Norton and Bitdefender are amongst the most popular antivirus products out there, with both products reaching millions of consumers all around the world. But which one is actually better? That’s what we’re here to find out.
I will be comparing two similar products – Norton 360 Deluxe and Bitdefender Premium Security – to help you figure out which one is best overall. I will running my own tests to see how effective they are at identifying and neutralizing threats. We will also double check our findings against lab tests from. It is also important to consider the ease of use, extra features, and value for money.
If you are in a rush, I can tell you that the winner is Norton. It had better results in independent tests, had less of an impact on system performance, and comes in at a lower price point. It’s hard to fault.
Summary: Norton vs Bitdefender
|Website||Norton.com||Bitdefender.com||Real-time protection||Web protection/anti phishing||Firewall||Password Manager||VPN||PC Cloud Backup||Identity Theft Protection||Web control/dashboard|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.33|
GET 52% off the first year!
Save 56% on one year plans
A bit about the companies
Norton has been around for 28 years and since 2001, it has been produced by Symantec Corporation in California. Norton has become a global leader in consumer cybersecurity, helping secure the devices and online privacy of nearly 50 million consumers.
Formerly Symantec, Norton acquired LifeLock identity protection in 2017, which led to its name change of NortonLifeLock. In December 2020, it announced the acquisition of Avira antivirus, and in August 2021, it announced that it would be acquiring Avast, which itself acquired AVG a few years prior. This means Norton could soon implement the best bits from all three of these companies. Avast had already finished syncing the Avast and AVG cloud and behavioral monitoring technology.
Compared to Norton, Bitdefender is a newbie to the world of cybersecurity. Bitdefender was founded in Romania in 2001 and works with government organizations, enterprises, and consumers across over 150 countries, protecting half a billion users worldwide.
Norton vs Bitdefender pricing
In terms of price point, Norton 360 Deluxe and Bitdefender Premium Security are very different. Norton 360 Deluxe is considerably cheaper than Bitdefender, even with the discounts both offer on their website. However, Norton 360 Deluxe only offers protection for up to five devices, whereas Bitdefender Premium offers protection for up to 10 devices. The table below outlines the different products both offer:
|No value||Norton Antivirus Plus||Norton 360 Standard||Norton 360 Deluxe||Norton 360 with LifeLock Select|
|Website||norton.com||norton.com||norton.com||norton.com||One year price||$19.99||$39.99||$49.99||$99.48||Renewal price||$59.99||$84.99||$104.99||$149.99|
|Best deal (per month)||$1.66|
Get 66% OFF an annual plan
Save 52% on your first year
Save 52% on your first year
SAVE 33% on an annual subscription
|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
Both Norton and Bitdefender come with big discounts on your first purchase. Norton 360 Deluxe offers 52% off your first purchase making the product $49.99 for the first year. Bitdefender Premium Security offers a 56% discount making the purchase price $69.98. (This is at the time of writing). As you can see, Norton 360 Deluxe is considerably cheaper than Bitdefender even with the special discounts present. Norton also has other higher-priced packages if you are looking for something extra.
Both Norton and Bitdefender offer a money-back guarantee, allowing you to try out the product and make sure it is suitable for you. Norton boasts a 60-day money-back guarantee whereas Bitdefender is just a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Both Norton and Bitdefender work with all the major operating systems including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.
Effectiveness against malware
When deciding which antivirus product is best, it’s important to know which one will do the best job of protecting your PC against malware. I ran some tests to see how each product performed.
The first test I performed checked for malware threats in real-time, instead of waiting until a scheduled scan time to check my PC files. I also ran a second malware test where I downloaded harmless malware test files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) which simulate different vectors of infection, where threats come from and the forms they come in. I turned off real-time detection and ran a full system scan and a quick scan to see how well the malware was detected and quarantined.
