Bitdefender Review 2024: Brilliant Device Protection

Although Bitdefender offers reliable and competitive security solutions across multiple platforms, many of its flagship features are left out for Apple users.
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
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Bitdefender succeeds brilliantly in protecting devices — including macOS and iOS devices — from computer viruses, phishing attempts, malware, and ransomware. But as Apple users, we felt a little left out when we couldn't find certain features that were advertised as Bitdefender flagships only to find they weren’t available in the macOS version of Bitdefender.

We’ll reiterate that Bitdefender’s antivirus works great. In our experience, their customer service was responsive and polite, and it even scored perfectly in AV-TEST’s protection, performance, and usability categories.

It was just a hard pill for us to swallow knowing our Mac version of Bitdefender came with fewer features than the Windows version. Read on for a full review of Bitdefender.

In this article
Bitdefender antivirus overview
Who is Bitdefender best for?
Bitdefender Total Security features
Bitdefender test results
Our Bitdefender Total Security experience
Bitdefender compatibility
Bitdefender customer support
Bitdefender cost
Bitdefender FAQs
Bottom line: Is Bitdefender antivirus good?

Bitdefender antivirus overview

Price $14.99–$49.99/first yr
Free plan Yes, but exclusive to Windows
# of devices protected 1–10
Malware scans Manual and real-time
Firewall Yes
Phishing protection Yes
Parental controls Yes
Learn more View Bitdefender Plans
Prices as of 5/23/2023.

All About Cookies Rating
4.8
Editorial Rating
“Bitdefender antivirus offers reliable security solutions for personal use and businesses alike. The interface is clean and easy to use, and Bitdefender offers comparable — and in some cases more powerful — premium features than its competition.” 

“Bitdefender also scored perfectly in AV-TEST’s protection, performance, and usability categories, making it a solid choice for online security.”

Who is Bitdefender best for?

  • Recommended for Windows and Android users who aren’t cost-averse and are looking for reliable antivirus with powerful premium add-ons.

Windows and Android users will get the most value out of Bitdefender, as the product ships with all the advertised features you’re being charged for.

Although Bitdefender’s premium features are locked behind additional subscription fees, if you use these features to their fullest, you’ll find they’re worth the extra price as they tend to outshine the competition.

Bitdefender Total Security pros and cons

Pros
  • Simple yet powerful interface tools
  • Small to no performance impact on systems
  • Near-perfect protection score in third-party tests
Cons
  • Some features left out for Apple products
  • Premium features cost more

Bitdefender Total Security features

Bitdefender Total Security offers a good balance between security features and price. It protects up to five macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android systems from malware, spyware, and adware. Though we should note Apple users are left out on features such as the device optimizer and privacy firewall, which are only available to Windows users.

The Total Security plan comes with a basic version of the Bitdefender VPN with 200 MB of data per day (and per device) and multi-layer ransomware protection that works on all operating systems. There's also a 30-day free trial in case you'd prefer to put Total Security through the wringer before you decide to pay or not.

Curious how Bitdefender compares to Malwarebytes?

Check out our Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes comparison to see which antivirus program offers better value.

Malware and antivirus scan

Bitdefender scans your system much as other antivirus software, but it uses cross-platform malware protection. When you perform a scan, Bitdefender checks Apple devices for Windows malware, and vice versa — which could be useful if you regularly transfer data between devices with different operating systems.

Scanning options for Bitdefender include quick scans, custom scans where you can choose specific files or destinations to scan, and more in-depth, full-system scans. Bitdefender prompts you to perform a “one-time scan” of your entire device directly after installation to “make sure it’s threat-free to begin with.”

Bitdefender recommends scanning your device when you first install the antivirus to make sure it's threat-free to begin with.

We like that Bitdefender recommends this initial step because if you’re using antivirus for the first time, you might not know the importance of establishing a threat-free baseline.

But we do wish Bitdefender was more upfront about how long the scan might take. Our initial scan took a little more than 37 minutes before it was complete.

Our initial Bitdefender scan took about 37 minutes to complete. This makes sense for a more thorough first scan, but Bitdefender didn't give us an time estimate ahead of time.

