Bitdefender VPN vs NordVPN: which VPN is better?
At first glance, Bitdefender VPN and NordVPN are entirely different beasts. While the former is just a side product from an antivirus company, the latter is one of the most popular VPNs in the world.
However, maybe they aren’t that much different after all? Let’s compare their features, security, ease of use, and compatibility. Maybe this Bitdefender VPN vs. NordVPN battle will be more interesting than you’d initially think?
Bitdefender VPN vs. NordVPN
|Locations:||59 countries||48 countries|
|Pricing:||from $3.67/month||from $2.49/month|
|VPN protocols:||NordLynx, IKEv2, OpenVPN (UDP/TCP)||Catapult Hydra|
|Logging:||No logs||Some logs|
|Support:||Knowledge base, FAQs, live chat, email||Knowledge base, FAQs, live chat, email, phone|
|Platforms:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS|
Speed performance: Bitdefender VPN vs. NordVPN
Speed is one of the most important factors when choosing a VPN provider. That’s why I compared the speeds of Bitdefender and NordVPN right away - it was interesting to find out which service is faster.
For the speed tests, I used NordLynx (the fastest protocol of NordVPN) and Catapult Hydra (the only protocol of Bitdefender).
- Baseline: 300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
|Download average||243 Mbps||259 Mbps|
|Upload average||77 Mbps||137 Mbps|
The results were great on both ends. I was actually surprised by how good Bitdefender’s speeds were. For example, when connected to a US server, my speed remained the same as without a VPN.
I experienced the biggest decline in download speed when connected to Singapore, as I was left with only half of my original speed. Still, this is not a dealbreaker.
However, Bitdefender falls behind when it comes to upload speed - on average, the VPN slowed down my connection by 75%.
Meanwhile, the situation with NordVPN was a bit more stable. Its download speed was a tad better than the one of Bitdefender VPN, and the upload speed was almost twice as fast.
So, if you often upload content from your device to the internet, NordVPN is the better option. On the other hand, if you’re only concerned about streaming and browsing, both VPNs will be fast enough for you.
Netflix and streaming performance
It’s no secret that most people get a VPN to watch geo-blocked movies and shows. So, is it Bitdefender or NordVPN that will satisfy the needs of the average VPN user?
I’ll break it to you from the get-go: it’s NordVPN. This service is almost unbeatable in terms of bypassing geo-blocks imposed by streaming platforms. It unblocks at least 16 different Netflix libraries (US and UK included), BBC iPlayer, Hulu, DAZN, and YouTube.
When it comes to Bitdefender, however, most movie buffs might get a bit disappointed. The service isn’t capable of unblocking most of the popular streaming sites. To me, it only unblocked BBC iPlayer and YouTube, which isn’t impressive in comparison to what most VPNs are capable of.
When it comes to torrenting, both Bitdefender VPN and NordVPN are suitable choices.
Still, NordVPN is slightly better for P2P connections. You see, while Bitdefender simply allows torrenting (at decent speeds, I may add), NordVPN includes a few extra features for maximum security while using torrenting clients.
For example, NordVPN not only offers specialized P2P servers, but also Onion over VPN and an integrated SOCKS5 proxy. So, if you torrent often, NordVPN might be the better choice.
When it comes to features, NordVPN is a clear winner here. It not only offers the same ones as Bitdefender VPN (split tunneling and auto-connect), but also has a few unique offerings like a malware blocker and SmartDNS.
Split tunneling is one of the most useful features a VPN can have, as it allows you to exclude certain apps or websites from the VPN connection. Thanks to it, you don’t have to turn off the VPN when you need to use a banking website or just want to watch your country’s Netflix.
Bitdefender has this feature available on Windows, Android, and iOS applications, and lets you exclude websites and domains.
Meanwhile, NordVPN offers split tunneling only on Windows and Android. Also, instead of websites, you are offered to select applications.
Both Bitdefender VPN and NordVPN offer auto-connect options.
When using Bitdefender, you can make the VPN turn on automatically in the following cases: on startup, when connected to an unsecured wifi network, or when using P2P clients (like BitTorrent). Additionally, you can manually select applications and websites whose launch would trigger the VPN to connect to one of its servers.
