Avira’s brand has been around since 2006, but its antivirus technology has been in development for a lot longer. Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender was founded in 2001 it has grown to serve over 150 countries with more than 1,600 staff around the world. In this article, I put Avira and Bitdefender head-to-head to find out which antivirus is the best.
I have run a number of tests to see how well the antivirus software of both brands protects a PC against common online threats. I’ll look at real-time protection against malicious file downloads, and on-demand scans to find and quarantine existing malware files. I’ll also measure how much impact the software has on the speed of my PC during its scans.
Additionally, I’ll include my analysis of the pricing, value for money, customer support, installation, UI, and additional security features included with Avira and Bitdefender.
Just looking for the result of my comparison? I can tell you that even though Avira is a very good antivirus, Bitdefender is my choice. It provides excellent malware protection and all round security for home users. If you’d like to know how I reached my conclusion, read the full comparison below for all the details and test results.
Summary: Avira vs Bitdefender
- Missed some malware in my on-demand scanning tests
- Good real-time scanning results
- Automatically updates your apps
- Excellent all round malware protection
- Extensive list of security features
- Good discounts for new subscribers
|Website||avira.com||Bitdefender.com||Antivirus and Antispyware||Firewall||Password Manager||Ransomware protection||Parental controls||Webcam protection||PC Cloud Backup||VPN||Banking and Payment Protection||Network Attack Protection||Secure data encryption||Automatically update apps||File Shredder||Performance Optimization|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.99|
Save 40% on your first year
Save 56% on one year plans
BEST DEAL FOR AVIRA:Save 40% on an Avira subscription and get a 60-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
BEST DEAL FOR BITDEFENDER:Save 56% on Bitdefender Premium Security and get extra perks like a VPN and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Avira’s headquarters are in Tettnang, Germany and it has 500 staff across its offices in Germany, the U.S., China, Romania, and the Netherlands. The brand has partnered with companies such as Dropbox to provide security for the file sharing and storage site’s sync and share capabilities.
Founded in 2001 by Florin Talpeș. Bitdefender develops security software to protect home users, businesses, cloud security and IoT security products – including the creation of the Bitdefender Box to defend every device on a home network at the router level.
It’s antivirus software is used to protect 500 million systems worldwide.
Avira vs Bitdefender pricing
Avira offers a free version of its antivirus called Avira Free Security. The product includes the virus and malware defense you’d expect but also bundles in quite a few extra security features like phishing protection, a VPN (limited to 500MB per month), a firewall, and software to enhance device performance.
|No value||Avira Free Security||Avira Antivirus Pro||Avira Internet Security||Avira Prime|
|Website||avira.com||avira.com||avira.com||avira.com||One year price||Free||$44.99||$34.99||$59.99||Renewal price||$44.99||$57.99||99.99||99.99|
|Best deal (per month)||Free|
$46.95 for one year - 1 device
$22.99 / First Year - 1 device
Get up to 40% off
If you are looking for more advanced protection, Avira offers three paid versions of its antivirus software bundle with additional features.
The next tier up from the free version is Avira Antivirus Pro. It covers one device as standard for $44.99 per year. Avira gives you the option to add more devices (you can choose to protect one, three, or five) and it gives you the option to subscribe for one, two, or three years at once. The more devices you cover and the more years you subscribe for, the cheaper it becomes per device to install Avira.
The middle paid tier is Avira Internet Security. It adds in a password manager and software updater. The annual subscription for this package is $52.00 for one device. As with Avira Antivirus Pro, users can cover up to 5 devices for one, two, or three years.
The top tier package available from Avira is called Avira Prime. It includes everything in the previous tiers plus PC tune up and performance tools and an unlimited VPN. It costs $99.99 per year to cover up to 5 devices. There’s a second option with this package to cover 25 devices priced at $129.99 per year.
Bitdefender has previously offered a free version of its antivirus. Currently the landing page for Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition has posted a message stating that the company is now focusing product development around multi-platform protection and are retiring Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for Windows. It also states that current users will be supported through to June 30, 2022.
|No value||Bitdefender Antivirus Plus||Bitdefender Internet Security||Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|Website||Bitdefender.com||bitdefender.com||bitdefender.com||bitdefender.com||One year price||$29.99||$34.99||$39.98||$69.98||Renewal price||$59.99||$79.99||$89.99||$159.99|
|Best deal (per month)||$2.49|
Get 60% OFF!
Save 56% on 1 year plans - 3 devices
Save 56% on 1 year plans - 5 devices
SAVE 56% on 1 year plans - 10 devices
For its paid software, Bitdefender offers four tiers. The entry level tier is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. It costs $59.99 per year and covers three devices. It offers antivirus protection along with phishing protection. There’s currently a discount available that makes it $29.99 for the first year of subscription.
Next is Bitdefender Internet Security. It costs $79.99 per year and covers up to three devices. It adds a privacy firewall, microphone and webcam hacking protection, and a more advanced virus and malware scanner. The discount means it costs $24.99 for the first year.
