Sunday, June 23, 2024

After testing Bitdefender and Norton, here’s the antivirus software I’d recommend

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A person compares Bitdefender and Norton antivirus software pricing on a Windows PC.A person compares Bitdefender and Norton antivirus software pricing on a Windows PC. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Bitdefender and Norton consistently rank among the best antivirus software in the world, scoring near-perfect ratings for malware protection. That makes choosing between them a tough decision.

Contents

  • Tiers and pricing
  • Features
  • Customer support and usability
  • Protect your PC and Mac

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To help you decide, I’ll compare these leading cybersecurity solutions in pricing, features, customer support, and usability.

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Tiers and pricing

Bitdefender and Norton antivirus price lists appear side-by-side. Digital Trends

When your personal data, account logins, and financial data are at stake, the price of protection might not be the most important consideration. Still, subscription costs add up over the years, and it’s important to stay aware of expenses.

Both Bitdefender and Norton offer great promotions on the first year of a new subscription. However, prices go up for year two and beyond, and it’s easy to forget that it was a much better deal when you signed up.

For comparison, Malwarebytes has consistent annual pricing and actually reduces the fee if you order a two-year subscription in advance.

Bitdefender first-year/renewal prices start at $40/$60 (Antivirus Plus) for basic antivirus protection for three Windows PCs. Cross-platform security for five Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices costs $70/$100 (Total Security).

Bitdefender Premium Security adds an uncapped VPN and password manager for $80/$160. Ultimate Security includes identity theft protection, bumping the annual price to $90 for the first year and $180 thereafter.

Norton prices are generally lower and include more features but not always. For example, Norton Antivirus Plus first-year/renewal costs $30/$60. Norton 360 Standard covers three devices for $40/$95.

In my review of Norton 360 Deluxe for five devices, I found the $50/$120 price hit the sweet spot, adding an uncapped VPN, up to 50 GB of cloud backup, and more. Norton 360 with LifeLock includes identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and 250GB cloud backup for $100/$180.

Pricing is competitive among top antivirus software developers, but Norton has protection that goes further if you can afford the top-tier subscription. Norton’s most expensive plan, Ultimate Plus costs $300 for the first year and increases to $350 thereafter. At this price, Norton alerts you to banking, credit card, and investment activity, monitors your home title, and reimburses stolen funds up to $1 million.

Features

Cybersecurity software is meant to protect your computer and your data. To do that effectively, you need more than a simple virus scan. Here are the features that Bitdefender and Norton offer to help keep your computer safe.

Malware protection

AV-Comparatives tests show offline detection, highlighting Bitdefender’s strength. Digital Trends

The malware threat keeps growing and becoming more sophisticated, but you’re in good hands with the basic antivirus plans from Bitdefender or Norton. Security researcher AV-Test scored each with near-perfect records over the last several years.

To differentiate further, I checked another third-party research lab, AV-Comparatives. In offline tests that measure antivirus protection when detection fails, Bitdefender maintained a 96.1% detection rate, while Norton dropped from 98.9% to 81.8%.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has a more robust malware detection and protection system. When I reviewed Bitdefender’s Premium Security plan, I noted that it was among the best for malware protection.

Scam and tracking protection

Bitdefender’s Premium VPN fooled BBC’s iPlayer, but I didn’t have a British TV license. Digital Trends

Basic antivirus software protects you from malware and phishing scams, but could leave you open to tracking that could let hackers build profiles for targeted attacks.

If you upgrade to Bitdefender’s Total Security or Norton 360 Deluxe, you get premium VPN service that blocks trackers. Each offers VPN servers around the world so your bandwidth remains good despite the extra hop required for this protection. For fast-action gaming, you might want to check out the best antivirus software for gamers.

Special features

The core of account security is password safety. You don’t need a sophisticated algorithm or high-performance computer to break simple passwords. That’s why the mid-tier plans from Bitdefender and Norton include password managers that you can access from Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

Norton plans come with cloud backup so you can protect some of your data by uploading it to secure servers. In case of ransomware encryption or other data loss, you can recover your most important files. Bitdefender’s ransomware protection backs up files when it detects an attack.

It’s not really a security concern, but Bitdefender’s system optimizer cleans up computer issues to enhance performance. Norton 360 for Gamers has a similar feature.

Customer support and usability

Norton’s live chat had a reasonable response time and was helpful. Digital Trends

I found Bitdefender and Norton’s customer support to be quick and helpful. Bitdefender’s response time was a bit faster in my testing.

Each service offers self-service articles, 24/7 live chat, and phone support. If you have trouble with installation or billing, Bitdefender and Norton can take care of those issues quickly.

If you’ve been hacked, that’s a more complicated problem, but you can rely on top-rated antivirus software developers like Bitdefender and Norton to help you get your computer working again. It just takes time and patience to work through bigger problems.

Protect your PC and Mac

Bitdefender’s Antivirus Plus is a low-cost option to protect your Windows PC or Mac, but you need to upgrade to Bitdefender Total Security for cross-platform support.

Norton 360 Standard is a more affordable way to protect a PC, Mac, and phone.

If you can afford a midrange price, though, Bitdefender Premium is hard to beat since it covers up to 10 devices with Bitdefender’s best security and malware package.

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