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Bitdefender vs. Norton: which antivirus is the best?

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The rivalry between Bitdefender vs. Norton dates back almost two decades. So, if you've narrowed down all potential antiviruses to these two options, it can be a head-scratcher. Both of them are dominating top lists and are always shooting for the #1 spot. It doesn't seem that this rivalry is going to end anytime soon, especially with Norton recently buying Avira.

Naturally, both products have many fans, which means finding an unbiased review can be somewhat tricky. With this comparison, I'll make it easier to separate fact from fiction. I'll look into their security suites, pricing, apps, and customer support experience. Let's find out which one is ultimately the best.

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Bitdefender vs. Norton

NortonBitdefender
Rating:
4.9 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
4.7 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price:from $14.99/year, 1 devicefrom $17.99/year
Current deal:Get Norton, save up to 75%!Get Bitdefender, now 60% OFF!
Free version:NoYes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, iOS, AndroidWindows, Mac, Android, iOS
Website:Norton.comBitdefender.com

Winner:

norton-winner

Bitdefender vs. Norton: which offers better protection?

BitdefenderNorton 360
AV-TestTop productTop product
AV-ComparativesAdvanced+Advanced
SE LabsAAAAAA

Good protection against various cyber threats is a core antivirus functionality. It determines whether the malware that gets to your device will get detected and removed or not. According to the AV-TEST Institute, Bitdefender and Norton 360 both rank as the top product.

Most recent AV-Comparatives findings also showed that although both services are of the highest tier, Bitdefender takes the lead. It detected fewer false positives (4), while Norton had a whopping 22. This takes away the + from their Advanced rating.

Meanwhile SE Lab tests found no differences and gave the highest evaluation to both of them.

In short, both services have near-perfect scores. Yet, Bitdefender takes a slim lead as it's a bit more precise when flagging malware. This is enough to give it a win – but in real-life situations, both Norton and BitDefender will be very secure.

Winner:

Bitdefender logo

Malware protection

Whichever service you pick, you'll have reliable means to prevent it from even landing on your device. That is because, with both Norton 360 and Bitdefender, you'll have comprehensive Internet security suites. Both providers use online threat databases that are kept up to date and react to dangerous threats in real-time.

Bitdefender online threat prevention  screen

For example, Bitdefender Shield uses this data in conjunction with behavioral learning tools to identify the threats that haven't yet been added into the database. It's one of the most advanced methods for malware detection, and it's expected that most leading antiviruses in a short while will turn even more for AI to detect malware.

The only area where Norton 360 has incorporated AI is their LifeLock service that you can buy separately. Otherwise, when it comes to malware removal, they rely on pre-established malware databases. Perhaps that's why Bitdefender gives fewer false positives than Norton.

Scanning

If you regularly perform manual system scans, you'll be delighted with both service providers. Norton 360 provides a lot of customization options, while Bitdefender provides several scanning types. You can even scan for potential vulnerabilities with suggestions on how you could make your system safer. Of course, there are also informative scanning screens updating you on how many threats were found and resolved.

Norton system scan screen

Although Norton 360 provides fewer scanning options, it does seem that they're a bit deeper than the ones on BitDefender. If you suspect that a particular malware type got through your firewall, you may customize the scanner to search for specific kinds of threats. This is a feature that few services offer, and more advanced users should really appreciate it. Plus, the narrower your search, the faster it is because you're not checking every file for all potential malware types.

Firewall protection

One of the best features that Norton 360 has is the Smart Firewall. It includes their unique Intrusion Prevention System that incepts the incoming data packages, blocking online attacks in their tracks. There are also additional benefits like uncommon protocols filtering and various customization options for your network protection. When connected to an unfamiliar network, you can toggle content tampering, DNS spoofing, and other detections.

Bitdefender firewall scren

Bitdefender is equally as impressive, although, it has fewer customization sliders. You can configure application access, rules, and network adapter settings. One of the most notable additions is port scan protection that blocks port scan attempts on the network. Many hackers on public wifi can use easy to use software to check which devices on LAN have open ports and use them as an attack vector. With Bitdefender, you can stay safe even against those threats.

Which has better features: Norton or Bitdefender?

There isn't much to separate Bitdefender and Norton when it comes to features – but Norton takes a slim lead, offering more customization options on a slightly better budget. That being said, features and prices can also depend on your location and change over time – so make sure to compare them yourself as well.

