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Bitdefender vs. Windows Defender: 4 Key Differences and How to Choose


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What Is Bitdefender? 

Bitdefender is a cybersecurity software company that specializes in developing and providing antivirus and internet security solutions for consumers, businesses, and enterprise environments. 

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, Bitdefender offers a range of products, including antivirus software, endpoint protection, network security, and cloud-based services, to protect devices and networks from malware, ransomware, phishing, and other cyber threats. 

What Is Microsoft (Windows) Defender? 

Microsoft Defender, formerly known as Windows Defender, is a built-in antivirus and anti-malware software for Microsoft Windows operating systems. Developed by Microsoft, this security solution provides real-time protection against various malware threats, including viruses, ransomware, spyware, and other potentially harmful software. 

Microsoft Defender integrates with Windows OS and offers features such as automatic updates, real-time scanning, and offline scanning. It is designed to provide a baseline level of security for Windows users.

This is part of a series of articles about endpoint security.

Bitdefender vs. Microsoft Defender: Key Differences

1. Antivirus Features

Bitdefender 

  • Multi-layer ransomware protection: Protects files and folders from ransomware attacks and provides real-time monitoring to detect new and emerging threats.
  • Vulnerability scanner: Scans the system for outdated software, weak passwords, and other security issues that can be exploited by attackers.
  • Password manager: Safely stores and manages passwords and other sensitive information, allowing for secure autofill and generating strong, unique passwords.
  • File shredder: Permanently deletes sensitive files and data, making them unrecoverable, to protect user privacy.
  • Secure browser: Offers a dedicated browser for online banking and shopping, providing additional security layers and isolating transactions from other online activities.
  • Advanced threat defense: Uses behavioral analysis to detect and block advanced threats, such as zero-day attacks and file-less malware.
  • Firewall: Provides an additional layer of network security by monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking unauthorized connections, and preventing intrusions.
  • Anti-phishing and anti-fraud: Detects and blocks phishing attempts and fraudulent websites that try to steal personal information or financial data.
  • Parental controls: Allows parents to monitor and manage their children’s online activities, set content filters, and establish usage limits.
  • Webcam and microphone protection: Prevents unauthorized access to the webcam and microphone, protecting users’ privacy and ensuring data security.

Microsoft Defender

  • Real-time scanning: Constantly monitors the system for malware, viruses, and other threats, providing continuous protection.
  • Offline scanning: Scans the system even when it’s offline, helping to detect and remove malware that might have been missed during regular scans.
  • Automatic updates: Receives regular updates to stay current with the latest malware definitions and security features.
  • Anti-phishing: Detects and blocks phishing attempts, protecting users from malicious websites that try to steal personal information.
  • SmartScreen Filter: Analyzes websites and downloads for potential security risks and blocks malicious content before it can cause harm.
  • Device performance and health: Monitors system performance and provides recommendations for improving the overall health and performance of the device.
  • Limited customization: Allows users to configure some settings, such as scan frequency and types of files to be scanned, but offers fewer customization options than Bitdefender.
  • Firewall integration: Works seamlessly with the built-in Windows Firewall to provide network security and intrusion prevention.

While both Bitdefender and Microsoft Defender offer protection against various cyber threats, Bitdefender provides a more comprehensive set of features, including advanced ransomware protection, a vulnerability scanner, and parental controls. Microsoft Defender, on the other hand, offers essential protection features that come built-in with the Windows operating system.

2. Online Protection

Bitdefender

  • Anti-tracker: Blocks trackers that collect data on browsing activities, improving user privacy and potentially speeding up website loading times.
  • Safe files: Protects important files and folders from unauthorized changes, such as those caused by ransomware or other malicious software.
  • VPN: Offers a limited VPN service, allowing users to browse the internet privately and securely by masking their IP address and encrypting their data.
  • Wi-Fi Security Advisor: Analyzes the security of Wi-Fi networks and provides recommendations for improving network security and avoiding potential threats.
  • Secure search: Warns users of unsafe search results and blocks access to malicious websites.
  • Dedicated browser extension: Enhances online protection by providing additional security features, such as site reputation scoring and real-time blocking of dangerous websites.
  • Social network protection: Monitors and protects users’ social media accounts by detecting and blocking malicious links, scams, and other online threats.

