Bitdefender Antivirus Free vs. Antivirus Plus

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 24, 2018
Updated • Jul 28, 2018

Bitdefender is a highly respected security company that refreshes its lineup of security solutions each year (just like any other antivirus company out there).

Company products are usually top of the class when put to the test by independent test institutes such as AV Test or AV Comparatives.

Home users who run Windows have the choice between four different Bitdefender products of which only one, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, is free.

Bitdefender launched a free antivirus solution years ago but does not advertise it as much on the company website as the paid products.

It is difficult to find out how Bitdefender products differ from one another. The following overview provides you with the information so that you can better pick the most suitable product.

I focus the comparison on the two antivirus products but will compare those two with Bitdefender Total Security, the company's top of the line product.

Bitdefender Antivirus Free vs. Antivirus Plus

The comparison looks at the 2019 lineup right now which Bitdefender released recently. We will update the overview when next year's refreshes are released.

The pricing

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is available for free.
  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2019 is available for $59.99 but you find discounts for the product usually.
  • Bitdefender Total Security 2019 is available for $89.99.

Compatibility and installation

Bitdefender Antivirus products are compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 operating systems. They require systems with at least 1.5 Gigabytes of RAM and 800 Megabytes of hard disk space (recommended 2 Gigabytes), and an Intel Core Duo 2 GHz processor or better. Software-wise, Internet Explorer or higher is required.

The online installer requires an Internet connection. It will download approximately 360 Megabytes of data to the local system if you install Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition or approximately 450 Megabytes if you download Bitdefender Antivirus Plus.

Both installers reveal that anonymous usage reports (free edition) or product reports (plus edition) are sent to Bitdefender. You may uncheck the option in both products to block the sending of the data to Bitdefender.

The installer tries to install a root certificate and requests that all open browsers are closed to do so.

Feature comparison

Feature Free Antivirus Antivirus Plus
Advanced Threat Defense yes yes
Ransomware Protection no yes
Web Attack Protection yes yes
Anti-Phishing yes yes
Wi-Fi Security Advisor no yes
Online Banking Protection no yes
VPN no yes
Password Manager no yes
Search Advisor no yes
Vulnerability Scan no yes
File Shredder no yes
Free Online Support no yes

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers protection against common threats; it features an antivirus module and protects the system against ransomware attacks, phishing, and web attacks.

The paid version supports the following additional features:

  • Access to a VPN with 200 Megabytes of daily traffic included.
  • Password Manager to save passwords, credit card data, and other data securely.
  • Safe Files to protect important files from tampering.
  • Search Advisor which checks URLs displayed in search results.
  • Vulnerability Scan to scan the system for security issues and vulnerabilities.
  • Ransomware Protection
  • Online Banking Protection using a secure environment that Bitdefender calls Safepay.
  • Wi-Fi Security Advisor recommends to use the SafePay browser when you connect to public wireless networks.
  • File Shredder deletes files so that they can't be recovered anymore.

Both antivirus products lack features that Bitdefender reserves for its Internet Security and Total Security products. They are:

  • Webcam protection to prevent unauthorized access to a device's cam.
  • Firewall to control network traffic.
  • Parental Control to protect minors.
  • File Encryption to store sensitive files in encrypted containers.
  • Anti-Theft to run anti-theft tools.
  • Speed Up tool to improve performance.

Closing Words

Whether Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is sufficient for your needs depends on a number of factors. Do you need the extra functionality that Antivirus Plus or the more expensive Bitdefender products offer?

The free version covers the most important bases with the exception of a firewall which it and Antivirus Plus don't offer.

Now You: Which security software do you use?

Bitdefender Antivirus Free vs. Antivirus Plus
Article Name
Bitdefender Antivirus Free vs. Antivirus Plus
Find out which Bitdefender product is right for you; is Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition sufficient or should you pick one of the paid products instead?
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Alk said on July 28, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Martin,

    You have another mistake in your article; Safe Files *is* available in Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. This feature should go into the table, as it is a difference between the free and Plus versions.
    Here is a screenshot of it installed and Safe Files operational on my PC:

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 28, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you, I have edited the article to reflect that.

