Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender 2024: Which Does It Better?

Microsoft Defender and Bitdefender each offer antivirus and malware protection with a variety of additional features, but which one meets your needs better?
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Best for Bundling With Microsoft Apps

4.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Microsoft Defender's website

Microsoft Defender
  • Enhances the free Windows Security product
  • Includes parental controls and identity theft protection
  • Costs extra

Best for Privacy and 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

If you’ve been eyeing either Microsoft Defender or Bitdefender, you may be wondering what the differences are between these two. Microsoft Defender is the paid enhancement that comes with Microsoft 365 and compliments the already free Windows Security on your Windows computer.

Bitdefender is a standalone antivirus with additional features like a VPN, password manager, and safe browsing technology.

Microsoft Defender comes with two price points, while Bitdefender offers a variety of plans and pricing. Some other differences include the apps and features offered by both: Microsoft leans towards its own products like Excel and Word, while Bitdefender has a broader array of offerings like a VPN and performance optimization tools. 

In fact, these are two very different products with very different features, extras, and services. Which one you choose is going to come down to personal preference and need.

In this article
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender review at a glance
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: prices
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: features
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: test results
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: compatibility and ease of use
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: customer service
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender FAQs
Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: which is better?

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender review at a glance

Microsoft Defender (formerly Windows Defender) acts as a booster to Windows Security, which is the free antivirus software that comes with Windows 10 and later Windows versions. If you’re in need of all the additional Microsoft apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and OneDrive, you’ll receive Microsoft Defender in your Microsoft 365 purchase.

If you aren’t a Windows user or aren’t interested in these programs, you may want the features and protection that come with Bitdefender. With a built-in VPN, gaming and working modes, as well as performance-enhancing features for your computer, Bitdefender offers a lot of value in addition to its antivirus.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender compared


Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
Starting price $6.99/mo ($83.88/yr) $29.99/first yr
Free version
Max number of protected devices Up to 30 Up to 15
24/7 customer support
Compatibility Android, iOS, Windows, macOS Android, iOS, Windows, macOS
Real-time protection
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Cloud storage
Password manager
Learn more Get Microsoft Defender
Read Microsoft Defender Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

Microsoft Defender might look like it starts out with a much higher price than Bitdefender, but it also comes fully loaded. Plus, there are really only two options, Microsoft 365 Personal and Family. The family plan allows you up to six separate users with up to five computers each. The personal plan allows for one user, but aside from some aspects geared specifically toward families, it includes the same features.

You’ll receive all of the Microsoft apps as well as an ad-free Outlook account and a generous 1TB of cloud storage with both the personal and family plans.

Bitdefender's lowest-tier plan is less expensive than Microsoft Defender, but it only provides a basic level of protection. Compared to Microsoft Defender's one plan, Bitdefender offers a variety of plans to choose from, with a range of prices depending on the level of protection you choose.

Bitdefender offers a variety of tools, such as device optimization and parental controls, depending on the plan you choose. Instead of offering features you may not use, Bitdefender allows you to pick a plan and price point that meets your needs.

Whichever ends up being right for you, know you should use antivirus software no matter what.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: prices


Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
Price range $6.99–$9.99/mo ($83.88–$119.88/yr) $14.99–$49.99/first yr
Money-back guarantee Yes — 30 days Yes — 30 days
Learn more Get Microsoft Defender
Read Microsoft Defender Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

Microsoft Defender is not the same as the free Windows Security that comes pre-installed on computers with Windows 10 and newer. It’s a security app that is included in the pricing of a Microsoft 365 bundle. Be wary of anyone attempting to sell you a “one-time price” for Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Defender. It’s almost always a scam.

Bitdefender also offers a free antivirus that’s available for Windows, Android, and macOS. The major difference between these two products is the variety of security choices that come with Bitdefender. Bitdefender Internet Security and Total Security, as well as other plans offering basic protection, let you pick what’s right for you at a price that fits your budget. It’s not an all-or-nothing setup, which may work better for you in the long run.

Each of these products offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. On top of that, each offers a free 30-day trial before you commit. We signed up for the trial for Microsoft 365 Family and found it extremely easy to cancel from our 365 portal. While we didn’t use support to cancel Bitdefender, we did contact customer support and found them friendly and helpful, albeit not as knowledgeable about the Mac product.

Winner: Bitdefender. Since both products offer a free trial, a free version, and a fully loaded version, Bitdefender wins because it offers more options for features and pricing.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: features

Feature
Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
Manual and scheduled scans
Phishing protection
Ransomware protection
Firewall
Parental controls
Password manager
VPN
Device optimization tools
Cloud storage
Identity theft protection
Learn more Get Microsoft Defender
Read Microsoft Defender Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

Both Microsoft Defender and Bitdefender include all the standard features necessary in modern antivirus. The biggest difference you’ll find between these two is in the additional features included with each.

For Microsoft Defender, those include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and all of the other original Microsoft apps. Bitdefender’s bundled apps include security software you might otherwise purchase separately, like a VPN and password manager.

Microsoft Defender includes Device security tools like Core isolation, Security processor, and Secure boot.

Since these two products are so vastly different in their offerings, it’s going to be up to you to decide what set of features are more important.

If you want a full suite of apps geared toward office productivity, then Microsoft Defender is likely your best choice. However, if you’re looking to bundle your VPN, antivirus, password management, and identity theft protection services into one payment, Bitdefender is the one you’ll want.

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

Winner: Bitdefender. Bitdefender’s included features appeal to a broader audience than Microsoft Defender, which focuses mostly on offering Microsoft-specific products.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: test results

Third-party testing is essential for making sure antivirus software works the way it claims to work. We use AV-TEST, which is one of the most reputable third-party testing sites in the business. AV-TEST puts security products through rigorous testing for threat detection and malware detection as well as system performance and usability to make sure even the newest threats are blocked.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender malware protection scores


Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
AV-TEST Windows score 17.5/18 17.5/18
Learn more Get Microsoft Defender
Read Microsoft Defender Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review
*AV-TEST results from June 2023.

When looking at either of these security products, the biggest issue with testing was a few false positives. False positives occur when an antivirus program flags something as being potentially dangerous, even if it isn’t. This can be annoying, but it doesn’t pose a security risk.

It’s worth noting that anything your antivirus software flags as potentially dangerous should be examined by support before you manually allow it to be installed. Unless you’re absolutely certain the file trying to execute is good, it’s better to wait for confirmation than to accidentally release malware or a virus onto your computer.

Winner: Tie. Each provider had solid protection with minor issues that wouldn’t compromise your overall security.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: compatibility and ease of use


Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
Windows
macOS
Android
iOS
Browser extensions Yes — Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari on macOS
Learn more Get Microsoft Defender
Read Microsoft Defender Review
Get Bitdefender
Read Bitdefender Review

When you think of Microsoft Defender, you may think of a Windows-only program. However, the software says it’s compatible with multiple operating systems, including Mac and iOS devices.

We successfully installed our trial on both our Windows 10 computer and our iPhone but ran into issues with our Mac. In fact, it was just overall buggy on our Mac, so we immediately removed it.

We’re running an up-to-date version of Ventura on a Mac with an M2 chip, so we assumed the software was compatible given the specs online. However, it just didn’t work correctly.

When checking with other Mac users whose Macbooks are using Intel chips rather than Apple’s new proprietary chips, they reported using Microsoft Defender successfully with that processor. It stands to reason that Microsoft Defender hasn’t updated itself enough to run smoothly with the new propriety Apple M chips.

Microsoft Defender isn't just for Windows PCs, but for Mac and iOS devices too.

Bitdefender also claims to provide compatibility with multiple platforms, and we didn’t have issues installing and using it. However, Bitdefender doesn’t offer as many features for its Mac product as it does for its Windows product.

The other major difference is that Bitdefender offers extensions for browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari on macOS. This is likely because of web protection and social media monitoring features included with the product. Since Microsoft Defender doesn’t offer those features, it makes sense it wouldn’t have a browser extension.