That said, our MacBook Air experienced no noticeable effects on performance while surfing the web and streaming video from multiple platforms (YouTube and Hulu) while running the scan, so you can set the scan to run in the background while you continue with other tasks.

The quick scan, on the other hand, only took about five minutes to complete, and there was also no noticeable slowdown on our system while it ran.

One feature that’s left out for Apple users is the ability to schedule scans, which means Apple users have to perform quick and full scans manually.

Rescue Environment for Windows

Bitdefender’s rescue environment is a tool reserved for Windows users that allows you to scan and remove threats that hide among other legitimate processes on your system.

This method of camouflaging makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for a system to detect and remove hidden threats. Rescue Environment allows you to reboot in “rescue mode” where Bitdefender is able to scan for and remove the malware before Windows starts.

Because we tested Bitdefender on macOS, we were unable to experience and test this feature.

Phishing and social network protection

Bitdefender protects against phishing attempts through a browser extension called TrafficLight. InstallingTrafficLight was second on the list of prompts we were given when we first installed Bitdefender, after completing the initial one-time scan.

Bitdefender also recommended we install TrafficLight, its phishing protection tool.

Enabling TrafficLight was easy. Clicking the Install button allowed us to select our available browsers, then install the extension. Within a few moments, TrafficLight was installed.

Using the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) Phishing Test Page, we concluded that TrafficLight does in fact successfully protect and block you from opening pages with phishing scams.

Bitdefender's TrafficLight successfully blocked a web page with phishing scams.

Pay attention to prompts such as TrafficLight while using Bitdefender overall. The interface dubs them “recommendations,” which may make them appear optional, but these prompts are essential for maximizing the protection from the solution.

Social network protection is achieved through Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection. The application scans the web for leaks of your personal data, monitors your accounts, and delivers a course of action when your personal data is compromised. Unfortunately, Digital Identity Protection doesn’t come with the Total Security package and asks for an additional $34.99 per year to access its features.

Firewall

Bitdefender’s firewall prevents unauthorized connection attempts when you use the internet and local networks. The feature operates off of a set of rules to filter data that comes into and leaves your system.

Bitdefender’s firewall automatically creates rules when applications attempt to connect to the internet. But you’re able to create custom rules as well as edit existing rules to better fit your needs or prevent the firewall from blocking legitimate apps.

Unfortunately, the privacy firewall feature is exclusive to Windows, so we were unable to test it.

Real-time protection

On the surface, Bitdefender functions similarly to how most antivirus software works. But it sets itself apart from other antivirus software with its Advanced Threat Defense — a feature that continuously monitors applications and processes on your computer to detect malware, ransomware, and adware in real-time using behavioral detection.

Unfortunately for us as macOS users, we were unable to access feature settings related to the Advanced Threat Defense.

A short call with customer service confirmed that while macOS users are unable to alter Advanced Threat Defense settings or access the Exploit Detection feature, the technology of the Advanced Threat Defense system comes baked into the antivirus software.

Bitdefender also comes with an adware blocker designed to remove not just adware but malicious hijackers, toolbars, and other unwanted browser add-ons. We tested the adware blocker using a safe online adware blocker testing tool which confirmed the adware blocker does work, though it only blocked 13% of the adware present.

Network protection

Bitdefender uses a Network Attack Defense module that focuses on detecting network attacks such as brute-force attacks, bots, Trojans, and password stealers by analyzing your network traffic and behavior in real-time.

However, as the Network Attack Defense capability is exclusive to Windows and deployed by Bitdefender’s cloud security platform GravityZone — which is a business cloud security solution rather than a household antivirus software — we were unable to test any of its features.

Ransomware protection

Bitdefender offers ransomware protection for both Windows and macOS, but it takes different forms for each operating system.

In the case of Windows, Bitdefender uses its Ransomware Remediation feature, where ransomware attacks are blocked and your stolen encrypted files are restored without needing to pay a ransom.

On Windows devices, Bitdefender offers Ransomware Remediation, a ransomware blocker that also restores encrypted files.