  2. KeZa said on July 26, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    AVG free here on Xp. Comes good out many test and it’s al little bit lower then Kasper or Bithy but on Xp works better then the other two. Bithy does not install and Kasper to many probs on Xp but AVG… I love it but not their customer service. I cannot get a new key for the older version 16. and the 17 &18 internet-suite does not work bc of an starting error with the firewall service so I have the old but good Sygate installed.

  3. Alan said on July 26, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    Windows Defender (Windows 10) has worked very well for me. It runs quietly in the background, have never noticed any performance or speed issues.

  4. Timi said on July 25, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    I hate Antiviruses as much as Viruses,that’s why I use secpol.msc rules in Windows,works great and I don’t have to put up with AV background scanning and updating,slow performance and privacy issues!For suspicious files Virus Total and Virtual Box does the job for preventing me installing crap,granted I use Malwarebytes or an on demand AV scanner from time to time!

  5. OldNavyGuy said on July 25, 2018 at 12:06 am

    AVG Free

  6. Brian Burgess said on July 24, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Panda Dome is free and works for me.

    1. Rush said on July 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      I didn’t care for Panda free…I don’t remember why to be honest, but I do remember attempting to uninstall it, including doing a force removal including registry clean-up using Geek uninstaller.
      Parts still remained. I had to download and install a panda removal tool…it didn’t work…

      I finally had to do a factory reset. I was pissed.

  7. Emil said on July 24, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Avira free, happy with it. Good performance, leading protection and like one ad in 24 hours. It’s pretty configurable and allows to uninstall all the bloat modules.

  8. Sebas said on July 24, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    MSE on Windows 7. Never a problem, it just does it’s job. Kaspersky does probably offer better protection, but you are never sure about possible backdoors.

    Apart from that, nearly all AV’s have become resource hogs. Too much functions, oftentimes to try to impress and catch up with the competition. Back in the old days Avast and Avira were fast and efficient. Well, for me anyway.

  9. John Fenderson said on July 24, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    “Which security software do you use?”

    I don’t use antivirus software at all — I gave up on that a decade or so ago. Instead, I use common sense (I’m very cautious about the software I install), heavy active network security (so I can spot unauthorized communication streams), a tripwire system (the vast majority of viruses must alter files on your system to work), and so forth.

    1. Glm said on July 25, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      And what kind of tripwire system might that be?

      1. John Fenderson said on July 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm

        I run Linux, and use the tripwire system called “Tripwire” there. Martin reviewed a Windows tripwire system, FRSSystemWatch, the other day.

  10. John said on July 24, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I tried both mentioned antivirus in the past, but I am currently happy with Windows Defender that ist included in Windows 10. I works really nice for me, no virus since 2015 and less system resources are taken. For safety I clean monthly the whole system with Malwarebytes and SpyBotSD, but I have not found bad issues, everything is working fine and it’s full of extra security option.

  11. A different Martin said on July 24, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve been using Kaspersky Antivirus Free for around nine months now. Before that, I used Sophos Home; before that, Avira Free; before that, Avast Free; before that, Microsoft Security Essentials; before that AVG Free; and before that, I’ve forgotten. NOTE: Whenever possible, I’ve isntalled/used/enabled/activated only the “file-protection” component of my antiviruses. I don’t have an email client, I don’t use messaging apps, and I rely on other security safeguards for my browsers.

    For quite a while, I supplemented my primary, real-time antivirus with on-demand scans using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free, but I uninstalled MBAM Free when Malwarebytes began automatically activating free trials of the full program every time you update the program. (I got tired of having to manually terminate the free trial and then manually reinstall Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Beta after every MBAM update.)

    With Kaspersky I get a pop-up bugging me to register once after each time I log on to Windows 7 and then once every 24 hours. At the same time, another pop-up reminds me that some of my protection components are disabled (which, as mentioned earlier, was a deliberate choice on my part). Maybe once every few weeks or so I get a different pop-up bugging me to upgrade or use Kaspersky’s VPN. Overall, the nagging and the program’s operations themselves seem to be pretty unobtrusive.

