ESET vs Bitdefender - Which is best

Choosing an antivirus provider can be difficult, especially given how competitive the marketplace has become. Amongst all the choices, there is a provider that best suits your needs.

If you have managed to narrow down your pick the ESET or Bitdefender, you’re in luck. In this guide, I pit them head to head over a series of tests performed by me and independent testing laboratories to assess price, performance, features, and more to see which comes out on top.

ESET Vs Bitdefender: Who wins?

Short on time? Want to cut to the chase? Based on our testing of both ESET and Bitdefender, we can confirm that ESET is the better antivirus. ESET offers faster scan speeds, an easier-to-use app, and a lower price point.

Summary: ESET Vs. Bitdefender

Want to know how I arrived at this decision? I have summarised the findings from my testing below.

ESET Features

  • Anti-theft protection
  • Webcam protection and control
  • Low system impact

Bitdefender Features

  • VPN
  • Webcam and microphone protection
  • File shredder
No valueESETBitdefender
Antivirus and Antispyware
Web protection/anti phishing
Parental controls
Password Manager
Webcam protection
PC Cloud Backup
Ransomware protection
Banking and Payment Protection
Network Attack Protection
Secure data encryption
Automatically update apps
File Shredder
Performance Optimization
Identity Theft Protection
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ESET is a Slovakian antivirus company founded in 1992. Since its inception, the company has won several industry awards. With over 1 billion users across its personal and business protection plans, it’s a well-regarded and trusted brand.

Bitdefender antivirus was established in Romania in 2001 and boasts 500 million users at the time of this writing. With users in over 150 countries and a number of accolades to back it up, including ‘Best Protection’ in the 2019 AV-Test Awards, it’s another big-hitter in the antivirus market.

ESET Vs. Bitdefender pricing

If price is your primary consideration when picking your antivirus, I can confirm that ESET offers better standard pricing. However, at the time of writing, Bitdefender is offering several deep discounts for new customers, which are worth considering.

In terms of value for money, it really comes down to the platform you are looking to protect. If you are on Android or Mac then it’s worth noting that Bitdefender has some limitations, which means even with the deep discounts you’re likely to get more for your money from ESET.

At the time of writing, Bitdefender has several discounts available for new customers and a free trial option.

ESET and Bitdefender offer a range of prices depending on what protection you require and the number of devices you are looking to cover. Under usual circumstances, there would be a significant difference in cost between ESET and Bitdefender. But, with Bitdefender’s current discount, this gap is closed. In terms of ‘premium’ services, there is a marked difference in cost between the two, with Bitdefender Premium Security usually costing $159.99 per year compared to just $59.99 for ESET Smart Security Premium. However, the Bitdefender license covers 10 devices.

It is also worth noting that while ESET and Bitdefender are technically compatible with all Android, Mac, and Windows PC, there are some restrictions on Android and Mac regarding Bitdefender’s protection. ESET also has a Linux antivirus with an interface, it is one of few big players to have a consumer Linux antivirus.

Effectiveness against malware

In order to understand the effectiveness of both ESET and Bitdefender as antivirus programmes, both day-to-day and on demand, I ran them both through a series of malware tests and trials.

To understand their day-to-day function I looked to download some sample viruses to test their real-time detection. Both ESET and Bitdefender passed this test, identifying and blocking the viruses as I was busy performing other tasks.

As a second test, I wanted to understand how well the on-demand virus detection worked. To do this I disabled the real-time protection for both programs and ran several sample malware test files. Again, both ESET and Bitdefender successfully identified and blocked viruses in this case too.

As the table below shows, in all cases, both services effectively blocked any files they deemed a threat to the device’s security. Compared to other antivirus packages I have tested previously, including Avast Protection and Kaspersky, ESET and Bitdefender outperformed the competition.

No valueESETBitdefender
Eicar Sample 1BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 2BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 3BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 4BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 1 (Adware)BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 2 (Trojan)BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 3 (Trojan)BlockedBlocked
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Below are examples of ESET and Bitdefender successfully detecting and deleting files on a real-time basis.

eset Threat removed

Bitdefender Threat detected

However, only Bitdefender offers a full quick scan with all findings comprehensively recorded, as seen below.

Bitdefender full quick scan

Bitdefender full system scan

eset Computer scan completed

To further add to my own malware tests, I looked at some results from leading independent testing labs. Throughout September 2021, AV-Comparatives’ round of Malware Protection Tests, ESET, and Bitdefender performed exceptionally well out of the test group that included other antivirus protection providers, including Kaspersky and Avast.

Who wins?

Considering the results of all tests, 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

Poorly optimized antivirus programs can have a negative impact on your computer’s performance due to the amount of processing power required to run the software. I wanted to know if this was the case for ESET and Bitdefender.

To test for this, I reviewed processing and memory performance data while the software scanned in the background to understand what impact it was having on my computer’s performance.

No valueESETBitdefender
Full Scan Time (minutes)68110
Number of scanned objects930,0004200000
Full Scan CPU Utilization %6856
Full Scan Memory Utilization %7081
Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)5103577
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)3232
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)6374
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)1765
Quick Scan Time (seconds)N/A338
Quick Scan CPU Utilization %N/A56
Quick Scan Memory Utilization %N/A81
Quick Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)N/A3557
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As you can see from the data above, when running a complete scan, Bitdefender requires less CPU than ESET, with a 12% discrepancy between the results.

