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BullGuard is a cybersecurity company based out of London. Although their software isn't as often discussed as big names like Norton, Avast, or Kaspersky, they've been producing antivirus software since around 2002 and retain a solid fan base.
The first thing you may notice when looking at BullGuard's product line is that they don't offer any free antivirus as those companies do - everything requires an annual fee.
Fortunately, the prices are reasonable when compared to other antivirus suites.
BullGuard's software is divided into three tiers: BullGuard Antivirus, BullGuard Internet Security, and BullGuard Premium Protection
Internet Security, which is the middle paid tier, costs $59.99 a year for 3 licenses. This package will be the main focus of this review, and it's available for Windows, Android, and macOS.
With BullGuard Internet Security, you'll get:
- Machine learning anti-malware protection
- Two-way firewall
- Secure Browser that keeps your information safe during online transactions
- Vulnerability scanner that'll warn you of steps you can take to prevent malware from getting through
- "Game Booster" that optimizes game performance
- Parental controls that'll block inappropriate content (24 different categories to choose from) and limit the time your kids spend on the computer
- Ability to backup important files in the cloud - supports Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive
- PC tune-up that aims to increase your computer speed
Installation and setup
Download the executable file here. Keep in mind that, as with most of these programs, you can access a 30-day free trial before buying (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for that).
Once downloaded, open the executable file and the installation process will begin.
Accept the terms of the license agreement by checking the little box, then press Install.
Depending on your computer's speed, this shouldn't take too long.
The next thing you'll have to do is create an account with an e-mail address and password.
Click through the next few screens (or press "Skip") and BullGuard will begin downloading malware signatures to protect your PC. Pretty standard stuff.
Finally, BullGuard will launch and you'll be ready to go.
The first thing you may notice is that BullGuard's UI is a bit different compared to most other security suites. That's not to say it's difficult to navigate.
Whereas most security suites will have separate pages for different types of features and functions, BullGuard doesn't - everything is viewable and accessible through the main, "front page" of the software.
Here, you'll see two rows of icons - five on the top and four on the bottom.
Say you want to run an in-depth, full scan using BullGuard. Instead of going to a separate "run scan" page, all you'll have to do is click on the down arrow underantivirus, then select "Full Scan" from the drop-down list.
It'll execute automatically.
If you want to customize your scans, you'll have to go to "Settings." Settings is divided into two sections, which are "Basic" and "Advanced."
If you click on "Antivirus" while in Basic, you won't really see any options.
You'll have to set it to Advanced - which you do by clicking "Advanced" in the upper right corner - to get those more in-depth features.Interesting, to say the least.
So, BullGuard's UI isn't necessarily better or worse than other antivirus UIs - it's just different. That being said, it may be a bit easier to get around, but that really depends on your personal preference.
What BullGuard Internet Security offers
BullGuard uses machine learning technology in order to increase its detection of new, zero-day threats. As you'll see in the lab results below, this technique seems to be pretty effective!
A secure browser is also included in the Internet Security package. This is wise to use when doing anything important online, such as making financial transactions, as your information will be protected not only by SSL but a few other layers of security.
Accessing PayPal with BullGuard's Secure browser
Additionally, with BullGuard you won't need to install any extra browser extensions, since it'll automatically block any suspicious URLs trying to access your network.
Another novel feature offered by BullGuard is their "game booster" - the idea here is that, if a game or other full-screen application is running, BullGuard will try to devote more system resources to it.
ChillBlast actually tested this out and found that a PC with BullGuard installed and the game booster enabled actually ran games faster than one with no antivirus software at all installed.
So, it seems promising and is a great idea on BullGuard's part.
With the PC Tune Up feature, you can get BullGuard to do certain things automatically, such as deleting invalid shortcuts or cleaning your web browser caches. Basically, you'll be getting rid of some unnecessary "gunk." To alter what the Tune Up focuses on, be sure to go to Advanced settings.
Finally, you'll also get parental controls, which allow you to block 24 different website categories from your kids.
What BullGuard Internet Security does not offer
BullGuard does not operate on iOS so, if you want full protection for all of your devices, including your iPhone, you'll be better off with different software.
Though BullGuard does have its own VPN, you'll have to pay for that separately - around $80 per year, which does seem quite expensive given that there are plenty of free options.
The only major independent testing firm that includes BullGuard in its evaluations is AV-Test.
In two separate tests performed in September and October of 2020, AV-Test found that BullGuard blocked 100 % of known malware.
In tests run in November and December, they found that it blocked 100 % of zero-day threats in November and 99.4 % in December.
Various tests have also shown that BullGuard has a very low system impact compared to other antivirus suites. The folks over at pcmag.com, for instance, showed that BullGuard had a 2 % system impact over three tests, with only a few pieces of software having a lower impact.
- Recent tests show high malware detection rate
- Scans are fast with relatively low system impact
- The "Game Booster" is a smart feature that seems to function as advertised
- No need to install browser extensions to block suspicious websites
- 24/7 Support, including live chat
- Lacks a VPN, which you really should get for the price you're paying
- Not as useful on Mac, and no support for iOS
At the end of the day, BullGuard offers solid protection against all types of threats to your computer. That, plus a firewall, means it offers all the protection you need.
The developers also made some very important changes recently - you'll see more mixed reviews before 2020, so don't forget to take that into account.
What you're paying for here is the virus + firewall, 24/7 support, and, if you're playing a lot of PC games, the Game Booster.
Given that it's a bit cheaper than other mid-tier security suites, and offers as good or nearly as good protection, it's a good option if you want to save a little money. The one glaring flaw is the lack of a VPN, but you can always download an effective, free one from another cybersecurity developer.