Bitdefender Premium Security provides reliable malware protection and includes plenty of extra features to help protect all your devices, including a full VPN service.
- Wide range of features and device support
- Includes VPN
- Malware protection is as effective as Windows Defender
- High renewal costs if you subscribe online
- Firewall: Replace Windows’ clunky firewall controls with a more polished interface for setting rules.
- Ransomware protection:Per-folder backups and access protections are designed to prevent your most important files from being encrypted without your knowledge and recover them if the worst happens.
- Webcam and mcirophone protection:Control which applications get access to your devices.
Bitdefender Premium Security provides a fairly comprehensive suite of security tools but, like most such services, it’s expensive to subscribe online and I’ve noticed that cheaper keys from third-party retailers have become very hard to find.
It does very well at protecting against malware, the most important qualification for an antivirus tool, but not quite as well as some of its similarly well-equipped rivals, notably McAfee, as well as cheaper services such as GData and even free antimalware solutions such as Avast One Essential.
If you’re buying your security suite specifically because you want plenty of bells and whistles, Bitdefender is well equipped, but Norton 360 Deluxe and McAfee+ Advanced offer a few more features in that department, such as online backups and identity theft remediation, albeit at a higher price.
A 10-device Bitdefender Premium Security subscription has an RPP of £119.99, but first-time subscribers are charged just £49.99. That’s still a lot compared to most rivals.
Turning off auto-renewal and buying your subscription from a shop used to be the way to go for reduced cost Bitdefender subscriptions, and it’s still a good choice.
Malware detection performance
- Achieved 100% rating in AV-Test
Bitdefender’s malware detection engine typically performs well in tests. While Premium Security isn’t specifically tested, Bitdefender Internet Security is, and the main difference between the two is that Premium Security lets you protect more devices, adds iOS, Android and macOS support, as well as a password manager and VPN.
Therefore, I can safely use data from one to assess the other.
|Testing facility||AV-TEST||AV Comparatives||SE Labs|
|Real-World Threat Protection||100%||99.7%||99%|
Bitdefender got a 99% protection rating from SELabs, 99.7% from AV Comparatives with two false positives, and while it detected all malware in AV-TEST’s latest, it registered five false positives.
- Requires an online account
- Includes a rebranded Hotspot Shield VPN
- Plenty of security features
Unlike some of its rivals, Bitdefender requires you to create an account to use it, as part of its management and deployment interface is cloud-based. You also can’t have multiple products active on a single account.
Bitdefender’s main dashboard provides recommendations to improve system security and quick access to its on-demand malware scanner, a rebranded Hotspot Shield VPN that’s included in a Premium Security subscription but installed separately.
Most of the software’s core features can be found under the Protection tab, including various malware defence modules, vulnerability scanners, an anti-spam tool for local email clients, ransomware remediation tools, a firewall that’s a nice nicer to work with than Windows’ own, and Bitdefender’s SafePay sandboxed browser, designed to let you check your bank accounts safely.
Ransomware protection is no longer enabled by default, which is great, as this can be somewhat aggressive, but you are prompted to set it up after installation and it’s definitely worth doing so. However, once you know it’s there, it’s a useful tool that does a thorough job. A number of key folders – Documents, Pictures and Videos – are both backed up and protected from being changed by any program that Bitdefender doesn’t recognise.
Applications can be whitelisted in your Ransomware remediation settings, found under Protection, where you can also manually restore backups and enable or disable automatic restoration if files are encrypted by ransomware.
Bitdefender’s default firewall settings hit a good balance between security and ease of use. The firewall has a conveniently searchable rules list and a user-friendly focus on per-application access rules, although you can still set broad rules based on port or IP address.
In the Privacy tab, you’ll find a password manager, secure delete, encryption, webcam and microphone protection and parental control tools, the latter of which requires the creation of profiles for your kids on the Bitdefender online cloud-based management system.
The parental controls share activity summaries to the admin’s Bitdefender Central web interface – they work well, but are probably too intrusive for older kids. The password manager is, like the VPN, a stand-alone tool, but it’s not as polished as dedicated solutions like Bitwarden.
Extras in the Utilities tab include system optimisation and clean-up tools, plus an anti-theft system that works with the web-based Bitdefender Central device management, tracking and wiping tools.
I’m a fan of Bitdefender’s interruption-free silent mode settings. These can be turned on manually, but automatically enable themselves when you watch something at full screen or play a game. They don’t just silence Bitdefender’s alerts: You can even configure them to halt Windows updates while you’re busy.
Should you buy it?
You care about features:
This is one of the most feature-packed antivirus suites around, and if you plan on committing to Bitdefender in the long term, you’ll find most of your security needs met here. However, if you’re after extra identity protection options, check out Norton and McAfee’s top tiers.
You care about price:
Bitdefender Premium Security looks expensive when you check out those renewal prices, but on a per-device basis, it’s cheaper than F-Secure or Trend Micro, and only a bit more expensive than ESET or Kaspersky Internet Security. Make sure you actually need all those features before you buy, though.
Bitdefender offers high quality protection and is bristling with extra features like a VPN, password manager and parental controls. If you want a single solution for all of this, it’s well worth a look.
How we test
We use every antivirus suite ourselves so we can check out their various features, from scanning options to integrated extras such as parental controls.
The results we use to assess malware detection performance come from reputable testing houses including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use data from trusted and approved testing houses to determine the malware detection performance
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Yes, it’s perfectly safe to use and offers one of the best malware-detection services.
No, Bitfender’s headquarters is based in Romania.