With many options and so much competition in the marketplace, it can be difficult to decide which antivirus provider to choose to best protect your devices and suit your specific needs. So, in this summary, we have investigated the benefits and challenges of choosing the ESET Smart Security Premium versus the Bitdefender Premium Security. In this review, I will examine the pros and cons of both of these brands in order to provide an in-depth and comprehensive summary of my own malware tests and those carried out by the independent testing labs.
Like any good investigation, I will begin by examining the most important features that both services provide. Below is a short summary of the best aspects of premium services from ESET and Bitdefender, outlining the most prominent benefits of both.
Summary: ESET Vs Bitdefender
- Anti-theft protection
- Webcam protection and control
- Low system impact
- Webcam and microphone protection
- File shredder
|Feature||ESET Smart Security Premium||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|Antivirus and Antispyware||✓||✓|
|Banking and Payment Protection||✓||✓|
|Network Attack Protection||✓||✓|
|Connected Home Monitor||✓||✖|
|Secure Data Encryption||✓||✓|
|Automatically Update Apps||✖||✓|
|Sandbox Suspicious Apps||✖||✖|
Based in Bratislava, Slovakia, ESET was initially founded in 1992. Since then, the company has won a number of awards for its security products. ESET provides both personal and business protection for multiple devices. With over 110 million users worldwide, ESET has been highly praised across the industry by users and experts alike.
Bitdefender was established in Bucharest, Romania. Founded in 2001, Bitdefender now holds a number of offices across the world, with users located in over 150 countries worldwide. Bitdefender has also won a number of awards and certifications, all of which stated on their website, these include ‘Best Protection’ in the 2019 AV Test Awards.
ESET Pricing & Compatibility
When finding the right antivirus program for you, price is a very important factor to consider. I took a look at the pricing for various products in the ESET and Bitdefender line up.
|ESET Smart Security Premium||ESET Internet Security||ESET NOD32 Antivirus|
|$59.99 / year||$49.99 / year||$39.99 / year|
At the time of writing, Bitdefender had a number of discounts available for new customers as well as a free trial option too.
|Bitdefender Premium Security||Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Internet Security||Bitdefender Antivirus Plus|
|$89.99 / year |
(usually $149.99 / year)
|$44.99 / year|
(usually $89.99 / year)
|$39.98 / year|
(usually $79.99/ year)
|$29.99 / year
(usually $59.99 / year)
ESET and Bitdefender offer a range of prices depending on what protection you require and the number of devices you are looking to cover. However, it is worth noting that the Bitdefender prices stated are the current sale prices. Under usual circumstances, there would be a significant difference in cost between ESET and Bitdefender. In terms of ‘premium’ services, there is a marked difference in cost between the two with Bitdefender Premium Security usually costing $149.99 per year compared to just $59.99 for ESET Smart Security Premium.
It is also worth noting that while ESET and Bitdefender are technically both compatible with all Android, Mac, and Windows PC, there are some restrictions on Android and Mac when it comes to Bitdefender’s protection.
Effectiveness Against Malware
In order to fully and accurately test the malware and virus protection provided by ESET and Bitdefender, I installed both programs on my device and ran a series of malware tests and trials.
First, I ran a real-time malware test that took place while I was using the device. During this sample, the antivirus proactively searched for any new threats to the device while I was busy working on my PC. If you don’t have real-time protection turned on, the antivirus will only check for malware at a scheduled scan time set by the user.
During the second sample, I disabled the real-time protection feature and instead ran a number of sample malware test files directly from the EICAR (The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research) through the device.
As the table below shows, both ESET and Bitdefender performed excellently in all of these malware file test runs. In all cases, both services were able to effectively block any files they deemed a threat to the device’s security. Compared to other antivirus protection packages I have tested previously, including Avast Protection and Kaspersky, ESET and Bitdefender both outperformed the competition.
|Test File||Eicar Sample 1||Eicar Sample 2||Eicar Sample 3||Eicar Sample 4||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Live Sample 3 (Trojan)|
Below are examples of ESET and Bitdefender successfully detecting and deleting files on a real-time basis.
However, only Bitdefender offers a full quick scan with all findings comprehensively recorded, as seen below.
To further add to my own malware tests I looked at some results from leading independent testing labs. Throughout the September 2019, AV-Comparatives’ round of Malware Protection Tests, both ESET and Bitdefender performed exceptionally well out of the test group that included other antivirus protection providers including Kaspersky and Avast. In fact, even in the May 2020 survey run by AV-Comparatives, Bitdefender still received full scores for its protection, performance, and usability.
Considering the results of both services, it is clear that Bitdefender ran a more thorough and far-reaching scan into the malware and computer as a whole. It should also be noted that Bitdefender did take longer to run this full scan by nearly 40 minutes, which could be something to consider when weighing up these options.
Impact on PC Performance
When deciding which anti-virus software to install on your devices, it is important to look into whether or not there will be any lasting impact on the performance and speed of the device.
In order to gather a comprehensive view of the impact of both ESET and Bitdefender on computer performance, I reviewed various data while the software scanned in the background.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization % |
|Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Control Disk Utilization (MB/seconds) (no scan)|
|Test Type||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||Full Scan Disk Utilization (MB/seconds)||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan # Items Scanned|
When it comes to running a complete scan, Bitdefender requires less CPU than ESET with a 12% discrepancy between the two results.
However, memory utilisation differs more substantially: Bitdefender at 81% in the tests I performed, and ESET at 70%.
The length of time it takes ESET and Bitdefender to perform full scans differs significantly. ESET’s scan time of 68 minutes is substantially shorter than Bitdefender’s 110 minutes. Whilst scan time may seem to have little to do with general speed and performance, it is still an important statistic to consider. The longer a scan runs in the background of the PC, the more impact it may have on performance.
