, then Bitdefender free may not be enough.


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Is Bitdefender worth paying for?

If you want more advanced protection tools, a variety of features, and identity protection, then, yes, Bitdefender is worth paying for as a protection service. Bitdefender has won a variety of awards, including the 2022 Product of the Year award from AV-Comparatives, an independent antivirus testing site. This means it has been tested and shown to be more than effective against a variety of malware types that plague the internet.

Bitdefender Free vs. Premium: which is better?

Bitdefender Free is a great product with surprisingly sound security, but it does have its limitations. Between the ad experience, which some people refuse to tolerate, and the limited number of devices, you may end up needing to purchase a paid tier to get everything you want. That works with Bitdefender because it has several premium versions, and you get more protection and features as you pay more.

For our time and money, we would go with a paid Bitdefender plan. The Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is a nice compromise between frugality and functionality, and we love that we get a VPN. Bitdefender Total Security, on the other hand, includes enhanced protection, anti-theft tools, and other security tools. Increasing online privacy means beating back spam, identity thieves, and online tracking. 

There are millions of viruses and malware floating around the internet, so whatever plan you decide to choose, just make sure you use antivirus software to stay safe online.

4.8
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bitdefender's website
Bitdefender
  • Antivirus software offering reliable security
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Perfect protection score in third-party tests
  • Premium features incur additional subscription fees
Author Details
Mary lives in Los Angeles and has been a cybersecurity writer for over five years. With a B.S. in Liberal Arts from Clarion University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, her career in online security began in sales and content creation for a private cybersecurity firm.