To add to my own tests, I checked out some of the most recent antivirus tests managed by the major independent antivirus test labs. Look at the table below comparing the test results from both Norton and Bitdefender. These tests were performed on my PC with three different lives samples and four EICAR samples:
|Website||Norton.com||Bitdefender.com||Eicar Sample 1||Blocked||Blocked||Eicar Sample 2||Blocked||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)||$3.33|
GET 52% off the first year!
Save 56% on one year plans
The results showed Norton blocked just one of the EICAR samples but allowed three, compared to Bitdefender, which blocked all four of the EICAR samples. Norton blocked the .txt file and the download from EICAR.com on HTTP but allowed zip files. On HTTPS, the .zip files and the .txt files were allowed while the Eicar.com file was blocked.
Both Norton and Bitdefender immediately detected and deleted all three live samples.
To add more depth to the analysis, I looked up the latest test results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, two of the best-known independent AV testing labs.
The latest AV-Test report showed that during July and August 2021, both Bitdefender and Norton scored 100 percent in their protection detection against malware attacks, inclusive of web and email threats (real-world testing).
I also looked at the latest AV-Comparatives Real-Time Protection Test from July-October 2021. Norton scored 100 percent and Bitdefender scored 99.7 percent in their online protection rates, putting Norton slightly higher than Bitdefender. Norton achieved first place out of every antivirus in this test; no other reached 100 percent.
AV-Comparatives also has another useful tool in testing the best antivirus programs: a false alarm test. This test is useful in seeing how accurately a file or app is identified as safe or as a threat. The lower the number of false alarms, the better. False positives occur when the antivirus flags a non-malware file as malware and can therefore be an annoyance.
The test results from July-October 2021 show thirty-seven false alarms for Norton, and zero for Bitdefender. This is the same test that showed Norton at the highest with 100 percent detection, something no other antivirus in that test showed. This could suggest that Norton is more aggressive with its detection, offering slightly better security, but with more false alarms.
Impact on PC Performance
The impact antivirus programs have on your PC performance is an important thing to consider and is something to be aware of when deciding which one is right for you. To find out which of the two antivirus programs had the best performance numbers, I captured data while running both full and quick scans. To verify my findings, I looked at the performance scores for both Bitdefender and Norton from some recent independent tests.
The table below shows the results of my test and how long it took to complete, plus the number of items that were scanned. The time to complete an antivirus scan is affected by a number of factors such as the speed of the PC, the number of files that need to be scanned, and the antivirus program that you are using.
|Website||Norton.com||Bitdefender.com||Full Scan Time (minutes)||121||110||Number of scanned objects||1,420,276||4200000||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||84||56||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||75||81||Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds)||381||3577||Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)||14||32||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||72||74||Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)||13||65||Quick Scan Time (seconds)||171||338||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||37||56||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||76||81||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||41||3557|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.33|
GET 52% off the first year!
Save 56% on one year plans
A full scan with Bitdefender was completed in 110 minutes and scanned 4.2 million items, compared to Norton, which took 121 minutes and scanned 970,000 items.
Next, I tried running a quick scan with each antivirus. Norton completed the scan in 171 seconds, while Bitdefender completed the quick scan in 338 seconds.
I also recorded some data to see how my PC’s resources were affected by both antivirus programs.
Bitdefender recorded a higher CPU Utilization than Norton when running both programs. Bitdefender also recorded a higher control disk utilization when not performing a scan. During a full scan, Bitdefender used less CPU than Norton. The biggest difference is in the full scan disk utilization: Bitdefender utilized 3,577 MB/s and Norton came in at 381 MB/s.
Next, I analyzed the results from some other independent tests. The tests run by independent labs show how each antivirus impacts PC performance during eight common tasks:
- Downloading files
- Browsing Websites
- File Copying: First and subsequent run
- Installing/uninstalling applications
- Archiving / unarchiving
- Launching applications: First and subsequent run
Each task is given a rating ranging between very fast and slow.
