Bitdefender vs. Avast: which antivirus is better?

Bitdefender vs Avast

This matchup is worthy of being called the battle of the titans. Bitdefender is often considered the best antivirus service (and appears at #1 on our best antivirus list). Then, there’s Avast, a company so large it eats smaller cybersec providers for breakfast, incorporating them into their infrastructure. Both providers have free versions, both are well known for their products. The question remains: which one reigns triumphant?

So, in this Bitdefender vs. Avast comparison, I’ll look at each provider’s strengths and weaknesses in categories like features, malware protection, pricing, apps, and customer support. After this short read, you’ll have a much better idea of which one is better and why.

Winner of each category

CategoryBitdefenderAvast
Features
Protection
PC Performance
Pricing
User Interface
Support

Features overview

Judging purely from the length of the feature lists, both services seem like equal contenders. They both aim to add as many additional features to expand their protection suite. The good thing is that both of them have similarly laid out plans starting from the free version. So, you can always consider every feature from the point of what you would get were you in the other camp.

However, looking closely shows that Bitdefender is so far ahead of Avast that it’s hardly a competition. If you’re using Windows, that is. When looked at from the perspective of multi-platform support, Avast is somewhat better at bringing the feature to Apple devices. However, Windows is most in need of antivirus software, therefore, I consider those features more important.

Winner: Bitdefender

Bitdefender features

What immediately springs to mind when talking about Bitdefender is its unrestrictive approach. In terms of features, this is visible because no matter whether you’re a premium subscriber or using the free version, you’re getting the same malware removal essentials. This establishes a healthy baseline available to everyone.

However, Bitdefender isn’t drawing the line at malware scans. Web protection and active real-time monitoring is also part of that baseline. The overall sense is that even as a free user, you’re being treated like a king. If I listed the benefits you get with the free version of this service and asked whether this package is free or not, most people would have no clue.

However, Bitdefender also has a paid version. What’s the best way to convince someone to open up their wallet? It seems that Bitdefender’s answer to that is: give even more features. In practice, this means that even on the first paid tier, you get a ridiculously long list of them.

Network Threat Prevention – an Internet security toolkit that protects your home network against known vulnerabilities, exploits, botnet URL’s, and other similar threats

Multi-Layer Ransomware Protection – makes copies of your most important files with a possibility to restore them in case you’d become a victim of ransomware

Vulnerability Assessment – analyses your network, device properties, used software and gives you a personalized security report giving you tips on how you could make yourself even safer

Rescue Environment – it’s a malware removal when the device is rebooting. This is a must-have feature because you can’t remove some rootkits when you’re booted into the system, which is where you perform most of your system scans

Adjustable profiles – Bitdefender detects what you’re doing with your device to toggle particular modes in order not to bother you when you’d like some privacy, i.e., when watching a movie or playing a game

Anti-tracker – a general-purpose blocker designed to minimize the tracking that you encounter when browsing the web

Safepay browser – unique browser built with secure payments in mind. It has a virtual keyboard, making it invulnerable against various keyloggers that want to steal your payment data.

Password manager – allows for easier management of account credentials. It syncs between devices and can also be used for storing payment information.

VPN – limited to 200 MB/day, but still useful in certain situations

File shredder – a tool that allows you to delete files without the possibility to recover them. Very useful in cases when you work with large volumes of someone’s private data.

Antispam – additional email filter compatible with most popular mailboxes. Using it, you can set up spam filters to filter out unwanted emails.

Bitdefender online threat prevention screenshot

There’s also the most expensive Total Security version with all the features mentioned before, plus a couple of them more.

Webcam and microphone protection – it denies all suspicious requests to your camera or microphone. That way, you can know for sure that no one is listening to your conversation or spying on you through webcam.

Parental controls – set up smart device limits and control how the device can be used and which webpages are available

OneClick Optimizer – registry cleaner that clears up some space and makes your startup a bit more efficient

Anti-Theft tools – a suite of anti-theft tools that go from locking up your device to its location tracking

The most important feature that you get with Total Security is significantly more support for macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Otherwise, Bitdefender could be treated almost exclusively as Windows-only antivirus. Cross-platforms support is one of the weakest points of Bitdefender. However, basic Virus Scanner is available for macOS, but it uses a separate client.

Avast features

The free version of Avast has real-time protection, malware scans, wifi protection, and ransomware protection. That’s less than Bitdefender has. If you need anything else, well, you probably start looking into the paid plans. Avast’s only comeback is that it has the same app on their Mac version.

With Avast Premium Security, the situation becomes better, and the paywall features unlock. This includes:

Wifi network security – is essentially a monitoring tool, ensuring no malicious agents are on the same network. This also includes DNS cache protection.

Secure sandbox – if you downloaded a suspicious app, you can run it in an isolated sandbox to determine whether it’s safe. It won’t spread to other system files, so it’s a convenient method to check up.

Webcam Shield – essentially it’s a hard block for your web camera or microphone. It ensures the privacy of your communications. No unallowed app will be able to access your devices.

Website safety check – every time you’re going online, Avast will monitor your traffic and block access to websites that are known to be malicious or used for phishing

Avast Antivirus main dashboard

That’s the complete list, but it hardly looks like much in comparison. The equation doesn’t change with their most expensive version either.

Avast Ultimate adds their separate products: SecureLine VPN and Cleanup Premium. So, if you’re looking for arguments why you should get this antivirus, features won’t be a reason.

Bitdefender vs. Avast: which offers better protection?

One of the hardest things to compare between two antiviruses is their protection capabilities. The quality of the antivirus depends not only on the ability to detect and remove malware. You want to make sure that your service is removing only the harmful files and not deleting important system data. That is why you also have to factor in false-positives.

According to AV-TEST Institute’s data, when it comes to protection, both Avast and Bitdefender score 6 points on Windows and 5.5 points on Mac. So, it’s fair to say that you should expect a fairly similar degree of performance, whichever you pick. With that said, Bitdefender offers a more comprehensive defensive feature list, which puts it over the edge.

Winner: Bitdefender

Malware protection

Avast’s capabilities to protect you against malware will heavily depend on your subscription version. This is because Avast heavily focuses on frequent background rescans for threats that already are on the inside. With the paid version, there is a much bigger focus on network protection. So, potentially the amount of malware that you have to deal with will be significantly lower because most of the junk won’t end up on your device. It won’t pass the web countermeasures.

Avast Free Antivirus scan screenshot

To some extent, the same applies to Bitdefender, however, the service has much better network safety tools even on its most basic version. So, you won’t be left with only the antivirus scanner and real-time protection. There are several tools that should help you avoid frequent scans. That saves not only your device’s resources but your time as well.

Scanning

Bitdefender quick scan

Where Bitdefender lags behind is in background scans. It takes about twice as long to complete a full system scan with Bitdefender as it would be with Avast. My test unit has a relatively uncluttered 256 GB SSD drive, and it still took almost two hours. The difference isn’t as huge with quick scans, but Avast just performs a little better. Though, a downside is that when you’re scanning with Avast, you pretty much can’t do anything else with your device. With Bitdefender, some system reserves are left, so it’s possible to browse the news or write an email without crashing your system.

Firewall protection

Both providers have network security toolkits. My impression is that Avast spent too much time to make their Network protection interface to look pretty and forgot about its functionality. You can perform various scans, but they rarely tell you anything useful. For the most part, the service cannot identify whether some of the unknown devices on the network are malicious or not.

What redeems Avast is that you can customize your firewall’s strictness. It’s quite easy to go overboard, so make sure you’re not messing with the ports your household members are using.

Bitdefender firewall screen

Bitdefender doesn’t have anything spectacular when it comes to firewall customization either. Regardless, the whole feature offers detailed information and works in the background. You can just set it up and forget till you get a notification that you’re trying to access a suspicious connection. Overall, Bitdefender’s firewall is a bit more functional and convenient.

PC performance

When you look at the amount of bloatware that Avast tries to smuggle in with their installation, you can’t help but start wondering that maybe they spent a little too much time with trojan horses analytics. The same can be said about the amount of memory that the service occupies. So, instead of malware eating up your resources, you now have Avast to mistake for a crypto miner. This is worse on weaker devices, so be aware. If you’re shooting for performance, you probably won’t get it with Avast.

Bitdefender isn’t the leanest application, either. Somehow, it takes several times more storage space than Avast but performs better. A lot of it has to do with their smart profile management, so when it’s in full background check mode, you might be away from your system. This antivirus adapts to you, not the other way around.

Pricing

If someone says it’s impossible to get a good service for free, they probably haven’t heard about Bitdefender. This provider breaks all the usual conventions by giving many useful features for free and even allowing customer support. For the truly budget-conscious, that’s all the information that they need. Even then, the paid plans don’t bite, at least when we’re talking about the first year.

From this perspective, Avast just looks bad. Their free edition is more of a reminder of what you’re missing out on rather than a service intended for actual people. How else would you justify constant pop-ups offering to upgrade? The truth is that upgrading is hardly worth it because, for a hefty price bump, you’re barely getting an improvement on what Bitdefender is offering for free.

