Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes 2024: Bitdefender Is Best (But Not by Much)

You know having antivirus protection is a no-brainer, but you may not know which one is better for your needs: Bitdefender, with its perfect security scores, or Malwarebytes, with its powerful tools that cater more toward Windows users.
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Best for Superb Security Features

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

Best Free Antivirus

4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Malwarebytes's website

Malwarebytes
  • Free version with manual scans
  • Near-perfect protection scores for Premium plan
  • High starting price point for paid plans

If you're seeking a new antivirus solution, we’ll help you decide between Bitdefender, a reliable security solution with premium features, or Malwarebytes, a tried and true antivirus that offers more for Windows users. Let’s explore these two popular antivirus programs and see which one should be your next option for superior data protection.

In this article
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes review at a glance
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: prices
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: features
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: test results
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: compatibility and customer support
Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes FAQs
Bottom line

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes review at a glance

We want to start by letting you know that both Bitdefender and Malwarebytes offer solid data protection and come with features we found to be excellent during our hands-on tests. Both antivirus programs allow for up to five devices and the compatibility is the same — you can use them on almost any platform or device.

Bitdefender was our choice as the best Windows antivirus program, thanks to its superb security scores. Although Bitdefender does offer protection for Apple devices, there are features (like the device optimizer and the firewall) that you won’t get unless you’re using a Windows machine. 

Speaking of Malwarebytes, it runs alongside other antivirus programs without issues, if you prefer to double up your protection. But even with the paid plans, you won’t get extras like a firewall or optimization tools.

  • Bitdefender: Best for superb security features
  • Malwarebytes: Best free antivirus

How do Bitdefender and Malwarebytes compare?


Bitdefender

Malwarebytes
Starting price $29.99/first yr $59.99/yr
Free version
Max number of protected devices 5 5
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Windows, macOS, Android, iOS Windows, macOS, Chromebook, Android, iOS
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Ad blocker
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Our Bitdefender Review
Read Our Malwarebytes Review

However, the price points show huge differences between these two options. Bitdefender starts at about $25 less per year than Malwarebytes. With the higher price, you’d think you could get 24/7 customer support, but Malwarebytes doesn’t include that.

Reviewed by Patti Croft
“Bitdefender is best for a clean interface and affordable pricing that won’t break your budget. It also offers premium features and dedicated customer support. Since Bitdefender also received a perfect score by AV-TEST, you’ll know you’re getting premium antivirus software that gives you plenty of value.”

The best antivirus programs offer plenty of features without breaking the bank. For a cheaper price, Bitdefender has customer support around the clock and decent security features.

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: prices

Our Pick
Price range $14.99–$49.99/first yr $44.99–$99.99/yr
Free plan
Best value plan Bitdefender Total Security for $39.99/first yr Malwarebytes Plus+ Privacy VPN for $79.99/yr
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 60 days
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Our Bitdefender Review
Read Our Malwarebytes Review

On the one hand, Malwarebytes offers a free version, but you don’t get the premium features without paying a premium price. The highest cost is almost $100 per year, while Bitdefender’s highest cost is about $80 per year for the first year.

The Bitdefender Total Security plan is its best deal because, for a few dollars more, you get coverage on any device, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. The Malwarebytes Premium + Privacy VPN is its best value plan because it also gives you a virtual private network (VPN). (A VPN is an excellent way to protect your Wi-Fi from hackers.)

You can try either of these and get your money back if you don’t like the products. Malwarebytes gives you a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is more than enough time to decide. If you have Windows, you can also try Malwarebytes Premium with a 14-day trial.

Bitdefender has a shorter 30-day money-back guarantee, but that’s still sufficient to know if you like the software or not. You can also try it for free with the 30-day free trial.

Winner: Bitdefender is the clear winner with a much lower price for the first year. Although it doesn’t offer as long of a money-back guarantee as Malwarebytes, we think the 30 days is fair.

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: features

Our Pick
Manual and scheduled scans
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Firewall Windows only
Parental controls
Password manager
VPN
Ad blocker
Device optimization tools Windows only
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Our Bitdefender Review
Read Our Malwarebytes Review
Features listed are for paid plans only.

Bitdefender offers a firewall and includes device optimization tools, but only if you have a Windows device. (This is a common practice among antivirus companies.) Windows users also get microphone and webcam protection features, while all users get parental controls and the Bitdefender VPN with 200 MB of daily data.

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

Just as a heads-up, you won’t get a lot if you choose the free version of Malwarebytes. The free version is good for manually scanning for viruses and that’s about all. And even if you pay for Malwarebytes Premium, you won’t get a firewall, parental controls, or device optimization tools.

Turning Malwarebytes' real-time protection on is easy: Just toggle it on when in the main dashboard.

Those cybersecurity features may be important if you have children you need to protect or when you need to improve your computer’s performance, since antivirus products can sometimes slow down your devices.