In the AV-Comparatives Performance Test from October 2021, both Bitdefender and Norton achieved an Advanced+ rating, the highest rating out of Advanced+, Advanced, and Standard. For comparison, Microsoft Defender only achieved Standard.
Looking deeper into the data, Bitdefender achieved the highest “very fast” rating in all performance categories, apart from two where it achieved “fast”, and Norton achieved very fast in all but one. Bitdefender was considered fast in the first run of file copying and the first run of launching applications. Norton was considered fast in installing applications.
When it comes to performance, Norton performs slightly better, although not by much. There was only a minor impact on speed and performance while I ran several tasks on my PC, which the other independent tests verified.
Norton vs Bitdefender features
Lots of providers now add in some extra features besides the antivirus scanner itself. I’ve looked at what is included in each package to see which one offers the best value.
- Cloud Backup
- Smart Firewall
- Password Manager
- Virus Protection Promise
- Parental Control
- Secure VPN
- PC SafeCam
- Unlimited VPN traffic
- Priority Support
- Device Optimiser
- Window, macOS, Android and iOS protection
- Parental Control
- Multi-layer ransomware protection
- Protection against malware, spyware, adware
Both programs offer some of the same features, including parental controls, a VPN, and firewalls. Below are a number of the unique features included with each program.
Sign Up and Installation
Signing up is simple for both Norton and Bitdefender.
Norton clearly lays out the price, discount, and renewal price after the first year. There is also an option to add the Norton Computer Tune-Up, which gives access to Norton-certified technicians who will help make your PC or Mac run better.
Bitdefender also displays the price and discount clearly. However, by default, it enrolls you in an automatic renewal after the first year. If you do not want to renew, make sure you tick the opt-out option, otherwise, you may be caught out.
How easy is the interface to use?
Both programs have a very simple interface. Bitdefender is clean and simple, using a black and neon green color template. When opened, Bitdefender’s dashboard proclaims, “You are safe,” making it quick and easy to see if everything is working. It has the usual list of your devices alongside protection, privacy, and utilities sections. There’s also a section for you to share your suggestions and things you would like to see in any future updates.
Norton’s signature grey, black and yellow color scheme is laid out to ensure ease of use. The dashboard, like Bitdefender, lets you know if you are protected. From the dashboard, you will be able to access security, identity, performance, and other sections. Norton 360 Deluxe also includes a web portal where you can manage protection for up to five devices.
Norton offers 24/7/365 support on all of its product tiers. There is an online community forum, FAQ, and live chat support. Support is available through its Facebook and Twitter channels. However, unlike Bitdefender’s free phone support, Norton’s phone support costs extra.
Bitdefender Premium Security boasts an extensive support hub, with many common problems answered on their website or demonstrated through online videos, which is great if you want an easy fix. If this is not doable, you can contact support via email, phone, online chat, or through their expert community forums.
Both programs are well-suited for looking after your devices with high malware detection rates. Norton scored slightly higher in independent tests, while Bitdefender blocked more of the samples used in my own testing.
Norton and Bitdefender add some great features on top of the antivirus engine, and in all honesty, it depends on what you need most that will determine which is best for you.
Due to its better performance in independent tests, lighter system impact, and lower price point, I will award the narrowest of victories to Norton over Bitdefender. Although Norton is affordable and provides everything most people are looking for, If you are looking at securing more than five devices, then Bitdefender is an excellent option for you.
Methodology: How do we make comparisons?
There’s much more to our comparisons than quickly selecting an antivirus with good reviews or several extra features. We perform a series of tests and consider many factors before an antivirus even makes it into our comparison. Below are some of the checks we undertake:
- Malware detection: We put the products we test against several virus infections to see how they react.
- Performance impact: To ensure the software doesn’t brick your device, we use lab testing to check the effects of AVs during scans and while it’s idle.
- Customer support: We look for providers with several support options. At the minimum, we expect email or ticketing, though most offer live chat and phone support too.
