Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition
- The same core antivirus protection as Bitdefender for-pay.
- Independent testing labs have given excellent scores.
- Excellent scores on the phishing and malicious URL blocking tests
- All are welcome.
- Commercial antivirus lacks advanced anti-malware protection layers.
Microsoft includes free antivirus protection in Windows 10, and it works well enough. You can still get better protection from malware by using a third-party anti-virus utility even if you don’t have to pay. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition contains the core malware-fighting components from Bitdefender’s commercial edition. However, it does not include a large collection of security features and doesn’t offer advanced malware protection. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers unadorned, effective antivirus protection.
Bitdefender free installation
It is easy to get Bitdefender Free up and running on your computer. It will download the most recent version and scan for active malware during the setup process. To activate the product, you will need to create a Bitdefender account or sign in if already have one.
Many free antivirus products are identical to their paid counterparts. However, some features may be grayed out or locked. Not Bitdefender. Although the premium edition’s main window doesn’t seem to be very busy, Bitdefender is simple. You can click on the button to run a full system scan. There is also a drag/drop spot that allows you to scan specific folders or files. A timeline shows recent activity. That’s all there is to it. This is the entire interface.
To eliminate any malware, it is a good idea to run a complete scan immediately after installing antivirus. The scan progress is simply displayed in the timeline of the events. Click it to view the entire scan window. The full scan took only 58 minutes. This is faster than the current average of 64 minutes. A repeat scan took just over one minute, which is clearly an indication that the scan was optimized. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free also performed impressive optimization in its latest test, going from 70 minutes for the initial scan down to 4.5 minutes for a repeat scan.
Excellent Lab Results
While Bitdefender Free doesn’t include every feature of the commercial edition, its core antivirus engine is the same as what the independent lab’s test, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. However, the labs make it clear that they only validate their results for the product being tested. It’s still worth taking a look at the outstanding scores that the commercial edition received.
Bitdefender is tested by three of the four labs I follow. In the three-part test regularly reported by AV-Test Institute, antivirus programs can earn up to six points each for effective protection, low impact on performance, and few usability problems (meaning false positives). Bitdefender was unable to score a perfect 18 points because of a few false negatives. However, 17.5 points are enough to make it a Top Product. Avast Free Antivirus, Kaspersky, Microsoft, and Norton were among the products that managed a perfect score in the latest test.
The researchers at AV-Comparatives perform a wide variety of tests; I follow three of them. Standard certification is given to products that pass a test. Advanced certification or Advanced+ certification goes to those products that exceed the minimum pass rate. Bitdefender was the only product to pass Advanced+ in all three recent instances of the tests. Avast and McAfee came very close to Kaspersky, who received two Advanced+ certifications, one Advanced, and McAfee and AVG.
The tests performed by MRG-Effitas are a bit different from the rest. A product must score 100% to pass the lab’s banking Trojans testing. Anything less will fail. Two levels of passing are offered by another test that tests a variety of malware. If the product completely blocks any installation attempt, it is Level 1. Level 2 is awarded to malware that has been detected and removed within 24 hours. Failure is anything else. Bitdefender passed the banking exam, along with ESET and Kaspersky. Norton was also certified. It reached Level 2 certification in the broad-spectrum test, along with F-Secure and Microsoft Windows Defender Security Center. In the most recent test, only Norton and ESET received Level 1 certification.
SE Labs attempts to simulate the real world of malware as closely as possible for testing purposes, using a capture/replay system to present each product with a real-world Web-based attack. This lab certifies at five levels: AAA, AA, and B. Bitdefender is not included in SE Labs’ results for several months.
An algorithm I created maps all test results onto a 10-point scale. It returns an aggregate lab score for any product with results from at least two labs. Avast, Avira Free Security, and Kaspersky are among the products that appear in reports from all four labs. With 9.9 points out of 10 possible, Kaspersky leads this group in aggregate score. Bitdefender has the highest overall score, 9.8 points, among the products that were tested by the three labs.
Excellent Protection from Malware
I do my own testing even if the lab results are abundant. This allows me to gauge how a product handles malware. If I don’t get enough data from the labs, my hands-on malware protection test is the only way I can rate antivirus accuracy. The labs have made it clear that Bitdefender’s technology has been top-notch in this instance.
Bitdefender began picking out the samples it recognized when I opened my folder. It took Bitdefender a while to go through all of them, partly because each removal was announced with a separate popup. The results were nearly identical to the commercial Bitdefender.
I keep a second set, each one modified to be unique from any other samples the antivirus has seen. I modify the filename, add nulls to increase the file size, and replace some non-executable bytes of text with random text. Bitdefender failed to recognize more than 25% of the hand-modified samples, as it did in previous tests. Remember, however, that this test only measures sight recognition as I don’t launch the modified items.
