Is BitDefender the Best Antivirus?

Category: Anti-Virus

I saw an advertisment in a popular PC magazine claiming that BitDefender was the #1 ranked antivirus protection. It made me wonder how antivirus programs are tested, and if the results are truly objective. Who does these tests, and is BitDefender really the best antivirus program on the market?

How to Find The Best Antivirus Software

Most computer users don't understand the technical details of antivirus software, and don't want to. All they really want to know is, "Which is the best antivirus software?" Every month it seems, there are plenty of websites and magazines offering pseudo-scientific answers to this burning question. But the answers are seldom of real value.

Here's why... Most tests include only a limited number of antivirus programs. The tests themselves are not scientifically designed. The ratings are often subjective; what makes one program more "user-friendly" than another, for example. Even worse, some are just thinly veiled affiliate plays that promote whichever solution offers the highest commission. But there is at least one source of objective, scientific antivirus test results.
Best Antivirus

The non-profit AV-TEST Institute has been in the IT security research field for over 15 years. Nearly two dozen professional researchers spend all of their time collecting data on malware and testing dozens of antimalware programs. In the most recent AV-TEST report, 25 security products were evaluated in July and August 2011. To best simulate real-world conditions, the current version of each product was tested, using all the default settings.

BitDefender Internet Security Suite 2011 took top honors in the second and third quarters of 2011, a very strong showing. Here's the scoop on how these tests are performed, and how the other top contenders fared in comparison.

How Are Anti-Virus Programs Tested?

AV-TEST publishes new test reports quarterly, and it's quite an honor to be among its top-ranked antivirus programs. AV-TEST rates antivirus programs in three areas. A "6" is a perfect score in each area, so a total of 18 points can be earned. Here is a look at AV-TEST's rating system and how the top contenders fared in Q3.

"Protection" against infection by malware is the first area in which programs are tested. Using each program's default settings, AV-TEST exposes it to known malware threats that are currently "in the wild," and to a wide array of malware that the firm has "captured" for research. The test measures how well a program identifies and blocks the many threats thrown at it.

BitDefender scored a perfect 6.0 in this test. AVG Internet Security 2011 scored 5.5, as did G Data, Kaspersky, Panda, and F-Secure. Symantec Norton and Avast Free Antvirus both scored 5.0. Trend Micro and PC Tools scored 4.5 and 4.0, respectively.

"Repair" of infections is another critical test area. Test systems are infected with sets of malware that are representative of what's in the wild. Antivirus programs are set to scan and repair the infected systems using their default settings. The test measures how well the programs detect infections and how thoroughly infections are removed.

BitDefender tied with Kaspersky in the repair test, with both scoring 5.5 out of 6.0 possible points. Symantec, Panda, Webroot, and F-Secure all scored 5.0. AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira, Sophos, and PC Tools tied at 4.5 points. GFI Vipre, Norman, G Data, and Avast all scored 4.0.

"Usability" is the third AV-TEST area. The term does not refer to how easy it is to use an antivirus program, but to the usability of the total computer system with the antivirus program running. In other words, this test measures the impact of antivirus protection on system performance, and the number of false positives generated.

BitDefender was again among the top-rated programs with a score of 5.5, tied with ESET. Five programs scored a 5.0 in usability, including Microsoft Security Essentials, Kaspersky, Panda, Sophos, and F-Secure. Avast, BullGuard, and Trend Micro all tied at 4.5 usability points.

Just to be clear, AV-TEST did not analyze the free version of BitDefender, which is quite different from the BitDefender Internet Security suite that was tested. BitDefender Free Edition uses the same malware scanning engine as other BitDefender products, but the free version is only an on-demand virus scanner. That means it does NOT provide real-time security while you are surfing the Web or downloading files.

BitDefender Internet Security scored 17 out of a possible 18 points, better than any of the other tested programs. For reference, the best performing free antivirus programs were AVG's Anti-Virus Free Edition 10.0, and Panda Cloud Antivirus Free Edition 1.5.1 (both scoring 14 points). But overall, BitDefender's high scores in all three areas make it arguably "the best" antivirus program available at this time.