- Pricing: Many providers have enticing offers for new subscribers in their first year of signing up. We source these offers to ensure you get a great deal.
- Devices: Most AVs offer up to 1-3 installations, but we search for products that offer support for more devices (at an extra cost) and include apps for Windows, macOS, and sometimes smartphones.
Check out our antivirus testing methodology guide to learn more about how we test AV providers.
FAQs about antiviruses
What is the best free antivirus and should I use free or premium?
Although at their core both paid and free antivirus programs do the same thing, it is worth noting that there are some key differences.
Free antivirus software lets you perform scheduled and on-demand scans of your hard drive, to detect and remove computer viruses and other malware. A paid service goes a step further by also performing active real-time scanning of all downloads and incoming data packets.
This additional protection provides greater levels of security because it enforces proactive protection against threats, rather than reactive (removal) of exploits as and when they are found on your machine.
Paid antivirus software also often includes various other advanced security features as part of a security suite. This includes things like parental controls, safe search, email scanning, password management, cloud backups, dark web protection, and more.
All that said, free antivirus is always better than no antivirus and Bitdefender actually offers one of the best free antivirus products on the market.
How do I uninstall Norton or Bitdefender?
You might decide it's time to switch to a different product, or maybe your new PC came loaded with an antivirus product you don't want. If you want to change your antivirus or reinstall it, you can easily remove it by using Windows’ native uninstaller tool. To use it, head to the Control Panel and click on Programs and Features. Now, search in the list of available programs for either Norton or Bitdefender.
Once you have located your antivirus, right-click on it and choose to uninstall. The uninstaller will now launch. All you must do is follow the on-screen instructions to completely remove the antivirus and all of its components. You may be asked to restart your computer for the changes to take full effect.
If you want to remove Norton or Bitdefender on a Mac computer, head to the Application folder, locate the applicable removal tool for your antivirus and launch it. Now follow the instructions to remove the antivirus from your Mac.
Do I need a VPN?
Yes. Antivirus software does a completely different job to a VPN. If you want robust online security and privacy, you must use a VPN and an antivirus.
Antivirus software is designed to scan your machine’s hard drive for potentially malicious programs, viruses, worms, and other malware. A good antivirus also scans all incoming traffic to prevent you from downloading anything malicious.
A VPN, on the other hand, provides you with online privacy by encrypting all of your web traffic and tunneling to a remote VPN server location. This prevents local network administrators, wifi-hotspot providers, Internet Service Providers, and government snoops from being able to monitor your web browsing habits.
A VPN also prevents the websites you visit from tracking your home IP address. This allows you to get an IP address remotely to bypass network restrictions, censorship, and regional content blocks.
Norton and Bitdefender now include a VPN as part of their premium offerings, but you may find it’s not as capable as a standalone product. For example, many of the VPNs listed here, have additional capabilities like being able to access Netflix USA and BBC iPlayer while abroad.
Can I use Norton and Bitdefender together?
The answer to this question is a resounding NO – using multiple antivirus solutions simultaneously can easily create a conflict that could compromise the security of your system. It may cause severe issues like crashing, freezing, or permanent data corruption!
Today's computer users are bombarded with threats from every side: malicious viruses and trojans, ransomware that locks up important files, malware-laden phishing emails, and more. A reliable antivirus solution is essential to protect your computer and data from such dangers. You may be tempted to layer two different antivirus solutions to double up on the security they provide; however, this kind of double protection often backfires badly.
Two separate programs don't always play nice together in one operating system. The two software packages are likely to send conflicting signals, making it hard for both programs to do their job correctly as they try to outdo each other - sometimes with disastrous results. A software conflict caused by dual-antivirus setups can lead to errors like slowdowns, random shutoffs or restarts, program freezes, or fatal crashing of the entire system.