Ultimate, Bitdefender's main downside is that it lacks macOS, iOS, and Android support on its cheaper versions. So, which service is better in terms of features will significantly depend on your platform and location. For example, if you're a US citizen that uses Mac, you'll have a better time with Norton. If you're using Windows and are not based in the US, Bitdefender can be a perfectly matching option. Ultimately, both services offer a fair amount of unique features.

Winner:

norton-winner

Feature comparison

BitdefenderNorton
VPN✔️✔️
Firewall✔️✔️
Password manager✔️✔️
Parental Control✔️✔️
File Shredder✔️❌
File encryption❌❌
Secure browser✔❌
Secure cloud storage❌✔
Money-back guarantee✔✔

One of the most significant differences is that the base version of Bitdefender is free, while to use Norton 360, you'll have to open up your wallet. The most significant thing is that all their versions are relying on the same malware database. To top this off, Bitdefender also includes basic real-time protection. The major caveat is that you get support for only one Windows device. If you're Mac, iOS, or Android user, you can forget about this edition altogether.

With the first tier of paid Norton 360, you will be getting full real-time protection, VPN, Smart Firewall, password manager, cloud storage, SafeCam, and 24/7 customer support. So, features-wise, it does blow free Bitdefender's version out of the water, albeit for a higher price bump.

bitdefender screenshot

Yet, the first Bitdefender's paid tier can counterbalance most of these offerings. They also upgrade their real-time protection against all types of e-threats. It also includes behavioral malware detection and countermeasures against ransomware. There are other bonuses like a vulnerability assessment tool that checks if your software is up to date. Password manager, VPN, Firewall, and a file shredder are also there.

If you stack Bitdefender's and Norton's first paid tier, some features will be available no matter which service you'll end up picking up. Real-time protection, VPN, Firewall, and a password manager will be available for both. What separates them will be cloud storage and SafeCam for Norton, while Bitdefender users get vulnerability assessment tool and file shredder. Both are very different subscription benefits, but they do bring value.

norton internet security screenshot

If you're going up the ladder, the Norton 360 Deluxe adds Parental Controls, School Time, and Dark Web monitoring. Meanwhile, Bitdefender adds Antispam filters for your emails, microphone, and webcam protection. Plus, there are Parental Controls and a Privacy Firewall. You might think that Bitdefender adds more features, but this isn't necessarily true. Some of them are already available with Norton's Standard edition: SafeCam is the same as its microphone and webcam protection. Parental controls are also a feature that is almost identical.

Digital Identity Protection is something that Bitdefender doesn't add with their plans. It's a separate service that you need to pay for on top of your subscription. Which makes Norton's Dark Web monitoring all the better-looking alternative. At this tier, the benefits unique to the Bitdefender are file shredder, Antispam filters, and privacy firewall. If you go with Norton, the cloud storage remains their strong exclusive, but it's boosted with School time and Dark Web monitoring.

BitdefenderNorton
Dark Web Monitoring✔️✔️
Credit monitoring❌✔️
Phone takeover monitoring❌✔️
401(k) & Investment Activity Alerts❌✔️

For the rest of the world, Norton's pricing options end with Deluxe, as they don't have LifeLock Select available globally. Meanwhile, the most expensive Bitdefender's plan adds additional tools like OneClick Optimizer and Anti-theft software. Though, this applies only to Windows laptops and tablets. Norton 360 also has a file cleanup function, but it isn't treated as a separate tool and is available in the Standard plan.

So, overall, Bitdefender adds more features and spreads them evenly across all plans. With each, you're getting something beneficial and new. In contrast, Norton has few of them and is more strict about their availability.

PC performance

During startup, Bitdefender was on average 2.5 times faster than Norton 360. So, if you have a slower or older device, you might want to consider this when purchasing. Although Norton isn't guilty of such frequent background scans as Avast. The scans can be disabled, the performance drop during bootup is noticeable. It may be even worse on older devices that are still using hard disk drives.

When it comes to scanning, the situation is somewhat even. However, Bitdefender is noticeably lighter and doesn't hurt your performance even if you're working while a scan is in progress. If you have any other program opened, Bitdefender allocates a sufficient amount of processing power, so if you're a multitasker, it will be a better option.

Winner:

Bitdefender logo

Pricing

Since Norton 360 doesn't have a free version, it's pretty obvious which option you should pick if you're looking for a free antivirus. Bitdefender's free edition is one of the best antivirus solutions.