I'm sure many readers will want to leap to the defense of their personal favorite antivirus solution. So please post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Is BitDefender the Best Antivirus?"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

Once again you come across with the facts.
I'll add BitDefender. to my security platform.
Thanks again, Mr. Bob!

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

Looks like a good site, but it's kind of ironic that other independent sites offer much different results:
One would think that 'independent sites' would have results that are a little closer to each other. I dunno! Maybe it's politics, computer configuration, types of viruses used
I remember when Norton was the best (and AVG was the best free one). Times change. Stay aware.
BTW: I'm using Avira this year again. So far, so good.

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

Way better than all those tested antivirus programs is simply using the Linux operating system...even without any antivirus program running it's much more secure.

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

I have used many different Anti-Virus programs over the years, I finally found one that is best for me. I use Vipre Home Premium, I haven't had a virus since I started running Vipre last November. It is not a resourse hog, user friendly and also has firewall. I got the newest edition on ebay for only $12.88 for unlimited pcs and one year of support and undates. Works great.

Posted by:

Thomas Weybrew
08 Nov 2011

I have heard that using more than one AV program isn't recommended. I use Microsoft Security Essentials and I read that avast! was compatible and that they could be used together. I want to continue to use MSE but would like to supplement it with a compatible program. Are there others that would do the about Panda Cloud?

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

I used BitDefender for two years, because it was rated highly by TopTenReviews among others. But then the automatic update quit working. It would put the computer in an endless loop, and it took a whole day to figure out what was causing the problem and how to stop it--basically by disabling automatic update--not an easy task when autoupdate would kick in before you could click on the appropriate buttons!

I started doing manual updates every week, but even that was not without its problems and I sometimes had to try two or three times due to some problem with one of the temp files it was loading or trying to delete (I don't recall).

I did try to get help from them, but got "canned" responses and I don't think they ever understood exactly what was happening to me. So a couple of months before it was time to renew, I switched to WebRoot.

Norton and McAfee always rate pretty highly, but I get tired of the bells and whistles (bloatware) and the way they slowed my computer down at the times I used them (always for at least two years, so I went through at least one update/upgrade).

If I ever switched to BitDefender (or any other internet security package) I would first research what customers had to say about it on their forums.

Posted by:

Salman Khan
08 Nov 2011

I use Avira. Does Bitdefender use a lot of resources?

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

What about Microsoft Security Essentials?
What about the size of other anti virus programs, slowing the computer down?

Posted by:

08 Nov 2011

I'm confused. Under "Protection" it says, "The test measures how well a program identifies and blocks the many threats thrown at it." Microsoft Security Essentials didn't even get an honorable mention.

Under "Repair" it says, "The test measures how well the programs detect infections and how thoroughly infections are removed." MSE got 4.5 points and tied with several other AV programs.

Since MSE was unable to "identify and block" malware (protection) then how was it possible for MSE to "detect and remove" malware (repair)? That just doesn't make sense to me. Aren't the same signatures and heuristics used/needed to detect and remove as well as to identify and block it in the first place? If not, why not?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm not sure why you say that "Microsoft Security Essentials didn't even get an honorable mention" for Protection. It's just that I didn't mention the ratings of all 25 products in every category. MSE scored a 2.5 in that category, but the devil is in the details. There are three components in the Protection score. MSE scored 100% in "Detection of widespread and prevalent malware" but did not do well at "Protection against zero-day attacks".

See the full report on MSE and I'm sure it will make things clearer:

Posted by:

09 Nov 2011

I would quite like to see Mary's comments addressed because I'm now confused too.

Posted by:

09 Nov 2011

I used Defender Pro 5 and 1 for several years until, I changed to the 15 and 1 , its Great, been using it about 4 yrs no problems at all.

Posted by:

09 Nov 2011

I've Bit Defender security for at least three years and only one problem using an HP wireless printer. It keeps blocking the IP port for the printer. It updates by itself and works great.