It’s not possible to compare the impact on performance during a quick scan, as ESET does not offer this function in its antivirus program.
|Test Type||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||Quick Scan Time (seconds)|
I also wanted to see how my own test results compared with those carried out by the independent labs. The AV-Comparatives’ Performance Test is run a number of times throughout the year on all major antivirus and malware protection groups. These tests investigate the protection and usability of every provider’s programs and subscriptions. The AV-Comparatives’ test team run a number tests in order to investigate the impact of antivirus protection on the speed and performance of a PC. These tasks can include:
- File copying
- Archiving / unarchiving
- Installing / uninstalling applications
- Launching applications
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
Throughout their 2019 tests, both ESET and Bitdefender scored well with minimal impact while performing these tasks.
Antivirus and malware protection aside, both ESET and Bitdefender provide users with a number of premium services to help make your PC as safe and secure as possible. These include:
- Multi-level protection
- Network protection
- Online shopping and banking protection- keeping your transactions safe
- Password protection
- Photo encryption
- Advanced parental controls
- Data protection
- Webcam protection
- Multi-layer ransomware protection
- Gamer mode
- File encryption service
- Security settings to fit specific needs
- License management
- A monthly security report
- ESET SysInspector
- Free support
- Protection for up to 10 different devices (smartphones and tablets included)
- A dedicated online Bitdefender account, only accessible through an active subscription
- Multi-layer ransomware
- File protection
- Unlimited VPN
- Premium users received priority when accessing Bitdefender customer support
- An advanced level of parental control functions
- Firewall support
- Rescue Mode
- Network protection
- Game mode
- Movie mode
- Work mode
- Battery mode
- Password Manager
- Access to a vulnerability assessment
- Banking protection
- Webcam and microphone protection
- Data security
It is clear that both ESET and Bitdefender offer their premium customers a whole host of services and features that offer a solid level of protection and support. It is refreshing that both ESET and Bitdefender provide their customers with round-the-clock support and assistance via online ‘chat’ features. This reassures users that whenever they may need help, both services will be able to assist right away.
With such a lengthy list of the premium benefits, it can still be challenging to narrow down whether ESET or Bitdefender provides the best protection and added features.
So I have taken a few of the most outstanding features from ESET and Bitdefender and had a close look at what these specific extensions offer.
Location Tracking – With ESET, if you ever lose or have a device stolen, you can mark it as lost through a built-in ESET Anti-theft procedure. This will mean that your device is monitored and tracked wherever it is using Wi-Fi connections.
Anti-theft activity watch – If your device is stolen, ESET allows you to track the thieves through a built-in laptop activity watch that goes through the device’s webcam. It takes photos and saves it directly to your online ESET account.
Connected Home Monitor – This feature allows users to test their own routers for any issues or vulnerabilities. This feature will also allow you to see who is connected to your router and provides you with support and options for making sure your system is secure and safe.
Out-of-Home Network – This feature means you are protected and supported outside of the home. It will alert you automatically if you have connected to an unknown or unstable network and will prompt you on whether to switch settings. This feature also makes your device completely invisible to any other when connected to a network at the same time.
Parental Controls – Bitdefender allows parents to log in remotely in order to monitor the sites and data their children are allowed to access on devices included in their package. This gives families the extra support they need when using the internet.
Anti-Tracker Controls – In order to speed up PC performance, Bitdefender has an Anti-tracker extension that blocks any data trackers that may have come into contact with your device. This keeps your data private and also makes web pages load quicker.
The ‘Traffic Light’ – Bitdefender has developed a feature that can filter out inappropriate content whenever you are browsing or shopping online. When using your device, Bitdefender will use this feature and a specialist intelligence system in order to protect you and your family from coming into contact with harmful data or webpages.
Blocking Adware – Annoying and interrupting adware can have a huge impact on our online experiences. These pop-up ads can also bring your device into contact with harmful malware, and even Macs can be impacted by this. With this feature, all unnecessary adware is blocked and you won’t have to deal with any hassle or potential threat.
Sign Up and installation
Sign up and installation for both providers is very simple and only requires you to enter in a few details before the services can run on your devices. The hotline number is listed at the top of the payment pages for both.
How easy is the interface to use?
ESET has a very modern and accessible interface. The application has a good flow to it and allows a lot of information to be displayed in a way that isn’t overwhelming to the user. Even if you normally get confused by tech jargon, you should have no issues here. ESET explains its features very simply to help users that are less experienced with antivirus programs.
Bitdefender’s design definitely reflects a more corporate identity in its look and feel, but the most commonly used tools in the program are easily available from the dashboard while an overview of the suite’s functionalities appears along the left-hand side.
ESET and Bitdefender both offer similar customer support options if users are seeking information or troubleshooting issues. Both providers have live chat options displayed clearly on their websites in order for customers to get in contact with technical specialists. They also offer an option to call up an advisor during operating hours. Both ESET and Bitdefender offer their customers various help pages that display countless articles and posts dedicated to FAQs and common issues.
Overall, I would say the customer support of both ESET and Bitdefender are equally impressive and extensive.
Both ESET and Bitdefender provide their users with a comprehensive and reliable antivirus service. They both performed well in the malware tests I carried out, aside from some differences in scan speed where ESET was faster.
When taking into consideration the cost of both packages, ESET offers better value for money. It is important to remember that the initial prices listed above for Bitdefender is for the first year only and, without any discounts, there is a significant difference in cost between the two providers.
The usability of the ESET interface, a lower price point, and lighter system impact all add up to make ESET the winner in this comparison.