    Like many other antiviruses, Kaspersky throws up false positives for a handful of “hackeresque” utilities from Sysinternals and NirSoft. If you want to have those particular utilities on hand, you’ll have to tell Kaspersky to exclude or ignore them.

    The only real quirk I’ve noticed so far is that Kaspersky blocks extension pack updates in Oracle VirtualBox but doesn’t give you a pop-up telling you that it’s done so. You just get a pop-up from VirtualBox telling you that the installation failed. (From what I’ve read on the Web, Kaspersky is *not* the only antivirus that blocks VirtualBox extension-pack installs.) My solution has been to temporarily disable real-time file protection each time I update the extension pack. VirtualBox doesn’t get updated all that often, so this is a pretty minor hassle, once you’ve diagnosed the problem.

    No, wait; there *was* one other quirk. If you don’t want Kaspersky “Web protection” for your browsers, you need to keep the “Web-protection” component ENABLED in Kaspersky until AFTER you have disabled the Kaspersky add-ons in all of your browsers. That counts as a quirk in my book.

    Finally, Kaspersky’s GUI could be a bit more responsive. Two- or three-second lags are common on my system. But then again, I’m using it on a middle-of-the-road laptop that’s eight years old, so maybe the interface performs fine on a more powerful, more modern system.

    On balance, I’m reasonably happy with Kaspersky Free so far. It seems to get the job done without bogging the system down, it doesn’t nag me too much, and the price is right.

    1. Glm said on July 25, 2018 at 8:14 pm
      1. A different Martin said on July 25, 2018 at 10:04 pm

        @Glm: Thanks for the tip! I just implemented it. I guess I’ll find out if it worked the next time I reboot, or notice that I’ve gone for more than 24 hours without a registration nag. I wonder whether the “disabled protections” nag will go away, too. Probably not.

      2. A different Martin said on July 26, 2018 at 4:29 pm

        @Glm: Well, I set the registration key’s “default” subkey to 2, and the change seems to have survived a reboot. I did *not* get a post-reboot registration nag, although I did get a warning for disabled components (as expected). I guess I’ll just have to wait and see whether Kaspersky self-defense gets around to restoring the subkey to its original state and registration nags start popping up again. As I said initially, I can easily live with one nag per boot plus one nag every 24 hours, so I’m probably not going to put much more effort into disabling them.

      3. Glm said on July 28, 2018 at 5:20 am

        Terribly sorry, I did a quick search and thought I found the same topic I used, but apparently it wasn’t. What you need to do is indeed set the registry value to 2. I have set the self-defence back to on after doing so and never seen a popup since.

      4. A different Martin said on July 28, 2018 at 7:07 am

        @Glm: No worries at all! You put me on the path to the right path, and I haven’t seen a nag in over 24 hours, so it’s working on my end, too. Again, thanks!

      5. A different Martin said on July 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm

        @Glm: The registry key trick *didn’t* work. Initially, the key didn’t actually get deleted; it just got “borked.” (It was still listed in the registry but was rendered inaccessible and you couldn’t load or edit its contents. I don’t remember the exact error message I got when I tried.) And this morning, I noticed that the key can once again be accessed, so Kaspersky self-defense apparently restored it to its original state, once self-defense was re-enabled. I suppose I can try putting dummy values of 0 or 2 in the default subkey (while self-defense is turned off) and see whether that does the trick. I kind of doubt it will.

      6. Glm said on July 26, 2018 at 3:48 pm

        After you’ve changed the registry value, you can enabled protection again.

  12. Apparition said on July 24, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    ESET NOD32 anti-virus and HitmanPro.Alert is a very effective combination.

  13. Pierre said on July 24, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    So sorry but the free version doesn’t have the ransomware protection, cf the official site (you made an error)
    It’s an important detail : the other différences have less importance
    There is the same difference between free and paying version of Avast
    I guess it’s the same for Kaspersky but I didn’t find

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 24, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      Thank you!