However, memory utilization differs more substantially: Bitdefender at 81% in the tests I performed, and ESET at 70%.

The time it takes ESET and Bitdefender to perform full scans also differs significantly. ESET’s scan time of 68 minutes is substantially shorter than Bitdefender’s 110 minutes. While scan time may seem to have little to do with general speed and performance, it is still an important statistic. The longer a scan runs in the background of the PC, the more impact it may have on performance.

It’s impossible to compare the impact on performance during a quick scan, as ESET does not offer this function in its antivirus program.

I also wanted to see how my test results compared with the independent labs’ results. The AV-Comparatives’ Performance Test is run several 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 runs several tests 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 2021 tests, ESET and Bitdefender scored well with minimal impact while performing these tasks.

ESET Vs. Bitdefender features

Antivirus and malware protection aside, ESET and Bitdefender provide users with many premium services to help make your PC as safe and secure as possible. These include:


  • Multi-level protection
  • Anti-virus
  • Anti-theft
  • Anti-phishing
  • 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
  • Anti-phishing
  • Anti-spam
  • Firewall support
  • Rescue Mode
  • Network protection
  • Game mode
  • Movie mode
  • Work mode
  • Battery mode
  • Password Manager
  • Access to a vulnerability assessment
  • Anti-theft
  • Banking protection
  • Webcam and microphone protection
  • Data security

ESET and Bitdefender offer their premium customers many 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 assist right away.

With such a lengthy list of 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 them 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 filters out inappropriate content when browsing or shopping online. When using your device, Bitdefender will use this feature and a specialist intelligence system to protect you and your family from coming into contact with harmful data or web pages.
  • Blocking Adware –  Annoying and interrupting adware can hugely impact our online experiences. These pop-up ads can also connect your device with harmful malware, which can impact even Macs. 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

eset shopping cart Bitdefender shopping cart Bitdefender homepage

Sign-up can sometimes be painful for antivirus providers, but I am pleased to confirm that both sign-up and installation for ESET and Bitdefender is straightforward and only takes 10 minutes. And, if you do run into any issues the hotline number is clearly posted at the top of payment pages.

How easy is the interface to use?

ESET has a very modern and accessible interface. The application has a good flow 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 simply explains its features to help users less experienced with antivirus programs.

Bitdefender’s design 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.

Customer Support

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 for customers to get in contact with technical specialists. They also offer an option to call up an advisor during operating hours. 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 is equally impressive and extensive.

Antivirus testing methodology

Many antivirus brands are on the market, and it’s hard to discern between them. To help consumers with choosing a service for their computer or mobile device, we consider each antivirus company’s reputation, their features, and the efficacy of their antivirus tools. We also consider the product’s ease of use and how a beginner might feel when installing and using it for the first time. Our in-depth, in-house antivirus testing methodology identifies:

  • The impact on system resources when you run a quick or full device scan.
  • How long does it take to run a scan?
  • How effective real-time monitoring features are to protect you online.
  • How effective is the AV’s scanning tool and its ability to protect against malware?

In addition to the analysis performed by our in-house AV reviewers, we leverage data from four of the world’s most trusted antivirus testing laboratories:

We combine this data to get a clear and unbiased picture of how the antivirus performed in the most recent round of testing. This allows us confidently to inform consumers about the AV product’s ability to protect against existing and emerging malware classes.


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 are for the first year only, and with no discounts, there is a significant difference in cost between the two providers.

The usability of the ESET interface, a lower price point, and a lighter system impact all make ESET the winner in this comparison.

ESET vs Bitdefender FAQs

Can I use ESET and Bitdefender together?

No, you should avoid installing ESET and Bitdefender simultaneously, as this can cause a software conflict that could significantly harm your system. Typically, if you have one of the products installed and try to install another, a prompt or warning will appear advising that you must uninstall the other product before continuing.

Does Bitdefender have a free version?

Yes, Bitdefender has a free antivirus version. Bitdefender Antivirus Free for Windows has limited features compared to its premium products, including on-demand scanning and web protection to prevent visits to fake websites and phishing attempts.

How frequently do ESET and Bitdefender update their malware definitions, and how do they handle emerging threats?

ESET and Bitdefender strongly emphasize providing up-to-date malware definitions and adequate protection against emerging threats. While their approaches may differ slightly, they both ensure their users receive timely updates to maintain optimal security.

ESET updates its malware definitions multiple times daily, ensuring users have the most current protection against known threats. The frequency of updates depends on the detection of new malware samples and the level of risk they pose. In addition to the frequent definition updates, ESET employs advanced heuristics and machine learning techniques to proactively detect and block unknown or zero-day threats. This combination of regular updates and advanced threat detection techniques enables ESET to provide comprehensive protection against known and emerging threats.

Bitdefender also updates its malware definitions multiple times daily to protect its users against the latest threats. The frequency of updates can vary depending on the current threat landscape, but Bitdefender ensures that users receive timely protection. To handle emerging threats, Bitdefender uses a combination of signature-based detection, behavioral analysis, and artificial intelligence. This multi-layered approach allows Bitdefender to effectively identify and block unknown or zero-day threats, providing robust protection against a wide range of malware types.

ESET and Bitdefender frequently update their malware definitions and employ advanced techniques to handle emerging threats. Their commitment to staying up-to-date and using cutting-edge technologies ensures that users receive comprehensive protection against known and unknown threats.

See also: