Bitdefender VPN review
Bitdefender Premium VPN is a side product from one of the best antivirus providers out there. And from first sight, there's nothing revolutionary here: Bitdefender says that this is a very fast VPN that keeps your online identity and activities private. We expect as much!
But in the super-competitive VPN market, massive dedicated providers throw huge resources into building their own products, carving a league of their own. Can an excellent antivirus with a side VPN product compete? And most importantly – should you use it?
Let's take a look at that in this Bitdefender Premium VPN review. Here's what I found out.
|Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, live chat, email, phone|
Bitdefender VPN pros and cons
- Good value bundle with an antivirus
- Split tunneling
- Customizable auto-connect
- Excellent performance
- 24/7 live chat support
- Military-grade encryption
- Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
- Free version
- Logs some data
- Unblocks few streaming services
- Single tunneling protocol
Speed performance: How fast is Bitdefender VPN?
To test the speeds of Bitdefender VPN, I measured my baseline speed and compared it to the results after being connected via VPN.
As we can see from the results, the Catapult Hydra once again justifies its name as one of the fastest tunneling protocols on the market. Across all locations, the average download speed was 243 Mbps, while upload was 77 Mbps. This translates into an average 19% reduction from your baseline for downloads. The stats aren't in Bitdefender's favor for uploads, as a 74% drop hits them.
- Baseline: 300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Location||Download speed (Mbps)||Upload speed (Mbps)|
For browsing, streaming, and downloading files Bitdefender VPN will be very fast. However, if you're thinking about uploading files and sharing them via VPN, you might find yourself waiting longer than you're used to.
Streaming: Does Bitdefender VPN work with Netflix?
Unfortunately, Bitdefender VPN isn't the best VPN for those who want to unblock various streaming platforms.
For example, it didn't manage to unblock Netflix. The webpage worked, and it didn't show any proxy warning messages. However, the US-exclusive content remained hidden. I was shown only the stuff that is officially available in my country.
Netflix aside, Bitdefender VPN didn't unblock DAZN and Hulu. The former is one of the services that very few providers manage to unblock, so it wasn't a surprise after the Netflix fiasco. Meanwhile, Hulu didn't even allow to sign in to the account.
Overall, if you're interested only in streaming services like BBC iPlayer or YouTube, this VPN could be recommended. Both of them can be unblocked. Yet, if you start to look into other streaming services, it cannot be guaranteed that Bitdefender VPN will bypass all geographical restrictions. This makes it a subpar choice for streaming.
Is Bitdefender VPN good for torrenting?
While torrenting with a VPN is much safer than without it, you have to make sure that your service will keep you protected. Bitdefender Premium VPN uses adequate protection measures, which should keep you safe when torrenting.
From my testing, I didn't experience any slowdowns when compared to the regular traffic. The downloads were fast and stable, which is just the way I like them.
That said, it doesn't help that Bitdefender VPN doesn't add port forwarding, so there's no room to improve your speeds. Though, the good news is that the service does include kill switch, which helps to ensure peace of mind. Keep in mind that it's not enabled by default so if you're torrenting, turning it on should be the first thing you should do.
Bitdefender VPN features
Here are some of the top features of the Bitdefender VPN product:
You can choose particular websites and apps to bypass your VPN connection and connect directly. This makes Bitdefender VPN something of an outlier among antivirus VPNs. Most of them don't include this feature.
During my tests, split tunneling worked fine. You can set it up on the browser or select a domain you want to connect directly. However, the feature is only present on Windows, Android, and iOS. Seeing how it's available on iOS raises a few eyebrows as to why couldn't they add it to the macOS app. Still, it's not every day that you find a VPN with split tunneling, not only for Windows.
While most VPN service providers offer some auto-connect capabilities, Bitdefender VPN has an interesting twist to it. You can customize it to trigger in particular cases. There are several options to choose from: when you're connecting to public or insecure networks and when peer to peer app is started.
The first one protects you when you're connecting to various coffee shops and other public places. When you're connecting outside of your network, your connection will be routed via an encrypted VPN tunnel.
Meanwhile, P2P app detection is intended for absent-minded torrenters. Often these apps start in the background, and you may not react quickly enough to enable VPN. Making Bitdefender toggle automatically when such an app is started helps you to steer clear out of trouble.