      1. Pierre said on July 24, 2018 at 7:17 pm

        However a free Bitdefender anti-ransomware tool does exist
        There is a possibility free Bitdefender + anti-ransomware tool

  14. Clairvaux said on July 24, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Avast Free, unfortunately.

  15. Rixster said on July 24, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Windows Security (Windows 10)

  16. P said on July 24, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Eset’s UI has been getting more bloated in recent years but its still top notch for the average user. For pro’s its Sophos.

  17. hobbit said on July 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    windows defender


    windows updates


    3rd party updates (i use ninite)

  18. xdoc said on July 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    And ESET misses whole lot of a virues. I guess the best today is use Windows Defender and some common sense ;)

  19. Anonymous said on July 24, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Windows 10 with all updates, Windows Defender and monthly Malwarebytes free scans are all you need. And updated Firefox with ublock origin.

  20. PingPong said on July 24, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I am using Avast Free AV. It is bloated and has nag screens but works best on my PC, plus I decide what to download and what shields are used. Protection seems to be good, but who really knows.
    I would like to use Bitdefender free but it has too many unsolved issues with Sandboxie.

  21. Tom Hawack said on July 24, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    @Martin, you write in the article, that Bitdefender Antivirus products require Internet Explorer or higher. That an application require an Internet connection is understandable but specifically the Internet Explorer browser is a point I don’t understand.

    I’ve disabled Internet Explorer (the browser, not its engine otherwise many apps wouldn’t make it) : does that mean that in this scenario Bitdefender Antivirus products wouldn’t perform?

    1. Yuliya said on July 24, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      They will. In Windows it’s impossible to get rid of the Trident engine (which is the rendering engine powering Internet Explorer). When a company states their application requires (let’s say) Internet Explorer 8 or greater, they mean they require IE 8’s rendering engine. It’s easier to tell the consumer they need IE 8 or greater, it’s safer to assume they will understand what you are talking about.

      IE’s engine is tied deeply into Windows. Even basic functionality such as the taskbar uses it.

      1. A different Martin said on July 24, 2018 at 5:33 pm

        Ha! Just yesterday I had a problem with the icon not displaying for a portable program shortcut that I’d pinned to my Windows 7 Start Menu. While I was poking around my system looking for shortcuts to try to fix, I was amused to be reminded that user-pinned shortcuts for both the Task Bar and the Start Menu are under:

        \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\

        Exactly where you’d think to look for them, right? (Thank goodness for Everything search.)

        It took a reboot to fix the problem, but in the meantime I got a chuckle out of this legacy reminder of Microsoft’s Windows/Internet Explorer integration strategy (which they got *hammered* for in the US v. Microsoft antitrust case, back in the late 90s).

      2. Tom Hawack said on July 24, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        @Yuliya, as far as I understand it there is a way to disable IE’s very engine, described at :

        Step 1. From IE select Tools/Internet Options/Connections/LAN Settings.
        Step 2. Put a tick in the check box next to “Use a Proxy Server for your LAN …”
        Step 3. Type in “” in the address box and “80” in the Port box. Don’t type in the quote marks of course, just what’s inside them.
        Step 4. Click OK.

        I had tried this and of course many applications connecting to the Web became useless. But it’s fun to know it.

      3. ddk said on July 24, 2018 at 10:43 pm

        I have IE blocked by Windows firewall using a prog call fb since the main browser used here is Chrome.
        Not the same as what you did obviously but really don’t have issues with web browsing on Chrome however Win defender throws up an error when checking for virus definitions and reports a failed to complete download. Closed the error msg and upon opening Defender, states all defs are up to date. IDK what’s up with that. But like another poster said, IE is hooked into the OS pretty tight
        Sandboxie is another layer of protection that’s so far worked pretty well.

  22. Anders said on July 24, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    BitDefender is not recommended, slows systems, nagware app, cannot download files for offline install, leaves BitDefender Agent installed when removed… Total crapware.

    1. Glm said on July 25, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      I’m not convinced.

      1. Slows systems: that could be true. I don’t know what to think about performance anymore: I’ve seen performance issues and complete lock-ups during updates with Kaspersky, Avast, Avira, BitDefender.
      2. Nagware app: I have had zero (0!) nag screens with BitDefender Free, as long as you disable the option in the Account settings.
      3. Honestly, why does that matter? If you’re uninstalling, you’ll see that the Agent is still in the list. So uninstall that one, too. Avira does the same by the way.