Winner: Although it only offers some of the more premium features for Windows, Bitdefender offers more features overall compared to Malwarebytes.

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: malware protection scores

We looked to third-party sites for test results because these offer an objective view of how an antivirus program performs. We used AV-TEST scores to compare Bitdefender and Malwarebytes, as it’s an independent organization that rates antivirus software and other security products by putting them to the test in realistic scenarios.

AV-TEST uses a six-point system for three different categories, which include protection, performance, and usability. The highest combined possible score is 18.[1,2,3,4]

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes AV-TEST scores

Our Pick
Windows score 18/18 17/18
macOS score 18/18 Not tested
Android score 18/18 Not tested
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Our Bitdefender Review
Read Our Malwarebytes Review
Bitdefender test scores as of July–August and September 2023.
Malwarebytes test scores as of July-August 2023.

You may notice that Bitdefender received the highest possible score for protection, performance, and usability across Windows, macOS, and Android. Still, although considered a perfect score, Bitdefender's Windows program did flag legitimate software, producing at least one false positive during malware detection tests.

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.

Malwarebytes scored 5.5 out of 6 on protection against threats and infections. The industry average for zero-day malware attacks is 99.3% and Malwarebytes received a score of 97.9% in July and a 98.8%  in August.

Our Malwarebytes completed an antivirus scan of 54,000 items in 11 seconds. (It detected no threats.)

Also, you can see that the Malwarebytes security suite wasn’t tested on macOS or Android, so we can’t show you those results. But that may not be a primary concern, as antivirus companies are required to pay for testing and most choose to focus on Windows.

Winner: Bitdefender earned perfect scores in the most recent AV-TEST results, while Malwarebytes was behind on its Windows score.

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes: compatibility and customer support

Our Pick

Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Browser extensions Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge (Anti-tracker) Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge (Browser Guard)
24/7 customer support
Customer support options Live chat, email, phone, support forums, online guides Email, support forums, online guides
Learn more Get Bitdefender
Read Our Bitdefender Review
Read Our Malwarebytes Review

Bitdefender’s interface was easy to use, although some features like the rescue environment and firewall are exclusive to Windows users. Therefore, we weren’t able to test those on our Mac to see the full extent of the interface functions.

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

Malwarebytes is also easy to use and navigate. The scans are fast, but much like Bitdefender, some options won't work for Windows users. For example, you won’t get the full scan options unless you use Windows — if you’re on a Mac you can use only the quick scan. That can be a definite downfall for macOS users who want antivirus software to fully scan their entire device.

Malwarebytes has lots of options when it comes to scheduling your automatic scans, including every day, every week, and every 6 hours.

We also liked Malwarebytes’ Detection History, which gives you a more in-depth view of any threats that may have been found in the past. It’s easy to use to get a quick historical report.

However, Malwarebytes leaves a little bit to be desired with its customer service options. You get a basic support page where you can select the category you need, such as billing, adding devices, or requesting a refund. There’s no support phone number, and although you can use the chatbot function, you won’t get the advantage of a live person.

In contrast, Bitdefender offers 24/7 live chat with phone and email support. You also get support forums where you can reach out to other users for guidance. If you need online guides, you’ll get those, too.

Winner: Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the customer support department with live chat, a support phone number, and email options.

Bitdefender vs. Malwarebytes FAQs


+

What antivirus is better than Malwarebytes?

AVG is better than Malwarebytes if you want platinum-level anti-malware software that you can customize with numerous scans and protect your Wi-Fi network.


+

Is there any antivirus better than Bitdefender?

McAfee is better than Bitdefender if you want a more well-rounded antivirus for macOS that includes a firewall, VPN, and monitoring for identity theft and credit breaches.


+

Does Bitdefender detect all malware?

Bitdefender guards against all types of malware, including phishing and ransomware. It’s important to note that no antivirus is flawless, so there’s always a chance that a new threat could develop that the software doesn’t detect. (This is why it’s important to keep your antivirus program updated.)


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What does Malwarebytes not protect against?

Malwarebytes doesn’t include data breach monitoring, so it won’t protect you against certain types of identity theft.

Bottom line

From our perspective, both Bitdefender and Malwarebytes offer good overall data protection. But we think Bitdefender is the better overall antivirus program.

Bitdefender is best for a clean interface and affordable pricing that won’t break your budget. It also offers premium features and dedicated customer support. Since Bitdefender also received a perfect score by AV-TEST, you’ll know you’re getting premium antivirus software that gives you plenty of value.

Malwarebytes offers a free plan that allows you to manually scan for and remove malware. It scored well in third-party malware protection tests but is more expensive if you opt for a paid subscription.

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
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.

Citations

[1] Test Bitdefender Internet Security 27.0 for Windows 10

[2] Test Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac 9.3 for MacOS Ventura

[3] Test Bitdefender Mobile Security 3.3 for Android

[4] Test Malwarebytes Premium 4.5 for Windows 10