You may also toggle to turn on VPN with certain apps and domains or when visiting a particular website category. So, if you're very private about your online dating or payments, you can always automatically turn on Bitdefender VPN when you visit those sites or open their apps.
Is Bitdefender VPN safe?
Bitdefender VPN is a safe VPN from a technical point of view. It uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption with SHA-256 hash functions. However, their logging goes a bit beyond the bare minimum, which might seem alarming for users, dead-set on privacy.
Like most reputable providers, Bitdefender VPN is relying on Advanced Encryption Standard. They're using a 256-bit version of it, which is impenetrable even to the most powerful modern computers.
It's further reinforced with the RSA algorithm and SHA-256 hash functions, so you shouldn't worry about the technical aspects. When it comes to its encryption strength, Bitdefender holds on its own if you need reassurance that your VPN is secure.
While with VPNs provided by antivirus developers, variety isn't usually the name of the game. This is something that Bitdefender VPN borrows from other VPN tools made by antivirus providers.
The only available tunneling protocol is Catapult Hydra. It seems that Hotspot Shield and Bitdefender are teaming up and only licensing the protocol for their service. Since it's proprietary software, there isn't much known how safe it is. It's only clear that it's based on TLS 1.2 and has given multiple awards for being one of the fastest tunneling protocols on the market.
Looking at the full picture, you get the impression that not all the bases are covered. There's only a single tunneling protocol to choose from. This also means it lacks obfuscated options, which means that the service isn't really suitable for places like China. Then, there's no WireGuard implementation, which is as fast as it is secure. So, there is room for improvement.
During our tests, we also check whether the VPN includes a kill switch and how it works in real life. The first test involves using a router to block particular IPs when the app is in use to simulate disruption in the network. It gives a pretty good idea of how an app would respond if the VPN server you're connected to would go down. Meanwhile, the second test involves closing important system processes and checking whether the app detects that something isn't working as it should.
The Firewall block test failed since blocking entry, and exit IP addresses seemed not to affect the app or the device's traffic. Everything was still encrypted. So, it's inconclusive to say that it would or wouldn't trigger during your regular usage. Though, this may be the fault of the test unit rather than the VPN's fault.
However, when I closed the VPN background process, all my traffic was unencrypted and went through my regular connection. Sadly the app failed even to notice that the link was compromised and continued to show that I am still connected and that my connection is secure.
So, based on the gathered data, the only real flaws were detected during the process killing test. We have no data on how it performs when the connection to their servers is shut down. In any case, if you're handling very sensitive data and privacy is of major importance, this VPN might not be the best pick.
Bitdefender is based in Romania, which puts them in the European Union legislature. This means dodging Eyes alliances, but it still means that EU policies affect the company, and it could have consequences for your data. Romanian Constitutional Court actually declared that data retention laws (that the EU was pushing) aren't constitutional. So, location-wise, the company is in a safe spot.
Servers and locations
In total, Bitdefender has 1,300 servers, this isn't too shabby when we're talking about the antivirus-produced VPN. You may also choose from 48 countries. Fleet-wise, they rock better numbers than some dedicated providers like VyprVPN. The difference, of course, is that it's impossible to know which Bitdefender's servers are physical and which are virtual.
For their infrastructure, Bitdefender is collaborating with Hotspot Shield, and they have some virtual servers. The difference is that in their app, it's clearly indicated which servers are which.
|Regions||Number of countries|
|Asia Pacific||12 countries|
|The Middle East and Africa||4 countries|
As for their coverage, if you're going to be connected to Europe and Asia, you'll have the most countries to choose from. As is the rule, the VPN coverage for Africa and the Middle East is quite poor.
Plans and pricing
There are two plans to choose from with different lengths: one is a yearly plan, while the other is monthly. The latter costs $6.99/month and is more expensive, while the former costs $2.49/month. Take note that this price is only for first-time customers only. If you stick around with the service for a long time, i.e., your one-year subscription and renews, the regular yearly price is higher. For the first year, you'll be paying $29.99, but the second year will cost $49.99.
You can test the premium VPN version with their 7-days free trial. This should be plenty of time to see how the service fits your usage. This includes ten simultaneous connections, which should be plenty even for larger households. There is even a free version.