Microsoft Defender

  • Network protection: Works with the Windows Firewall to prevent connections to potentially malicious websites and servers.
  • Exploit protection: Monitors the system for potential exploit attempts and blocks known exploit behaviors to protect against vulnerabilities in software applications.
  • Controlled folder access: Provides protection against ransomware by restricting unauthorized changes to designated folders and files.
  • Reputation-based protection: Assesses the reputation of downloaded files and applications, and warns users of potential risks before installation.
  • Microsoft Edge integration: Microsoft Defender’s features are natively integrated into the Microsoft Edge browser, offering protection against phishing and malicious websites, as well as download scanning.

Bitdefender offers a more comprehensive suite of tools in this category as well, while Microsoft Defender offers essential features that are natively integrated with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Edge browser.

3. Pricing

Bitdefender

Bitdefender offers a range of paid plans with varying features, catering to different users’ needs. Some of the popular plans are as follows

  • Bitdefender Antivirus Plus: This plan is designed for individuals using Windows PCs and provides essential antivirus protection, along with features such as a password manager, secure browser, and Wi-Fi security advisor.
  • Bitdefender Internet Security: This plan offers more comprehensive protection for Windows users, including all features of Antivirus Plus, as well as a two-way firewall, parental controls, and webcam and microphone protection.
  • Bitdefender Total Security: This multi-device plan covers Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, and includes all the features of Internet Security, with additional tools such as device optimization, anti-theft, and a limited VPN.
  • Bitdefender Family Pack: This plan is designed for families and offers protection for multiple devices across various platforms, including all the features of Total Security.

The pricing for these plans may vary depending on the number of devices covered and the subscription length, with discounts often available for longer-term subscriptions.

Microsoft Defender

Microsoft Defender is a built-in antivirus solution that comes free with the Windows operating system. Users do not need to pay any additional fees to access its basic protection features. However, Microsoft offers additional paid plans for more advanced security features and enterprise-level protection.

Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise solutions are subscription-based plans designed for businesses and include advanced security features, such as Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, which offers enhanced threat protection, detection, and response capabilities. Pricing varies depending on the plan and the number of users.

4. Support

Bitdefender

Bitdefender offers dedicated customer support through various channels, ensuring that users receive assistance with their specific products and issues:

  • 24/7 live chat: Users can access live chat support to receive immediate assistance with their technical or account-related queries.
  • Email support: Users can submit support tickets via email to receive help with their issues, typically receiving a response within a few hours.
  • Phone support: Bitdefender provides regional phone support numbers for users in multiple countries, allowing them to speak with a support representative for assistance.
  • Knowledge base: Bitdefender’s website features a comprehensive knowledge base with articles, FAQs, and guides on various product features, installation, troubleshooting, and more.
  • Community forum: Users can participate in the Bitdefender community forum to ask questions, share experiences, and get advice from other users and Bitdefender staff.

Microsoft Defender

Support for Microsoft Defender is available through Microsoft’s general support channels, which may not be as specialized or responsive as Bitdefender’s dedicated customer support:

  • Microsoft support website: Users can find help articles, FAQs, and troubleshooting guides related to Microsoft Defender on the Microsoft Support website.
  • Community forum: Microsoft offers a community forum where users can ask questions, seek advice, and find solutions related to Microsoft Defender and other Microsoft products.
  • Contact support: Users can submit support requests through the Microsoft Support website, which may direct them to chat, email, or phone support, depending on the issue and location.

Virtual agent: Microsoft provides a virtual agent chatbot that can assist users with basic questions and common issues related to Microsoft Defender and other Microsoft products.

Bitdefender vs. Microsoft Defender: How to Choose

Bitdefender and Microsoft Defender are both popular antivirus and security software solutions. While Bitdefender is a dedicated third-party antivirus software, Microsoft Defender is the built-in antivirus and security suite for Windows 10 and 11. 

Bitdefender is the better choice for users seeking comprehensive protection with a wide range of features and excellent performance. It is especially suited for those who require advanced security features like parental controls, VPN, or file encryption. On the other hand, Microsoft Defender is a solid option for those on a budget or seeking essential protection without additional features. It has improved its performance and protection capabilities significantly in recent years, making it a viable option for many users.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Bitdefender security (coming soon)

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