Bitdefender vs. Avast: Which antivirus is better?

Ali Qamar Last updated: June 1, 2022
Disclosure

We review two antivirus industry leaders. Bitdefender and Avast. You will need to consider many arguments to sort out which one is better. This guide lets you quickly compare and decide.

If there were anything like a consensus about the best antivirus service, Bitdefender would probably be the chosen one. But Avast is a mammoth industry player that eats other, smaller antivirus companies and technologies and blends them into its service. Both products are well known and respected, and both offer free versions to the public. But which is the best one?

In this article, we will compare Bitdefender with Avast and look at the pros and cons of each one. Once you’ve read this, you’ll have a good idea of which is the right option for you and why.

The essential information is that, as already stated, both programs have free versions. The license is 18 USD per year for Bitdefender and 35 USD for Avast. Both cover the most used operating systems globally.

Still, only Avast is available for Linux systems – if you are wondering how is it possible for Bitdefender to have an Android version, which is nothing that a highly customized Linux distro by Google and not a version for desktop Linux computers, you’re not alone, but the answer remains a mystery. Keep reading.

Bitdefender vs. Avast – Comparison at a glance

Feature Avast premium protection Bitdefender premium security
Free version
Price34.99 / year17.99 / year
PlatformsiOS, Android, Linux, Mac, WindowsiOS, Android, macOS, Windows
Antivirus and antispyware
Firewall
Webcam protection
Password manager
Anti-Phishing
Ransomware protection
Banking and payment protection
Parental control
Network attack protection
Encrypted storage
Automatically update apps
VPN
PC cloud backup✔(50GB)
File shredder
Performance optimization
Identity theft protection
Run suspicious apps in a sandbox

Overall winner: Bitdefender

Who is the best protector, Avast or Bitdefender?

An antivirus capacity to offer protection is obviously one of its most essential features, but it’s also among the hardest to measure accurately. Detecting and removing malware is necessary but not sufficient. A good antivirus will remove harmful files without altering the system’s legitimate data. And that is why false positives are a thing to keep in mind.

Data published by AV-TEST Institute gives both antiviruses a 5.5 on macOS and six on Windows in the protection department. So they will offer you essentially the same degree of security. But Bitdefender’s defensive feature list is more extensive, so that gives it a slight advantage over Avast. So Bitdefender wins the protection battle by a hair.

Protection against malware and scans

Avast’s ability to keep you safe against malware is not even across the board. Your subscription version is fundamental in that regard. Avast’s security centers on rescanning for threats in data already in the system. However, the paid version pays much more attention to outside threats, thus lowering the dangers you could face because of malware. In addition, the web countermeasures will ensure that the worse junk won’t make it to your hard drive or cache.

Bitdefender does almost the very same thing in this department. But even Bitdefender’s most basic version has better network security tools. So, suppose you are going with any of the free versions. In that case, you’ll find that Avast leaves you counting on antivirus scans and real-time protection only, while Bitdefender will give you some additional security that could be crucial when you’re online.

Additionally, Bitdefender gives you several options that prevent scanning files too frequently. That will save you resources and time, and it will reduce your system’s wear and tear.

Bitdefender’s scanning strategy is not as efficient as Avast’s. It takes twice as long the time as Avast in the same system. Our test ran on a relatively clean 256 GB SSD disk, and it needed nearly two hours. In quick scans, the difference is not as noticeable, but Avast still outperformed Bitdefender in scans.

But there’s a catch. Once you start a scan with Avast, it becomes the true owner of your computer.

You won’t be able to use it until you cancel the scan or it’s finished. Bitdefender’s scan is also resource-intensive, but you will still be able to browse around the web, write an email and perform similarly simple tasks without significant problems.

Firewalls

Both of our contenders feature network security toolkits. But their functionality is quite different.

It would seem that Avast spent a lot of effort in the eye-candy for its network protection interface instead of building a robust functionality. Yes, you can scan in several ways, but you’ll learn nothing interesting. If there’s a hostile device in your network, the chances are that you won’t know that from the information that Avast will give you.

Not everything is terrible, though. The level of your firewall strictness is highly customizable, but you need to make sure you’re not messing around with port settings that could affect you or other users in your local network.

Bitdefender’s firewall custom features are nothing to write home about, either. Even so, you will get some good information, and it works in the background. So you can just set it up and completely forget about it until it lets you know that something fishy is going on.

So, overall, Bitdefender also wins in the firewall battle for better functionality and convenience.

