Trying to decide on an antivirus program to help keep your computer safe and secure can be a daunting task. There are different features, marketing buzzwords, and tons of information to consider all while trying to keep your sanity. It’s not an easy thing to do. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll be trying to help you choose between the two goliaths in the space: Avast and Bitdefender.
While on the outside the two antivirus contenders seem to be very similar, does one actually outshine the other? After all, there can be only one champion! Let’s take a dive into the depths of each, and see if we can uncover our antivirus hero!
Bitdefender (Free Edition) Review
Bitdefender is an antivirus software trusted by millions of users around the world. They offer a variety of paid software tools to help you not only remove malicious files from your computer but speed it up and optimize it as well. In this section, we will solely focus on their free offering and see if it is a worthy software for your arsenal.
Bitdefender definitely doesn’t make it simple to find the Free Edition of their antivirus solution. If you head over to their website, you will not see it on the homepage. Rather, they promote all their paid products front and center.
The navigation bar is at the top, and easy enough to see. This would be the next logical place to look if you are searching for the free antivirus download link.
If you are looking for a solution for your home computer, you would think you could open the “Home” menu at the top of the page, and it would be there under the “Solutions” section, right? Wrong. They once again promote their paid products in this section. The link for the free version is tucked in the bottom right of this menu under the “Toolbox” section.
The fact that the majority of people are visiting their website to try out the free edition of their product, this is a bit strange. I’m sure it has put a number of people off not being able to find a free download, and thus sent them to their competitor’s products.
After you click through the Free Antivirus link, you will finally be able to download their free solution. Simply click the green download button, and you’re off to the races!
Luckily, the installation process for Bitdefender is much easier than finding the actual download. Once you have the file saved to your computer, log in launch it and follow the on-screen steps.
The first thing that will happen is a quick download of the program files. At the time of this review, the download size was 345.3 MB, so for most, it will not take long to complete.
After the download is complete, it will take you to the next screen where it will begin to scan and install Bitdefender on your system. This process can take a bit of time depending on the age and power of your computer, but it is completely hands-off. Go grab a cup of coffee and a snack, and it should be done by the time you sit back down.
The last step once the installation is complete is to sign up for a Bitdefender account or log in to your existing account if you have used their products before. Once you have logged in, you are ready to go!
The installation process is extremely simple. Some will not like the fact that you have to sign up for an account in order to use the product, but it is not difficult to do and will only take a couple of extra minutes.
Now that you have Bitdefender installed, it’s time to see what it is all about! Let’s take a look at the interface to see exactly how simple it is to operate.
As you can see, the interface is super sleek and simple to understand. It’s nice to see that large green font letting us know we are protected. There is a nice sense of security that comes from that.
Just under is the System Scan button. This does exactly what you think it would; it scans your system for any potential threats. Nice and simple.
There is also the option to drag files or folders onto the interface to perform a scan on specific things. This is extremely helpful if you download or share files online and don’t want to perform an entire system scan. Sometimes you just need to scan a single file to ensure it’s safety before opening.
The settings menu is in the top right (the gear icon). This is where you can find the small subset of options that come with Bitdefender’s free edition.
The free version of Bitdefender doesn’t have much in the way of Features. As mentioned above, there is a list of the things you can do under the settings menu. Let’s take a look at what each does, and the power you will have while using Bitdefender.
The first option is the “Events.” Under this section, you will see the notifications on exactly what Bitdefender is doing. Did it install an update? Catch a malicious attack? Click on the Events section to find out
The next option is “Quarantine.” This is where all the nasty bugs it catches will be stored to ensure they can no longer harm your computer. Bitdefender periodically reviews these files and either restore them or deletes them permanently depending on their threat level and if they will corrupt or put your files in danger.
Under Quarantine is the “Exclusions” section. Here you can set exclusions, so Bitdefender doesn’t accidentally remove files you know are safe. Putting websites or files into the Exclusions will tell Bitdefender not to scan those files in the future, ensuring your files do not get accidentally blocked or removed.
The last of the main settings is the “Protection” section. This is where you can enable or disable the live monitoring of your computer. With it enabled, it will detect threats as they happen, ensuring timely and proper removal of malicious files and invaders. You do have the option to turn this off and save a bit of your system resources if it is slowing your computer down.