Winner: Bitdefender

User-friendliness

You don’t even have to be a registered user to download the software. However, the installation itself isn’t too convenient, and this applies to both providers. Bitdefender only downloads as a 13 MB executable file that downloads the rest of the package (going up to 400 MB). That’s a lot of data files, and it seems that they might be experiencing a heavier load because the downloads are painfully slow. So, it takes some time to set it up, but your experience might be different.

Avast is much quicker in this regard, but they’re guilty of much worse things. During installation, they’re one of the services that add tiny checkboxes with by default toggled downloads for things like Opera or Avast Secure Browser. Most users won’t be attentive enough to remove them, much less understand what they’re agreeing to. What Avast could do, at least, is not to make them pre-checked by default.

When you enter the apps themselves, there isn’t much to criticize. Both are easy to use, and you’ll quickly find what you need. However, Avast continues to be a sketchy service even when you eventually set it up. Prepare to be heavily bombarded with pop-up reminders to upgrade to a paid version. Bitdefender is acting much more reasonably and are treating you as their client even if you’re using their free version. Such extortion tactics that Avast uses should be a thing of the past.

Winner: Bitdefender

Desktop app

When it comes to Bitdefender, you have several app options. You can just install the malware scanner or pick the whole suite. This gives you the flexibility to customize your installation a bit. Then, there are also options to install their VPN service separately. In short, Bitdefender offers a lot of options to set up the service on desktop, allowing you to skip the features or even the full app.

Avast Antivirus virus scan screenshot

Avast has only one option – their full app that doesn’t change even if you upgrade your plan. What upgrading your plan does is just removes the paywall. So, essentially you do have the required files at the ready, but you’re denied access to them because of your subscription plan. From the user’s perspective, it makes little sense. It saves Avast a lot of trouble to create and support a separate app as they’re offering a free service and are looking for ways to cut corners.

Mobile app

Mobile apps are a tricky area. More often than not, the Android and iOS versions are like night and day. This is because there’s little need for antivirus software if you’re using an iOS device. Apple keeps a tight grip on their App Store, and there are many restrictions to sideload your apps if you’re not using an unlocked device. So, few antivirus providers invest time to make third-party software solutions to remove malware from a device in which it would be very hard to find malware.

Avast mobile version screen

Consequently, Bitdefender and Avast both have quite lacking iOS versions. Bitdefender app only has browser protection, a VPN, and an account privacy monitor. That’s only a few features when compared to their desktop counterpart. Avast iOS version has a VPN, web protection. There’s also an exclusive photo vault in which you can store your embarrassing photos. However, that’s hardly a better suite.

Bitdefender android version

When we turn to Android, the number of features double. Bitdefender’s app has everything that the iOS version did, plus a malware scanner, anti-theft tools, and app lock. That’s a significant amount of useful features. Avast, on the other hand, has RAM boosting, device tracking and protects against malicious websites. Sadly, a malware scanner isn’t available.

In short, if you’re using an iOS device, there’s no point in getting either application. On Android, however, Bitdefender does a much better job and offer more features.

Customer support

All the services that offer free versions have one common flaw – they all lack customer support options. A statement that is very true for Avast and not at all true for Bitdefender.

Bitdefender support screen

The most amazing thing about Bitdefender’s customer support is that it’s available even if you’re a free user. This might not sound like much, but it includes live chat, you can contact them via phone or email. Suppose it’s a minor issue and you prefer solving problems on your own. In that case, you can find FAQs, guides, and other information on their support website.

As far as Avast are concerned, if you’re on a free version, your problems become worthy of their attention only when you become a paying user. Even when you bite the bullet and become their subscriber, this changes very little when it comes to support. Primarily, Avast relies on ticket forms to solve your issues. There are also phone lines and their customer support portal with many FAQs and guides.

Bitdefender just offers more ways how it can offer support, and it’s generally a more welcoming service. When it comes to customer support, this service truly deserves praise.

Winner: Bitdefender

Final verdict

Avast is a very popular but deeply flawed service. Not only they have black spots for tracking its free users, but it also locks basic features behind a paywall. Stacking Bitdefender vs. Avast, in comparison, shows how you can make a service right and not come off as predatory.

Bitdefender offers many features, no matter what plan you’re using. You can use it in a way that you prefer, and get a lot without paying anything. It’s worth it even as a paid service, although your mileage may be a bit better on Windows. Those are the reasons why Bitdefender frequently ranks in the #1 antivirus provider spots, whereas Avast is a rare guest there.

Winner: Bitdefender

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