VersionBitdefenderNorton 360
Free$0.00–
Antivirus Plus/Standard$19.99/year$14.99/year
Total Security/Deluxe$36/year$34.99/year
Check PricingCheck Pricing

However, when we're talking about the paid options, the outlook slightly changes. For the first year, Norton 360 is cheaper than Bitdefender.

Norton 360's entry plan costs $14.99/year, and the Deluxe plan costs $34.99/year. Bitdefender charges $19.99 and $36 a year respectively.

Considering Norton 360 also offers more advanced features, also seeing them offered for a lower price makes Norton 360 a better value option than Bitdefender.

Winner:

norton-winner

Norton 360 plans

If you're concentrating solely on the antivirus service and skipping LifeLock, there are really only two options. It's either Norton 360 Standard or Norton 360 Deluxe.

  • Norton 360 Standard – $14.99/yr ($59.99), 1 device (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)
  • Norton 360 Deluxe – $34.99/yr ($104.99), 5 devices

Norton 360 Standard starts from $14.99, but the first year will have a discount. So after a year, the price will increase considerably to $59.99. Considering that Standard is available for only one device, the price seems a bit big. However, even the entry solution offers all of the main features. You get malware and ransomware protection, a Smart Firewall, password manager, and 2GB of cloud backup.

With that said, this price is only justified with a first-year discount. After a year, you can definitely get a similar package for a lot less.

Norton 360 Deluxe starts from $34.99. Same as the Standard plan, this price is valid for a year. Then, it's $104.99 a year. You'll be able to install the tool on 5 devices. The Cloud Backup is increased to 50GB, there are also parental control features for online learning, webcam security, dark web monitoring, and a VPN. Especially after the renewal, the price might seem steep: but the features might just be worth it.

Bitdefender plans

Bitdefender is unique in that your price will depend on the device OS. This means that there are plans that are even cheaper than Antivirus Plus.

  • Bitdefender Mobile Security – $14.99/yr ($84.99), 1 device (Android)
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus – $29.99/yr ($59.99), 3 devices (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)
  • Bitdefender Internet Security – $34.99/yr ($79.99), 3 devices (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)
  • Bitdefender Total Security – $39.98/yr ($89.99), 5 devices (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)

For example, Mobile Security for Android costs only $14.99 a year. iOS doesn't have a paid option at all, the innate security of Apple's closed model is the best antivirus there is.

When it comes to typical desktop editions. There are quite a few plans to choose from -Antivirus Plus, Internet Security, Total Security, and Premium Security. All of them have discounts for the first year.

Antivirus Plus costs $29.99 for the first year and $59.99 after. It includes a file shredder, password manager, and many other privacy and security features for up to 3 devices. Internet Security is a bit more expensive – $34.99 for the first year and $79.99 after that. It's also good for up to 3 devices.

Then, there's Total Security, which will cost you $39.98 a year and $89.99 after. It adds SafePay online banking, anti-theft tools, and various performance optimizers for up to 5 devices. Finally, for those who want to go all-in, there's Premium Security, for a premium $59.99 a year and $149.99 for a year after. Includes privacy firewall, antispam, and web attack prevention measures for up to 10 devices.

So, no matter how high or how low you want to go, you'll have options.

Apps and interface: which is more user-friendly?

Bitdefender main screen

Bitdefender has neither a steep learning curve nor is it unintelligible for new users. It's pretty straightforward to set up and even has a free trial options so you can try the service for free. The desktop apps are easy to navigate with everything placed in separate sections, which can be customized. The mobile experience follows the same logic, although iOS version feels lacking when compared to Android. Though, this is a common complaint for most cybersecurity tools.

Norton antivirus main screen

Norton 360's setup is much more convoluted. The desktop app acts essentially as a launchpad for different services. However – once you go past the setup, the problems are as good as gone, and having separate apps for separate functionalities becomes a feature, not a problem.

Overall, neither of the options have massive negatives in terms of user-friendliness. It's only fair to call it evens.

Winner: Draw

Desktop apps

Bitdefender's desktop app is aiming for simplicity. Their UI isn't cluttered, there are no strange design choices, and it's pretty easy to navigate. There's a customizable dashboard where you can add some quick access shortcuts. Everything else is then grouped into 5 categories: Protection, Privacy, Utilities, Notifications, Settings, and a separate tab for customer support.