In some cases, these conflicts have been known even to cause permanent corruption of files stored on the system's hard drive! That's why it's best not to go there at all - you should never use two antivirus programs together on a single computer. In other words: Stick with one trusted solution and don't try combining them with another one!
Is Bitdefender safe?
When it comes to online safety, the answer is most definitely yes - Bitdefender is one of the safest and most effective antivirus and internet security solutions around! It has earned itself consistently high ratings from users and independent testing labs, so you can rest assured that your device will be well-protected when using Bitdefender. In addition, with its AI-enhanced virus scanning capabilities, real-time threat detection, secure browsing tools, parental controls, password manager, and more...you can enjoy maximum protection for your computer with minimal hassle!
Why is malware so dangerous?
Malware is an ever-present threat to your computer's security, privacy, and performance. It can cause severe damage to your device and compromise your data; some types even go as far as destroying computers or networks. Other malicious programs secretly steal confidential information such as passwords or credit card numbers for financial gain.
People often underestimate the extent of malware's damage, believing that anti-virus software is enough to keep their devices safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case - many different kinds of malware exist, and no single solution can protect you from all of them. To ensure optimal online safety, it's best to use a combination of robust security practices and reliable anti-malware solutions.
So what should you do? Start by familiarizing yourself with the latest online threats and security news. Then, avoid suspicious websites and links (especially those sent via email), keep your software up-to-date, enable firewalls when using public Wi-Fi connections, use strong passwords on all accounts, and turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible...these are just a few measures you can take to help protect yourself from malware attacks.
By taking proactive steps to stay secure online, you can prevent many nasty infections before they happen!
What types of malware does Norton protect against?
Norton Antivirus protects users from many malware threats, including viruses, spyware, ransomware, Trojans, rootkits, worms, adware, and other malicious programs. It also provides real-time protection against new and emerging threats by scanning files for suspicious activity. Furthermore, Norton's cloud-based anti-spam engine prevents spam emails from cluttering your inbox. In addition to these features, Norton offers web protection which blocks access to malicious websites and phishing scams. Finally, the product includes automatic downloads of regular definition updates to ensure that you are always protected against the latest threats. With all these security protections in place, Norton will keep you safe online so you can browse the Internet with peace of mind.
Do I need to use an antivirus on my Firestick?
Sure, why not? If you want to keep your Firestick safe and secure, using an antivirus is a good idea. After all, nobody likes viruses - the kind on your device, that is!
With Bitdefender's AI-enhanced virus scanning capabilities, real-time threat detection, secure browsing tools and more, your Firestick will be well-protected with minimal effort on your part. So go ahead and don't let any malicious programs spoil your streaming experience - install an antivirus and stay safe online!
Are there any known conflicts between Norton or Bitdefender and other security products or system tools?
Generally, both Norton and Bitdefender are designed to work well with most other software and system tools. However, conflicts can sometimes arise, particularly when running multiple security products simultaneously, as they may interfere with each other's functionality or cause system performance issues.
For example, running two antivirus programs simultaneously can lead to reduced system performance, false positives, and other issues that may hinder your device's overall security. Therefore, running only one antivirus solution on your device is generally recommended to avoid conflicts and ensure optimal protection.
Some other security products, such as firewalls or anti-malware tools, may also conflict with Norton or Bitdefender. In most cases, these conflicts can be resolved by adjusting the settings of the security products to work harmoniously together or by seeking assistance from the respective customer support teams.
Norton and Bitdefender may sometimes detect specific system tools or utilities as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) or flag them as suspicious. This usually occurs when a system tool exhibits behavior similar to malware or its functionality is not widely recognized. In these cases, verifying the legitimacy of the flagged software before allowing it to run on your system is essential.
While conflicts between Norton or Bitdefender and other security products or system tools can occur but are rare, they can usually be resolved through settings adjustments or by seeking assistance from the respective support teams. To ensure optimal protection and system performance, we recommend using a single antivirus solution and compatible security products designed to work together.