Bitdefender Free Antivirus Review
Powerful protection, the light way.
Bitdefender Free Total Security is an antimalware suite that protects your Windows, Mac, and Android devices against viruses and a number of other security threats. Users also get a firewall, a reinforced browser (that permits secure login to bank websites as well as private browsing), and ransomware protection.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition protects against a wide variety of malware, albeit it puts some strain on the CPU performance, which places it in the upper echelon of free antivirus programs. Its compact interface is too cramped, and the program lacks basic customization options, including the ability to schedule a scan unlike other popular alternatives such as AVG and Avira. The free version of Bitdefender does not work with Windows 10, but it is a decent choice for uses, who don’t need to fine-tune their PC protection.
BitDefender Free Edition is ideal for the type of user, who just wants to install the software and let it do its job. It has a high protection score even if it lacks a more hands-on control by eliminating recourse to setup changes or manually scans.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition compares software to known malware signatures in the background. Its heuristic monitor continually looks for behavioural indications of a break-in. The system then uploads suspected malware samples to Bitdefender’s labs for detailed analysis and a fix.
Bitdefender Free Antivirus Performance
A test scan of a 50GB file baske performed by PC Advisor is completed in 1 hour 18 minutes with approximately 286,373 files, giving it a scan rate of 61 files per second. A second scan takes just 11s and scans a fewer 10,183 files, so after the initial checks, Bitdefender is very efficient at subsequent scans.
The software, however, puts a slightly higher load on a PC with our 1GB test file taking about 23% longer when a scan was running in the background, than without.
Bitdefender is the second free AV to use the same engine as the equivalent commercial product which scores 18.0/18.0 in AV-Test’s evaluation. However, in this instance there are no drop-offs at all. Under Protection, the software achieves a 100% score over each of the two months of testing in both the widespread and zero-day malware categories. In AV-Test’s evaluation the antivirus scored the highest possible rating. Tests from PC Advisor and PC Mag showed consistent results, which are broken down on their pages.
Under Performance, Bitdefender Free Antvirus performs well whatever in daily use and rarely (if ever) gives false blockage of an action when using legitimate software, which places it at the top of free antivirus programs in terms of usability.
Bitdefender’s malware-detection engine is consistently one of the best in detecting widespread, known malware.
Bitdefender Free Antivirus Experience
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition’s main window is small and unlike with most antivirus programs, a scan cannot be started from the main window. Users need to pop open the main screen’s task tray, give it a right click and select Full System Scan. One of the main drawbacks of the software is that there is no quick-scan option, nor the ability to customize scans. However, you can download the company’s free-standing 60-Second Virus Scanner applet, or use its online QuickScan service.
Users are limited in the features they can adjust or customize in Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. For instance, there’s no gaming mode to prevent interruptions, and no specific way to keep potentially unwanted apps (such as adware) from running. The program performs well in stopping malicious email attachments and websites, as well as scan files stored in cloud storage. Again, you can’t adjust any of those — the program automatically adjusts its level of intrusiveness to reflect the user’s computing style and the current threat level. In fact,
The Free version of BItDefender operates with a smaller, more discreet interface compared to the paid software, which pops up from the taskbar when you click the icon. It has a small grey panel with sub-panels for the key features of Virus Shield, AutoScan and My BitDefender. However, there are only switches to turn them on or off, and no additional parameters to set or stats to display. My BitDefender is the company’s browser-based dashboard, where users can find extra information, other than the status of their subscription on the various devices they might have it protecting. The company also makes AV products for Android and Mac.
Because there is no option to initiate a full or quick scan; it is up to the automated protection features of the product to instigate a scan when it needs to. Users can start a scan of specific files or folders from the BitDefender option in file menus. The progress of such a scan is marked only by the slowly changing border colour for the On Demand Scanner sub-panel which pops up.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition lacks a lot of the security features that we’re used to seeing in a freeware – there’s no dedicated defense against ransomware, for example. Other features the software lacks are a secure Web browser for banking and buying online, no password manager and no virtual keyboard to defeat spyware. However, all of these options are available with the free Bitdefender Safepay browser, which is a hardened version of Mozilla Firefox.
Users who value their privacy can install another free tool, Bitdefender Traffic Light, which will notify which sites track you across the Web. It has browser extensions for Firefox and Google Chrome.
Bitdefender Free Antivirus Pros and Cons
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition appeals to a wide base of users with its hands-off approach, although users of a more compulsive nature might be disappointed by the lack of options. Compared to other free antivirus products, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition has far fewer reminders to upgrade to a paid version of the software, which is a huge plus.
Pros of Bitdefender Free Antivirus
- High-quality malware detection
- Centralized online management hub
- Automated scanning
- Easy installation and setup
- Telephone, chat and email support
Cons of Bitdefender Free Antivirus
- Unclear function labels
- Limited settings and customization options
- Requirement for additional tool installations to increase privacy
Bitdefender Free Antivirus offers some of the best malware protection in the business. It is a light program that works with Windows XP (SP3) through Windows 8.1. It combines excellent performance and malware protection with a hands-on approach to security. One of the best features of the software is that it doesn’t nag you with upsell attempts, sell your user profile or hijack your browser settings as some other free-AV providers do.
The program isn’t officially supported on the Windows 10 platform, doesn’t offer much customization options and lacks essentials such as the ability to schedule scans. However, it’s a very good option for a non-technical person with limited technical knowledge.