When you click on a category, you're greeted with the available features. From there you can toggle them on or off or tinker with the settings. It's a good decision, and it will be easy to figure out for many users, even if they're just starting on their first antivirus service.

Norton main screen

Norton 360's client greets with a strange screen of which only half is usable: the other side is reserved for their stock image.

To get into the antivirus screen, you'll have to go into device security. There, Norton also has 5 categories: Security, Internet Security, Backup, Performance, and My Norton. Similarly, as with Bitdefender, you can tweak your settings here. It's also possible to do it through the separate settings tab, so there are a few ways to do the same thing. Otherwise, when you get used to it, Norton's app is slick and easy to use, albeit at first, it can appear more cluttered than Bitdefender.

Mobile apps

Norton 360 is geo-blocked in some Google Play Store versions, so you might end up having to intall the .apk file yourself. Bitdefender is much more widely available, so you shouldn't run into such issues.

Norton iOS version

The iOS apps are less useful whether on both Bitdefender or Norton 360. There are fewer opportunities for malware to ever land on your device in the first place – but Norton offers more iOS security options. You can use it to scan your local network, check the vulnerability assessment, enable web protection that protects against phishing websites, add identity monitoring on the dark web, and set up a VPN. There's nothing about malware removal.

Bitdefender has only web protection, a VPN (which is very limited), and data leak checker.

Bitdefender Android version

Android versions have more functionalities. Norton adds Smart Scan, ransomware recovery, and even has App advisor to prevent you from installing sketchy apps in the Google Play store. Bitdefender's Android app is just as impressive with Anti-Theft solutions, App lock, malware scanners, and other web protection measures.

Customer support

BitdefenderNorton
Email✔️✔️
24/7 live chat✔️✔️
Phone line✔️✔️
Twitter and Facebook✔️✔️
Knowledgebase✔️✔️

If you run into some issues, you can contact Norton's customer support via online forums, live chat, and over the phone. So, the customer who prefers to text and the talkative ones will have options to solve all your issues in a way that you prefer. Since Norton is a paid-only service, the queue times aren't long, so you'll be able to reach out to a customer support agent quickly.

Bitdefender is unique in the regard that it offers customer support options even to free users. You can contact their customer support team via live chat, phone, or email. There are also FAQs and other guides that you can find on their support website. Waiting times are quite similar to Norton, so with either option, you won't be left on your own if something doesn't work as it should.

Winner: Draw

Video review

Bitdefender vs. Norton video review

Final verdict

CategoryBitdefenderNorton 360
Protection✔️✔️
PC Performance✔️❌
Pricing❌✔️
User Interface✔️✔️
Support✔️✔️

Winner:

norton-winner

This comparison aside, Bitdefender is an excellent service in its own right. It may lack features for Mac and iOS, but it's a top-notch Windows solution with a great, intuitive app. It does the basics very well.

Ultimately, Norton 360 is a fantastic all-in-one security solution, offering more features than Bitdefender. Norton offers tools and functionalities that go beyond what Bitdefender can do – even at a lower starting price.

It's up for you to choose which approach you like more: really, you can't go wrong with either of them.

Other antivirus software comparisons

Bitdefender vs. Avast: see which antivirus is the winner

McAfee vs. Avast: antiviruses compared

Avast vs. Norton: choosing the best out of the two

FAQ

Comments
Jerry Jarvis
Jerry Jarvis
prefix 3 months ago
I have read your article twice and I must say that it is a very comprehensive and informative article. I’m from the Caribbean region and I use a Bitdefender services on my windows 10 laptop and on my samsung phone. I must say and I feel safe… However, while as a customer I’m happy to hear how great Bitdefender is, my opinion is that, just as you said above in your text, “Naturally both products have many fans, which means finding an unbiased review can be very tricky”… Keep up the excellent reporting.
Aussie AJ
Aussie AJ
prefix 4 months ago
Hmmmmm, text on this page claims Norton has more false positives but the youtube video claims Bitdefender has more false positives, that’s quite confusing!
Norton 360 top tier only offers protection for 3 multi-platform devices in Australia, whilst Bitdefender offers 5 multi-platform device protection. – Based on this fact alone, it’s Bitdefender for me.
Caroline Rojas
Caroline Rojas
prefix 6 months ago
Excellent report.
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