Which option has the best features?

If you just read each antivirus’ feature list, the sheer length of Bitdefender’s will make you think that choosing the best antivirus among them is a no-brainer – if, and only if, you’re in Windows.

If you need or want service for devices outside Microsoft’s universe, Avast is a better option.

That being said, Windows’ security issues and problems have been the stuff of legend for decades already. So, no, there’s nothing wrong with installing an antivirus in your Linux system. It’s prudent, for sure. But, unfortunately, it’s also mostly useless. And that is why Bitdefender’s Windows-related features end up being useful. Therefore, Bitdefender’s focus on Windows gives it added usefulness, thus winning this department.

Common features of Avast and Bitdefender antivirus

So far, we’ve shown you how both pieces of software are different in some regards. But they also share many similarities that you should be aware of. So here are the features that you can find in both antivirus:

  • Firewall
  • Anti-theft tools
  • Optimization tool
  • File shredder
  • VPN
  • Additional browser.
  • Webcam and microphone protection
  • Anti-tracker
  • Safe browsing
  • Ransomware protection
  • WiFi protection

A Network Threat Prevention Internet security toolkit in Bitdefender will keep your local network safe against botnet URLs, exploits, and other vulnerabilities. Avast’s WiFi network security is roughly equivalent. It’s a monitoring tool that ensures there are no malicious actors in your digital vicinity. In addition, it includes DNS cache protection.

Both products offer ransomware protection, a relatively unknown feature a few months ago, but that has become very relevant over the last few months as the incidence of ransomware attacks has exploded. Everybody is interested in preventing ransomware now, so it’s good that both antiviruses include it. Bitdefender’s protection goes a little bit further than Avast’s because it keeps back up copies of your system’s more critical files, so you don’t lose them if a ransomware attack encrypts them and renders them useless.

On the outdated software department, both Bitdefender and Avast do an excellent job. For example, the Vulnerability Assessment in Bitdefender will analyze your network and your devices’ properties, software in use. It will give you a personal security report that will show you how to make everything safer. On the other hand, Avast has a software updater that will automatically keep all your software up to date.

Both options also include an optimization feature. It keeps your registry clean so that your startup’s efficiency is improved slightly.

If trackers are the threat in your mind, you will love Bitdefender’s anti-tracker feature. It will minimize the tracking you can come across while browsing the web. There is a good Avast anti-track tool, but you can only use it in the Premium plan.

Do you need a VPN now and then? Well, Bitdefender includes a VPN with the service. It has a 200 MB daily data cap, which means it’s not what you want if you want your VPN to unblock streaming services, but it can be advantageous nevertheless in many other tasks. If you should choose to go with Avast and you also want a VPN, it’s available. But only if you invest in Avast Ultimate.

There is a file shredder in both options. It deletes files in a way that precludes future recovery by other tools. It’s a good thing privacy-wise, when you work with private or sensitive data of any kind, or when you are going to sell your device to somebody else and want to make sure the future owner can’t rebuild your activities.

Webcam and microphone protection has become essential in the days of ubiquitous webcams in every device. This prevents fishy requests to your camera or microphone from activating them. Thus you’ll always know that nobody is hearing or watching you without your consent.

The anti-theft suite in Bitdefender will also be attractive for frequent travelers. The tools allow you to lock up your device or track its location. The fact that it’s available for all kinds of devices adds a layer of convenience (it means you can follow a lost phone, for instance). Avast shares this feature, but only for Android.

One last common feature that is also interesting is that both antiviruses come with a secure browser. Bitdefender’s is called Safepay browser. As the name suggests, it’s designed to facilitate secure payments. The Avast Secure Browser, on the other hand, keeps its focus on blocking ads and trackers.

Unique features in each antivirus

Now that I’ve shown you the features shared in both Bitdefender and Avast, let’s turn to those unique specifications for each.

Bitdefender wins the numbers battle with five proprietary features against Avast’s meager two. So it offers more. But is the offer better? Let’s see.

There is a Rescue Environment in Bitdefender. It’s a malware removal tool that does the trick while a reboot is happening. This is a necessary feature because some rootkits will create locks that prevent you from removing them once the system is up and running. Hence, the booting process is the only window of opportunity to remove them.

Adjustable Profiles detects your activities in a given device so that a specific mode is toggled. This feature is supposed to enhance your privacy when you need it without bothering you – think about watching a movie, or playing a game, for instance.