    2. klaas said on July 24, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      @Anders: I fully agree. I don’t understand how they can continue with this, but that’s their problem, not ours :-)

  23. Ray said on July 24, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    I have been using Kaspersky free for a while and like it. I did try bitdefender free but it would consume massive amounts of memory and it did not suit me. At the end I got a discount on Kaspersky Internet security and jumped ship. At this point, I am very happy with Kaspersky Internet Security – got it for less than $20.

  24. VictorD said on July 24, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    this: “Free Online Support” “no”

    apparently in russian “free” costs money.

    1. klaas said on July 24, 2018 at 2:15 pm

      @VictorD: except that BD is Romanian.

  25. Yuliya said on July 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    I think there are operating systems requiring less than 450 MiB. o.O

  26. Malte said on July 24, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Microsoft Security Essentials is completely fine.

  27. ddk said on July 24, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Windows Defender + Portable Sandboxie.

  28. brown said on July 24, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Kaspersky Antivirus Free

  29. rswrc said on July 24, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Uninstalled BitdefenderFree recently due to their installed SSL Root certificate.

  30. angelotti said on July 24, 2018 at 8:20 am

    I assume this is a paid “review” (advertisement), since you don’t mention any of the massive drawbacks the free version comes with (massive to me, at least).
    Because the sole purpose of the free edition is to advertise the paid products, it has been designed to be VERY intrusive.. Thus, the only people that can make use of the free version are the ones that use their PC for social networking and/or gaming exclusively! (I’d say, mostly for computer illiterate pensioners).
    I’ll mention few of the annoyances i remember from when i tried this product some time ago (~one year).

    There is an almost complete lack of settings control over the free edition’s components and behaviour. Which leads to:
    – Automatic quarantine of suspected files (false positives), usually without warning. The only way to check if something was quarantined is to open the program’s interface (gui).
    – Automatic blocking of web addresses WITHOUT warning (let alone the ability to bypass the block). Unlike with other services, where you’re informed what (and why) blocked that particular web address from loading.
    Also, because the free edition is meant to advertise their paid products, they often block entirely safe web sites (github, sourceforge, etc) for limited periods of time. You may ask: how does that advertise the paid products?!? – by removing the ability to whitelist web domains, let alone full domains (with sub-domains).
    If, for example, you have a web site with 1000 articles you want to read, you’ll have to whitelist all of the 1000 url’s. The only other way is to disable the entire AV (real time scanner), because the free version offers no control over the built in components.

    There ware few other minor annoyances, but these are the ones I recall.
    At first glance the free bitdefender AV seems like the one to have, but with the aforementioned “issues”.., it’s not for everyone.

    1. Ann said on July 24, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      strange that you say “it’s to advertise their paid products and then give reasons why I NEVER would use their paid products, “it’s so bad”.
      I mean, putting nags is one thing, but implement extra performance or usability backdraws to promote the paid version, is bad business. due to these disadvantages, one is even less willing to pay for the product.

    2. astral_cyborg said on July 24, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks for the info

  31. Hatre said on July 24, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Kaspersky Antivirus Free

    1. Tom Hawack said on July 27, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      Avoid cold wars, choose French products, LOL :=)

    2. pandalov said on July 24, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Who trusts Russian products?

      1. John Fenderson said on July 27, 2018 at 5:06 pm


        I trust Russian product no more and no less than products from other nations. Which is not really complimenting Russian products.

      2. stefann said on July 25, 2018 at 5:42 am

        Who trust American products ?

    3. klaas said on July 24, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Same here.

    4. noe said on July 24, 2018 at 8:32 am

      kaspersky blocks airvpn until 2019. guess why. bitdefender slows down every system i know. to a degree that is no longer acceptable. i suggest/trust eset.

      1. Millenicide said on July 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        I noticed this too..was VERY surprised by the performance hit.

      2. klaas said on July 24, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        @noe: I too got rid of Bitdfender because when it started with its update or scan my system really suffered. I got fed up with it, so uninstalled it.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.