As for NordVPN, the feature is a bit simpler: the VPN can be automatically launched only when you connect to wifi (however, you can make a list of trusted wifi networks).
NordVPN has a neat little feature called SmartPlay, or SmartDNS. It lets you watch geo-blocked streaming content on devices that don’t support VPN applications (like some smart TVs or gaming consoles). However, keep in mind that SmartPlay doesn’t encrypt your connection.
This is yet another feature reserved only for NordVPN users. You see, aside from its regular server list, NordVPN has a bunch of specialized servers that will come in handy in particular cases:
- Onion over VPN. When using these servers, your connection additionally goes through the Onion network before reaching the internet, adding a layer of security.
- Double VPN. Your connection will go through two VPN servers instead of one. You will find this option when the OpenVPN protocol is selected.
- Obfuscated servers. These servers will make your VPN traffic appear like regular traffic, which increases your chances of successfully using a VPN in oppressive countries like China.
- P2P servers. In other words, these are servers for torrenting, which are optimized for P2P traffic.
It’s also worth mentioning that NordVPN allows you to choose the same server every time you connect to the VPN, which means you have the possibility to use the same IP without the need of buying a dedicated IP address.
This NordVPN feature protects you from accidentally visiting malware-ridden websites. In turn, you’ll have a much lower chance of getting infected with trackers, spyware, trojans, and other types of malware. In case you’ll still want to visit a blocked website, you’ll have to disable the feature altogether.
Bitdefender VPN vs NordVPN: which is more secure?
Security is an extremely important aspect of any VPN - you don’t want your private info to get leaked or sold to third parties.
And my conclusion is that NordVPN is more secure than Bitdefender VPN - mainly because it has a better no-logs policy that has been audited twice so far.
Encryption and tunneling protocols
Both Bitdefender VPN and NordVPN use the same encryption - AES-256. This type of encryption is used by banking websites and even the military, so you don’t have to worry about its security.
The main difference between NordVPN and Bitdefender VPN lies in tunneling protocols. You see, Bitdefender offers only one protocol, while NordVPN supports multiple.
The protocol used by Bitdefender is called Catapult Hydra, a proprietary tunneling protocol developed by Hotspot Shield. It has won multiple awards for fast speeds, however, there’s not a lot of info about its security.
Meanwhile, NordVPN offers the following protocols:
- NordLynx. A proprietary protocol developed by NordVPN, NordLynx is based on WireGuard. For this reason, it’s incredibly fast.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP). This protocol is a staple in the VPN world. Keep in mind that the TCP variation is more stable, while the UDP option is faster.
- IKEv2/IPsec. Fast and secure, this tunneling protocol is best used with mobile devices thanks to its stability.
If you have a good reason for using a VPN, it’s essential to know what kind of info the service collects about you. It’s also important to take the tool’s country of origin into consideration, as different countries have different data retention laws.
When it comes to Bitdefender, its logging policy isn’t completely spotless. While it promises not to share any of your data with third parties, it still claims to temporarily collect timestamps and the websites visited. This isn’t something I would like to see a VPN do.
Both VPNs are based in privacy-friendly countries. NordVPN is based in Panama, while Bitdefender’s country of origin is Romania.
Kill switch is a security feature that shuts down your internet in case your VPN connection is compromised, for example, if a VPN server suddenly shuts down. This is done to prevent your real IP address from leaking.
So, the kill switch of NordVPN is twofold. You can either choose to disable the internet connection altogether or simply choose certain applications that should close when you get disconnected from the VPN.
Meanwhile, the kill switch of Bitdefender VPN is only system-wide. Also, it failed one of our tests - when VPN background processes were manually disabled, the VPN didn’t shut down the internet connection.
Plans & pricing
When it comes to pricing, it’s pretty apparent that Bitdefender is the less expensive VPN here. It not only has a cheaper monthly plan, but its yearly subscription costs less per month than NordVPN’s two-year plan. Thus, it might be the better option for those who are on a tight budget.
However, keep in mind that NordVPN also gives you three months for free if you buy the longest subscription. Also, the second year of using Bitdefender VPN will cost you $49.99 instead of $29.88.