For macOS, Bitdefender uses a combination of two features to protect users from ransomware attacks: Safe Files and Time Machine Protection.

The Safe Files feature allows you to choose sensitive folders and files to protect from being altered in any way. Additionally, you can choose which applications are allowed to make changes to those protected files.

Time Machine Protection is the second feature Bitdefender uses for anti-ransomware on macOS. This feature actually works in tandem with Apple’s Time Machine utility, guarding the backups created with Apple Time Machine from unauthorized and potentially harmful alterations.

We were able to easily activate Time Machine Protection by clicking a toggle. But be aware that making use of this feature’s primary function requires you to create backups through Apple Time Machine. (Bitdefender prompts you to do as one of its recommendations after the initial installation.)

You'll need to upgrade to Bitdefender Total Security to get protection for your Mac. If you just need PC protection, it may still be worth upgrading. Find out whether Bitdefender Internet Security vs. Total Security is better for you in our deep dive review.

Parental controls

Bitdefender’s Parental Controls are accessed and managed through the browser hub Bitdefender Central. This wasn’t made clear to us at first, and we spent a good amount of time searching for the feature in the Bitdefender application before learning through online research where the feature can be found.

Bitdefender’s Parental Controls are accessed and managed through the browser hub Bitdefender Central.

Although this was a minor inconvenience, it’s somewhat cumbersome to have to manage two applications — Bitdefender Central and the Bitdefender app — to access different functions. There’s also no direction from the Bitdefender app informing you that Parental Controls are found in a different location.

Thankfully, setting up Parental Controls was quite simple. We were first prompted to create a child profile and then to add a device. After selecting a device, we received a notification telling us we’d need to add security and privacy permissions before using Parental Control features.

We found the Parental Controls interface informative and organized intelligently. Basic information such as screen time, applications used, and websites visited are presented front and center or are easily accessed by scrolling down.

Bitdefender's parental controls interface shows you screen time, applications used, and websites visited.

Modifying settings, such as creating a whitelist/blacklist for websites, was easily achieved by simply clicking a Change settings button and then typing website addresses into a text box and selecting Block or Allow.

Bitdefender's parental controls let you block or allow certain websites.

Bitdefender Parental Controls also allows you to block or allow websites by adding the URL.

Bitdefender Parental Controls also allows you to block or allow content based on category. Setting up blocked categories was easy and intuitive, and blocking or unblocking content was as simple as clicking a toggle next to the corresponding category.

Bitdefender Parental Controls also allows you to block or allow content based on category.

Bonus features

Bitdefender comes with a host of useful extra features most of which are only available if you’re a Windows user:

  • File Shredder gives Windows users an extra option to permanently delete items by right-clicking a file or folder and selecting File Shredder in the Bitdefender menu.
  • Vulnerability assessment is an extra scanning option that checks your computer for vulnerabilities and notifies you about them.
  • Microphone and webcam protection blocks hackers from taking control of your webcam or microphone by allowing only safe and trusted applications access.

Some additional features that come with Bitdefender Total Security package along with each feature’s compatible platforms are:

Bitdefender VPN: Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android

The Bitdefender VPN that comes with Total Security is the basic version. It allowed us to secure our connection easily after adjusting a couple of security privileges on macOS.

The basic version of Bitdefender VPN only allowed us to use the automatic location feature, where the application chooses where your virtual connection is located.

The basic version of Bitdefender VPN only allowed us to use the automatic location feature, where the application chooses where your virtual connection is located.

Being able to choose the location, along with other features, is locked behind the premium version. Upgrading costs an additional $29.99 for the first year.

Bitdefender Premium VPN lets you choose your location, among other features, and costs $29.99 for your first year.

Bitdefender Password Manager: Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android

Bitdefender’s password manager keeps passwords organized and safe on multiple platforms, including Windows and Macs. It comes with a multitude of features, including a password strength advisor, intelligent password autofill, and automatic password leak alerts.

Anti-theft protection: Windows and Android

Bitdefender anti-theft protection allows you to perform remote actions on a stolen Windows laptop or Android phone, including locating the stolen device as long as it's connected to the internet, locking the device, erasing all data including the operating system, and showing the last known IP address.