After putting my latest malware samples into play, I immediately tested Bitdefender’s Commercial Edition and the rest of our Editors Choice-winning antivirus products. This was some time ago so I thought the free edition would do better. It scored the same as the commercial edition but not in the same way. Each product missed a sample that was caught by the other. Both products were detected at 94% and received 9.2 points out of 10 possible.
This is a significant improvement on the 7.7 Bitdefender Antivirus Free score that was last reviewed. Other products scored higher, however. Malwarebytes scored an impressive 10, McAfee 9.9, and Webroot 9.8 respectively.
It takes me about an hour to complete my malicious URL blocking test. This test challenges the antivirus’s Web protection to keep my browser safe from over a hundred malware-hosting URLs. The antivirus is awarded full credit for blocking access to the dangerous URL and for preventing the malware from downloading.
Bitdefender is a free browser extension that blocks malicious URLs below the browser’s level. It sometimes redirects the browser to a warning page and sometimes displays a popup reporting that it has detected dangerous URLs. Sometimes, it just displayed an error message in my browser. I had to look at the event timeline to determine if Bitdefender blocked the page.
The antivirus also displayed a temporary popup when it blocked certain malware downloads. In other cases, however, the browser reported that the download was unsuccessful due to a network error. Check the event timeline to see if Bitdefender’s protective actions were a mistake.
Despite Bitdefender’s 100% protection, Bitdefender’s reporting of defensive actions is not as important. Bitdefender was heavily biased towards blocking access to dangerous URLs. McAfee also achieved 100% protection in its most recent test. Bitdefender’s commercial edition, along with Sophos Home Free and G Data, came in at 99%.
Amazing Phishing Detection
If you fall for a scam and give your login credentials away, even the best malware-detection systems in the world won’t be able to help you. Phishing websites pretend to be banks, online merchants, or gaming sites and try to get you to log in. The fraudsters will take control of your account once you log in. They are quickly blacklisted and caught, but they simply grab their winnings and move along.
I use phishing URLs to test whether a product can protect users from this type of fraud. I attempt to find both verified phishing scams and URLs that have not been analyzed and verified. I test the product and Chrome, Edge, and Firefox simultaneously, using phishing protection in all three browsers.
Each suspected fraud is traced back to the URL. I open the URL in each of the four browsers and then record the results. I discard any URL that doesn’t load in any of the browsers. I will discard any page that attempts to collect login credentials. After checking many hundred URLs that could be fraudulent, I ran the numbers.
Bitdefender did not always report its protective actions, just like the page blocking test. To distinguish between a genuine error and one that was caused by antivirus protection, I had to look at the timeline.
Bitdefender detected 97% frauds, which is better than most of its competitors. Among the few that did better, F-Secure and McAfee AntiVirus Plus own the field, with 100% detection. Bitdefender’s commercial edition, along with Norton AntiVirus Plus, and Webroot, managed 99%. These are excellent scores, and they should not be taken lightly.
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What’s not here?
This is the end of Bitdefender Free. The premium Bitdefender Antivirus features go far beyond what is listed here. For more information on the benefits of purchasing the full edition, please see my review (linked above). These bonus features will be summarized here.
The Bitdefender Wallet component is complete if basic, password manager. It can capture and replay passwords, import passwords from your browsers and generate strong passwords. It does not offer advanced features such as two-factor authentication and automatic password updating.
Bitdefender SafePay, a separate desktop that is hardened and protected by a secure browser, protects your online transactions. SafePay processes are isolated from regular desktop processes. Wi-Fi Advisor checks the security of your home network and warns you if you are connecting to insecure networks. You can use Rescue Mode to deal with the malware if the antivirus is unable to remove it.
The File Shredder allows you to permanently delete sensitive files, without the possibility of forensic recovery. The Search Advisor add-in warns users about potentially dangerous websites when they search for them. The vulnerability scan checks for security updates that are missing and weak passwords. The enhanced ransomware protection layer watches for behaviors that suggest ransomware, to protect your important documents. These bonus features are not available in the free edition.
An anti-tracker browser extension is designed to prevent advertisers, analytics, and any other trackers from monitoring your browsing activities. The tracker count displayed on a page’s toolbar icon shows how many are blocked. Click on the link to see more information, including an estimate of how blocking trackers has sped page load times. This is also not included in the free edition.
Protective measures that work
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition lacks the same features as its for-pay sibling. Although it does provide basic protection against malware, malicious sites, and fraudulent websites, the free edition lacks some of its premium edition’s extra protective layers. Editors’ Choice winner Bitdefender Antivirus Plus will provide you with every bit of Bitdefender malware protection. The free version is also available if you don’t have the funds.
Avast Free Antivirus offers password management, vulnerability scanning, system cleanup, and an unusual scan for network and router vulnerabilities. Kaspersky Security Cloud Free gets near-perfect scores from the independent labs and comes with suite features that include a free, feature-limited VPN. These are our Editors Choice picks for free antivirus utilities. You can try them all and Bitdefender before you settle on one.