It’s worth mentioning that Bitdefender VPN has a free 7-day trial you can use on any device. Meanwhile, NordVPN’s 7-day trial can be claimed only on mobile devices.
Also, both services have a 30-day money-back guarantee that will let you back out of the subscription unscratched.
|Middle East and Africa||4||4|
Even though NordVPN offers more countries and servers than Bitdefender VPN, Bitdefender’s coverage of 1,300 servers and 48 countries is still quite impressive, especially for an antivirus VPN (in comparison, Avast VPN offers only 700+ servers in 35 countries).
However, it’s quite apparent that NordVPN is the clear winner in this category. And I’m not talking about quantity alone - all of NordVPN’s servers are based on volatile memory (RAM), which means that all data gets completely wiped out after every reboot.
Platforms, interface and ease of use
|Supported OS||Windows, macOS, Android, iOS||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Other software and devices||-||Kodi, Android TVs, Fire devices|
|Browser extensions||-||Chrome, Firefox|
When it comes to compatibility, both Bitdefender VPN and NordVPN are available on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. However, NordVPN also offers support for Linux, various Smart TVs, and Kodi. Additionally, there are browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
That’s why NordVPN wins this category despite offering less simultaneous connections than Bitdefender VPN.
All the apps of Bitdefender look fairly similar - you won’t see that many differences even between desktop and mobile applications, including the shape of the window. I really like the design, especially because of how intuitive the applications are.
So, the Windows app of Bitdefender offers all the features you’ve read about in this article, including split tunneling, auto-connect options, and a kill switch. On the other hand, the macOS version is a bit lackluster, offering no split tunneling nor most of the auto-connect options.
Meanwhile, there’s more unity between the Windows and macOS applications of NordVPN. Most of the features, like specialty servers, are still included in the Mac version. The apps are much bigger than the ones of Bitdefender, which allows the tool to include a map showcasing the servers.
In terms of Linux support, you’ll have to use the command line terminal, as there’s no user interface. In turn, you have to be quite IT-literate if you want to use NordVPN on Linux.
The Android app of Bitdefender VPN is pretty similar to its Windows counterpart. It even has an extra feature that blocks local network traffic, making your phone invisible to other users connected to the same wifi network.
It was nice to find out that Bitdefender’s iOS app also offers a couple of features (usually, VPN apps for iOS are the worst of the bunch). For example, it lets you use split tunneling, however, you can only choose websites instead of applications. The app also has a kill switch and has some limited auto-connect options.
NordVPN’s mobile apps are also worth a download, sporting a nice design and easy usability. There are some slight differences between the two - the Android application has split tunneling and auto-connect options, while the iOS version includes Dark Web monitoring.
NordVPN and Bitdefender VPN offer similar customer support options. Both have a 24/7 live chat and a knowledge base filled with FAQs. You also have the option to write an email, no matter which service you use. However, Bitdefender also offers phone support.
I talked to both providers via chat and have no complaints: the agents were nice and helpful. Thus, I declare a tie in this category.
Bitdefender VPN vs. NordVPN – which one wins?
|Ease of use||✔️||❌|
I’m afraid there’s no competition here - NordVPN has destroyed Bitdefender VPN in almost every aspect including speed, features, and compatibility.
The only aspect in which Bitdefender beats NordVPN is price. However, a couple of extra dollars a month shouldn’t be a deciding factor when it’s your security that’s at stake.
Is Bitdefender VPN better than NordVPN?
No - NordVPN is the better service here. It unblocks more streaming platforms, offers better speeds, and has more tunneling protocols to choose from. To find out more, read our full NordVPN review.
Is Bitdefender VPN good enough?
Yes - Bitdefender VPN is a good choice for you if you want to unblock simple websites. However, it isn’t good at unblocking streaming services, so keep that in mind if you need a VPN for watching Netflix or Hulu.
Does Bitdefender VPN come with antivirus?
If you install Bitdefender Antivirus, you automatically get the VPN alongside the security tool (you’ll only have 200 MB of daily data, though). However, you can also install Bitdefender VPN as a standalone application.