Bitdefender Total Security costs $89.99 per year. It includes everything from the previous tier and adds a OneClick Optimizer to remove unnecessary files and speed up your device. There’s also a password manager, a VPN (limited to 200MB per day, per device), parental control, and file shredder.
Finally, there’s Bitdefender Premium Security. It costs $159.99 per year. It includes everything you get with the Total Security package and adds in an unlimited VPN to help maintain your privacy and security while on the web. The first year discount reduces the cost to $59.99 for the first year.
Effectiveness against malware
While most antivirus providers bundle extra tools with their antivirus scanner, it’s the scanner itself that is the most important tool to evaluate how well it protects against malware.
I wanted to run my own tests to see how well Avira and Bitdefender protected my PC against common threats including infected files downloaded from the internet, and files that include malicious programs such as trojans and adware. .
Real-time scanning results
First I attempted to download four sample files from EICAR (The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research). Both Bitdefender and Avira have real-time scanners that check these files to proactively protect infection on the PC.
Avira’s real-time scanner blocked everything, though it allowed one of the IP files to download but blocked it upon extraction. Even though it provided good protection I found Avira was often a bit slow to detect and remove samples compared to some other antivirus programs.
|Website||avira.com||Bitdefender.com||Eicar Sample 1||Blocked||Blocked||Eicar Sample 2||Allowed||Blocked||Eicar Sample 3||Blocked||Blocked||Eicar Sample 4||Blocked||Blocked||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Blocked||Blocked||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked||Live Sample 3 (Trojan)||Blocked||Blocked|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.99|
Save 40% on your first year
Save 56% on one year plans
Bitdefender’s real-time scanner performed impressively, successfully detecting and deleting all EICAR files and Live samples in real-time.
The real-time scanner keeps new malware from getting onto your PC from the internet, but a good antivirus also looks to clean your PC from any existing threats or those that can be introduced from an external hard drive or USB.
To test this I turned off the real-time scanning feature and downloaded the four Eicar files and three live samples to my PC. Next, I ran on-demand scans starting with a quick scan and following with a full scan to see how they performed and how many malicious files they discovered.
Avira’s quick scan was definitely too limited in scope to be effective at catching anything, and only ran for 41 seconds. The full scan picked up some malware files, but missed several of them. I had to re-install another antivirus to pick up what Avira left behind (two EICAR test malware, and two live malware samples.)
Bitdefender’s quick scan also failed to find any test virus samples (EICAR or live samples) despite doing a longer scan compared with Avira at 338 seconds.The full scan performed much better and found everything.
My own tests are limited in scope and not done at a large scale like those performed by the leading independent labs, so I wanted to verify my own findings by looking at their latest test results for Avira and Bitdefender.
AV-Comparatives Real World Protection Test aims to find out how well an antivirus protects against active real-world malware threats while using the Internet.
The latest real world protection test was run during July and October 2021 and the antivirus software included in the test faced 743 malware test cases.
The results broadly backup my own findings. Bitdefender was the slightly better performer in the test, protecting against 99.7 percent of all threats. Avira recorded 99.2 percent protection.
To demonstrate how both providers fit into the overall results, Bitdefender was the joint eighth best performer in the test. Avira was ranked as the 14th best software at protecting against malware, though there are only small differences in the protection rate between all 17 products tested.
The test also measures false positives, where a file is marked as a threat when it is actually a safe file or program. In this part of the test, Bitdefender recorded zero false positives and Avira recorded one. This made them two of the best performing antivirus products for recording the fewest false positives.
The Malware ProtectionTest, in contrast to the real world test, uses vectors such as network drives, USB or other scenarios where the malware is already on the disk.
The latest malware protection results were published during September 2021.
Avira scored a result of 91.6 percent for offline detection, 95.3 percent for online detection, and an online protection rate of 99.98 percent. Avira also recorded four false alarms in this test.
Bitdefender scored 93.8 percent for offline detection, 93.8 percent for online detection, and an online protection rate of 99.98 percent. It also registered nine false alarms in the test.
AV-Test’s latest report on Avira gives its software a 100 percent score against 0-day real world threats in September and a 99.5 percent success score in October 2021. In the test to detect widespread and prevalent malware discovered in the last 4 weeks, Avira scored 99.9 percent protection in September and 100 percent in October 2021
Bitdefender scored 100 percent success in both versions of AV-test’s results, for both September and October 2021.
From my test results and those of the independent labs, it’s pretty clear that while Avira is a solid antivirus, Bitdefneder offers close to 100 percent protection in every test I’ve conducted and those conducted by the labs.
Impact on PC performance
The ideal antivirus program will maintain your system speed and have a light impact on system resources while its scans run in the background. Thankfully most antivirus programs today are designed to minimize the impact they have.
To see how well Avira and Bitdefender perform in this regard, I recorded some key data on scan times plus the consumption of system resources during scans.