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

Winner: Bitdefender. Since the majority of compatible features are only available on Windows machines for Microsoft Defender, Bitdefender does offer more compatibility to use more features across all your devices.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: customer service


Microsoft Defender

Bitdefender
24/7 live chat
Phone
Email
Support forums
Online guides

Our customer support experiences weren’t perfect with either service. For Bitdefender, the support tech didn’t realize fewer features were offered for the Mac product. Even so, the support agent was friendly and helpful over the phone, providing an overall good experience.

With Microsoft, we chose live chat. There were options for chat, American Sign Language (ASL), phone, self-help, and even the ability to book an appointment. We did find the customer service rep for Microsoft to be redundant and a little frustrating. We tried reaching out again a few days later to ask questions about canceling our trial and found the next rep to be just as redundant.

If you’re already flustered and in need of answers, we see how this type of support could become annoying and overwhelming.

Winner: Bitdefender. Since the methods of contact are similar, we based this exclusively on the type of support we received. Bitdefender offered a more pleasant experience overall.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender FAQs


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Is Bitdefender better than Microsoft Defender?

Yes and no. As far as protection goes, both products offer solid security for your computers, phones, tablets, and other devices. As far as compatibility, features, support, and price is concerned, Bitdefender beats Microsoft Defender.

If you’re looking solely for good protection, you can use either. If you’re looking for apps and features useful across the entire internet, we’d recommend Bitdefender.


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Can I use Bitdefender with Microsoft Defender?

No. Microsoft has a fail-safe on Windows products where Defender, as well as Windows Security, will deactivate if it detects another antivirus product. This is to make sure they don’t counteract each other.

Often, antivirus products detect another antivirus product as a threat. If you try to run certain products together, you can end up very frustrated with a computer that doesn’t work properly.


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Does Microsoft Defender or Bitdefender protect against malware better?

According to independent, third-party testing, both products do an excellent job of protecting against malware. The security aspect of either Bitdefender or Microsoft Defender is solid.

Some question if Microsoft Defender is good, but the test scores don’t lie. The decision between the two products comes down to the features and usability and what you personally prefer.


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What security features does Bitdefender offer besides antivirus protection?

Bitdefender offers many other security features, including anti-phishing technology, web attack prevention, anti-fraud protection, a Wi-Fi security advisor, social network protection, anti-tracker technology, safe banking, and network threat protection, in addition to layered and advanced security features.

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender: which is better?

While both of these antivirus solutions offer independently tested protection, we choose Bitdefender over Microsoft Defender. Bitdefender offers more practical features and applications, as well as multiple pricing structures. We were also happier with the support we received from Bitdefender as well as the overall aesthetics of the product.

If you purchase Microsoft 365 for the Office suite or other features offered, Microsoft Defender is going to enhance the security already available on your Windows 10 or Windows 11 machine. However, if you’re primarily looking for a security solution, we recommend checking out another product.

Since these are both some of the best antivirus products on the market, you can feel confident knowing either will keep you safe from cyber threats; one just might work better for your needs than the other.

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

Microsoft Defender vs. Bitdefender alternatives

A lot of antivirus programs can look similar, so it all comes down to the features and pricing when you’re shopping around. If neither Microsoft Defender or Bitdefender sounds good to you, try one of these other products, which are all great antivirus solutions for Windows users. Our reviews give you a breakdown of the biggest pros, cons, features, and prices for each of these antivirus products.

  • McAfee: One of the longest-running security suites on the market, McAfee offers trusted protection as well as a host of other features. You can choose the plan that works best for you depending on how wide a security net you want to cast. McAfee offers antivirus protection as well as a password manager, VPN, and identity theft protection.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Review
  • Norton: We remember Norton coming preinstalled and free for 90 days on our first computer. Since then, Norton has continued to evolve into a trusted household name. Not only does it offer superb security, but it also brings a host of additional features like dark web monitoring and cloud storage, all backed by its 100% virus protection promise.

    Get Norton | Read Our Norton Review
  • Avast: Avast is a freemium service, meaning its basic virus protection is free for anyone who downloads it. From there, you can purchase more advanced protection that incorporates clean-up tools for your computer as well as a privacy mode for more secure browsing. The 24/7 support is only included with a paid plan, but even that comes at a reasonable monthly fee.

    Get Avast | Read Our Avast Review
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.