PROS / Bitdefender Antivirus consistently seeks out and destroys malware with superior performance in tests run by independent labs.
CONS / Mobile detection is available for an additional cost.
VERDICT / Bitdefender is the best antivirus software because of its performance, security-enhancing features, usability and 24/7 technical support.
Editor’s Note: Top Ten Reviews uses test results from the independent laboratory AV-Test as part of our review process for the best antivirus software. AV-Test looks specifically at protection, performance and usability on multiple versions of Windows operating systems, and it performs these evaluations several times throughout the year. We use the most current AV-Test scores available at the time of our review. It is possible that new AV-Test scores will be released after our review goes live on the site. We will consider these scores during our next review of the best antivirus software.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the best antivirus software for Windows 10 computer systems. It scored perfectly in all areas of independent evaluations, includes ransomware protection, has the most features and tools available as part of its basic antivirus package, and offers 24/7 customer support. These are all reasons Bitdefender is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner in virus protection.
Our primary data comes from AV-Test, an independent testing lab that evaluated Bitdefender and 22 other PC antivirus programs in controlled lab conditions and protocols in March and April 2016. The lab installed the software on PCs running Windows 10 and let each product run and routinely update its protection by communicating with its threat database.
Bitdefender met or beat the highest scores in the three sets of tests: protection, performance and usability. The protection tests check the software's effectiveness against known malware such as viruses, worms and Trojans. AV-Test used 20,094 samples of malware, most of which AV-Test harvested during the four weeks previous to the test. Bitdefender detected 100 percent of these widespread malevolent programs.
Detection & Removal Tools
While known malware goes in a threat database for easy detection, zero-day malware is harder to detect because it is unknown to the antivirus industry. To detect this type of threat, Bitdefender examines files that are suspiciously similar to files known to be malicious to see if they behave in potentially malicious ways. Bitdefender detected all of AV-Test's 164 samples of zero-day malware, while the industry average is 97 percent.
AV-Test's performance tests measure the effect of antivirus software on a computer's speed while the user visits websites, downloads applications, installs and runs programs, and copies data files. Bitdefender did not noticeably slow its host computer during any of these activities, whereas the industry average is a three-second slowdown.
The AV-Test usability test checks how accurately each antivirus program distinguishes between safe and unsafe files. An antivirus program with false positives – benign content wrongly flagged as malicious – can encourage you to turn the software off or ignore its warnings. Bitdefender performed nearly flawlessly, with a single false detection of legitimate software as malware and no other false positives in any additional context.
Even though Bitdefender Antivirus Plus performs well, no program can stop every potential threat. For these cases, Bitdefender provides a rescue mode. This automatically reboots your computer into a mode that exposes the problem and lets you remove it with a tool from Bitdefender's support site. This is useful if a rootkit attaches itself to the registry of the Windows operating system and hides itself while taking advantage of privileged access to the system.
A few other security features add convenience. The software's USB immunizer blocks potential malware on flash drives you plug in, and the desktop security widget lets you drag and drop files for quick scan checks. To further increase the safety of your online transactions, the software includes a dedicated browser to help protect against fraud.
The software warns you of dangerous results in your Google and Bing searches and blocks you from infected links. It tracks and blocks your access to websites with reputations for scamming and credit card phishing. Bitdefender can also protect you on social networks by monitoring your privacy settings and scanning links from your Facebook friends. Some additional privacy tools are a file shredder and a personal data filter to prevent information such as Social Security numbers from leaving your PC.
When you purchase Bitdefender Antivirus Pro, you receive three licenses to protect three different devices. However, though Bitdefender has mobile protection available, you have to use these licenses for additional computers or laptops. You need to purchase mobile detection separately or as part of a larger internet security suite.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Windows 8
Bitdefender is our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner for Windows 8 antivirus software because it didn't perform quite as well on Windows 8 as it did on Windows 10 in independent testing AV-Test conducted in June 2016. However, its score of 5.5 out of 6 is still above average for computer protection programs, and it's still a great Windows 8 antivirus.
The features and tools that Bitdefender has for Windows 10 work just as well for Windows 8. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus eradicates malware, including new ransomware threats, and warns you about phishing sites. It also warns you of dangerous websites in search engine results and blocks you from infected links. Bitdefender monitors your privacy settings and URLs in Facebook and other social networks to keep you from clicking on a link that looks legitimate but is actually a virus.
While you work, play games or watch videos on your computer, Bitdefender controls applications that might pop up and interfere with what you are doing. It received a perfect score from AV-Test for performance, meaning it won't slow down your computer.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Windows 7
Bitdefender didn't score as high on AV-Test's performance tests for Windows 7 antivirus software. It dipped a little, causing the test computers to run slower when Bitdefender was running, which is standard for computer protection programs we reviewed. Bitdefender still scored perfectly in both protection and usability, showing an excellent ability to quickly recognize internet threats, including ransomware and newly emerging viruses, and correctly identify legitimate websites and let them through. This helped Bitdefender earn the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for antivirus software for Windows 7.
Bitdefender warns you of dangerous search results and blocks you from opening infected links. It knows which websites have a reputation for scamming and credit card phishing, blocking your access to them. Bitdefender also protects you on Facebook by monitoring your privacy settings and scanning links from your Facebook friends. Further privacy features include a file shredder and a personal data filter to prevent sensitive data from leaving your computer.
Bitdefender Antivirus for Windows Vista & XP
The last time AV-Test tested Bitdefender on Windows Vista was December 2010. The lab evaluated the 2011 version, which received the highest score for protection, though none of the Windows Vista antivirus software in the tests scored a perfect 100 percent. However, the latest version of Bitdefender Antivirus Pro is compatible with Windows Vista and provides comprehensive, proactive protection for your computer and its contents.
AV-Test tested Bitdefender on Windows XP computers in the last round of evaluations, June 2014. As with so many other tests, Bitdefender received perfect scores in all three test areas – protection, performance and usability – for Windows XP antivirus software. It provides excellent threat detection and malware removal. Though testing was done on the 2014 version of Bitdefender, its newest release also works on Windows XP. Bitdefender is the best antivirus software for Windows XP in our review, making it the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner.
Help & Support
Bitdefender offers product help on its support site, covering useful topics and providing clear explanations. The support site also hosts malware and rootkit removal utilities, including a free scanner to help you identify the threat that may be already on your unprotected computer. The removal tools are also free. Once you know which threat is on your system, you can select that threat from the removal tools list for Bitdefender to isolate and remove it. In case you need individualized assistance, Bitdefender responds to customer support inquires by live chat, phone and email 24/7.
Impressive performance, useful features, solid support and a superb user experience make Bitdefender Antivirus Plus an excellent antivirus. It slipped in its overall performance on Windows 8, but it still scored well above the average in all areas. If you suffer a malware attack you can't recover from on your own, the Bitdefender support staff is standing by at all hours to get you back up and running.