One common trait among antivirus VPNs is that they're pretty restrictive. While most dedicated VPN providers won't give you a free version, when they do, it mostly doesn't keep you chained. However, most VPNs from antivirus providers have ridiculous data caps. Bitdefender VPN is no exception and gives only 200 MB cap a day. So, you can reach the limit just by scrolling through a couple of web pages.
Because of it, this free version isn't suited to be your day-to-day companion. Think of it more, as a method to check that a VPN would work on your system. The only way to make use of this service is by actually paying their subscription price.
Interface and ease of use
If you've used Bitdefender antivirus in the past, you know that it lacks Linux support. Their VPN is no exception – it doesn't have a Linux app. However, other prominent operating systems are supported, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
The apps themselves are simple to use and compact. Even if you're a complete novice, you should be able to pretty easily find your way around it. There are some nice touches of graphic UI elements, but nothing that would needlessly hog your system for resources. All of their apps follow the same design philosophy, but there are some differences between them.
In reality, Bitdefender VPN is Hotspot Shield's white-label product, so it has much in common with their app. The similarities run from features to UI elements placement. Keeping in mind that the app comes bundled with a VPN, it punches above its weight class in terms of features, especially on Windows.
It has a kill switch, split tunneling, and the app can automatically be configured to connect during certain circumstances. It can also connect when visiting a certain category of websites. All that with the great Hydra protocol delivers a great experience of using the app.
This version of the app is night and day when compared to what the Windows users are getting. The UI is still the same, but there are massive cuts of features. You can say goodbye to split tunneling and the most advanced auto-connect options. It leaves you with a barebones version of the app, but it still retains kill switch, so it's still usable.
Android apps usually have the most in common with desktop apps, Windows, in particular. While there are some cutdowns to the auto-connect feature, the feature is still there. There's even split tunneling, which is one of the most useful VPN features overall.
In addition, Android gets extra features that aren't available on any other platform. The mobile app can block local network traffic. This makes your phone invisible to other devices that are connected to the same wifi. It can potentially repel some attackers lurking in public hotspots.
Visually, there aren't many differences between the Android app and their desktop counterparts. So, it's easy to go from one platform to the other and still know where everything is placed.
Traditionally, iOS apps are the ones that lack the most features. Strict Apple's policies can be a problem when adding features, hence why most providers focus elsewhere.
Autoconnect makes its way to iOS, but it's only limited to unsecured networks. There is a kill switch which is something that even some dedicated VPN providers haven't added to their iOS apps). To top it off, the app actually includes split tunneling. This has to be one of the few cases when it's included in iOS. Though, it only works with websites and not apps.
If you run into any issue, you have plenty of customer support channels to choose from. You can read their FAQ, call them via phone, write them an email or use their live chat option.
When I contacted them about the kill switch issue, they asked me to provide specifications of my pc to make sure it is compatible with the app and then asked me if I had any other security apps. I asked for the information to be forwarded to the developers, instead, I was asked to reinstall the app.
Overall, the agent was quick and polite, though the solutions provided and questions asked were hit or miss.
Is Bitdefender VPN any good?
While Bitdefender is an amazing antivirus provider, their VPN can leave mixed feelings. On the one hand, it relies on one of the fastest tunneling protocols, includes kill switch, split tunneling, and customizable auto-connect.
On the other hand, their logging extent isn't clear, there are no published audit reports, and the tunnelling protocol suite could be better suited for more usage cases. Streaming also isn't one of their strengths.
If you're getting this service as a bundle with an antivirus, you could score a pretty good bundle. While their VPN isn't quite on the same level as their antivirus, it shouldn't be dismissed. With continuous improvement, I could see this service becoming a versatile VPN to rival current market leaders.
Is Bitdefender VPN trustworthy?
Yes, Bitdefender VPN is a trustworthy tool made by the same developers that created one of the best antiviruses. The antivirus has a solid security record – and we extend the same level of trust to the VPN as well.
Is Bitdefender VPN better than NordVPN?
While Bitdefender is good, NordVPN is miles better: it has more servers, they perform better, the service has no logs and is independently audited. NordVPN is still on top of the game.
Is Bitdefender VPN free with Internet security?
Bitdefender VPN comes free with internet security packages. But only the more expensive ones, like Bitdefender Total Security and Bitdefender Internet Security.