Bitdefender vs. Avast: which antivirus is better?
This matchup is worthy of being called the battle of the titans. Bitdefender is often considered the best antivirus service. 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.
Bitdefender vs. Avast
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|Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Which has better features - Bitdefender or Avast?
Judging purely from the length of the feature lists, it’s clear that Bitdefender (which appears at #1 on our best antivirus list) 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.
Let’s explore the features that both Bitdefender and Avast have in common.
Bitdefender’s Network Threat Prevention is an Internet security toolkit that protects your home network against known vulnerabilities, exploits, botnet URLs, and other similar threats. Similarly, Avast offers Wifi network security. Essentially, this is a monitoring tool, ensuring no malicious agents are on the same network. It also includes DNS cache protection.
Both Bitdefender and Avast offer ransomware protection. When it comes to Bitdefender, the program also makes copies of your most important files with a possibility to restore them in case you’d become a victim of ransomware.
As for outdated software, you won’t go wrong with neither Bitdefender nor Avast. Bitdefender’s feature 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. Similarly, Avast has a Software Updater, which will update your programs automatically.
In addition, both Bitdefender and Avast have an optimization feature, or a registry cleaner, that clears up some space and makes your startup a bit more efficient.
If you’re concerned about trackers, you’ll appreciate Bitdefender’s Anti-tracker feature. It’s a general-purpose blocker designed to minimize the tracking that you encounter when browsing the web. Similarly, Avast also offers an anti-track tool in its Premium plan.
If you occasionally need to use a VPN, you’ll like the fact that all versions of Bitdefender include a VPN. Granted, it is limited to 200 MB/day, but still useful in certain situations. Now, if you want a VPN with Avast, you should invest in Avast Ultimate.
As most anti-malware applications, Bitdefender and Avast offer a file shredder. It’s 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.
An essential feature nowadays, webcam and microphone protection is offered by both Avast and Bitdefender. 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 a webcam.
You might also like Bitdefender’s Anti-Theft tools – a suite of anti-theft measures that go from locking up your device to its location tracking. It’s especially useful because it’s available on all types of devices. Meanwhile, Avast offers such a feature only on Android.
There’s one more interesting thing. Both antivirus programs come with a browser that you might find pretty useful. In the case of Bitdefender, you get the Safepay browser, which is built with secure payments in mind. Meanwhile, Avast has Avast Secure Browser, which blocks ads and trackers.
After looking at the table that displays unique features, you might notice that Bitdefender offers much more than Avast.
For example, it has a feature called Rescue Environment – a malware removal tool that gets the job done 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
Next, 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. This is called Adjustable profiles.
I also like how Bitdefender offers its own password manager. It allows for easier management of account credentials, syncing them between all your devices. The tool can also be used for storing payment information.
There’s also an additional email filter compatible with most popular mailboxes. Using it, you can set up spam filters to filter out unwanted emails.
If you need to, you can also make use of Bitdefender’s parental controls. This feature lets you set up smart device limits and control how the device can be used and which webpages are available. If you want the parental controls tool with Avast, you have to get a totally separate app, which is compatible only with Android and iOS.
However, there’s one feature that only Avast has. It’s called 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.
Impact on 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.
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.
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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.
Apps and interface: which is more user-friendly?
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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 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.
Avast antivirus is a very popular but deeply flawed service. Not only do they have black spots for tracking its free users, but they also lock essential security features behind a paywall. In contrast, Bitdefender not only has a pristine reputation and offers excellent antivirus protection and is better than Avast in all areas.
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.
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