Bitdefender also includes a password manager. You can use it to manage your credentials for different websites and accounts. In addition, it syncs automatically between all your devices. But even more importantly, it can safely store payment information.

An email filter that works with the most popular email clients and mailboxes will help you filter out spam messages and other unwanted items.

One of the most sought-after features by contemporary parents everywhere in the world is parental control, and Bitdefender offers it as well. The control will allow you to set up device limits, control how the device can be used and determine the web pages available to users. Avast does have a parental control application, but it’s not in the antivirus suite (free or otherwise). Instead, you have to get an utterly different app that only works in Android and iOS.

So far, it would seem that Bitdefender has all the unique features. And for the most part, it does. But Avast has one exclusive feature called the secure sandbox. Suppose you download and install an app of suspicious origins. You can put it inside the secure sandbox so that it runs without interacting with the rest of your system until you’re sure it’s safe.

Antiviruses and PC performance

The Avast installation attempts to contraband a lot of bloatware into the system. It makes you wonder how long they spent on trojan horses analytics – too long for, sure. Also, it takes up a good chunk of your memory resources once it’s up and running. The good news, we believe, is that malware won’t be causing memory and computing leaks that eat up your system’s performance.

But you won’t miss that because Avast comes so close that you could think it’s secretly mining Bitcoin (which consumes insane computer energy if you don’t know already). It will be obviously worse if your device is weaker, so keep that in mind. If you want to have a safe system that still performs well, Avast will probably not be your favorite choice. 

But what about Bitdefender? Well, it’s not the leanest piece of software you’ll ever install on your device. It takes more storage than Avast by several factors. But it also outperforms Avast. This happens because the suite’s smart profile management adapts its performance to your activities instead of the other way around, which seems to be Avast’s way.

The price factor

If you read many articles on software and online services, you’ve probably read numerous times before that free services of all kinds must be avoided in almost every possible case. We belong to that camp ourselves, always discouraging using free VPNs, proxies, etc. But Bitdefender seems to be in a category of its own in this regard.

Bitdefender’s free version is unique in the antivirus industry (and many other digital industries as well) in that it will give you a plethora of helpful options. It will even provide you with customer support without cost. Very few free services of any type are really free – meaning that they don’t end up costing you in terms of privacy, bandwidth, computing power, or other assets and resources.

Bitdefender will provide you with genuinely high-quality service at no cost, and if you have a tight budget in mind, there’s nothing more to say on this subject. And even if you choose to pay for a license, costs remain pretty reasonable.

With all that in mind, Bitdefender makes Avast look bad. However, the Avast free service will give you a minimalistic service that’s very resource-intensive and whose main achievement will be to remind you of all the features you’re constantly missing if you just bought a license – which is more expensive in the Total Security/Ultimate category compared to Bitdefender.

And is it worth it to upgrade your Avast free antivirus? It will give you, for a fee, basically the same things that Bitdefender will provide you with for free. And with a better user experience vis a vis computing resources and system performance.

So the price winner has a clear winner, too: Bitdefender.

User-friendliness in apps and interfaces

Downloading and installing the antivirus software needs no registration or account in either case. But, unfortunately, the installation process is not precisely convenient in either case. 

The Bitdefender installation software is a small 13 MB executable. This tiny file will then proceed to download the 400 MB that will get installed in the end. Thus, the installation process is heavily dependent on the bandwidth of Bitdefender’s servers, which seemed to be quite busy when I was having a go at it because the downloads were painstakingly slow.

So the Bitdefender installation process turned out to be slow and protracted. But your experience may differ if you have better luck with the provider’s server traffic. Too many factors come into download speeds in general.

So the installation speed is one aspect in which Avast is better than Bitdefender. The installation is much quicker, but don’t ring the bells yet. The Avast installation presents other problems.

The Avast installer features many tiny checkboxes with default downloads for Opera, Avast Secure Browser, and other bloatware many users don’t want – and probably you are one of them, too. So you will need to pay close attention during the installation, or you’ll find that you’re installing and agreeing to a bunch of terms you barely even noticed there. Bloatware is a fact of life, and I get that much. But Avast could, at least, no have it all checked by default.

After the installation comes the applications. They’re both good. They are both easy to use, and finding the feature you want is straightforward. So the start is good with both options.

Then, you realize that Avast remains a bit sketchy even once you’ve set it up. All the pop-ups insistently reminding you to pay for an upgrade do not add to the experience.

Bitdefender is much more respectful to the free version user. You’re a client, even without paying a fee. But, unfortunately, it makes Avast’s strategy look not only annoying but out of touch with the times.