Now that we know all of the features and basics of Bitdefender let’s take a look at how we can actually scan your computer for problems. This part literally could not be any easier. All you need to do is simply click the “System Scan” button.
After you click this button, Bitdefender will begin its in-depth scan of your computer. This can take some time, so just be patient. The wait is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your computer is safe and protected.
If you click on the system scan progress, it will open the “Scanning” dialogue box. Here you can see a bit more information on what is happening during the scan. The files being scanned currently will flash across the top, a bar slowly fills as you near completion, and the elapsed time is noted for your convenience. You can also see how many files have been scanned and how many infected files the program has currently found. If you want to cancel the scan, this is also the place to do that.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent Results
- Easy to Use Interface
- Few Features
- Download Hard to Find
Bitdefender is legitimately one of the best antivirus programs on the market. It is extremely good at finding malicious content, and is quite easy to navigate and use as well.
We’re not too fond of the lack of features (compared to the paid program) nor the difficulty we had finding the free download. If you can overlook these small complaints, Bitdefender is fantastic free software.
Avast (Free Edition)
Avast is the most prominent name in the antivirus solution marketplace. They have been in the antivirus business since 1995 when they developed the very first iteration of avast for the Windows 95 operating system.
Given how competitive the antivirus space has become, can Avast hold up today as well as it has in the past? Let’s take a look at what it has to offer!
When you first load up the Avast website, you are greeted with a sleek design. The best part? The download button is the first thing that will catch your eye! This is a huge plus for ease-of-use and will ensure that you can easily find and download the software.
Suppose you were to miss the giant orange button in the middle of the page. Could you still find a way to download the software? Yes! In the top right corner, there is yet another download button. How convenient. No one can blame them for not making the user experience as easy as possible.
After you open the download, Avast will begin the installation process. The very first screen that you are greeted with has some things that we are not fans of.
As you can see, by default Avast will try and install their “Secure Browser” and set it as your default browser. Given the software is free, this can be overlooked, but it is a minor inconvenience at the very least. If you don’t pay attention and just click “install” right away, you will be in for a surprise when you next browse the internet.
After you uncheck the boxes for their browser (or leave them checked depending on what you want), it’s time to install the software. Simply click the green install button, and it will begin.
After installation finishes, they will try and get you to grab a few more of their products. Read up on them and decide if they are things that would benefit you or not.
Once you have passed all of these screens, the software will be completely installed and ready to use! Now it’s time to dive in and take a look at exactly what features are available to you with Avast Free Antivirus.
Avast has a very simple and easy to understand interface. The left side of the program is where you will find the navigation menu, and the settings can be found at the top of the screen where the gear is located.
Also at the top of the screen are your notifications. Here you can see all the things that are going on inside your software as it is running. It’s nice to have it easily accessible from any menu section that you may be on.
The only thing that is a slight annoyance is the promotional banner at the bottom. Again, for a free software, this is something that most people will overlook. However, it must be noted as it is an eyesore on what is otherwise an extremely attractive design.
When you first open the software, you are greeted with a pleasant looking design. All of the information you need is presented to you and labels are easily read. The nice bit “You’re Protected” is a great touch to let you know that your computer is currently being protected.
On the left side navigation panel, you will see the main features of the software: Status, Protection, Privacy, and Performance. Let’s break them each down and try and understand what they do.
Status is the main screen we have been on. This is where you will know if your computer is being protected and run your system scans.
The protection option has many different sub-categories. The ones available with the free edition of the software are: Scans, Core Shields, Virus Chest, Wi-Fi Inspector, and Software Updater.
Scans allow you to change between different levels of scans for your computer, from a full virus scan to folder targeted scans.
Core Shields allows you to turn on or off the various protective shields that come standard with Avast. These include File Shield, Behavior Shield, Web Shield, and Mail Shield. All of these are free features, which is extremely impressive.
Virus Chest is where the quarantined malicious files are stored after they are detected by your virus scan. This will ensure they can no longer harm your computer.
Wi-Fi Inspector allows you to see all the devices connected to your router, and determine if there are any issues on your home network. Run a scan and see if there is anything malicious on your network.
Software Updater will help you make sure your downloaded software is all up to date. We didn’t notice a whole lot of software show up in this section, so it appears to be geared towards Windows critical files or software. This would make sense, as it is the easiest way to ensure your basic software doesn’t have security flaws.