The table below shows the results of scans on system resources.
|Website||avira.com||Bitdefender.com||Full Scan Time (minutes)||29||110||Number of scanned objects||612851||4200000||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||39||56||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||72||81||Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||170||3577||Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)||9||32||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||65||74||Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||31||65||Quick Scan Time (seconds)||41||338||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||32||56||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||70||81||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||36||3557|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.99|
Save 40% on your first year
Save 56% on one year plans
During a quick scan, Avira sees a 23 percent increase in CPU utilization, a five percent increase in memory utilization, and a five MB/s increase in disk utilization. Bitdefender’s numbers showed a jump from 32 percent cpu utilization to 56 percent during a scan. Its memory utilization went up by seven percent during a scan, while there was a big jump in disk utilization from 65 MB/second to 3577 MB/second.
I compared the length of the full scans in minutes and how many items each checked in that time.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the results of the on-demand full scans, the Bitdefender scan goes much deeper. It checked nearly 4.2 million items and took 110 minutes to complete. Avira scanned 612,851 items and ran for 29 minutes.
Avira’s use of system resources intensified during a full scan compared to its quickscan. But with the quick scan only lasting 41 seconds, that is not a surprise. Bitfender’s increase in CPU, memory, and disk utilization were all consistent with the increases seen during the quick scan.
Next, let’s look at how AV-Comparatives rates Avira and Bitdefender for performance.
Programs running in background such as real time protection antivirus software use some percentage of system resources. The test aims to compare how much the tested security-products slow down everyday tasks, such as launching applications, while protecting the system.
These tasks measured are listed below:
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
- File Copying: first and subsequent run
- Installing and uninstalling applications
- Archiving and unarchiving
- Launching applications: first and subsequent run
The latest performance test was completed in October 2021 and includes both Avira and Bitdefender.
Avira was rated as very fast for all tasks apart from file copying on the first run, where it was rated as slow. Bitdefender was rated as very fast for all tasks apart from file copying on the first run and launching apps on the first run where it was rated as mediocre.
The results are close here, but Bitdefender matches Avira’s performance despite running a deeper full scan.
Avira vs Bitdefender features
Who doesn’t like extra features? Especially if they can enhance your security and privacy. Below I will list the key features of both programs and give a brief explanation of the features most users will find beneficial in each security suite.
- Device Control
- Real-time protection
- Secure surfing
- Data and identity protection
- Next-gen AI for real-time threats
- Privacy Firewall
- Microphone and Webcam protection
- OneClick Optimizer
- Anti-Phishing protection
- VPN (200MB / day)
- Password manager
- File shredder
- Parental controls
Here’s a little more information on some of these key features:
- Device Control: Scans removable devices on your machine for malware threats to keep the system secure.
- Data and identity protection: Secures your banking and online shopping on the web keeping personal information private.
- Ransomware protection: This tool helps protect against ransomware attacks by preventing malicious software from encrypting your data.
- Microphone and Webcam protection: Prevent hackers from accessing your webcam and microphone and snooping on sensitive information.
- OneClick Optimizer: Speed up your devices with this tool that cleans your unnecessary files.
- Privacy Firewall: Protect your personal information with a privacy firewall.
Both providers’ mid-level tiers offer some useful extra features to offer enhanced protection and privacy. If a VPN is important to you, both Avira and Bitdefender include all of the above features plus unlimited VPN in the next tier up. (Avira Prime and Bitdefender Premium Security).
Signup and installation
Bitdefender takes you through to a checkout page once you’ve selected which antivirus package you want to subscribe to. It gives you the full price plus the discounted offer for the first year. At the bottom it makes you click a checkbox to acknowledge this is a recurring subscription unless you cancel. I like this level of transparency as it at least draws the consumers attention to the renewal policy. Many providers who have auto renewal on by default leave it in the small print and don’t draw focus to it as Bitdefender does here.
From here the download of the software takes seconds and the file installer walks you through a few screens to install Bitdefender on your device.
Avira splits its checkout into three different screens so you need to enter payment details first, the address and personal details, before reviewing and submitting your order. Avira also states it is a yearly subscription and you can roll over an information icon to get more details.
How easy is the interface to use?
The Avira interface looks modern and sleek with black, white, and gray the predominant colors used. A Banner along the top of the home screen tells you if your device is currently protected or if there are issues. There’s also a button to launch a smart scan. The main areas of Avira’s software are split into three categories: Security, Privacy, and Performance and you click on the relevant icon to open up more options.
Bitdefender uses a gray, white, and blue color scheme. Like Avira it displays the status of the system along the top of the screen, with links to its key features accessible by clicking the icons on the main screen or in the left hand side panel.
Avira has a knowledge base, plus phone and email support for paid subscribers. It also offers video tutorials and a section that tells users about the latest updates and changes to Avira features.
Bitdefender offers a comprehensive support hub with a phone line, live chat, email support, how-to videos, a user community, and support articles. The support is organized well for different products and you can click an image of your product at the top of the page to filter the support to suit the software you have installed.
Avira vs Bitdefender conclusion
In conclusion I found that Avira is a good antivirus solution, but Bitdefender wins in most categories, including the most important: how well it protects against malware.
Bitdefender also scans much deeper, and it found and blocked all the viruses in my real-time and on-demand scans. With the first year discounts Bitdefender also offers great value for money. My recommendation would be to go for Bitdefender Total Security, unless you want the unlimited VPN offered by Bitdefender’s Premium Security package.