So Bitdefender takes the user experience battle as well.

Desktop applications

Bitdefender will offer you several app options. For example, you can choose to install the whole suite or only the malware scanner. That makes it more flexible and customizable. And that doesn’t take into account the option to install the service’s VPN separately. So with Bitdefender, you can set up the service on desktop, skip some features, or even the entire app. You’ll be spoiled for choices.

On the other hand, Avast will give you a single option, which is the entire app. So it’s the all-or-nothing deal. The app won’t change even if you upgrade to the paid service; it will just remove the paywall.

So Avast’s free version will install the full version from the very beginning but won’t let you take advantage of it until you pay.

That makes a lot of sense from the developer’s point of view because they can distribute a one-size-fits-all file. But from the user’s perspective, it’s utterly pointless and forces you to put up with an installation process, aggravated by the bloatware, that’s mostly useless in the end.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are a touchy thing. It often happens that Android and iOS versions for the same service have little to do with each other and even look like opposites.

iOS devices’ vulnerability to any virus is exceedingly tiny because Apple exerts a great degree of control over the App Store. In addition, Sideloads for your apps are very restricted unless you’re using an unlocked device. As a result, there’s not much need nor demand for iOS antivirus apps, and few providers invest the resources to come up with a piece of software that will be useful only rarely.

It all boils down to this: neither Avast’s nor Bitdefender’s iOS apps are too attractive. Bitdefender only enables the VPN, protects the browser, and monitors an account’s privacy. Compared to the extensive feature list in the desktop app, that’s practically nothing.

The Avast iOS app has a VPN, web protection, and a “secret” picture vault where you can store your most embarrassing bitmaps. So it’s not much better than Bitdefender’s.

If then we turn to the Android versions, everything changes. 

The Bitdefender Android app includes iOS and a malware scanner, anti-theft tools, and an app lock. That’s a good number of additional valuable features.

The Avast Android app is also much better than its iOS sister. For example, it has RAM boosting, device tracking, and malicious website protection. But no malware scanner is available, unfortunately.

So there’s hardly any point in installing either app on iOS devices. On Android, in contrast, both apps do offer some valuable features, but Bitdefender’s is way better and more flexible.

Customer support

Most digital free services share a common disadvantage: they have no customer support at all. Avast is no exception in this regard, but Bitdefender is unique because it gives customer support even to free users.

The customer support system includes lie chat, contact through email or phone. In addition, the website includes many FAQs, guides, and other knowledge-based articles that can help you figure out on your own many minor issues. So there’s plenty of help for you to find, self-served, or otherwise.

For Avast, however, you’re something of a freeloader. So if you want your problems to become relevant to Avast’s customer service, you need to become a paying client beforehand. If you fall for the strategy and pay your fee, you’ll find that it doesn’t make that much difference anyway. The customer support is primarily based on FAQs and phone assistance.

Bitdefender wins in the customer support department because it offers a broader range of options for the customer, even for free, and the service itself is more welcoming. But, regardless of how it compares to Avast’s, Bitdefender’s customer support is remarkable on its own.

Bitdefender vs. Avast: The verdict

Let’s review our findings: Bitdefender wins in features, protection, performance, pricing, user interface, and customer support. That is to say that there is not a single aspect in which Avast is better or even comparable.

Avast may be a top-rated antivirus, but it’s not an excellent option even if you pay for a license. Bitdefender’s service’s reputation is even better, and the protection it offers is better.

Bitdefender is feature-rich, even in the free version. And if you pay for it, everything gets even better.

So when you consider all the factors we’ve shown you here, it’s only natural that Bitdefender is ranked as the top antivirus provider in most lists, while Avast seldom gets the top spot.

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About the Author

Ali Qamar is the founder of PrivacySavvy, which he started out of the sheer passion for making every internet user privacy savvy. Ali has always been concerned about security and privacy for the general public and is very libertarian. Even before Edward Snowden appeared, he has been a privacy advocate even before Edward Snowden appeared with his revelations about NSA's mass surveillance. Ali graduated with a computing degree from the leading IT college in Pakistan, so he boasts a background in this area. He has an accountable understanding of the technical sides of encryption, VPNs, and privacy. Ali is regularly quoted in the privacy and security reports by the local press. His contributions have been featured in SecurityAffairs, Ehacking, HackRead, Lifewire, Business.com, Intego, InfosecMagazine, and many more publications online. Ali is naturally attracted to transforming things.

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