The next menu section is Privacy. Here you will find more sub-categories, but only two are available with the free option: Passwords, and SecureLine VPN.
Passwords is the section where you can keep and manage all of your passwords. You could save your login passwords, credit card numbers, secure notes, and more! They also give you the ability to import your saved login credentials directly from Google Chrome, which is a nice touch.
The next option in the Privacy menu is the SecureLine VPN. While this technically comes with the free version of Avast, it does cost money to use. We are still going to include it here, as they do offer a free 30-day trial to see if you enjoy the product or not. Also, it’s only 2.99 per month if you decide to continue after the 30-day trial.
The purpose of a VPN is to hide your IP address and location. This can come in handy if you are using public internet, want to watch videos that are blocked in your country and more.
The last category on the menu is Performance. Here we only have two options: Cleanup Premium and Game Mode.
Cleanup Premium is a PC speed booster and cleaner. It will scan your PC and remove unneeded files, free up disk space, and fix small errors to ensure your PC is running at maximum speed.
Game Mode is a tool to help you not be disturbed while you play your favorite games. It will mute Avast notices, silence Windows updates, and ups the process priority for the game you are playing. Just add your games in this section and never worry about losing your immersion again!
There are a TON of features we have just reviewed, but in the end, we need to know how easy it is to scan your PC for viruses and malware. The answer: super simple. All you need to do is be on the main screen (Status), and click the big green “Run Smart Scan” button.
Once you start the smart scan, you are greeted with a very nice looking scan screen. The percentage complete is in the middle of a circle with the objectives spanning the outside. This lets you know what Avast is looking for as it scans your computer for unwanted attackers.
Pros and Cons
- Tons of Features
- Easy to Use
- Try and sneak their browser on you
- Annoying banner on the main screen
Avast is the most downloaded antivirus software in the world for a reason. It is simple to use, and feature packed. The lack of a price tag does not mean the software is gimped, it still features rich and a wonderful piece of software that will protect you for years to come.
Avast vs BitDefender Comparison
This is one of the easiest sections to declare a winner. Bitdefender makes you go on a treasure hunt just to find the free download link. It is annoying and unneeded and will keep many people from even trying their software.
Avast makes it clear what they want you to do, download their free software! You can’t miss the free download button on their webpage as it is on there multiple times.
Bitdefender requires you to sign up for an account in order to finish your installation and use their software. This is a minor annoyance, but if you decide to upgrade to one of their paid tools, this will save you some time in the long run.
While Avast is easy enough to install, it makes its biggest blunder in the installation phase. Auto-checking the box to install their browser AND make it the default browser on your computer is sneaky. It is a shady practice by a company that should know better after so many successful years in business. We hate this move and hope they take it out in future iterations of their software.
Bitdefender knocked it out of the park with their super minimalist design. It is beautiful to look at, and super simple to navigate.
Avast has a nice looking design, but putting in that ugly banner on the bottom of the main section really hurts it here. They definitely are not shy about advertising within their software, so that brings them down just a notch here.
Bitdefender has a nice toolset of Features for a free version of their software. Though nowhere near as powerful as their antivirus suites, the free edition still does what it’s meant to do: remove viruses.
However, Avast crushes all competition in this area. They have a full feature set including non-antivirus quality of life improvement features (Game Mode, Software Updater, etc). You simply can not find another free antivirus solution with more features than Avast.
Due to the extreme minimalist design of Bitdefender, using this software is extremely simple. Click the start button, wait for the results. It really is that simple. No need to worry about a bunch of settings, Bitdefender handles everything for you.
Avast is super simple to run as well. Click the run button, and watch as the process unfolds. We really like that Avast lays out exactly what the software is looking for and checking as it runs. This will let you know how deep of a check they are running on your system.
At the end of the day, both of these antivirus programs are fantastic. If you choose either of them, you can rest assured that your computer will be safe from any malicious attacks that may come your way from regular use.
However, Avast simply outshines Bitdefender when it comes to the features. There is so much more to Avast that we simply cannot name Bitdefender our champion. The crown for this head-to-head matchup goes to Avast by a slim margin!
Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. Do you favor Bitdefender’s sleek design and ease of use? Or would you rather have tons of features and the reliability Avast is known for? We would love to hear your thoughts!