Bitdefender Photon: Windows

Bitdefender Photon is a cloud-based scanning technology. It adapts to your device’s unique hardware and software configuration to optimize scanning times while also improving performance while using Bitdefender.

Anti-tracker browser extension: Windows, macOS

Bitdefender’s anti-tracker browser extension increases privacy by blocking trackers that attempt to collect your personal data. We installed the extension easily on Safari and Google Chrome, and it’s also compatible with Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox.

We tried Bitdefender's anti-tracker browser extension on Safari and Google Chrome.

Bitdefender test results

AV-TEST is an independent organization that tests and rates the performance of antivirus software and IT security products in realistic scenarios against real-world threats. It uses a point system where security products may achieve a maximum of six points in three categories: protection, performance, and usability, with 18 total points being the best possible score.

The following are Bitdefender’s results when tested using Windows 11, macOS Monterey 12.4, and Android 11:

Bitdefender AV-TEST results

Test type Windows 10 Pro score[1] macOS Monterey 12.6 score[2] Android 11 score[3]
Protection 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0
Performance 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0
Usability 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0 6.0/6.0
Windows 10 Pro test scores from January to February 2023.
macOS Monterey test scores from December 2022.
Android 11 test scores from January 2023.

In AV-TEST Bitdefender scored the highest number of points possible for protection, performance, and usability. Although this score is considered perfect, it’s worth noting that Bitdefender created at least one false positive where it flagged legitimate, harmless software in tests run under the usability section in February 2023.

The industry average for false detection is one, and Bitdefender’s results were the same or better with no false positives in January and one in February. Although these results are clearly some of the best, we thought this information would be useful if you’re looking for an antivirus with as few false detections as possible.

Our Bitdefender Total Security experience

We tested Bitdefender Total Security on a MacBook Air using macOS 11.6. Although our overall experience was fairly positive, there were some important shortcomings.

What we liked

One of the standout features of Bitdefender was how easy and accessible it was to use. Menus are simple and organized, and we never felt overwhelmed by the features we were presented with.

When using Bitdefender’s full system scan as well as the quick scan, we noticed little to no hit to our system’s performance.

We performed these scans with multiple web browsers open and more than 20 different search tabs loaded as well as streaming from two different video services at the same time. The first full system scan we ran after installing Bitdefender took a little more than 37 minutes, and subsequent quick scans took about an average of 5 minutes.

Bitdefender scored a six out of six in the protection category from AV-TEST and we can see why. During fairly casual use we observed it blocking phishing attempts. It also detected six files infected with malware on our system, which it quarantined for us to review and remove.

What we didn’t like

We didn’t like how Bitdefender comes in two parts: the antivirus application and the browser hub Bitdefender Central. Setting up Parental Controls wasn’t intuitive because we needed to be logged into Bitdefender Central and use the hub to install and manage this feature.

Although the Parental Controls functioned easily after we installed them, needing to swap between the Bitdefender application and Bitdefender Central to access a main feature seemed cumbersome.

One of Bitdefender’s biggest problems is the lack of features it offers for Apple products. Scheduled scans, a firewall, a file shredder, and more features are just not available to Apple users. (It's important to note, however, that this tends to be true for most antivirus software.)

Unless you do a little digging and look at a list of product and feature comparisons, it might not be obvious that, if you use Apple devices, you get way fewer features than Windows or Android users.

Bitdefender compatibility

Bitdefender is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS:

  • Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11
  • macOS Yosemite (10.10) or later
  • Android 5.0 or later
  • iOS 12 or later

Bitdefender, along with its Bitdefender Central website and Parental Controls, are compatible with the most recent three releases of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari for macOS.

Bitdefender customer support

Bitdefender offers customer support options via 24/7 chat, text and video tutorials, as well as a customer service phone line.

Although we never had to troubleshoot when using Bitdefender, we did call customer support to gain clarity on features we thought were missing from our version of Bitdefender — specifically the device optimizer and the privacy firewall.

The representative was polite and helpful but seemed surprised when he booted up the macOS version of Bitdefender and compared it with the Windows version, where he apologized and confirmed that those features were not available on macOS.

Bitdefender cost

Bitdefender’s subscription packages range from affordable personal plans to big-ticket business subscriptions.

The cheapest package protects one mobile device for about $29.99/first yr . Bitdefender Internet Security is a middle-ground package in terms of pricing — it costs approximately $42.49/first yr and offers more features such as antispam, parental controls, and social network protection, for example. However, this package is exclusive to Windows.

Bitdefender Total Security is available for Windows and macOS as well as iOS and Android. Total Security costs $39.99/first yr and includes limited use — up to 200 MB per device per day — of the Premium VPN.

When compared with similar services, Bitdefender's prices are what you'd expect. For example, AVG Internet Security costs about $46.68/first yr for 1 device . This is more than Bitdefender's lower-priced plans, but it also covers 10 devices while Bitdefender's plans cover five.

Bitdefender antivirus plans and prices

Bitdefender Total Security
Bitdefender Internet Security
Bitdefender Premium VPN
Price for first year $49.99/first yr $42.49/first yr $39.99/first yr
# devices supported 3 3 5
Compatible with Windows Windows Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
Manual and auto scan
Phishing protection
Firewall Windows only Windows only
Real-time protection
Ransomware protection
Parental controls
Performance optimization tools Windows only
VPN
Details View Plans View Plans View Plans
Prices as of 5/23/2023.

Bitdefender offers free 30-day trials for a lot of their most popular packages, including Total Security and the Family Pack.

Bitdefender FAQs


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Is Bitdefender safe?

Bitdefender received the highest protection score possible through AV-TEST in 2022, which makes it one of the best antivirus programs from a protection standpoint.


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Is Bitdefender better than McAfee?

Bitdefender and Mcafee both score similarly in malware detection rates. However, McAfee is proven to affect system performance less when performing scans, and its premium features come included on all but one of their plans making it the overall cheaper option.

Despite costing more, Bitdefender's premium features are powerful. The Premium VPN has faster download speeds than McAfee and unblocks streaming services, which allows you to watch shows on Netflix which isn’t possible on McAfee’s VPN.

Bitdefender also offers gaming mode to throttle its CPU usage to make for smoother gaming experiences, and the software is more configurable than McAfee’s, which allows advanced users more customization.


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Is Bitdefender or Kaspersky better?

In side-by-side protection and performance comparisons, Kaspersky and Bitdefender rank similarly. Whether one is better than the other comes down to personal needs met by the different features they offer.

Stand-out features for Bitdefender are unlimited VPN data, anti-theft protection, and multi-layer ransomware protection. Kaspersky has more robust parental controls while also providing a safe banking feature if you do a lot of online banking. (However, we found Kaspersky’s ties to Russia and its data collection policies to be concerning.)


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Is Bitdefender a Chinese company?

Bitdefender is a Romanian company headquartered in Bucharest, Romania.


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Is Bitdefender owned by Microsoft?

Bitdefender is not owned by Microsoft.

Bottom line: Is Bitdefender antivirus good?

Bitdefender antivirus offers reliable, solid security solutions for personal use and businesses alike. The interface is clean and easy to use, and Bitdefender offers comparable — and in some cases more powerful — premium features than its competition.

Unfortunately, many of Bitdefender’s premium tools are locked behind higher-priced plans, and if you use Apple products you should beware that you’re locked out of many features Windows and Android users have access to.

We think most users will find a lot of value in Bitdefender’s Total Security package. However, Apple users may want to compare Bitdefender's prices and features to Norton 360 or AVG to see if there's a better deal elsewhere.

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
Juliana Kenny is a seasoned writer with over a decade of experience in cybersecurity topics. She holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Irish Literature, a B.A. in French, and a minor in Art History. Since 2010, she has explored the dynamic intersection of technology and security, specializing in endpoint security, cloud security, and networking technologies like secure access service edge (SASE).

Citations

[1] Test Bitdefender Internet Security 26.0 for Windows 10

[2] Test Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 9.2 for macOS Monterey

[3] Test Bitdefender Mobile Security 3.3 for Android