Posted by:

Henry Chapman
10 Nov 2011

I am using Panda freeware. I have installed it on my wife's, my grandson's, my brother's, and my daughter's PCs. I has worked well on all of these PCs. The elimination of daily checking for updates is a stellar feature of Panda.

I wish America would embrace Linux instead of Windows. Then the electronic pestilence problem would shrink dramatically.

Posted by:

10 Nov 2011

Over time I find Bit Defender to be a resource hog on my computer.
I'm using Avast free atm,seems to work great and doesn't bog down my computer at all.

Posted by:

28 Nov 2011

I switched to Bit Defender this year after using McAfee for many many many years, it had the highest ratings that didn't have a Norton name on it. I do computer work for a few small firms and almost universally if they call about slow running systems Norton is the culprit. BD does however have some annoying issues.
1) port scans. BD reports port scans from my ISP if I leave a browser ope for a while.
2) Auto update includes auto restart. Automatic update works BUT if you allow it to auto-install and are away when it happens a restart may occur just like dear old Microsoft. If you turn auto-update they are downloaded but a notice isn't sent nor a popup visible unless you check their control center for "events." Just pop up and say I'm ready to install every hour or so please so I don't forget.
3) No internal scheduler. One of the events that will get you a warning is no recent system scans. The problem is that unlike all others I've used there is no way to schedule a regular scan on Friday night at midnight.
4)Infections that aren't. Every time I access a network drive and open a folder where I stored a downloaded program executable file Bit Defender calls the executable an infection. You can turn off network drive scanning but you shouldn't have to.
I know these look like a pain but after McAfee and Kaspersky slowed my system to a crawl they are tolerable.

Posted by:

02 Feb 2012

Thank you for sharing these results and explaining them in a way that the average person can understand them. I am surprised at the findings.
I have PC cillin trend now for 2 years on 3 home computers that get a lot of internet by a teenager. I have not had any crashes or viruses. In the past when I had Bit Defender, I got invaded by a virus so severly that my computer crashed and It cost me a lot of money to have a PC store clean it and retrieve my files. I still didn't retrieve everything. Before that I had Norton and it was just a pain in every way imaginable plus I got a virus and a lot of mal ware.
I was amazed to see that PC cillin was at the bottom of the ratings.
Feel free to respond or add aditional input.
Thanks again.

Posted by:

Linda Thompson
26 Mar 2012

I am a firm believer in Avast 7 free edition.You can scheduel scans,it up dates itself and has a sandbox that will grab something you downloaded and asks you if you are sure you wanted it.
It also has shields you can modify to your needs.
It doesnt seem to be a resource hogger and runs smoothly all the time.
It will alert you when it starts a scan and you can decline if you are doing things it would slow down.
I have tried almost every AV program and am very happy with Avast.I am a download freak and it has saved me a couple times.I highly recommend it,and NO I dont work for Avast or know any one who does.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2012

I appreciate the the information you provide us. I have been using Panda for approx. 6 years on 3 home computers. I am basically satisfied with it. However, I am always checking to see if there is anything better. My Panda subscription is up in 15 days. This article has been helpful. I probably would switch to BD but got scared off by some of the negitive comments. Panda scored right behind BD so I guess I will stay with it for now.

Posted by:

28 Mar 2012

This information came at a good time for me. I have used Panda on three home computers for approx 6 years and I have basically been pleased. My subscription is up in 15 days. I considered BD after reading the testing results, but after reading some of the negitive comments about it was unsure. Panda fell just a little behind BD ratings so I will probably stay with it for now. If you have any additional information that would help me, I would appreciate you posting it.
Thank you for keeping all of us on top of what is happening.

Posted by:

13 Aug 2014

Finally Fast PC is actually running tv commercials stating that they are better than Bit Defender and Kaspersky but their product never even makes the list in any tests. I'm actually going to drop my Kaspersky and go with Bit Defender.

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