Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 review: One of the best for malware protection

Bitdefender stops malware before it has a chance to start downloading.

screenshot bitdefender dashboard
(Image: © Nicole Johnston/ Windows Central)

Bitdefender is one of the best antivirus software options available. It consistently earns near-perfect scores in third-party lab tests, including our own, and comes with so many extra security tools it's hard to believe it's a basic program. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 is one of the fastest programs at stopping malware before it has a chance to infect your computer and does it without causing your system to slow down. Here is more of what we discovered while testing Bitdefender and the protections that come with this antivirus software.

What's new with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020?

The basic protection program of Bitdefender now includes an anti-tracker. Browser histories are typically collected by websites you visit and used with adware to create promotions specifically targeted to you. This is why you see ads on Facebook, Twitter and other websites after you've shopped, browsed or searched for specific items. Bitdefender's anti-tracker hides your browser data to cut down on these annoying ads and keep your online activity more private.

What we love about Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

From the first time we started testing Bitdefender we were impressed. This antivirus software stops malicious files before they have a chance to start downloading. In fact, Bitdefender often beat the browser notifications asking us to verify the download, displaying a large warning message and securely removing the threat. Bitdefender recognized the URL of where threats were hidden and let us know those sites were tagged as malicious, too, so we could avoid them. It easily caught phishing schemes, including those designed to look like Facebook and PayPal account logins.

We allowed several threats to infect our computers then used Bitdefender to find and clean them. Bitdefender did an excellent job finding each one. In fact, often during our testing, we would reinstall Bitdefender to gather up threats other antivirus software left behind because we were that confident in its protection ability. Each removed threat was securely and completely cleared from our computer so there was no chance malware could reinfect.

Bitdefender includes a VPN for stopping online trackers and shielding browser histories.

Bitdefender runs on very little resources so we didn't notice any slowdown while using it. The only reason we knew that Bitdefender did cause a millisecond of delay is because we were timing it. But we certainly didn't notice on our own. We played games and watching videos, sent emails and downloaded files and programs during Bitdefender's deep virus scans and never had a problem with lag. We even installed Bitdefender on home computers that were already bogged down a bit with a lot of program and it still didn't affect our overall experience.

On top of great protection and performance, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus comes with a VPN that lets you work online without adware, cookies and other trackers snatching your online movements and browser histories. It has banking tools that shield credit card and account numbers while you shop and bank online. Bitdefender also has Safe Files that secure important documents and information from ransomware and other hacker attacks. All of these tools are rarely included with basic antivirus software, which makes Bitdefender one of the best for securing your computer.

What we dislike about Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

The biggest tool Bitdefender doesn't include with its Antivirus Plus program is a personal firewall. Besides malware protection, a firewall is the one security tool we feel strongly that everyone should have and antivirus programs, even basic ones, should include. Most antivirus programs, however, don't include a firewall, but with the amount of extra features Bitdefender includes we feel a personal firewall should be on the list.

Bitdefender does takes a few extra steps to install and setup to use. Some of the tools you need to enable can only be accessed from the online portal rather from the user dashboard. Bitdefender walks you through each step, but it would be much easier to have everything in one place. Also, virus scans take a long time to complete. It was nearly 40 minutes for a deep virus scan to finish where other antivirus programs took half that time.

Is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus right for you?

We have no problem recommending Bitdefender because we've seen just how quickly it stops malware before it has a chance to start downloading. Most threats are immediately scrubbed without ever hitting the quarantine folder, but even quarantined malware is securely and permanently deleted. There are a few extra steps needed to install and set up Bitdefender. You're walked through each step, but it may still become confusing for those who want something a little more plug-n-play.

Bitdefender is a good deal is you need to secure a computer on a budget. It's only $40 for the first year for new users, or for double that you can get three licenses to protect multiple computers.

Bitdefender earns its high score from how well it stops malware, including highly sophisticated phishing schemes. It quickly removes threats before they infect your computer and scrubs them so there isn't any piece left. It runs smoothly without taking too much of your system's resources and includes extra tools like a VPN and safe banking features. It's a little tricky to setup and doesn't include a firewall, which we feel is important for antivirus software to have, but overall Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is one of the best for computer protection.

July, 2019: This article has been updated with information about new tools and features included with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020.

Nicole writes for multiple Future Publishing brands covering topics from antivirus to kitchen appliances to SAS. She has over 15 years of research and writing experience, including eight years of testing and reviewing consumer products. Nicole earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and Political Science with a focus on empirical research. In her spare time, Nicole serves as a member of several school councils and volunteers for a local arts board.

12 Comments
  • I had bought bitdefender last year but found it resource hoggy. Plus its user interface was little complicated as well.
    I prefer ESET over this.
  • Hi I am surprised you say it is hoggy exactly what device are you using?
  • We find that Bitdefender is one of the least heavy. Resources compared to ESET and Kaspersky are dramatically less. Also we rolled out Bitdefender to a 500 user network as they had a massive outbreak and it was running on all machines even though they had ESET running.
  • I have a desktop with 4th gen core i3 processor with 8 GB RAM and laptop with 7th gen core i5 CPU with 8 GB RAM. Both running Windows 10. I remember its main screen itself used to take time to load.
  • If you are running on HDD, you're going to need to defrag it or upgrade to an SSD. On a mechanical HDD it can cause some slow downs albeit rarely as that is due to the fragmented nature of the file table. You don't need to worry about all that with an SSD.
  • I got Norton for free, it's offered by Xfinity when you order cable.
  • Can't you just use the windows 10 firewall in conjunction with this? I got bitdefender about 6 months ago. I like it so far. Though I had to reinstall it as it stopped working a few weeks back
  • Yes, Windows' baked in firewall is reasonably good. Like as not your ISP supplied cable or DSL box has a firewall built into it as well. I don't see that most users need a 3rd party firewall.
  • Important to note - discounted prices only applies to first payment only so $30 for the first or £19.99 for the first year with the subsequent year being $59.99 / £39.99. They also have step up discounts (for the first payment only) - 2 years upfront $62.99 with $27 off and 3 years upfront is $83.99 with $36 off . The UK prices are: £45.99 with £19 off for 2 years upfront and £59.49 with £25 off for 3 years upfront.
  • Why do folks still pay for AV. Defender built into the OS and Defender extensions for your favorite browser. Zero cost.
  • It would be interesting to know the policy on keeping logs with the VPN.
  • Bitdefender consistently scores the best protection in malware detection tests run by independent labs. Bitdefender Total Security 2019 works against all e-threats – from viruses, worms and Trojans, to ransomware, zero-day exploits, rootkits and spyware.